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China fines 7-Eleven $20,000+ over map showing Taiwan as independent nation

Xi Jinping speaks to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Oct. 28, 2017. (Ma Zhancheng/Xinhua/Zuma Press/TNS)
January 10, 2022

China has fined 7-Eleven over $20,000 last week because the company listed Taiwan as an independent nation.

According to the South China Morning Post on Friday, the Beijing branch of the convenience store giant was fined $23,500 for presenting “incomplete maps of China,” an official notice stated. Beijing officials said the map “wrongly presented Taiwan province as an independent country.”

Led by West Point grad Joseph DePinto since 2005, 7-Eleven manages more than 260 stores in Beijing, in addition to another 140 stores in the nearby city of Tianjin.

In 2016, China’s Regulation on Map Management required all public-use maps to be approved by authorities, and not entities or individuals can upload onto the internet maps that include outlawed elements, the Post reported.

The fine imposed against 7-Eleven is the second time in less than a month that a map showing Taiwan as an independent nation has made headlines. In mid-December, Taiwanese Digital Minister Audrey Tang’s video feed was cut during a presentation at President Joe Biden’s virtual Summit For Democracy after she showed a map displaying Taiwan as a different color than the Chinese mainland.

While the U.S State Department said Tang’s video feed had been cut due to “technical problems,” sources who spoke with Reuters said the visual presentation had dismayed U.S. officials and was cut at the behest of the Biden White House.

Tang’s presentation showed a number of Asian countries, which were color-coded by their relative degree of civic freedom. The map Tang showed, based on data from the non-profit organization CIVICUS, showed China in red, as a country where civic freedom is “closed.” The map also showed Taiwan in green, as a country that is “open” to civic freedom. Between red and green, there were countries displayed in orange, where civic freedom is “repressed”; yellow, where civic freedom is “obstructed”; and a shade of yellow-green, where civic engagement is “narrowed.”

China has ramped up efforts to shut down pro-Taiwan rhetoric in recent months. In December, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the U.S. would face “an unbearable cost” for allegedly condoning and abetting “Taiwan independence” forces.

Wang said the U.S. has “gone back on its commitment made when it established diplomatic relations with China, condoned and abetted ‘Taiwan independence’ forces, and tried to distort and hollow out the one-China principle.”

“This will put Taiwan into an extremely precarious situation and bring an unbearable cost to the U.S. itself,” Wang said.

According to the official press agency Xinhua, Wang said “the reunification of China is an unstoppable trend” and Taiwan has no choice but to accept those reunification efforts.