Taiwan’s government yesterday condemned China’s “out of control” actions after the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) proposed urging foreign companies, including Apple, Nike and Amazon.com, to label Taiwan as part of China’s territory.

Presidential Office spokesperson Alex Huang (黃重諺) called on the international community to support Taiwan, saying a move by China to punish companies which fail to list Taiwan as part of China shows an “evil intent” to disrupt Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Huang told reporters on Thursday that Beijing’s “brutal behaviors,” such as pressuring international businesses to change their references to Taiwan and forcing the “one country, two systems” framework upon the island, show that China is interfering with the domestic affairs of other nations.

“We need to remind the international community to face this squarely and to unite efforts to reduce and contain such actions,” Huang said.

CASS, which is China’s highest academic research institution, issued an annual report on cyber law on Jan. 7 which noted that 66 of the world’s top 500 companies listed Taiwan as “Taiwan” rather than “Taiwan, China” in 2017.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry denounced Chinese efforts, saying Taiwan’s sovereignty will not be altered by China’s actions and urging the international community to support Taiwan in its opposition to China’s bullying.

The outcry comes two weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping called unification between Taiwan and China “inevitable” and refused to rule out the use of force to establish Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.

In 2018, China’s Civil Aviation Administration sent letters to 36 international airlines demanding they remove references to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as countries rather than territories of China.

Most of the airlines, including all major U.S. airlines, bowed to Beijing’s demands despite requests to stand firm from the White House, which called China’s actions “Orwellian nonsense.”


Credit: Reuters / TPG

American Airlines bowed to Beijing's demands in July 2018 by removing the country designation for Taiwan on its website.

Beijing has also lashed out at businesses such as American hotelier Marriott and Japanese retailer Muji for listing Taiwan as a country.

Last year, Chinese internet users and state-run media pressured Taiwanese companies 85C Bakery Cafe and bakery Wu Pao Chun to affirm the so-called “1992 consensus,” which Xi defined in his Jan. 2 speech as being equivalent to a “one country, two systems” framework applied to Taiwan.

China has also refused to allow Taiwan to participate in international organizations, such as the Interpol General Assembly, World Health Assembly and International Labor Conference, and last year blocked Taichung from hosting the 2019 East Asian Youth Games.

The CASS report indicates that China may continue such a strategy in 2019, which Taiwan’s government has repeatedly condemned as a means of suffocating its sovereignty.

According to Reuters, a CASS official said the report has not yet been published and refused to provide a copy.

The report, which was cowritten with the Internet Development Research Institution of Peking University, added that 53 companies referred to Hong Kong “erroneously,” according to China’s state-run Legal Daily.

Companies such as Subaru, Siemens and ABB were on the list of multinationals which refer to Taiwan as a country rather than a Chinese territory, according to Reuters.

Huang said that any actions by Beijing aimed at forcing companies to list Taiwan as a territory of China are a “blatant disruption” to any improvements in cross-Strait relations.

In a Jan. 1 speech, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) laid out a framework, termed the “four musts,” for the positive development of cross-Strait ties. Tsai said China must recognize the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and respect the commitment to freedom and democracy of Taiwan’s 23 million citizens.

Responding to Xi’s Jan. 2 speech, Tsai refused to accept Xi’s proposal of “one country, two systems” and said the rejection of Beijing’s overtures in favor of democracy and sovereignty constitutes a “Taiwan consensus.”

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