China’s Naming Policy Reaches… India

Air India changes 'Taiwan' to 'Chinese Taipei' on its website (Pic Courtesy : Air India and JörgWenzel)

By Joon Kim

TAIPEI-The latest foreign aviation company in China’s political campaign to retitle Taiwanese autonomy as its provincial authority was Air India, its spokesperson announced on Thursday.

The same day, Lu Kang(陸慷), a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of External Affairs confirmed and recognized the change at a press briefing.

“There is only one China in the world, and the island of Taiwan is part of China,” Mr. Lu said. “Air India’s move shows its recognition of the international consensus.”

Two days earlier, Global Times, a Chinese-based English tabloid newspaper, published an article online condemning India’s scholarly stance on forming a territorial row with Taiwan. The article was later deleted from the newspaper’s website. “Air India lists Taiwan as a country that goes against India’s official stance,” the article wrote, says the Times of India.

The article further stated that China validly “represents all of China,” and that Taiwan’s status as “an inalienable part of Chinese territory” as “the condition” for China to form “diplomatic ties with all countries.”

The advisory procedure, which was issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of China in late April, ordered 44 airlines to replace “Taiwan” to “Chinese Taipei.” In May, whereas 18 airliners made the “correction,” the remaining 26 requested an extensive deadline to July 26, due to “technical issues,” an official for the United States Department of Defense told Business Insider.

The order had raised “strong concerns” with Chinese authorities when its letters were first received by airliners, says the Insider. However, drawing a softer line, “Chinese companies’ websites operate freely and without political interference in the United States,” another State Department told the Insider.

Air India, whose codeshare agreement with Air China enforces the same flight schedules and timetables for both airliners, had enlisted a flight destination in Taiwan, according to the Times for India.

A screenshot reflecting the change on the Air India website.

Air India currently operates flights in two cities authorized by China, in Shanghai and Hong Kong, a special administrative region whose government was recently challenged by the Umbrella Revolution, a liberal wave of demonstrations that ventured across the city in late 2014.

This demand, however, indicates a first shift in China’s relationship with India. The two nations have always “treaded warily when it comes to Chinese sensitives on Taiwan,” claims The India Press.

China’s recent behavioral aggression materialized again in early January, when it had forced Marriott International, a global hotel chain, to return a public apology to Beijing on Weibo, for labelling Taiwan and Tibet as “countries” in an online survey. Besides Marriott, China professed that other international companies such as Zara, Qantas and Delta Airlines were advocating Tibet’s separatist campaign. An “Orwellian nonsense,” the White House said in May, referring to China’s “warning,” stated CNNMoney.

The “one China” policy states that China — or the People’s Republic of China — governs itself as its own authority, with Taiwan below its wings. Beijing often uses this policy to reiterate its international status, to frame internal policies, and to sustain diplomatic relations with the United States.

Meanwhile, Taiwan, or less formally known as the Republic of China, continues to deny the “one China” policy since establishing its own government on the island in 1949. Efforts to call for Taiwanese independence from China resumed in 2016, after President Tsai Ing-wen entered office.

Ms. Tsai continues to actively raise awareness of her pro-independence stance with the New Southbound Policy, whose goal is to cooperate and closely develop ties with countries from South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.