In January China flexed its muscles against Marriott at a time that the US President began making rumblings of a trade war. They shut down Marriott’s booking engines in the country. Marriott Marriott fired an hourly worker who rather innocuously ‘liked’ a tweet about Tibet and even removed a banned book from one of their hotels.
At the time I wrote that China would be cracking down on airlines, too. American’s website for instance listed Taiwan separately from China.
As regulation is increasingly global, the most important markets set the rules. China is the next big thing. That was true 15 years ago, and it will be true 15 years from now. But for companies making a big bet in the country, Beijing is able to exercise global sway.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China has sent a letter to United Airlines and American Airlines demanding that their global operations follow China’s restrictions against “separatism,” meaning that any references to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau as countries independent from China must be removed.
The strongly worded letter demands that all public-facing content, across the world, must follow “Chinese law.” It gives the airlines a set timeline to comply with the demands, threatening that if not obeyed, the matter will be referred to “the relevant cyber-security authorities” for punishment, a source with access to the letter told Foreign Policy.
China is an important market for Delta (part-owner of China Eastern), American (part-owner of China Southern), and United (with service even into secondary cities). So China gets to regulate American speech.
China is insisting everyone copy IHG hotels and specifically define Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan and part of China.
Soon they may force US airlines to deny you elite benefits if you refer to Macau, Hong Kong, or Taiwan as ‘separate’. Unless you believe in one greater China, no upgrades for you!