Tue, May 08, 2018 - Page 5 News List

China blasts US’ ‘Orwellian’ jab on its Taiwan push


China is not backing down after the White House called an order for airlines to stop referring to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as countries “Orwellian nonsense.”

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said that all three places “are indivisible parts of China.”

“Regardless of what the US will say or do, it will not change the fact that there is only one China in the world,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) told a regular briefing, reiterating a statement on Sunday.

“We urge foreign companies to respect China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, respect Chinese laws and the feelings of the Chinese people. Those are the basics they need to do when they open and operate businesses in China,” Geng said.

The White House statement shows that Trump might be taking a tougher line after companies from Marriott International to Qantas Airways have scrambled to meet China’s demands regarding the territories or risk losing business.

US airlines were among several that received letters from the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration calling for strict guidelines for any references to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, according to the White House.

“This is Orwellian nonsense and part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies,’’ White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement on Saturday.

“China’s internal Internet repression is world-famous,’’ she added. “China’s efforts to export its censorship and political correctness to Americans and the rest of the free world will be resisted.’’

She said that US President Donald Trump’s administration is calling on China “to stop threatening and coercing American carriers and citizens.”

Australian carrier Qantas was among the airlines told to change how they refer to Taiwan, prompting comments from Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop that any such pressure was inappropriate.

“The terms that private companies choose to list destinations are a matter for them,” Bishop said in comments provided by her office. “There should be no pressure from governments, whether ours or others, that threatens the ordinary operations of business.”

Bishop said she hoped the current understanding with China could continue and that her department would continue to liaise closely with Qantas.

It was not clear what China had demanded Qantas do, or what the penalties for non-compliance might be.

As China leverages the power of its massive domestic market to bend foreign companies to its political will, its retribution has sometimes targeted those firms’ online presence.

Regulators recently ordered Marriott to close its China-based Web site and app for one week after criticizing the company for referring to Tibet and Taiwan as countries in a customer survey.

Marriot also fired a low-level social media employee based in Omaha, Nebraska, after he accidentally liked a tweet that offended Beijing, the Wall Street Journal reported in March.

Roy Jones was fired on Jan. 14 for liking a tweet from the Marriott Rewards official twitter account, a post from a Tibetan separatist group that praised Marriott for calling Tibet a country in its online survey.

The Marriott Rewards Twitter account issued a response two days later apologizing for its actions after being forced to do so by the Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration, but the company still had to close its Web site and app account for a week, media reports said.

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