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How airlines refer to Taiwan

Taiwan’s ministry of transportation is thinking about measures countering China’s pressure on airlines to downgrade Taiwan’s status as a sovereign state according to Bloomberg. China forced airlines to refer to Taiwan as part of China.

The ministry is considering both negative and positive incentives for airlines. Negative measures might include denying airlines to use jet-ways for boarding and disembarking and changing their takeoff and landing slots.

Positive incentives that are being considered include reducing or eliminating landing fees and charges for airport facilities. But Taiwan’s deputy transportation minister Wang Kwo-tsai told Bloomberg they are still considering what measures to take, while they would take passengers’ interests into account before implementing them.

Airlines appear to use different ways of referring to Taipei and Taiwan. European carriers including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Lufthansa and LOT Polish Airlines refer on their websites to Taipei, China, suggesting that Taiwan is a Chinese province. This is exactly how China’s national carrier Air China refers to Taiwan.

US carriers - American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines – only refer to the city of Taipei without mentioning a country. Interestingly, if you travel United to Taiwan you may need to change planes in Beijing and fly on Air China to Taipei. And if you fly Delta you may connect in Seoul and fly to Taipei on China Airlines, Taiwan’s national airline.

Korean Air has the same approach as US carriers. Other Asian airlines have adopted slightly different approaches. Air India refers to Chinese Taipei and Thai Airways refers to Taipei, Taiwan, China, which will please the Chinese authorities. Japan Airlines refers to East Asia Taipei, a creative reference as cities in Eastern China are also listed under the heading East Asia.

Taiwan - or the Republic of China (RoC) as it calls itself - represented China in the United Nations (UN) until 1971, when the People’s Republic of China (PRC) became China’s representative. The RoC maintains official diplomatic relations with 17 UN member states as well as with Vatican City, while it has unofficial relations with most countries via de facto embassies and consulates. For example, the American Institute in Taiwan, a private nonprofit corporation, functions as an unofficial US embassy.

Tags: Taiwan, Republic of China, People’s Republic of China

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