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American Airlines first US carrier to change Taiwan reference for China

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American AirlinesScreenshot/ American Airlines

  • American Airlines is the first major US carrier to
    change its description of Taiwan as a deadline imposed by China
    looms.
  • US airlines had until July 25, Beijing time, to stop
    describing Taiwan as a country.
  • Despite the White House calling China’s demands
    “Orwellian,” dozens of airlines around the world have complied
    and it looks like US carriers are following suit.

American Airlines has become the first US carrier to modify its
description of Taiwan after China demanded changes earlier this
year.

American describes all destinations in its booking form in the
format of “Airport Name, City, Country” but in Beijing on
Wednesday morning local time, the carrier had deleted any city or
country name from airports in Taiwan.

On April 25, China began demanding that airlines stop
listing self-ruled Taiwan as a country, and instead describe it
as a province of China, which frequently tries to assert its
claim to the island on the global stage. 

The
incident involved 

letters
 sent
to at least 

36
foreign airlines


Governments
got involved

, and the White House even released a
statement slamming the demand as 

“Orwellian
nonsense.”

Despite the political pushback, dozens of airlines have altered
their websites. China threatened the airlines with marks against

company social-credit scores
if they did not comply, and this
could have affected carriers’ access to what will soon be the
largest air-travel market on the planet.

US airlines were given until July 25 to make the change. A White
House spokesperson said on Tuesday that they are “aware” of the
situation.

A spokesperson from the US State Department told Business Insider
that it has consistently conveyed to the Chinese government that
it strongly objects to demands that private firms use specific
political language and that US airlines shouldn’t be forced to
comply. The spokesperson also said the State Department has
raised the issue with other governments and has been in close
contact with US airlines, but did not tell them how to respond.

United Airlines and Delta Air Lines have yet to make a change,
but are expected to follow a similar solution.

Earlier this year, Delta was
censured
 by China’s Civil Aviation
Administration for listing both Taiwan and Tibet as countries on
its website. The agency demanded an “immediate and public
apology” and the airline responded by saying it had made a
“grave mistake.”

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