Amid high-level negotiations on trade, the White House on Saturday called China's demands that American airlines follow the communist country's line on sensitive issues like the international status of Taiwan as "Orwellian nonsense."
"President Donald J. Trump ran against political correctness in the United States," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "He will stand up for Americans resisting efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to impose Chinese political correctness on American companies and citizens."
According to multiple news reports, the Civil Aviation Administration of China recently sent notices to international airlines, including American Airlines and United, demanding they follow Chinese law in how they refer to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. China is sensitive to any suggestion that Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macau are referred to as separate countries.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this week led a delegation of officials and business leaders to China amid ongoing trade discussions.
"Our high level delegation is on the way back from China where they had long meetings with Chinese leaders and business representatives," Trump wrote on Twitter Friday night. "We will be meeting tomorrow to determine the results, but it is hard for China in that they have become very spoiled with U.S. trade wins!"
The U.S. government maintains a delicate balance in its relations with Beijing and Taiwan, recognizing the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China and not the Republic of China (the official name of Taiwan), but continuing informal relations with the Taiwanese.
In past, China has targeted hotel giant Marriott and other companies over their descriptions of Taiwan.
After the 1949 Chinese civil war, nationalists claimed Taiwan as their center of government and argued they were the legitimate Chinese government. Beijing, home to the victorious communists, disputed those claims and still views Taiwan as a breakaway province that will one day be reunified.