Two more carriers now list Taiwan as part of China on their web sites as Beijing threatens fines for ‘violations’ to advertisement and cyber regulations.
Chinese pressure on global companies has scored more successes in recent days, with Taiwanese netizens discovering in the past week that German carrier Lufthansa and British Airways* are now listing Taiwan as “Taiwan, China” and “Taiwan (China)” respectively on their web sites.
The changes, which have sparked anger among many Taiwanese, follows similar incidents involving various brands in recent months, including Qantas, Delta Airline, Zara, Marriott International and Medtronic.
Last month, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) ordered all foreign airlines operating flights to China to conduct a full review of their client information content such as their official websites or APPs to ensure they do not breach Chinese laws. The CAAC reportedly summoned the representatives of 25 foreign airlines operating in China and demanded their companies remove all references to Taiwan as a country, as well as its national flag, from their web sites.
Beijing has threatened firms operating in China with fines for possible violations to the Cyber Security Law and advertising regulations. Listing Taiwan as a separate entity would likely constitute violations under the vague terms of the laws involved. Since the election of Tsai Ing-wen of the Taiwan-centric Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in January 2016, Beijing has intensified its efforts to isolate the democratic island-nation and to erode symbols of its statehood.
Besides making changes to their web sites, Delta, Zara and Marriott bent over backwards with public apologies to the Chinese.
Germany uses two different country codes — 465 and 479 — for Taiwan and China respectively. Taiwanese netizens have launched a letter of protest with Lufthansa and have gotten in touch with Taiwan’s representative office in Germany, which has promised to look into the matter.
* After receiving several online complaints, British Airways has removed the suffix “China” on both its English- and Chinese-language sites.