Guests staying at luxury hotels in several of China’s largest cities are treated to perks that could best the room’s terrycloth bathrobe: access to Facebook and Twitter. Those delicacies are banned in the country because of the government’s draconian Internet regulations that outlaw several websites.
Major hotel chains, like the Park Hyatt in Shanghai, make their money from overseas business clients, so to keep them happy hotels have shifted their Internet servers from Shanghai to less-regulated Hong Kong. So they’re not totally pissing off the Chinese government, the hotels seeks approval first, but the connection is still dodgy at best.
Some hotels use private lines connected to offshore servers to get around the firewalls, but they’re frequently suspended due to hasty “technical issues.” The St. Regis in Beijing faced that problem when guests had access to social media outlets for a month before it was pulled.
Some Hilton outposts had placed its servers outside of mainland China, but access was cut off due to an ominous sounding “new internal agreement” with the government. The Marriott, however, isn’t as daring in skirting China’s intimidating rules:
“However, we do not break the law. Our hotels do not have access outside the China firewall. We follow government policy strictly,” a Marriott spokeswoman said.
Guess we’re never staying at the Marriott.