Three major US airlines have changed their Web sites to refer to Taiwan only by city names, in response to Beijing’s demand that the changes be made by yesterday.
Reuters on Tuesday reported that the three major US carriers — American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines — had agreed to meet China’s request to change the way they refer to Taiwan online.
An unnamed US official was quoted as saying that the US Department of State had on Monday promised China’s embassy in Washington that the carriers’ English and Chinese-language Web sites would only display city names for Taiwan and would remove references to Taiwan as a nation.
Photo: Nadia Tsao, Taipei Times
American Airlines yesterday morning was the first to comply, changing references from “Taipei, Taiwan,” to only “Taipei.”
When approached for questioning, department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said she was not informed of the latest developments and urged reporters to speak directly to the airlines.
However, the US government is opposed to such demands, she added.
“We would oppose a government’s demand on private corporations that private corporations label something the way that the government demands it to do,” she said.
Beijing understood the US government’s position well, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs spokeswoman Grace Choi said.
The department told Beijing that it was strongly opposed to attempts from China to pressure private US companies into publicly using language indicative of a particular political position, she said, adding that the department’s point of view on the matter had not changed.
Another unnamed department official reiterated that the agency was opposed to Beijing giving orders to US companies, saying that the changes could inconvenience customers.
Comparatively, Chinese companies are free to operate their Web sites without any interference from the US government, the official said, adding that the department has urged other nations to similarly express their concerns to Beijing over its pressure on private companies.
The department would continue to discuss the issue with the Chinese government, but the decision is ultimately in the hands of the companies themselves, the official said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday in a statement said that China has no jurisdiction over Taiwan and that the democratic nation’s existence cannot be denied.
“We will not simply disappear under pressure from China,” the statement said.
The ministry condemned Beijing’s use of political force to interfere with the operations of private foreign businesses as “rude and unreasonable,” saying that it has been in touch with US government departments and representatives, and hopes that the US companies would reverse the changes.
The ministry also expressed thanks to the US firms and other international airlines for showing reluctance to making the changes, despite mounting pressure from China.
Taiwan’s successes in democratization and the protection of human rights have earned it international praise, the ministry said, adding that Taiwanese would continue their way of life without deterrence by China’s threats.
Taiwan calls on the support of like-minded nations to stand up to China’s attempts to interfere with private firms, the statement added.
Additional reporting by Lu Yi-hsuan
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations