What a drop-down website menu says about China's increasing power
Airlines across the world are changing their sites to appease China
It’s such a common sight on the web you might not think twice about the little drop-down menu that allows you to select a country. But this small element is at the heart of a dispute between China and the West -- leaving some major companies caught in the crossfire.
It's in response to demands from China's Civil Aviation Authority, which contacted foreign airlines to say they should refer to the self-ruled, democratic island as Chinese territory. (They were also told to ensure that Hong Kong and Macau were listed as part of China.)
In recent months, a host of others have made the change, including Qantas, Japan Airlines, Air France, Air Canada, British Airways and Lufthansa.
While the move -- which for most involves changing their websites from "Taiwan" to "Taiwan, China" -- might not seem like a big deal, it actually represents a big win for Beijing in its bid to assert its claim to Taiwan. It also shows the increasing role technology -- in this case, something as simple as names in a web form -- plays in the world of high stakes diplomacy.
Taiwan reacted negatively, tweeting that the pressure from China was “an affront to rules-based order."
It’s also not the first time Beijing has sought to pressure private companies.