Long Arm of China: Marriott Prague Refused to Host Uyghur Conference Over ‘Political Neutrality’

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 …
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The Marriott Hotel in Prague reportedly caved to pressure from Communist China and refused to host an event from activists and leaders from the Uyghur community, claiming it would have violated their policy on “political neutrality”.

An event hosted by the World Uyghur Congress, an umbrella organization that promotes human rights efforts for ethnic Uyghurs — the majority of which live in China’s Xinjiang province — was barred from taking place at the Marriot Hotel in Prague earlier this month, despite frequently hosting other political events.

An email obtained by Axios responding to the request to host the event at the American-owned hotel chain stated: “Thank you very much for your visit today. 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. Thank you once again for your time and understanding.”

Western companies and institutions have in recent years increasingly caved under pressure by the communist regime in Beijing, with many brands kowtowing to the Chinese out of fear of losing access to the lucrative market.

Responding to the decision by the Marriot to prohibit the event on the basis of “political neutrality”, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Conference told Breitbart London: “It’s not a fair response at all. This is a clear indication of China’s long arm, and how corporations are easily under the sway of the Chinese government when they have access to the Chinese market.

“This is a dangerous pattern, Chinese interference and retaliation are compromising our democracies and fundamental freedoms. Corporations must not be complicit in it.”

A spokeswoman for Marriot told Axios that the decision was not made at the corporate level and would not have violated the company’s neutrality policy.

“We are working with the hotel team to provide additional training and education on our longstanding practices of inclusion,” she said.

The World Uyghur Congress, which was able to find alternative venues in Prague to host the conference, was criticised by the Chinese Embassy in the Czech Republic, calling the organisation “a violent, terrorist and separatist organization that is seeking to split China’s Xinjiang region.”

Appearing at the conference, the Mayor of Prague, Zdeněk Hřib said in response: “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.”

The Chinese government has been repeatedly accused of operating a genocide of its Uyghur minority, including by the British parliament, with it being estimated that as many as three million people have been forced into the concentration camp system in Xinjiang at its peak. More recent estimates suggest that there are still some two million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz people, among other ethnic minorities in the concentration camps.

Numerous accounts from survivors have claimed that within the camps, there is widespread sterilisation of women, as well as the use of torturerape, and organ harvesting against the inhabitants.

The CCP, for its part, has officially claimed that the camps are merely “vocational training centers” meant to increase the skills of ethnic minorities to help them compete in the Chinese economy.

This is not the first time that the Marriott Hotel chain has been embroiled in a controversy surrounding China. The hotel chain issued an apology to the communist state after allegedly insulting its territorial integrity by treating the nation of Taiwan, as well as the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau as separate “countries” on their website.

“We don’t support separatist groups that subvert the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China,” the chain stated in an apology.

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