Finnair is on a list of 20 airlines that have recently begun to refer to Taiwan as part of China, reports the Associated Press (AP).
Beijing has in recent months adopted a tougher stance on the self-ruled, democratic island it considers a rebellious province. The Civil Aviation Administration of China issued a letter to a total of 36 airlines late last month ordering them to refer to Taiwan explicitly as part of China.
The letter also set forth similar instructions for referring to Macau and Hong Kong.
The list of airlines that have seemingly yielded to the demands by amending the maps and drop-down menus on their global websites to state Taiwan, China, also includes Air Canada, Alitalia, British Airways, Etihad Airways, Iberia, Lufthansa and SAS, according to AP.
Finnair made the decision to amend and, thereby, harmonise its website as the issue received some attention in the global media earlier this year, Päivyt Tallqvist, the director of communications at the majority state-owned airline, stated to Helsingin Sanomat on Saturday. Parts of Finnair’s online services, she explained, had already referred to Taiwan as part of China.
“We follow the one-China policy that’s generally accepted in Europe,” she commented, adding that the airline has received no “official instructions” for dealing with the issue from Beijing.
China is an important market for Finnair.
The one-China policy effectively prevents countries from establishing diplomatic relations with both China and Taiwan. Vatican is currently the only country in Europe with diplomatic ties with Taiwan, officially the Republic of China.
Beijing has also lashed out at other companies for referring to what it considers its territories as countries, writes Helsingin Sanomat. Gap, an American clothing and accessory retailer, had to apologise earlier this month for selling T-shirts with a map of China that omitted Taiwan.
“Gap Inc. respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. We’ve learnt a Gap brand T-shirt sold in some overseas markets mistakenly failed to reflect the correct map of China. We sincerely apologise for this unintentional error,” read a statement the clothing retailer posted on Weibo in mid-May, according to The New York Times.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva