Sun, May 20, 2018 - Page 1 News List

US senators express support for airlines

‘IMPORTANT PARTNER’:The bipartisan group told the CEOs of two US airlines that the government stood with them in the face of Chinese pressure over their Web sites

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

US Senator Marco Rubio arrives for a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters

In an effort to strike back against China’s growing pressure on global companies to toe Beijing’s “one China” line, a bipartisan group of eight US senators on Friday wrote to two US airlines that have received such threats, pledging their willingness to defend the companies’ integrity.

The senators’ letters were sent to the CEOs of American Airlines and United Airlines, following a similar letter by US Representative Ted Yoho on Thursday last week.

The Chinese Civil Aviation Administration late last month demanded that the two airlines, along with several other international carriers, list Taiwan as “Taiwan, China” or “the Taiwan Region, China” — a demand that the White House has called “Orwellian nonsense.”

“The Chinese government and [the Chinese] Communist Party are aggressively seeking to marginalize and isolate Taiwan, a democracy and important partner to the US in the Indo-Pacific region, by bullying American companies and foreign countries to sever official ties with Taiwan,” said the group led by US senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez, cochair of the Senate Taiwan Caucus.

Expressing regret that several companies — some of which are household names — have bent to pressure and threats from the Chinese government, the group said US lawmakers are gravely concerned about Beijing’s “long arm” and its efforts to leverage the size of the Chinese market to pressure corporations to toe its political line.

“As you weigh your response options, you should know that your government stands with you,” the letters said, adding that the US government would strongly oppose attempts by China or any other foreign government to unilaterally dictate terms to a US company.

The group also reminded the airlines that Taiwan enjoys strong support not only from the White House, but also in the US Congress.

As of press time last night, neither airline had succumbed to Chinese pressure and threats of punishment, with United Airlines and American Airlines listing Taiwan as “TW” and “Taiwan” respectively on their Web sites.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday issued a news release expressing its gratitude for the US senators’ support.

“We again urge the international community to confront Beijing’s ill intention to interfere with international corporations’ operations and the content of their Web sites, as well as Taiwan’s diplomatic situation, which has grown even more dire due to Beijing’s growing suppression,” the ministry said.

The ministry said it would continue to join hands with other like-minded nations to defend Taiwan’s freedom and democracy and to expand its international space.

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