Expressing deep concern over Air India becoming the latest worldwide airline to "abandon Taiwan as a nation" by adding "Chinese Taipei" for flights to its capital, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanded that the relevant Indian government agencies support corporations facing pressure from Beijing, ministry spokesman Andrew Lee said at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.
China considers Taiwan, an island which has been independent since 1950, as one of its rebel parts.
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".
Now, while Air India does not service Taiwan directly, it does have a code-sharing agreement with Air China, which means that Air India can sell seats in Air China under its own airline designator.
A spokesperson said AI followed procedure as advised by MEA in updating airline's website with respect to changing name of Taiwan.
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"That Air India lists Taiwan as a country goes against India's official stance. It did not support the separatist movement in Assam province, and hence India should not support the demand for Taiwan independence", the report said. This is the reason that this destination is listed on the Air India website. However, the move by Air India comes a year after India hosted a delegation of Taiwanese legislators that had drawn angry response from China.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) sent letters to 36 worldwide airlines in April asking them to remove references to Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong as independent regions. Had Air India not complied with China's request, the government would likely have forbidden Air India from operating at all in the region.
As of press time, India's Ministry of External Affairs had not commented on the matter. In 2017, India hosted a delegation of parliamentarians from Taiwan, prompting a strong reaction from China, whose state media warned India against "playing with fire".
Taiwan is a democratic island to which then ruling Nationalists fled after they were defeated by the Communists in the civil war in China in 1949. Air India, Japan Airline and All Nippon Airlines have only recently made adjustments.
The Global Times, a state-controlled Chinese newspaper, said in an editorial published on Sunday that China should remain calm and not be swayed by what it called the psychological tactics of the United States.
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