NEW DELHI: The representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India (TECC), Ambassador Chung Kwang Tien, on Thursday launched a scathing attack on Air India for replacing “Taiwan” on its website with “Chinese Taipei'” on Wednesday.
Expressing "deep disappointment" with the move, The TECC, which is essentially the Taiwanese embassy in Delhi, said it "regrets that this move taken by Air India, a state-owned airline, can be seen as a gesture of succumbing to the unreasonable and absurd pressure from China.”
Urging “Air India to stand up against the unreasonable demand from the government of People’s Republic of China and promptly restore the name of “Taiwan” on its official website," Chung said he "hopes the Indian government can provide firm support to its public services and private businesses to defend themselves from a foreign country’s bully actions.”
At his regular briefing Thursday, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar defended the renaming, saying that it was “consistent with international aviation norms and with New Delhi’s position since 1949,” when New Delhi publicly accepted Beijing’s “One China” policy, which bars the recognition of Taiwan –and Tibet- as separate entities.
Air India does not have any direct flights to 'Chinese Taipei', but it has a codeshare with Air China, which is why it is listed on its website.
According to the Chinese state-run Global Times, "On April 25, China had formally asked 44 foreign airlines to change how Taiwan is described on their websites." While most airlines complied, "Some carriers including US-based United Airlines and Delta Air Lines have yet to modify their references to Taiwan on their websites..." adding that "That Air India lists Taiwan as a country goes against India's official stance.”
On Thursday evening, the same paper lauded Air India for the name change, saying the move “shows the company's respect for Chinese laws and offers a lesson for other carriers that still flout China's sovereignty.”