The United States on Friday announced a ban on domestic flights that use Mandarin, an official statement said.
“The United States will not allow our citizens to travel on domestic domestic flights with Mandarin as the sole language, unless they are accompanied by an interpreter,” the statement said, without elaborating.
A ban on the use of Mandarin as a second language will not apply to the U.K., Canada, France, Spain and Australia, the statement added.
The Chinese government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
China has been grappling with a spike in air pollution and food safety scares in recent years.
In 2016, authorities banned the use Chinese as the first language in public places, and this year the government introduced a law to prevent “foreign-language-only” restaurants from opening in public.
China’s top court in July said that people should be able to choose their own language, but it has been unclear how it will be enforced.
The U.N. agency for the protection of refugees and asylum-seekers has also been critical of the move, and some critics have called for boycotts.
The State Department said in its statement that the ban would help combat air pollution, which has been blamed for a rise in lung and heart disease, as well as heart attacks and strokes.