U.S. airlines are on the front line of an intensifying spat between Washington and Beijing over what the White House calls “Orwellian nonsense.”
China’s Civil Aviation Administration sent a letter to three dozen foreign airlines on April 25 notifying the companies that they would face consequences if they failed to identify Taiwan as a part of China. In response, the White House said the Trump administration “will stand up for Americans resisting efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to impose Chinese political correctness on American companies and citizens.” (RELATED: ‘Orwellian Nonsense’: Trump Says US Companies Are Done Playing China’s Political Correctness Game)
“China’s efforts to export its censorship and political correctness to Americans and the rest of the free world will be resisted,” the administration explained. The White House is reportedly following through on its commitment by urging U.S. airline companies to fight back against Beijing’s efforts, the Financial Times reported Tuesday, citing nearly half a dozen sources familiar with the matter.
The U.S. government has reportedly urged U.S. airlines not to comply with Chinese regulations, pushing these companies not to write “Taiwan, China” on their websites.
“The United States has replied to the Chinese government, and as a result, we are following the direction of the U.S. government,” Doug Parker, the chief executive of American Airlines told FT, adding, “I’m not certain if we are obliged to [heed the US government guidance] but right now it is between our government and their government and we are following the guidance of our government.”
For U.S. airlines, noncompliance with Beijing’s demands is a huge risk. As China is home to one of the largest aviation markets in the world, many companies are concerned about being forced out of the growing market.
When the White House first fired back in a public statement in early May, China countered by arguing that the White House’s statement will not change the situation in China.
What the U.S. “said cannot change the fact that there is only one China in the world, and Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are indispensable parts of Chinese territory,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang stressed, adding that companies need to “respect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and “respect the Chinese people’s national sentiments.” (RELATED: China Hits Back After Trump Blasted Beijing For Bullying American Companies)
Chinese media was also critical, arguing that the White House is emboldening Taiwanese separatists.
The ongoing dispute is part of a broader downward trend in U.S.-China relations, which are currently troubled by trade tensions and confrontational behavior in the South China Sea, as well as other Taiwan-related issues.
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