Taiwan’s China Airlines To Get Renamed

It may have been a long time coming, but the Taiwanese parliament has today passed a bill to rebrand the islands’ largest airline to avoid confusion with mainland carriers. For decades, China Airlines (CAL) has frequently been confused with Air China, leading to calls to rename the county’s national flag carrier to make it sound more Taiwanese.

China Airlines A330
Taiwan lawmakers approve renaming China Airlines. Photo: Getty Images

The movement pushing for the name change, mainly Taiwanese expatriates living in the United States, gained extra impetus following the COVID-19 outbreak, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China.

Humanitarian aid got confused

At the start of the outbreak, the self-ruling island sent humanitarian aid that included personal protective clothing (PPE) to hard-hit areas of the globe, often on mainland Chinese aircraft. This sparked public confusion as to where the PPE came from and which government was donating it.

After listening to rebranding’s pros and cons, Taiwanese lawmakers today approved a proposal asking the Ministry of Transport to come up with a short and long-term rebranding proposal. The news that the government has been asked to come up with a new name is not surprising as they own the airline’s majority stake.

CAL is often mistaken for a Chinese airline

According to NDTV news, parliament speaker Yu Shyi-kun said:

“The ministry should make CAL more identifiable internationally with Taiwanese images to protect Taiwan’s national interests as overseas; it is mistaken for a Chinese airline.” 

There was no mention in the proposal about a timeline by which China Airlines needs to be renamed except to say it would require further discussion. Despite being an independent nation, China has always seen Taiwan as a breakaway region.

Now following the latest crackdown in Hong Kong, some critics are worried that it may provoke China. This is especially so should lawmakers use the word Taiwan in the new name.

Since its inception in 1949, the Peoples’ Republic of China has never recognized Taiwan as an independent country. As a part of its “One China” policy, Beijing has vowed to take the island back by force should it prove necessary. 

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China Airlines has been mistaken for a mainland Chinese carrier. Photo: China Airlines

Calling itself The Republic of China (Taiwan’s official name), a move away from using China in its name is gaining popularity. There has even been a call to rename the country’s passport to say “Taiwan” rather than the current “Peoples Republic of China.” This proposal, however, fell on deaf ears, fearing a response from the mainland.

China has been ratcheting up the rhetoric

In recent years China has been ratcheting up its rhetoric against Taiwan, leading government officials to believe that Beijing may just be looking for an excuse to invade. For China to do so, it would be gambling that the United States would not become embroiled in any conflict in the Strait of Taiwan.

China’s increasing military strength and its ambitions in the South China Sea are apparent for all to see and a worrying development as the West and China move further apart.

It may take a while for China Airlines to change its name. Photo: China Airlines

For the reasons mentioned above, we think that today’s decision to rename China Airlines could take a long time, and if it were to happen, you can almost guarantee there would be no mention of Taiwan in China Airlines’ new name.

What do you think would be a suitable new name for China Airlines? Please let us know your suggestions in the comments.