Marriott Refused To Host Conference That Communist China Condemned, Citing ‘Political Neutrality’: Report
This photo taken on January 11, 2018 shows a Marriott logo in Hangzhou in China's Zhejiang province. Authorities in China have shut down Marriott's local website for a week after the US hotel giant mistakenly listed Chinese-claimed regions such as Tibet and Hong Kong as separate countries. / AFP PHOTO / - / China OUT
AFP via Getty Images.

Pointing to “political neutrality,” a Marriott hotel in Prague turned down a group of activists who had hoped to host a conference organized by the World Uyghur Conference, according to a new report from Axios. 

The conference, which was held November 12-14, entailed discussions and lectures about the treatment of the Uyghur people in China, where many have been reportedly placed in re-education camps, and where some have reportedly been forcibly sterilized. 

About 200 people from all around the world showed up to participate in the conference. 

Critics say that Marriott had capitulated to communist China by refusing to host the conference. 

“The Chinese government has condemned the World Uyghur Congress, which has attempted to rally global attention to the genocide in Xinjiang, China,” Axios reported, “The decision to reject the conference reflects China’s growing ability to extend authoritarian control beyond its borders by making clear to corporations that crossing the party’s red lines will be bad for business.”

In an email viewed by the outlet, management of the Prague Marriott explained that they would not be able to host the conference because the event had a “political theme” and the company had an official policy of “political neutrality.” 

“Unfortunately, I have to inform you that we are not able to offer the premises. We consulted the whole matter with our corporate management. For reasons of political neutrality, we cannot offer events of this type with a political theme,” the email reportedly said. 

A spokeswoman for Marriott is now apologizing for the situation explaining that the Prague hotel’s decision was not “consistent with our policies.” 

The senior vice president for global corporate communications said that Marriott would be”contacting the group to apologize, as the hotel’s response was not consistent with our policies.”

A corporate spokesperson for Marriott also said that it was the hotel’s decision to not host the conference, not corporate Marriott. 

However, as Axios noted, the company has made concessions to the Chinese government in the past. 

In a 2018 customer survey, Tibet, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau were listed as separate countries. The company quickly apologized after China protested the matter.  

“Marriott International respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. We don’t support separatist groups that subvert the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China,” Marriott international said at the time. “We sincerely apologise for any actions that may have suggested otherwise.”

Thanks in large part to the World Uyghur Conference, international awareness has grown about Chinese human rights abuses in Xinjiang. 

“I hear that China is unhappy about this conference being held here in Prague. Well, I am unhappy there’s a country in 2021 that has concentration camps,” Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib said

While many people are becoming more knowledgeable about the Uyghur’s plight, leaders in the movement still want more done to help them. 

“On the whole the international response has been abysmal and utterly shameful. It has been extremely inadequate given the scope of the atrocities,” said Adrian Zenz, an expert who has studied the issue.

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