TAIPEI, TAIWAN — Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), a close ally of the president and member of the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, said Tuesday that American companies should not give in to Chinese bullying.
“We’ve had strong ties with Taiwan for many years, and no amount of intimidation by the Chinese Communist Party will change that,” he said in a statement to Breitbart News.
“American companies should not give in to Chinese bullying; it will only whet Beijing’s appetite and threaten the peace across the Taiwan Strait,” he said.
On April 28, China sent 36 international airlines a letter demanding that they change their descriptions of Taiwan to reflect Beijing’s “One China” policy — that Taiwan is part of communist China. Taiwan, a democracy, maintains it is a separate country.
China’s letter prompted a sharp rebuke from President Trump’s spokesperson Sarah Sanders, who released a statement on Saturday calling it “Orwellian nonsense.”
Taiwanese Deputy Minister of Mainland Affairs Council Chang Tien-chin said Taiwan was appreciative of that response.
“I think President Trump said it very good yesterday. He said the action of mainland China Civil Administration is something like ‘Orweillian nonsense.’ This is the first time I heard this kind of terminology. That is something we are appreciative for,” he told reporters on Monday.
Although the question of Taiwan’s status has remained unresolved between China and Taiwan since the Chinese civil war between the Communists and the nationalists ended in 1949, under Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing has stepped up its efforts to isolate Taiwan.
Last year, China pressured five countries to change the name of the unofficial Taiwanese embassies in their countries, and move them outside of capitals. Now, it is pressuring international firms to change how they describe Taiwan on their websites and promotional materials.
In January, China succeeded in pressuring Marriott, Zara, Qantas, and Delta Airlines to to delete all references to Taiwan as a country, and Taiwan fears more companies will follow.
The U.S. acknowledges China’s position on Taiwan, but does not take a stance on Taiwan’s status. It does, however, maintain an unofficial embassy in Taiwan, and provides it with defense equipment.
Since Taiwan’s current president Tsai Ing-Wen took office in 2016, three allies cut their official diplomatic ties with Taiwan under pressure from China. Currently, only 19 countries officially recognize Taiwan as a country.
However, approximately 75 countries maintain unofficial embassies in Taiwan, and Taiwan has more unofficial embassies abroad.
Chang played down the impact of losing three official allies, but conceded that it was still a symbolic loss.
“China not only are requesting [the] foreign carriers air carriers to change the name of Taiwan into a region of Taiwan belong to China, but also they want to change our name of our representative in Jordan and other [countries],” he said.
“Our embassy [was] requested to change our name or to move to outside of the capital in Nigeria. They are doing a lot of things to pressure Taiwan, and only thing they want to do is down Taiwan’s identity, to be below One China.”