China’s Civil Aviation Administration sent a letter this week to thirty-six foreign carriers, including airlines in the United States, demanding the removal of any reference to Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macau being independent of China. The White House responded to the letter calling the demands “Orwellian.”
“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,” a statement from the White House read.
“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…We call on China to stop threatening and coercing American carriers and citizens.”
The CAA has in the past, required foreign airlines that fly into China to conduct extensive investigations into their websites to make sure that the three countries are not listed as independent of, but rather a part of, China.
The territories are an extremely sensitive subject for China. They consider all three to be a part of China-proper with Taiwan, despite self-governance, being a province. Hong Kong and Macau are former European colonies. Control over them was handed back to the Chinese in the late 1990s.
A spokesman for Airlines for America, a trade group representing major American carriers, said they would be discussing the matter with U.S. officials to determine what their next steps would be.
The letter from China comes in the midst of conflict between China and the United States over trade, which resulted in President Trump’s announcing $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods. China responded by threatening their own retaliatory measures if the United States followed through with the tariffs. They’ve asked the United States to stop putting restrictions on Chinese investors.
“Our high level delegation is on the way back from China where they had long meetings with Chinese leaders and business representatives. We will be meeting tomorrow to determine the results, but it is hard for China in that they have become very spoiled with U.S. trade wins!” the President tweeted last week.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke by phone with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi over the weekend. Yang told Pompeo that China and the U.S. should “properly settle disputes and sensitive issues.”
According to the State Department the two sides discussed “global, regional, and bilateral issues of mutual concern,” as well as “preparations for senior-level U.S.-China engagements later this year.”
The Chinese government struck a decidedly more defiant tone in a subsequent statement however, admonishing the U.S. for disregarding Chinese national sentiment on the issue of Taiwan and the other territories.
“Whatever the US said will never change the objective fact that there is only one China in the world and the Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan regions are an inalienable part of China’s territory…Foreign enterprises operating in China should respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, abide by China’s law and respect the national sentiment of the Chinese people,” the statement read.
Photo by Andrei Dimofte via Wikimedia Commons