New York: Major US air carriers American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have changed the way they refer to Taiwan in their respective websites.
The change is reflected on their websites on Tuesday. Another major US airline, United Airlines, is expected to follow suit later on Wednesday.
The big question doing the rounds is: Why?
According to reports, the change has been forced by several airlines to avoid Chinese sanctions. Earlier this year, Beijing had warned foreign airlines to not treat Taiwan as a separate territory, setting a deadline of July 25 to meet its demand.
Keeping up with China's whims, Hawaiian Airlines was the first to make the change, followed by the aforementioned companies.
Meanwhile, the move is expected to rile Taiwan.
Earlier this month, in a strict statement, it had resented Indian airline, Air India's, move to change Taiwan into Chinese Taipei on its website.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre in India noted that the move "can be seen as a gesture of succumbing to the unreasonable and absurd pressure from China".
"If such politically motivated bully actions are let prevail, people’s freedom in doing business and in their expression of opinion may be undermined; therefore, free and democratic nations should work together to protect their common values and interests," the statement from TECC read.
However, responding to questions regarding the recent change and their business strategy, American Airlines spokeswoman Shannon Gilson told the BBC that they are going by the rules in countries where they operate.
"Like other carriers, American is implementing changes to address China's request. Air travel is global business, and we abide by the rules in countries where we operate," she said.
Beijing has further instructed foreign airlines operating in China to refrain from treating Hong Kong and Macau as separate places.
With almost all the big airlines, including Lufthansa, Qantas and Air France-KLM, bowing down, China has managed to arm-twist these companies into submission to extend its political agenda.
Taipei 101 building Image: Alton Thompson/Wikipedia
Airlines Images: From respective Twitter accounts
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