By Abraham Chu, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles
A recent statement from the White House calls on China to stop all demands and coercion on multinational companies, politically pressuring them to refer to Taiwan as “Taiwan, China” or “Taiwan Region, China,” which not only creates unnecessary misunderstanding, but damages consumers’ rights and interest and represents a violation of free market mechanism. Taiwan commends the United States for standing up to China in support of Taiwan.
The Chinese government has frequently raised concerns in the international arena by blocking Taiwan from joining the international community. China once again uses its “sharp power” to censor Taiwan’s sovereignty, now even extending such practice into the private sector. In January, China banned Marriott International’s website for acknowledging Taiwan as a country. And furthermore, in January and April, it forbade United Airlines along with 36 other international airlines from recognizing Taiwan as a country on their websites or face sanctions.
Taiwan is not, nor has it ever been, part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which is governed by the Chinese Communist Party. With a population of 23 million, Taiwan has its own government, maintains its own national defense, and conducts its own foreign policy. This is the reality that China refuses to face while pressuring the global society to accept its false claim of the so called “One China Principle.” China’s unjustifiable action to meddle with the private sector intervenes in other countries’ sovereignty and constitutes non-tariff barriers to trade that violate the free market mechanisms regulated by the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Trade in Services. The White House echoes Taiwan’s reasoning in this matter, stating that “The United States respects the broad freedom private companies have in their interactions with their customers … [and that respect] is essential for a robust global marketplace.”
Overall, China demanding [that] multinational companies [change] their reference to Taiwan and also using their nationalism to gain leverage in the international arena goes against their big dream of China’s peaceful rise. It is ironic how that term assures that China’s rise would consist of promoting a peaceful international community and not creating unnecessary international confrontation or interfering with other countries’ sovereignty; however their actions are the exact opposite and will not be respected in the international arena. Therefore, the U.S. is right in standing up to China, to protect its people from accepting policies that do not match with its own values. We hope the international community will follow suit and urge multinational companies to reinstate Taiwan’s correct designation on all platforms.