Air India buckles to China’s pressure, will now refer to Taiwan as Chinese Taipei

New Delhi: India has decided to bend backwards in yielding to China’s demand to no longer refer to Taiwan as a separate region on websites. A beginning has been made in this direction: Air India’s website, which as of last month referred to Taiwan as ‘Taiwan’, will now refer to it as ‘Chinese Taipei’.

Experts see in the move a virtual recognition of Taiwan as part of China. It is difficult to accept that Air India has done so without referring the matter to the Ministry of External Affairs. What remains to be seen is whether this move will set a precedent of sorts in other spheres. But even as India is ready to toe the China line, Beijing has not made any conciliatory moves in recognising India’s territorial claims. The External Affairs Ministry, too, is yet to state its position on the paradigm shift in India’s relations vis-a-vis China, without extracting similar concessions in Pak Occupied Kashmir and Arunachal.

China’s Civil Aviation Administration sent a letter in late April instructing 36 international airlines to identify Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong as part of China on their respective websites in line with Beijing’s “one China” principle. Several airlines, including Air Canada and Lufthansa, complied. But some American airlines and Air India did not fall in line. Beijing had given them time until July 25 to comply. If they did not, it had warned, China could make it difficult for the carriers commercially and operationally when they used Chinese airports. China considers Taiwan as a breakaway province, although Taiwan has been administered separately by its own government since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.


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