Chinese Hotel Imposes Discriminatory Rates for Americans Amid Trade War

By Reuters
July 13, 2018 Updated: July 13, 2018

SHENZHEN, China—Amid an escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing, a hotel in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen has enacted a discriminatory policy charging U.S. guests an extra 25 percent, a parallel to the 25 percent tit-for-tat tariffs enacted by both countries.

Three staff members at Modern Classic Hotel Group, who declined to be identified, told Reuters that the policy was posted at the hotel as of July 12 but has since been removed.

The Global Times, a hawkish tabloid published by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, said in a report dated July 12 that Modern Classic Hotel Group had put up a notice at its hotel informing guests of the extra charge.

It cited a spokesperson at the hotel, surnamed Yang, saying that the hotel had posted the notice last week on July 6, when the tariffs went into effect.

But on July 13, the hotel denied such reports. “We have no idea where this news came from. My phone has been ringing off the hook all day today,” Bai Lulu, a front office manager, told Reuters at the hotel.

“We treat all our guests equally. We wouldn’t charge one type of guest more than another type of guest,” Bai said, adding that the hotel did not currently have any American guests.

However, another staff member, declining to be identified, said there had indeed been notices saying Americans would be charged extra.

“There were ads up yesterday in the restaurant stating Americans would be charged 25 percent extra. We took photos.”

The Global Times had cited a spokesperson for the hotel surnamed Yang as saying their boss was “really angry about the endless tariffs the U.S. planned to impose on China.”

There has been little public evidence to date of anti-American activity in China as the trade dispute has grown increasingly bitter.

The United States and China each imposed a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion worth of the other’s goods. This week, Washington published a new set of proposed tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of goods from China, further escalating the conflict. China promised to retaliate.

Several sources have told Reuters that China issued strict guidelines to its media, barring personal attacks on U.S. President Donald Trump and limiting open commentary in an apparent attempt to avoid unintentional escalation.

Authorities were also censoring potentially sensitive items on social media such as Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, where trade-related items have been mostly kept off the list of top trending topics.

By Sue-Lin Wong