China Airlines name falls victim of coronavirus?

JHVEPhoto, shutterstock.com

An online petition launched earlier in February 2020 calls for a name change of China Airlines. The Taipei-based airline is often assumed to be from mainland China due to its “confusing” name, the petitioners argue. The problem has become especially urgent following the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei, China and the subsequent travel restrictions affecting passengers and airlines from China. 

The petition, launched in early February 2020, is calling for China Airlines to be renamed as Taiwan Airlines. The current name is described as “confusing” and causing “quite a fiasco” amid the concerns related to coronavirus outbreak, as multiple countries have imposed travel restrictions to Chinese citizens and airlines. Some of the restrictions are also applied to China Airlines due to the confusing name, the petition authors believe. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) includes novel coronavirus cases detected in Taiwan (referring to it as Taipei and environs) to the general count of cases in China. The organization’s latest situation update, as of February 26, indicates 81,109 confirmed Covid-19 cases globally and 78,191 in China. Of them, 32 cases and one death were in Taiwan. 

The Taiwan-China name relates to sensitive political issues on Taiwan political status and the dispute on whether Taiwan and China are two separate countries or two areas of one country. In February 2018, the Chinese government had instructed airlines to review their website references, and remove any material that identified Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong as independent regions. The demand was reiterated to 44 international carriers. Despite the Taiwanese government’s condemnation, affected carriers widely chose to either comply, or find a creative solution to the problem.

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