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White House blasts China over Taiwan directive to airlines: 'This is Orwellian nonsense'

White House blasts China over Taiwan directive to airlines: 'This is Orwellian nonsense'

The White House lashed out at China on Saturday after the country's aviation authority sent letters to several major airlines scolding them for referring to Taiwan as a country.

"This is Orwellian nonsense and part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Sanders also vowed that "China’s efforts to export its censorship and political correctness to Americans and the rest of the free world will be resisted."

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"The United States strongly objects to China’s attempts to compel private firms to use specific language of a political nature in their publicly available content," she said.

The reprimand from the White House came after the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) sent warnings to three dozen foreign airlines admonishing them for how Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong are referred to on their websites.

Taiwan, which sees itself as a sovereign state with its own government, is considered by China as a rogue province and an inseparable part of its territory. 

Hong Kong and Macau are special administrative regions of China, and have a certain level of autonomy from Beijing.

Among the airlines targeted by China's warnings were American and United, whose websites listed Taiwan on its own, without any reference to China, according to a report by Foreign Policy

The Australian airline Qantas also received a letter, because its website lists Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as countries, The Sydney Morning Herald reported

Earlier this year, the CAAC publicly rebuked Delta because it had listed Taiwan and Tibet as separate countries. Tibet is also considered by Beijing to be an autonomous region of China, though international tensions remain over its political status.