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Exclusive: White House criticises Chinese pressure on foreign airlines

A U.S. flag is seen during a welcoming ceremony in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/Files

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Saturday harshly criticized China's efforts to require foreign airlines to change how they refer to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, labeling the effort "Orwellian nonsense."

In a statement sent to Reuters, the White House said the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration sent a letter to 36 foreign air carriers, including a number of U.S. carriers, demanding changes.

"The United States strongly objects to China’s attempts to compel private firms to use specific language of a political nature in their publicly available content," the White House said in the statement. "We call on China to stop threatening and coercing American carriers and citizens." American Airlines Group Inc confirmed earlier Saturday that it had received the demand. United Airlines did not immediately comment.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler)