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Taiwan pushes back against China and urges US airlines to recognize independence

Commercial aircraft (Max Pixel/Released)
July 18, 2018
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China’s Communist Party is pressuring U.S. airlines to recognize Taiwan as part of China, but Taiwan is pushing back and asking U.S. companies to continue recognizing its independence.

A July 25 deadline has been imposed for the airline companies to change their official maps and websites to show that Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are part of the People’s Republic.

Many airlines that are based outside the U.S. have already complied with China’s demands, but the U.S.-based airlines are consulting the Trump Administration on how to handle the issue.

“The White House condemned Beijing’s action as ‘Orwellian nonsense,’ and publicly admonished that ‘China’s efforts to export its censorship and political correctness to Americans and the rest of the free world will be resisted,'” said Christine Hsueh, deputy representative of the D.C.-based Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.

Government officials are encouraging the airlines to not recognize Taiwan as part of China.

“We appreciate the support and efforts made by the U.S. administration and Congress. We strongly encourage the U.S. companies to uphold the freedom of speech and freedom to do business, and to stand up against any unwarranted demands from the authoritarian regime,” Hsueh continued.

Despite receiving guidance from the U.S. government, many of the U.S. airlines have requested an extension from China due to their fear of incurring the “harsh penalties” that Beijing has threatened.

“We are reviewing the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s request and will remain in close consultation with the U.S. Government throughout this process,” Delta said in a statement.

Taiwan has been a self-governed nation for more than half a century. Despite its independence, Chinese President Xi Jinping has insisted that the island will eventually be reclaimed by China.

“Taiwan is very important and he wants to do it within his lifetime. If Xi Jinping can pull off this national reunification by so-called liberating Taiwan, then he has something in the history books,” said Willy Lam, a professor at the Center for China Studies at the Chinese University in Hong Kong.

The People’s Liberation Army, which is China’s military, has recently been conducting military exercises by flying jets and sailing ships around Taiwan.

Beijing has also been building military fortifications in the South China Sea in the form of artificial islands, and arming some of those islands with weapons. Analysts are worried that the South China Sea, which is critical to Taiwan’s economic prosperity, could be closed off.

Experts don’t believe that Taiwan’s independence is at risk due to its close relationship with the U.S.

The Department of Defense has been supplying the island with weapons and has pledged to provide back-up defense if necessary.

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