Taiwan grateful to United Airlines for imaginative website solution to ‘one China’ rule
Currency and destination names changed on carrier’s site in ‘flexible workaround’
Taiwan has expressed gratitude to United Airlines for finding an unusual way to “differentiate” the island from mainland China while complying with Beijing’s “one China” demand.
Ticket bookers can now see “New Taiwan Dollar”, “Chinese Yuan” and “Hong Kong Dollar” listed among destination names such as “Australia”, “India” and “Japan” when looking for currency and payment options on the company’s official website.
The third-largest US airline removed Taiwan, China and Hong Kong as country or region names last month, ahead of a deadline imposed by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
Beijing sees Taiwan as part of its territory, or “one China”, awaiting reunification – by force if necessary – even though the island views itself as a sovereign nation and is a self-ruling democracy.
Taiwanese foreign ministry spokesman Li Hsien-chang thanked the airline for its “flexibility” in using currency names to obscure its position on “one China” or “Taiwan independence”.
“We would be glad to see any flexible workaround that differentiates Taiwan subjectively from China, in any means at all,” he said on Wednesday.
Li said Beijing’s pressure on international airlines was aimed at “dwarfing Taiwan” and making Taiwan part of mainland China, which was “absolutely unacceptable”.
United Airlines was among 44 international carriers ordered by the CAAC to refer to Taiwan as part of China by July 25.
Despite the White House’s calling the demand “Orwellian nonsense”, United Airlines, together with three other US carriers, dropped Taiwan as the country name for destinations on the island before the deadline.
United also has removed the country name of “China”, with all destinations on the mainland, as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan, now listed by the city name and airport code.
Most other airlines have updated their websites to refer to Taiwan as “Taiwan, China” or the “China Taiwan region”. Some also display Taiwan on their maps in the same colour used for mainland China.
Taiwanese authorities previously considered punishing those carriers who yielded to Beijing by barring them from using passenger boarding bridges at airports or moving their take-off and landing slots to less popular times, but have not carried out any such threats.