China May Punish United and American Over Taiwan References

Apr 27, 2018

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Two major US airlines are in China’s sights after the country discovered they made references to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as countries independent from China.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China sent a letter to United Airlines and American Airlines, according to Foreign Policy, warning them that they could be disciplined if they don’t remove public references to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau as countries independent from China. Inside China, the government severely punishes any reference to Taiwan as a separate nation.

The letter said that “all public-facing content, across the world, must follow ‘Chinese law.'” If the airlines don’t update the references to the areas then the matter will be referred to “the relevant cyber security authorities” for punishment.

This isn’t the first time the Chinese government is going after US tourism companies — the country shutdown Marriott’s website after a low-level Marriott employee accidentally liked a tweet supporting a Tibetan separatist group. That employee ended up losing his job for the innocent mistake.

A screenshot from United’s website shows China and Taiwan listed as separate “countries/regions.”

United doesn’t mention Taiwan as a part of China on their website. United operates one non-stop flight to Taipei (TPE) from San Francisco (SFO). American and United both fly to Hong Kong (HKG), which is a part of China. Hong Kong was under British rule until 1997 when it became apart of China. Both United and American operate loads of flights to mainland China — CNBC says United operates 20% of all flights between the US and China.

United Airlines and American Airlines did not provide TPG with a comment.

Featured image by FG/Bauer-Griffin / Contributor / Getty Images.

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