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US Airline Companies Agree to Name Change for Taiwan


In this July 6, 2018, photo, Chinese security personnel watch as travelers check in for flights at the American Airlines check-in counters at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
US Airline Companies Agree to Name Change for Taiwan
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Three large airlines have given in to pressure from China and changed the way they identify the island of Taiwan on their websites.

The three companies -- American, Delta and United – are based in the United States. They joined other international air carriers to remove the name “Taiwan” from their website and internet searches. Instead, the three now list Taipei – the capital of Taiwan – in all searches.

China had demanded that airline websites be clear that Taiwan is not a separate territory from China. The Chinese government considers self-ruled Taiwan a rebel province and believes the island must someday be reunified with the mainland, even if by force.

In this July 6, 2018, photo, travelers stand near a signboard at the American Airlines check-in counters at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
In this July 6, 2018, photo, travelers stand near a signboard at the American Airlines check-in counters at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

China has used its economic and political influence to pressure other businesses and countries to stop recognizing Taiwan as a separate entity.

Chinese officials threatened to punish airline companies that failed to make the changes by July 25. The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of China’s Communist Party, reported that all 44 airlines asked by China to remove Taiwan descriptions did so. They included British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, Qantas and Air Canada.

China’s foreign ministry praised the airlines for accepting the demand, calling the changes “positive progress.”

American Airlines and United Airlines said they made the changes because they respect and obey the rules of the countries in which they operate.

In this July 8, 2015, file photo, United Airlines planes are seen on the tarmac at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
In this July 8, 2015, file photo, United Airlines planes are seen on the tarmac at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

The U.S. government had criticized China’s demand and urged Chinese officials to negotiate another solution. Several U.S. lawmakers and Taiwanese business leaders called on the American companies to stand up against China’s demand.

In Taiwan, officials condemned China for making demands of foreign businesses. "Taiwan's existence in the international community is an objective fact. It will not disappear because of suppression by Chinese authorities," a statement said.

A U.S. spokeswoman said the United States opposes foreign governments demanding that private businesses make changes to please those governments.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

entity n. something that exists apart from other things

positive adj. good or useful

objective adj. based on facts rather than feelings or opinions

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