Petition Launched To Change China Airlines’ Name Amid Virus Crisis

A petition has been launched to change China Airlines to Taiwan Airlines, as confusion over the name of the airline has resulted in unnecessary coronavirus bans throughout the Asia Pacific region.

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

What are the details?

China Airlines is one of Taiwan’s national carriers and nothing to do with mainland China’s Air China. However, many people and governments have either failed to notice the distinction or have decided to link Taiwan into mainland China itself (both continental China and the island of Taiwan have separate governments, but both consider themselves the ruling party of China).

Because of the name confusion, several governments have actually included China Airlines in their list of banned Chinese airlines in an attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

According to the AsiaTimes, on the 30th of January, Italy mistakenly banned China Airlines and EVA Air from flying to Italy as it banned all Chinese airlines. The following month, Vietnam also banned China Airlines despite there being little risk, and would only lift the ban after a political outcry from Taiwan.

And on the 10th of February, the Philippines banned the airline as it saw China and Taiwan being the same country (under the ‘One China’ policy to appease mainland China), only lifting it four days later after a public uproar.

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Some countries have grouped together China Airlines with other carriers like China Southern. Photo: Sergey Kustov via Wikimedia Commons.

What is the solution?

To avoid this happening in the future, a petition has been created from a group of US-based Taiwanese to rename the airline from China Airlines to Taiwan Airlines. The petition has been directed to the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, and as of this morning has over 16,000 signatures.

“Taiwan is not a threat to the epidemic expansion of COVID-19.  But the name of “China Airlines” causes quite a fiasco in several countries.”

The cause goes on to suggest that the government can change it easily without having to hold a referendum or a vote.

“We urge President Tsai Ing-Wen to take proactive steps toward the action of changing “China Airlines” to more identity-driven “Taiwan Airlines”.  This action does not need a referendum or constitutional amendment.  It can all be done within the power of the Taiwan government.”

Air China A350
The airline’s name is very close to rival Air China. Photo: Getty

But the letter does suggest that it will be hard to do and will have far-reaching consequences.

“We know this is not an easy task.  It may touch many sensitive issues such as operations and revenues, aviation rights, etc.  This is a doable and worthwhile effort to take the first step to affirm Taiwan’s identity under resilient President Tsai’s government.  We must do it now.”

If you want to read more or sign the petition yourself, you can do so here.

If the petition was successful and it did get considered, and eventually passed by the government of Taiwan, it would involve repainting the entire fleet as well as uniforms, letterheads, signage and all the legal documents of the company. This would cost millions upon millions todo and would not be considered a light task.

What do you think? Should China Airlines be renamed? Let us know in the comments.