Beijing has again warned US airlines that they cannot avoid conforming with the one-China policy, if they want to continue operating in the country.

China’s Foreign Minister gave another warning after United Airlines opted to skirt around Beijing’s mandate to rectify references to Taiwan and Hong Kong. The airline continued to list the two places with China on its website, although this time the US carrier had the ingenious idea to “split” China via three different currencies in the three areas.

United put the New Taiwan Dollar and the Hong Kong Dollar alongside the Chinese yuan (renminbi) on its country list, as the three currencies are the only legal tender in the three places.

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This had been hailed as a clever way to avoid putting Taiwan and Hong Kong under China to get around Beijing’s decree. In Taiwan, the office of the president has expressed support for any effort by international companies to continue to distinguish Taiwan from China.

But in an escalation of rhetoric on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying stressed that there was no “elasticity” when it comes to abiding by the one-China principle.

“There is only one China and Taiwan is a part of it. This [Beijing’s claim to sovereignty over Taiwan] is a basic fact, common sense and international consensus,” Hua said.

On April 25, China’s Civil Aviation Administration asked 44 international airlines to modify references to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau on their websites to conform with its one-China policy, and US airlines including United, Delta and American Airlines were the last to make the changes, hours before the deadline.

The Chinese aviation authority has already sent a letter of protest to United, demanding timely rectification. “Don’t play any trick,” said the letter, according to Chinese papers.

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