Nicholas Kamm AFP Getty Images US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland Ohio on Saturday
07 May, 2018, 15:00
The White House on Saturday issued a statement denouncing China's demand that USA and foreign airlines change how they identify Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau on their Web sites.
The White House on Saturday condemned Chinese efforts to control how United States airlines refer to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao as "Orwellian nonsense". "We have to point out that foreign enterprises operating in China should respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, abide by China's law and respect the national sentiment of the Chinese people".
Sanders also vowed that "China's efforts to export its censorship and political correctness to Americans and the rest of the free world will be resisted".
"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", Sanders said.
Hainan Airlines, for instance, indicates the name "Macau" in its flight search engine as "Macau (MFM), Macao (SAR of China),' while 'Taipei" shows as 'Taipei (TPE), Taiwan, China'. Beijing considers the self-ruled, democratic island a wayward province.
"We call on China to stop threatening and coercing American carriers and citizens", the statement concluded, marking the strongest rebuke to date by the USA government of China's efforts to manipulate foreign companies to ensure that they meet Beijing's demands.
The spat comes shortly after a high-level USA delegation returned from two days in Beijing with little to show for talks aimed at averting a trade war between the world's two biggest economies.
On Saturday, speaking at a Republican event in Cleveland, Trump said: "My group just got back from China".
China's top diplomat, Mr Yang Jiechi, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday discussed bilateral ties by phone, with Mr Yang saying relations were at "an important stage", according to the Chinese foreign ministry.
The US and China are competing against each other, and Taiwan could easily become the US' chess piece, the lawmaker said.
The government of Chinese President Xi Jinping has been increasingly assertive about its claims to Taiwan, which it has threatened to invade to bring under its control.
The dispute over how airlines refer to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau is another area of tension in U.S. Those airlines included American carriers, and the White House response on Saturday was swift, reports Reuters.
In January, Delta Air Lines, following a demand from China to change its listing of Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its website, apologised for making "an inadvertent error with no business or political intention".
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