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Noting that President Donald Trump ran against political correctness in the US, Sanders said he will stand up for Americans resisting efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to impose Chinese political correctness on American companies and citizens.

On April 25, China sent a letter to 36 foreign airlines, including a number of American, German, and Malaysian carriers to demand name changes for Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau on business websites, ordering them to avoid listing Taiwan as a country.

The allegations, including a claim that two pilots suffered eye injuries in one attack over the east African base, triggered swift denials with China's defence ministry which said the States have been "in complete contradiction of the facts".

According to a Chinese foreign ministry statement late on Saturday, Mr Yang told Mr Pompeo that the two countries should strengthen exchanges, maintain close communication over economic and trade issues and respect each other's "core interests and major concerns".

They added: "We are continuing to work with USA government officials as we determine next steps".

The sharp criticism comes on the heels of contentious trade talks with China earlier this week.

On Saturday, speaking at a Republican event in Cleveland, Trump said: "My group just got back from China".

"Whatever the USA said will never change the objective fact that there is only one China in the world". "This respect is essential for a robust global marketplace", she said.

China has said its own retaliatory tariffs on USA goods, including soybeans and aircraft, will go into effect if the US duties are imposed.

It was unclear if the call came after, or was a response to, the White House statement - or if the two had even discussed the issue of how Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are referred to by USA companies.

Taiwan, which sees itself as a sovereign state with its own government, is considered by China as a rogue province and an inseparable part of its territory. Those airlines included American carriers, and the White House response on Saturday was swift, reports Reuters.

As of Saturday, the website of American Airlines listed Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as entities separate from China.

In related news, Josh Rogin, a columnist who covers foreign policy and national security for the Washington Post, Bloomberg and Foreign Policy magazine, in an online article on Saturday on the Post " s Web site said the Civil Aviation Administration's letter "mischaracterizes USA government policy by saying "the one-China policy of your government'".

Unlike self-ruled Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are Chinese territories operating with some degree of autonomy.