China Calls Out Apple, Amazon for ‘Incorrect’ Taiwan, Hong Kong References

An electronic screen displays the Apple Inc. logo on the exterior of the Nasdaq Market Site following the close of the day’s trading session in New York City, U.S. on Aug. 2, 2018. (Mike Segar/Reuters)


January 17, 2019 Updated: January 17, 2019

TAIPEI/SHANGHAI—One of China’s top government-linked think tanks has called out Apple Inc, Inc and other foreign companies for not referring to Hong Kong and Taiwan as part of China in a report that provoked a stern reaction from Taipei.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) said in a report this month that 66 of the world’s 500 largest companies had used “incorrect labels” for Taiwan and 53 had errors in the way they referred to Hong Kong, according to China’s Legal Daily newspaper. It said 45 had referred to both territories incorrectly.

Beijing considers self-ruled Taiwan a wayward province of China, and the former British colony of Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 and operates as a semi-autonomous territory.

China last year ramped up pressure on foreign companies including Marriott International and Qantas for referring to Taiwan and Hong Kong as separate from China in drop down menus or other material.

The report was co-written by CASS and the Internet Development Research Institution of Peking University. An official at the Internet Development Research Institution told Reuters that it had not yet been published to the public and declined to provide a copy.

A spokesman for Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan would not bow to Chinese pressure.

“As for China’s related out-of-control actions, we need to remind the international community to face this squarely and to unite efforts to reduce and contain these actions,” Alex Huang told reporters in Taipei.

Beijing has stepped up pressure on Taiwan since Tsai, from the pro-independence ruling party, took office in 2016.

That has included rising Chinese scrutiny over how companies from airlines, such as Air Canada, to retailers, such as Gap, refer to the democratic island in recent months.

Nike Inc, Siemens AG, ABB, Subaru and others were also on the list. Apple, Amazon, ABB, Siemens, Subaru and Nike did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

China’s defense minister said on Oct. 25 that Beijing will take action to foil any attempt to separate the self-ruled island of Taiwan.

“If someone tries to separate out Taiwan, China’s military will take the necessary actions at any cost,” Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe said at the opening of the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing.

A U.S. government report published on Jan. 15 claimed that China is rapidly modernizing its military, and may be preparing for its first military operation in 40 years in Taiwan.

The Chinese military has specifically designed military equipment for battle with Taiwan, according to the report, anticipating that Taiwan will be supported by other nations in the event of a conflict. This includes a wide range of missiles and deployment systems, including a vehicle that launches ballistic missiles specifically against aircraft carriers.

Beijing, which has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, has also viewed U.S. overtures toward the island with alarm, such as a new de facto embassy there and passage of a law to encourage visits by U.S. officials. Taiwan is benefiting from greater U.S. diplomatic and military assistance.

By Yimou Lee & Josh Horwitz. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.