U.S. Airlines Just Erased References to Taiwan to Comply with China’s Demands

July 25, 2018, 9:33 AM UTC

Traveling to Taipei?

Its name might appear a little differently the next time you book your tickets online.

Following Chinese pressure to change the way airlines describe Taiwan—as well as Hong Kong and Macau, which are special administrative regions of China—a number of airlines will now use Chinese-approved language to refer to these islands.

Taipei previously appeared on the websites of American carriers as some variation on “TPE, Taiwan.” The city will now be referred to by the name of its airport, Taoyuan International, as opposed to the name of the island, which is a subject of controversy between the self-administered island and mainland China.

American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines have all made changes to their websites as of Wednesday morning. Most airlines based elsewhere, including Air Canada, Lufthansa, and British Airways had earlier made the change, according to Reuters.

The State Department, meanwhile, expressed ‘strong objection’ to China’s “attempts to compel private firms to use specific words of a political nature in their publicly available content,” according to The Washington Post.

In April, China had sent a letter to 36 foreign airlines demanding that they change the way the refer to Taiwan, setting a deadline of July 25 to make the amendments. Non-compliance, it warned, would lead to repercussions, although the government did not delineate what they would be.

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