China rebuffs US request to discuss airline 'Taiwan' demand

BEIJING — Chinese officials have rejected a U.S. request to discuss their demand that airlines describe self-ruled Taiwan as part of China, an order Washington opposes, the American Embassy in Beijing said Thursday.

American officials have told Chinese authorities the United States "strongly objects" to the demand by President Xi Jinping's government to call the island "Taiwan, China" on maps and internet menus, the embassy said in a statement.

"We are disappointed that China has refused our request for consultations on this issue," the embassy said. It said the Trump administration was deciding how to respond.

The Communist Beijing government claims Taiwan, separated from the mainland since 1949 following a civil war, as its own territory. China is using its growing economic importance as leverage to isolate the island's democratically elected government.

The issue adds to intensifying strains in U.S.-Chinese relations amid a growing trade dispute. A tariff hike on $34 billion of Chinese goods threatened by President Donald Trump is due to take effect July 6. Beijing has issued its own list of American goods of the same value to be targeted for retaliatory tariffs.

Some 20 airlines including Air Canada, British Airways and Lufthansa have begun referring to Taiwan as part of China to avoid penalties from Beijing.

The Trump administration called the order "Orwellian nonsense" last month.

"We have told China that 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," the embassy statement said. "U.S. airlines should not be forced to comply with this order."

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