Foreign airlines were warned by China that they should change the manner in which they identify Taiwan and some other areas in on their company websites recently. This has been publicly admonished by the White House.
Any information on their company websites that identified or suggested that Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macau are not part of China were asked to be removed by the Civil Aviation Administration of China to over 30 airlines that included some US carriers as well recently.
“This is Orwellian nonsense,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Saturday. “We call on China to stop threatening and coercing American carriers and citizens.”
The effort was described by her to be a “part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies.”
There were no immediate comments available from the Chinese authorities.
Taiwan, a self-governed territory is considered by China to be an integral part of its territory and it strictly rebukes any suggestions that tend to depict otherwise. Hong Kong and Macau are special administrative regions of China.
Confirmation of having received a letter from the CAAC was acknowledged earlier this week by American Airlines. On the other hand, after Delta listed Taiwan and Tibet as separate countries on its website, the airline was publicly warned earlie3r in the year by the CAAC. The airline fixed the issue quickly after a fast apology.
The State Department had earlier claimed that it has got in touch with the Chinese government to raise “strong concerns” after acknowledging that it was aware that a number of US airlines had received the CAAC orders.
China constitutes an important market for the global airlines because of a rising population of middle-class consumers who are keen to fly. By 2020, China would overtake the United States to become the biggest market for the airline industry, according to a prediction by the International Air Transport Association last year.
The increasing economic power of China is apparently being used by it to force international firms to comply to the country’s position on sensitive issues.
In another incident, Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan were listed as separate countries in emails and apps of hotel chain Marriot whose website and apps were blocked by the Chinese authorities for a week within the country. In a similar kind of incident, the European clothing retailer Zara was also punished.
Following a civil war and the Communist victory on the mainland in 1949, China and Taiwan got separated where the two are officially known as the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China respectively.
(Adapted from MoneyCNN.com)