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Taiwan protests move by Singapore Airlines, Scoot to name island as part of China

Lee Seok Hwai

The Straits Times/Asia News Network

| Wed, June 13, 2018 | 05:30 pm
Taiwan protests move by Singapore Airlines, Scoot to name island as part of China

Taiwan is protesting against a move by Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Scoot to name the island as part of China on their websites. (Scoot/-)

Taiwan is protesting against a move by Singapore Airlines (SIA) and budget carrier Scoot to name the island as part of China on their websites, in an apparent switch to comply with Beijing's recent demand to foreign airlines.

China's aviation regulator in April gave dozens of airlines a May 25 deadline to remove references on their websites and in other material that suggest Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are countries independent of China.

Beijing later extended the deadline to late June.

While the White House has described the order as "Orwellian nonsense" and Taiwan has repeatedly condemned it as "bullying", several airlines have already made the change.

They include Air Canada, Air France, Germany's Lufthansa, British Airways, and Emirates of the United Arab Emirates. 

SIA and Scoot have likewise changed Taiwan's name on their websites to "Taiwan, China", prompting Taiwan to order its representative office in Singapore to lodge "stern representations" with the airlines, Central News Agency reported late on Tuesday (June 12).

Read also: Scoot launches operations on Pekanbaru-Singapore route

It quoted foreign affairs ministry spokesman Lee Hsien-chang as saying that Taiwan would ask the companies to "rectify the inappropriate name as soon as possible".

Contacted by The Straits Times, SIA said it amended its website on June 11 in accordance with the Chinese regulator's request.

The US recognizes Beijing as the legitimate government of all of China, but has longstanding ties with Taiwan and is bound by its Taiwan Relations Act to protect the island.

Under President Donald Trump, the US has been more vocal about maintaining official and civil exchanges with Taiwan while not rocking the boat too much to avoid Beijing's ire.

Washington sent only a relatively low ranking official from the State Department to the unveiling of the AIT new complex in Taipei on Tuesday.

Japan, which ruled Taiwan for 50 years until 1945 and retains much influence over the island, also remains a staunch ally despite not having official ties with Taipei.

Australia's Qantas Airways said earlier this month it would abide by Beijing's rules but the tweak was being delayed by technical "complexity". Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop both accused China of applying undue pressure on the national flag carrier.

This article appeared on The Straits Times newspaper website, which is a member of Asia News Network and a media partner of The Jakarta Post
 
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