It’s the latest development in the struggle between China and Taiwan. While it’s still entirely possible to fly to Taiwan, on paper you’ll now be flying to “Taipei airport.” China’s Civil Aviation Administration sent a letter earlier this year to over 40 airlines, threatening sanctions unless they removed the word “Taiwan” from their websites. In response, three major US airlines (American, Delta, and United) complied with the request. US airlines were the last of the world’s major airlines to make the change.
Taiwan and mainland China have operated as separate entities since the civil war in 1949. The Taiwanese view themselves as independent, but Beijing believes the self-governed, democratic state is a breakaway province that should still fall under China’s rule. Faced with sanctions from one of the world’s largest travel markets, the world’s airlines were pressured to comply with China’s request. “United abides by and respects local laws and regulations in all markets and jurisdictions where we operate and conduct business,” a United spokesperson told The Washington Post.
The White House has called China’s strict mandates “Orwellian nonsense,” and pledged to “stand up for Americans resisting efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to impose Chinese political correctness on American companies and citizens.” Earlier this year, China blocked all Marriott websites and apps for one week, because the hotel chain referred to Taiwan, Tibet, Macau, and Hong Kong as separate countries in an email.