THE White House issued a peremptory statement on Saturday criticising the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC)’s demand that foreign airlines remove references on their websites or in other material suggesting Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao as “countries”.
“This is Orwellian nonsense,” the statement said, adding that US President Donald Trump “will stand up for Americans resisting efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to impose Chinese political correctness on American companies and citizens”.
Is it merely “Chinese political correctness” that major airlines not list Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and Tibet as “countries?” It’s political correctness for nearly the whole world and international organizations including the UN. Governments in most countries acknowledge Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and Tibet as parts of China, and foreign airlines should respect this fact.
Some Western companies have been listing Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and even Tibet as “countries” for a long time, but wrong practices need to be corrected sooner or later. China has justified rights in promoting such a change. This has nothing to do with political system or ideology. Countries under any political system would handle the issue in the same way as China.
George Orwell satirized the Soviet Union’s political system in Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. The White House used Orwell’s metaphor to attack China. This shows some American elites obstinately regard China as a totalitarian state, brushing aside the variety of Chinese society, which has been implementing a socialist market economy for decades. These elites have misled US society in understanding China.
This round of requests for Western enterprises to rectify their wrongdoings started with the Chinese public. Earlier this year, Chinese internet users criticised Marriott for labelling Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and Tibet as “countries”, and foreign air carriers have also received attention. The CAAC’s request answers the call of Chinese public opinion.
The White House’s harsh rhetoric against China will not scare Beijing. China will continue promoting international society to reach a consensus on the one-China policy in accordance with China’s pace.
The Taiwan question is the trickiest, as Taiwan pro-independence forces have posed a systematic threat. By labelling Taiwan a “country”, some foreign firms sustain the fantasy of independence forces and blur the outside world’s understanding of the status of the island.
Time is needed to address the issue. The fundamental solution is to settle the Taiwan question and eradicate lingering traces of colonisation from Hong Kong. Troubles are inevitable before Taiwan’s reunification with the motherland.
In most cases, non-governmental forces should play a major role in urging foreign enterprises to correct their language, with the government offering necessary support. Non-governmental forces can be flexible and represent the influence of the Chinese market and thus have a special deterrence.
Chinese should be psychologically prepared for a long-term struggle on the Taiwan question and understand that not all of our requests can be smoothly realised. The more formally we raise a demand, the higher the risk it may be resisted. An always-victorious result is unrealistic and we should push the Taiwan administration to fight against pro-independence forces.
The one-China policy is a reality of international politics. Any attempt by any government to encourage Taiwan independence will offend Chinese society and any company that disrespects the issue will have to pay a price. We hope all sides can understand this before making decisions.