Three Major U.S. Airlines Change Websites’ References to Taiwan to Avoid Chinese Sanctions

CHICAGO, IL – MAY 11: American Airlines aricraft sit at gates at O’Hare International Airport on May 11, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Today American Airlines held a ceremony to mark the opening of five new gate at the airport. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

US airlines have begun changing their websites to keep China happy, just hours before a deadline for them to do so.

Beijing has demanded that American Airlines, Delta and United all change how their global websites refer to Taiwan by Wednesday, or potentially face sanctions in one of the world’s biggest markets for air travel. All three are set to comply.

On Wednesday morning in Asia hours, American Airlines had updated its website to show that it simply flies to “Taipei,” with no mention of Taiwan. A few hours earlier, the website said American Airlines flew to “Taipei, Taiwan.”

A source familiar with discussions on the matter told CNN that other airlines including Delta and United would change how their websites refer to Taipei in the next 24 to 48 hours. The source didn’t specify how exactly the carriers would update their websites.

China and Taiwan have been governed separately since 1949 following the Communist victory on the mainland after a civil war, although a shared cultural and linguistic heritage mostly endures.

But China considers Taiwan to be an integral part of its territory, and comes down hard on any suggestions to the contrary.

“Like other carriers, American is implementing changes to address China’s request. Air travel is global business, and we abide by the rules in countries where we operate,” American spokeswoman Shannon Gilson told CNN.

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SOURCE: CNN, Daniel Shane