Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Taiwan slowly being erased from the global scene..... how airlines are caving in to China's orders

China is succeeding in obliterating Taiwan from the face of the earth... at least in the terms of airline computer reservation systems.  

Many airlines around the world have crumbled and caved to a demand from the Chinese authorities to refer to Taiwan as part of China in all literature and websites. Nearly twenty of the worlds major airlines have completely removed Taiwan from all their websites and just refer to destinations such as Taipei as in China.

At least 16 other airlines have partly submitted to China's orders and use the phrase Taiwan - China, on their websites and booking engines. 

The sudden change comes after the Civil Aviation Administration of China sent a letter on 26th April to 36 foreign airlines ordering them to explicitly refer to Taiwan as a part of China. There are only a couple of days left for the airlines to either fold and submit to Cina's demands or face business sanctions in China. 

The fact that so many airlines have already crumbled has been seen as a clear victory for China’s President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party’s aims of forcing foreign companies to conform to their geopolitical vision, even in operations outside of China, even if it differs from what is the general or legal global viewpoint.  

Many critics see this as just the next step in the Chinese nationalistic programme to exert economic power to change political or accepted norm, that in the case of Taiwan could see a complete military takeover. China regularly sends up its fighter jets to buzz the coast of Taiwan or Taiwanese shipping and are seeking to isolate Taiwan both financially and politically. 

“What’s at stake is that we’re allowing a revisionist regime with a terrible track record on freedom of speech to dictate what we say and write in our own countries,” said J. Michael Cole, a Taipei-based senior fellow with the China Policy Institute and the University of Nottingham’s Taiwan studies program. “If Beijing does not encounter red lines, it can only keep asking for more.” told news agency AP.

“We strongly object to China’s efforts to bully, coerce, and threaten their way to achieving their political objectives,” Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement to the AP. “We call on all countries around the world to stand together to uphold the freedom of speech and freedom to do business. We also call on private firms to collectively reject China’s unreasonable demands to change their designation of “Taiwan” to “Taiwan, China.”

In the US the White House issued a statement that called that demand “Orwellian nonsense.” Saying “China’s efforts to export its censorship and political correctness to Americans and the rest of the free world will be resisted,” However, the statement seems to be the only resistance offered and American carriers are among those caving in to the demands from China.

When contacting airlines for the reasons why they were submitting to the rule of China, most offered  exactly the same phrase, almost as if it had been written for them, perhaps by some mysterious government force, the exact phrase given by twelve airlines was that "they abide by laws and regulations internationally and in the jurisdictions in which they work."

In the UK British Airways used to refer to it as just Taiwan, now the carrier lists it as Taiwan - China, however, this may cause the carrier problems back home as a complaint has already been made to the advertising watchdogs for misleading the public. British citizens going on holiday do not need a visa for entering Taiwan, yet they do if they are going to China, so saying Taiwan is in China is misleading in terms of visa requirements, which forms the basis of complaints going to the ASA.