First, the White House issued a statement that dismissed as “Orwellian nonsense,” China’s request for foreign air carriers – including the United States’s – to comply with Beijing’s standards of referring to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as Chinese territories.
Then the United States embassy took to the popular Chinese social media platform, Weibo on Monday to post the Mandarin translation of the statement on its official account.
The Weibo post inspired tens of thousands of comments, but instead of supportive messages it triggered patriotic posts on a platform that is closely watched and censored by the authorities.
While the post has not been taken down, users who try to share it on their own accounts receive a message saying: “Sorry, this content is temporarily unavailable.”
The White House statement came after Chinese Civil Aviation Administration sent a notice to 36 foreign airlines on April 25, asking them to comply with Beijing’s standards of referring to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as Chinese territories.
Hong Kong, a British colony until 1997, and Macau, a Portuguese colony until 1999, are now “special administrative regions” of China.
But Taiwan has been self-ruled since splitting from the mainland after a 1949 civil war.
China views the democratic island as a renegade part of its territory and has not ruled out the use of force to bring it back into the fold if necessary.
The White House called Beijing’s demand to the airlines an attempt by the Chinese Communist Party to “export its censorship and political correctness to Americans.”