White House accuses China of ‘Orwellian nonsense’ over airline demands
As you’d expect, the Chinese government is indignant
In an unusually harshly-worded statement released over the weekend, the White House has called China’s efforts to control how international airlines refer to Taiwan “Orwellian nonsense.”
According to the White House, last month China sent a notice to 36 foreign carriers demanding that they all remove any reference on their websites or in other promotional materials that suggest that Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau are separate countries, independent from China.
In the statement, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called these demands “Chinese political correctness,” comparing them to the “political correctness” that Donald Trump railed against during his presidential campaign.
“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,” reads the statement’s most strongly-worded paragraph.
The White House goes on to say that China’s “internal Internet repression” is “world-famous” and that the country’s efforts at exporting its censorship and political correctness “will be resisted.”
“The United States strongly objects to China’s attempts to compel private firms to use specific language of a political nature in their publicly available content,” the statement concludes. “We call on China to stop threatening and coercing American carriers and citizens.”
As you’d expect, this surprisingly blunt statement was met with indignation on the Chinese side. On Sunday, China’s Foreign Ministry said that foreign companies doing business in China must respect China’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity” along with the feelings of its people.
The way that Taiwan is referred to on corporate websites suddenly became a major international issue in January after the global hotel chain Marriott was found to have listed Taiwan, along with Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau, as separate “countries” on a customer survey, resulting in the brand being forced to suspend its website and app in China for one week and issue a groveling apology for hurting the feelings of the Chinese people.
Soon, a number of other international companies, including Delta and Qantas, were also exposed for having listed Taiwan as a separate “country” on their websites, attracting the attention and anger of China’s army of internet warriors.
While some airlines continue to list Taiwan under a drop-down list of “countries,” others have seen which way the wind is blowing and made a change. Lufthansa used to refer to to Taiwan as simply “Taiwan,” that has now been changed to “Taiwan, China.”