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Emboldened China – and its webizens – telling foreign firms to fall in line

May 16, 2018

The Christian Science Monitor, May 11, 2018 - What’s in a name? To Beijing, an awful lot – especially if it’s Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau. Over the past several months, China has gone on the offensive against foreign companies that have contravened its position on long-standing territorial disputes. Often, the supposed crime is listing those territories as separate from China. This week, for example, Beijing ordered 36 airlines to update their websites. But it isn’t always officials calling out foreign companies for unpatriotic behavior: Sometimes it’s nationalistic Chinese web users who track down perceived offenses and push the government to act. “You need to follow our rules if you want to do business here,” wrote one user on a popular Chinese microblogging site. “If you can’t, get out.” And that popular support, in a market as large as China’s, seems to have made many companies think twice about refusing to comply, particularly as China doubles down on its long-term plan to isolate Taiwan, a self-ruled island that it considers a breakaway province. “The pressure is just going to get stronger and stronger,” one analyst says.

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