US scolds China over 'Orwellian' airline demands

As of May 5, the website of American Airlines listed Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as entities separate from China

The United States on Saturday scolded China for attempting to impose "political correctness" on American carriers by asking them to classify Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as Chinese territories.

A sternly worded White House statement excoriated Beijing for the demands, which it termed "Orwellian nonsense."

"President Donald J. Trump ran against political correctness in the United States," it said. "He will stand up for Americans resisting efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to impose Chinese political correctness on American companies and citizens."

The statement added that the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration sent a notice to 36 foreign air carriers, including a number of American carriers, on April 25, asking them to comply with Beijing's standards.

As of Saturday, the website of American Airlines listed Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as entities separate from China. Rivals United Airlines and Delta listed Taiwan separately but not Hong Kong or Macau.

Taiwan has been self-ruled since splitting from the mainland after a 1949 civil war, maintaining its own government, military and independent foreign policy.

But Beijing has refused to recognize the island, viewing it as part of its territory awaiting reunification with the mainland -- by force, if necessary.

The US has maintained a delicate diplomatic balance since 1979, recognizing Beijing's sovereignty as part of its "One China" policy, while remaining Taiwan's most powerful unofficial ally and main supplier of arms.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong, a British colony until 1997, and Macau, a Portuguese colony until 1999, are now "special administrative regions" of China.

The move came after the US and China held high-stakes trade talks in Beijing aimed at forestalling a looming conflict between the world's two largest economies.

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."

As of May 5, the website of American Airlines listed Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as entities separate from China