US Senator Marco Rubio has hit out at “the long arm of China” after an American Marriott customer care manager was fired for hitting “like” on a tweet relating to Tibet.
According to a report in the Omaha World-Herald last week, Marriott employee Roy Jones logged onto the official Marriott Twitter account and clicked “like” on a tweet that thanked the hotel for listing Tibet as a country, rather than as a part of China, in a survey. Jones said he believed that he had done so by mistake, the Nebraska daily said.
Marriott in January triggered an online uproar with a customer questionnaire that listed Hong Kong, Macau, Tibet and Taiwan as separate countries. President and managing director of the hotel’s Asia-Pacific office Craig S. Smith told China Daily that it was a “huge mistake,” added that it was “probably one of the biggest in my career.”
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) January 20, 2018
Jones handled complaints, questions and reward-point requests directed to the hotel’s Twitter account. He had been working an eight-hour overnight shift when he “accidentally” liked the tweet from Friends of Tibet, a pro-Tibetan independence group.
The 49-year-old said the role was his “dream job” and said he did not receive any training on China-related issues. “I had to tell my dad that I got fired from this job because I pissed off China,” he told the paper.
The hotel previously apologised for the move and said it had fired the employee. It also announced an “eight-point rectification plan” after the controversy.
Rubio tweeted about the incident on Sunday, saying: “An American worker was fired by Marriott for accidentally ‘liking’ a tweet about Tibet after pressure came from China communist government.”
An American worker was fired by @Marriott for accidentally “liking” a tweet about #Tibet after pressure came from #China communist government. This is the long arm of China. They can get an “American” company to fire an American worker in America https://t.co/tOf8bksrBd
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 25, 2018
“This is the long arm of China. They can get an ‘American’ company to fire an American worker in America,” he added.