The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday expressed the government’s gratitude for efforts being made by like-minded nations to counter China’s bullying of private-sector corporations after Reuters quoted sources, including a US official, that said China had rejected US requests for talks over how US airlines and their Web sites refer to Taiwan.
“Over the past few months, Beijing has been pressuring foreign airlines to list Taiwan as Taiwan, China. This practice has reached an hysterical level,” ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said, adding that China’s repeated threats of “corporate censorship” has severely undermined affected parties’ freedom of speech and corporate freedom.
China has demanded that foreign firms, and airlines in particular, begin referring to Taiwan as a Chinese territory on their Web sites along with Hong Kong and Macau, a move described by the White House last month as “Orwellian nonsense.”
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
Numerous non-US carriers, such as Air Canada, Lufthansa and British Airways, have already made changes to their Web sites, but several US companies, including Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, were among carriers that sought extensions to a May 25 deadline to make the changes.
The final deadline is July 25.
Late last month, the US Department of State presented the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a diplomatic note requesting consultations on the matter, but the ministry has since refused it, two sources briefed on the situation told Reuters.
“This has definitely become a foreign policy issue,” one of the sources said on condition of anonymity, noting that the US government did not view it as a technical matter for bilateral aviation cooperation.
The spat has become “another grain of sand in the wound” amid escalating trade tensions, a second source said, referring to US President Donald Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on billions of US dollars of Chinese imports to punish Beijing for intellectual property abuses.
A US Department of State official confirmed to Reuters that China had rejected its request for talks on Monday, adding that it was “disappointed” and had maintained close communication with the airlines, but had not told them how to respond to Beijing’s demands.
“US airlines should not be forced to comply with this order,” the official said. “We have called on China to stop threatening and coercing American companies and citizens.”
Chinese companies are free to operate their Web sites without political interference in the US, the official added.
China’s rebuff has left the US government weighing its next move.
The White House convened a staff-level meeting on the issue on Wednesday, but it is not clear what it plans to do.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a faxed request for comment, but last month it said: “No matter what the United States says, it cannot change the objective fact that there is only one China in the world, and that Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are indivisible parts of Chinese territory.”
Delta chief executive officer Ed Bastian on Wednesday said at a forum in Washington that the airline was working with the US government on the issue, but would not say whether it would comply.
“We’re working with the US authorities on the topic and we’ll stay close to our US government,” Bastian said, calling it a “good plan of action.”
United Airlines chief executive officer Oscar Munoz on June 7 told Reuters in Washington that the Web site issue was a “government-to-government diplomatic issue, and again we’ll see what comes out of that and we’ll react accordingly.”
Asked if he would defer to the White House, Munoz said: “I fly to both places and I am deferential to our customers, and again this is not something I am going to solve.”
American Airlines earlier this month said that it had not made changes to its Web site and that it was following the direction of the US government.
INCONVENIENT: The US’ new air travel policy requires all non-citizen travelers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but the Taiwanese vaccine is not on the list The US government next month is to require all non-US nationals to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the nation, but the Taiwanese vaccine manufactured by Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp (高端疫苗) is not on Washington’s list of acceptable vaccines. The new international air travel policy, which is to take effect on Nov. 8, requires all non-citizen, non-immigrant air travelers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before flying to the US. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they receive their second dose in a two-dose series or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, the White House said. Vaccines
DOWN, NOT OUT: The election was not a total defeat, as Chen still received 73,433 votes against the recall, and his party has ‘grown up’ through the process, he said Voters in Taichung yesterday recalled Taiwan Statebuilding Party Legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟), making him the first legislator in the nation’s history to lose a recall election. A total of 77,899 votes were cast to recall Chen, while 73,433 voted against, the Taichung City Election Commission said, adding that 51.72 percent of the city’s second electoral district turned out. The Central Election Commission is to confirm the final figures within the next seven days, it said. Commission data showed that there are 294,976 eligible voters in the second district, comprised of Dadu (大肚), Shalu (沙鹿), Longjing (龍井), Wufong (霧峰) and Wurih (烏日) districts. Chen won
MILITARY RESOLVE: Washington does not want a cold war with Beijing, it just wants ‘China to understand that we’re not going to step back,’ Biden told a CNN town hall The US would come to Taiwan’s defense and has a commitment to defend the nation China claims as its own, US President Joe Biden said on Thursday, although the White House later said there was no change in policy toward Taiwan. “Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” Biden said at a CNN town hall meeting when asked if the US would come to the defense of Taiwan, which has been facing mounting military and political pressure from Beijing to accept Chinese sovereignty. While Washington is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, it has long
AFTERSHOCKS LIKELY: A hiker was hurt by falling rocks at the Taroko National Park, while a tower crane was damaged at a construction site in New Taipei City A series of earthquakes yesterday injured several people, damaged buildings and disrupted transportation. A magnitude 4.5 earthquake struck 8km northeast of Hualien County Hall at 12:38pm at a depth of 23.8km, the Central Weather Bureau’s Web site showed. It was followed at 1:11pm by a magnitude 6.5 quake centered near Yilan County’s Nanao Township (南澳) at a depth of 66.8km. A magnitude 5.4 earthquake followed less than a minute later, with its epicenter near the county’s Datong Township (大同), at a depth of 67.3km. A magnitude 4.2 quake again struck Nanao at 2:05pm at a depth of 63km. The magnitude 6.5 earthquake was the strongest