Monday, 28 May, 2018

Trump White House accuses China of 'Orwellian nonsense'

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in Beijing US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in Beijing Credit AFP
Jay Anderson | 07 May, 2018, 15:02

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

It was unclear if the call came after, or was a response to, the White House statement - or if the two had even discussed the issue of how Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are referred to by USA companies.

Further, President Trump "will stand up for Americans resisting efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to impose Chinese political correctness on American companies and citizens".

"The Chinese Communist Party can be forgiven for believing it can use a version of its social credit system on American companies".

The White House lashed out at China on Saturday after the country's aviation authority sent letters to several major airlines scolding them for referring to Taiwan as a country.

Tibet is also considered by Beijing to be an autonomous region of China, though global tensions remain over its political status. Beijing considers the self-ruled 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.




In January, Australia's Qantas Airways changed its website classification of Taiwan and Hong Kong from separate countries to Chinese territories, blaming its earlier approach on an "oversight".

The Trump administration drew a hard line in trade talks, demanding a $200 billion (Dh734bn) cut in the Chinese trade surplus with the United States, sharply lower tariffs and advanced technology subsidies, people familiar with the talks told Reuters. "We're going to have to rework China because that's been a one-way street for decades", Trump said at an event in Cleveland on Saturday.

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.

It was unclear if the call came after, or was a response to, the White House statement - or if the two had even discussed the issue of how Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are referred to by United States companies. The latest squabble comes amid high-level trade talks between the two countries last week.

A spokesman for Airlines for America, a trade group representing United Airlines, American Airlines and other major carriers, said the group was "continuing to work with USA government officials as we determine next steps".

Chinese Foreign Ministry on Sunday reiterated that foreign-funded enterprises should respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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