In January China flexed its muscles against Marriott at a time that the US President began making rumblings of a trade war. They shut down Marriott’s booking engines in the country. Marriott Marriott fired an hourly worker who rather innocuously ‘liked’ a tweet about Tibet and even removed a banned book from one of their hotels.
At the time I wrote that China would be cracking down on airlines, too. American’s website for instance lists Taiwan separately from China.
China specifically called out American Airlines and United Airlines speech. Delta was called out three months ago and apologized to China.
China told American Airlines and United that they had to refer to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau as part of China. They wouldn’t be allowed to treat or refer to these as separate countries. Here is China’s letter to United (in Chinese, .pdf).
They told United that Taiwan must be listed on its website as “‘Chinese Taiwan’ or ‘Taiwan: province/region of China’.” The Chinese government’s letter specified that “Taiwan must be included in any map of China on its website and United must use the same color on the website for mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.” China is even involving itself in United’s graphic design.
But if goes a step further than that! The Chinese government wants to ensure that award travel to Taiwan doesn’t get more expensive, insisting that “Taiwan destinations must not be classified as being in Southeast Asia but must be put in the same category as China” — notably United lists Hong Kong as Southeast Asia, while American lists all destinations at issue including China itself as “Asia 2.”
China is insisting everyone copy IHG hotels and specifically define Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan and part of China.
And they’re using their new ‘social scoring’ system to rate US companies.
If United doesn’t comply by May 25, the Chinese government will invoke “Civil Aviation Industry Credit Management Trial Measures” and “make a record of your company’s serious dishonesty and take disciplinary actions against your company…
That reference to “Civil Industry Credit Management” is citing a trial regulation on credit scoring in the aviation industry, and the letter claims United’s labeling of Taiwan is equal to “serious dishonesty” under that regulation…
This is Orwellian nonsense and part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies,” the statement reads. “China’s internal Internet repression is world-famous. China’s efforts to export its censorship and political correctness to Americans and the rest of the free world will be resisted.”
…“The United States strongly objects to China’s attempts to compel private firms to use specific language of a political nature in their publicly available content,” the White House statement says. “We call on China to stop threatening and coercing American carriers and citizens.”
From China’s perspective, they can regulate speech beyond their borders as a condition of allowing companies to do business. Where will this end? Could they tell airlines they’re only allowed to honor elite benefits for passengers whose speech about Taiwan or Tibet conforms to their standards?
(HT: Bryan S.)