US airlines change Taiwan references ahead of China deadline: report

US airlines change Taiwan references ahead of China deadline: report
© Greg Nash

Dozens of United States airlines on Wednesday reportedly changed how they refer to Taiwan on their websites to comply with a deadline set by China.

The Associated Press reported that 44 airlines — including American Airlines, Delta and United — removed explicit references to Taiwan and instead list flights to its capital, Taipei. The move was met with approval from Chinese officials, who had demanded the airlines stop mentioning Taiwan, which is a source of controversy.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry reportedly hailed the decision as “positive progress.”

“Of course we hope that when they operate in China they respect China’s laws and rules, China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the feelings of the Chinese people," Foreign Ministry spokesman Greg Shuang said.

The White House had previously called the demands from China "Orwellian nonsense."

The Civil Aviation Administration of China earlier this year sent warnings to three dozen foreign airlines admonishing them for how they refer to Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong on their websites. It had threatened penalties if the changes were not made before July 25.

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

The dispute over the airlines came as Washington and Beijing exchange billions of dollars in tariffs on each other as part of an escalating trade dispute.