05/28/2018 12:23 EDT | Updated 05/29/2018 10:23 EDT

Royal Bank Of Canada Becomes Latest Business To Refer To Taiwan As Part Of China

The issue has raised the question of how much influence the ruling Communist Party has outside its borders.

Mark Blinch / Reuters
A Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) logo is seen on Bay Street in the heart of the financial district in Toronto, Jan. 22, 2015.

Royal Bank of Canada has become the latest Canadian business to kowtow to the so-called "one China" policy regarding Taiwan.

The bank has listed self-ruled Taiwan as a "province of China" on its website for sending international money orders, adding to the list of companies — particularly airlines — that have bowed to pressure from the East Asian country.

Last month, the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration sent a note to 36 foreign airlines demanding Taiwan be referred to as "Chinese Taiwan" or be listed as province of China. Maps of China must also include Taiwan, Macau, and Hong Kong, and all regions must be depicted in the same colour, according to the letter obtained by The Washington Post.

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Air Canada reportedly began listing Taipei, Taiwan's capital, as part of China on its website after the notice was issued. The airline has since faced an uproar on social media from Taiwanese customers, who have also threatened to boycott it, according to StarMetro Vancouver.

Companies following suit around the world

Other companies around the globe have also bowed to Chinese pressure. Marriott Hotels fired an employee after he "liked" a tweet that appeared to praise the hotel chain for recognizing Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan as independent countries. After China demanded recourse, the company issued an apology which a Washington Post columnist said "parroted" the ruling Chinese Communist Party language.

In February, Mercedes-Benz apologized to its Chinese customers after a company Instagram post showed a picture of one of its luxury cars alongside a quote by Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama. The Chinese government considers the Dalai Lama to be a dangerous separatist.

Clothing company Gap also issued an apology earlier this month after a t-shirt first spotted in one of its Ontario stores was printed with a map of China that appeared to exclude Taiwan.

The issue has raised the question of how much influence the ruling Communist Party has outside its borders. The U.S. White House has condemned China's efforts to control how airlines and other businesses refer to Macau, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, calling it "Orwellian nonsense."

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement U.S. President Donald Trump will "stand up for Americans resisting efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to impose Chinese political correctness on American companies and citizens."

Taiwan's current president, Tsai Ing-wen, favours independence from China, and has previously called on businesses to "resist China's efforts to mischaracterize Taiwan."

Global Affairs Canada refers to Hong Kong and Macau as "administrative regions of China" but lists Taiwan as a separate country on its website.

With files from The Canadian Press

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