The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday expressed its gratitude to a British foreign affairs official who on Tuesday reiterated the British government’s long-standing policy of referring to the nation as “Taiwan.” Asked by British lawmakers Andrea Jenkyns and Robert Blackman about China pressuring British Airways and other international airlines to list Taiwan as a part of China on their Web sites, British Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field said that the British government’s long-standing policy on Taiwan has not changed. “The government refers to Taiwan as simply ‘Taiwan’ and, when included in a list of places, does so under an inclusive heading, such as ‘country/territory’ or ‘world locations,’” Field said in a written response to the lawmakers. He also made clear the UK’s stance on Beijing’s move, saying that private companies and organizations should be able to decide the terminology that they use to list destinations. “UK companies should not be placed under political pressure to make changes. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials have registered our concern with the Chinese government on this point,” Field wrote.
Asked for comment, ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) expressed gratitude toward Field for his remarks. “The government refuses to accept China’s unreasonable and barbarous behavior, and the ministry will continue to lobby like-minded countries through our overseas representative offices to support Taiwan and join us in defending the universal values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law,” Lee told a regular news conference in Taipei. He called on more like-minded nations to support Taiwan and reject China’s bullying to demonstrate the international community’s determination to defend universal values. The British lawmakers’ question came after the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration in late April sent letters to international airlines demanding that they change references to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau on their Web sites and in other company materials within 30 days, or suffer repercussions for “serious discreditable conduct.”
Beijing originally set May 25 as the deadline for the changes, which it later extended to July 25, warning that failure to comply would have consequences.The White House on May 5 denounced China’s demand as “Orwellian nonsense.” A group of US senators in May sent a letter to two US airlines that received the demand to pledge their willingness to defend the companies’ integrity. The ministry last month said that it is considering international litigation to safeguard the nation’s dignity and global status.