China hails Air India's move to change Taiwan's name

10 July, 2018, 12:27 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping

The Chinese government wrote to 44 airlines earlier this year, giving them a May 25 deadline to change their websites.

Air India's practice of changing "Taiwan" to "Chinese Taipei" on its website deserves recognition, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Thursday.

China had raised concerns about Taiwan being described as a separate region by various airlines worldwide.

Upon discovering that the listing for Taiwan had been changed to "Taipei, Taoyuan International Airport, TPE, Chinese Taipei" on Air India's online reservation service, the ministry immediately instructed the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India to lobby New Delhi to revert the change, ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said at a news conference in Taipei.

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Air India confirmed to local media that the name change was approved by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. It underlined that Air India was a "state-owned airline".

As of Wednesday, Taiwan was referred to as "Chinese Taipei" on the drop-down booking list on Air India's website. Code sharing allows an airline to book its passengers on its partner carriers and provide seamless travel to destinations where it has no presence. On April 25, the Civil Aviation Authority of China had asked global airlines to change how Taiwan is described on their websites within 30 days, the Hindustan Times reported.

Air India has caved to China's attempts to strong-arm countries and companies into recognising Taiwan as a part of "One China". Had Air India not complied with China's request, the government would likely have forbidden Air India from operating at all in the region. China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, when the defeated Nationalist government fled to the island. The Taiwan question is a matter of China's domestic affairs. In 2016, a delegation of Indian MPs had visited Taiwan. Neither Japan Airlines nor ANA has heard a protest from Taiwan, but Japan's broadcaster, NHK, reported that Taiwan's Foreign Ministery Affairs had filed a complaint as a diplomatic mission in Taipei. The US had rubbished China's instructions, with the White House saying it was nothing more than "this is Orwellian nonsense and part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies".

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