China fires back after US blasts 'Orwellian' rule for airlines

Marsha Scott
May 8, 2018

Indonesia's national airline, Garuda Indonesia recently classified Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport as part of China, likely in response to pressure from Beijing. "We call on all businesses to resist #China's efforts to mischaraterize #Taiwan", Tsai said Sunday on Twitter.

"You would expect the Chinese government to retaliate, such as shutting down websites or banning certain routes ... but there is no reason why these companies wouldn't comply because their priority is to the shareholders, not to abide by U.S. government foreign policy", said Wolf, who is now the Hong Kong-based senior emerging market economist for Aberdeen Standard Investment. Delta Air Lines, hotel operator Marriott, fashion brand Zara and other companies have apologized to China for referring to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Tibet as countries on websites or promotional material.

The Trump administration is again throwing down with Beijing, this time after China's aviation bureau sent letters to 36 foreign airlines demanding that references to the sovereignty of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau be zapped from their websites.

In a statement White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders noted that President Trump "ran against political correctness in the United States".

Calling Beijing's coercive practices pure "Orwellian nonsense" and "part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies", the administration warned, "China's efforts to export its censorship and political correctness to Americans and the rest of the free world will be resisted".

The latest letter comes as Beijing's worsening trade spat with the USA heightens tensions between the two economic giants.

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China's top diplomat, Mr Yang Jiechi, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday discussed bilateral ties by phone, with Mr Yang saying relations were at "an important stage", according to the Chinese foreign ministry.

Australian carrier Qantas, which also received the letters, had been referring to Taipei as part of Taiwan and was still doing so Monday in the drop-down menu in its booking engine.

Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, said it was "entirely a matter for Qantas, or any other company, how it chooses to best promote the destinations it flies to". "There should be no pressure from governments, whether ours or others, that threatens the ordinary operations of business".

PATA has 88 government members and China has emerged as the most supportive in hosting events and has considerable clout, but the association has managed to juggle the two China issues quite expertly limiting friction and demands.

As China leverages the power of its massive domestic market to bend foreign companies to its political will, its retribution has sometimes targeted those firms' online presence.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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