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Forcing airlines to classify Taiwan, Hong Kong as Chinese territories is ‘Orwellian nonsense,’ White House says

The United States on Saturday scolded China for attempting to impose “political correctness” on American carriers by asking them to classify Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as Chinese territories.

A sternly worded White House statement excoriated Beijing for the demands, which it termed “Orwellian nonsense.”

donald trump

Donald Trump. File photo: US Gov.

“President Donald J. Trump ran against political correctness in the United States,” it said. “He will stand up for Americans resisting efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to impose Chinese political correctness on American companies and citizens.”

The statement added that the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration sent a notice to 36 foreign air carriers, including a number of American carriers, on April 25, asking them to comply with Beijing’s standards.

Click the view the statement in full.

President Donald J. Trump ran against political correctness in the United States. He will stand up for Americans resisting efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to impose Chinese political correctness on American companies and citizens.

On April 25, the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration sent a letter to 36 foreign air carriers, including a number of American carriers. This notice demanded that carriers change how Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao are identified on their websites and in their promotional material so that the references fall in line with the Communist Partys standards.

This is Orwellian nonsense and part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies.

Chinas internal Internet repression is world-famous. Chinas efforts to export its censorship and political correctness to Americans and the rest of the free world will be resisted.

The United States respects the broad freedom private companies have in their interactions with their customers, both in the United States and abroad. This respect is essential for a robust global marketplace.

The United States strongly objects to Chinas attempts to compel private firms to use specific language of a political nature in their publicly available content.

We call on China to stop threatening and coercing American carriers and citizens.

As of Saturday, the website of American Airlines listed Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as entities separate from China. Rivals United Airlines and Delta listed Taiwan separately but not Hong Kong or Macau.

Taiwan has been self-ruled since splitting from the mainland after a 1949 civil war, maintaining its own government, military and independent foreign policy.

But Beijing has refused to recognise the island, viewing it as part of its territory awaiting reunification with the mainland — by force, if necessary.

Beijing Capital International Airport

Beijing International Airport. Photo: Kentaro Iemoto via Flickr.

The US has maintained a delicate diplomatic balance since 1979, recognizing Beijing’s sovereignty as part of its “One China” policy, while remaining Taiwan’s most powerful unofficial ally and main supplier of arms.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong, a British colony until 1997, and Macau, a Portuguese colony until 1999, are now “special administrative regions” of China.

The move came after the US and China held high-stakes trade talks in Beijing aimed at forestalling a looming conflict between the world’s two largest economies.

In January, Australia’s Qantas Airways changed its website classification of Taiwan and Hong Kong from separate countries to Chinese territories, blaming its earlier approach on an “oversight.”

Forcing airlines to classify Taiwan, Hong Kong as Chinese territories is 'Orwellian nonsense,' White House says