TAIPEI, TAIWAN — Taiwan on Sunday thanked the White House for standing up to China, after Beijing threatened U.S. airlines to change the way they listed Taiwan on their websites.
“Thank you @WhiteHouse for standing up to the pressure on #Taiwan. We’ll continue making contributions to the international community despite the actions of #China,” Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted.
— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) May 6, 2018
China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAA) last month quietly sent a letter to three dozen international airlines, including a number from the U.S., ordering them to describe Taiwan as part of China instead of a separate country.
China has long maintained that Taiwan is part of China and will eventually be reunified with the mainland, while Taiwan considers itself a separate country the Republic of China. The U.S. acknowledges China’s position, but does not take a stance on the Taiwan’s status.
China has increasingly asserted its position on the global stage. Beijing has blocked for a second year in a row Taiwan’s attendance as an observer at the upcoming World Health Assembly in late May.
Lately, Beijing has turned its attention to getting international companies to describe Taiwan as part of China. The pressure has been working with some companies. In January, Zara, Marriott, Qantas, and Delta Air Lines all deleted references to Taiwan as a country, according to Business Insider.
On Saturday, the White House issued a sharp rebuke to China’s letter.
“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,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
“China’s internal Internet repression is world-famous. China’s efforts to export its censorship and political correctness to Americans and the rest of the free world will be resisted,” she continued.
China’s foreign ministry responded Monday that foreign companies doing business in China must respect the “national feelings” of the Chinese people.
Chinese foreign ministry's response to White House statement accusing China of "Orwellian nonsense" over Taiwan and Hong Kong. Says foreign companies doing business in China must, inter alia, "respect the national feelings of the Chinese people."https://t.co/FrsC6yaWOy pic.twitter.com/ON0AbImhKP
— Chris Buckley 储百亮 (@ChuBailiang) May 6, 2018
However, the White House’s strong statement was praised by some China experts.
Good strong statement by White House denouncing China’s threats to U.S. companies. pic.twitter.com/RkBIsd7g9I
— Ely Ratner (@elyratner) May 5, 2018
One journalist noted: “Have to say, I can’t imagine another administration saying this to China. And many China hands would say this kind of response has been long overdue.”
Have to say, I can’t imagine another administration saying this to China. And many China hands would say this kind of response has been long overdue. https://t.co/vhby4e8RSE
— Melissa Chan (@melissakchan) May 5, 2018