US Airlines Change Taiwan Reference on Websites Amid Pressure from China

July 26, 2018 Updated: July 26, 2018    

SHANGHAI—Forty of 44 international airlines have amended their website references to Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, China’s civil aviation regulator said on July 26.

Among them were four American airlines: American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

China has demanded that foreign firms, and airlines in particular, not refer to self-ruled Taiwan as a non-Chinese territory on their websites, a demand the White House slammed in May as “Orwellian nonsense.”

Taiwan is a democratic nation with its own constitution, military, and legislature, but Beijing considers the island state a renegade province that will one day be united with the mainland, with military force if necessary.

Hong Kong is a former British colony which returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 with wide-ranging autonomy. Macau, a former Portuguese colony, was returned to China two years later.

The CAAC had been pushing airlines to make the change by a deadline of July 25, threatening penalties otherwise. The four U.S. airlines submitted rectification reports on July 25 and sought a two-week extension for website audits.

On July 26, the aviation regulator claimed that the U.S. airlines’ amendments were incomplete, but did not explain how.

All four U.S. airlines currently list only Taipei’s (the capital city) airport code and name, but not “Taiwan.”

Amanda Mansour, spokeswoman for the American Institute in Taiwan, the U.S. de facto embassy, said that private enterprises in the United States had no business accepting “orders” from China, in an interview with Taiwan’s Central News Agency.

It is unclear how China might punish airlines that do not comply, but in December, the Chinese regime added a clause to rules governing foreign airlines saying regulators could change a company’s permit if it did not meet “the demand of public interest.”

By Adam Jourdan, John Ruwitch, and Jamie Freed. Epoch Times staff member Frank Fang contributed to this report.

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