Some 20 International airlines, including British Airways and Lufthansa have started referring to Taiwan as a part of China following a Beijing Diktat to penalize carries which do not follow its whip.
Flight booking websites of these airlines throw up the following: "Taipei, Taiwan - China, TPE, Taipei" when booking flights to and from from Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. While Beijing considers Taiwan a part of China, Taiwan has fiercely asserted its independence even threatening to wage war against the mainland if its dares to invade.
On April 25, the Civil Aviation Administration of China sent a letter to 36 foreign airlines ordering them to explicitly refer to Taiwan as a part of China.Airlines have till this weekend to comply with China's orders or risk being banned from flying to and over China, a risk they would rather avoid given the huge market that China is.
The meek compliance to Beijing's orders without using the diplomatic good offices of their respective countries of origin, is seen as a victory for China's President Xi Jinping who has aggressively pushed "unification" with Taiwan as a cornerstone of his policy towards the tiny island state.
"We strongly object to China's efforts to bully, coerce, and threaten their way to achieving their political objectives," Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement quoted by Associated Press. "We call on all countries around the world to stand together to uphold the freedom of speech and freedom to do business. We also call on private firms to collectively reject China's unreasonable demands to change their designation of 'Taiwan' to 'Taiwan, China."
The United States which has been a vocal supporter of Taiwan helping it with weapons and diplomatic support has been unusually silent to Beijing's recent aggressive moves other than calling it an "Orwellian nonsense."
Under pressure from China, U S clothing retailer, 'Gap' was forced to withdraw selling T-shirts with a map of China that omitted Taiwan. In January, Delta Airlines, Marriott Hotels, Zara and medical equipment maker Medtronic apologized for referring to Taiwan as a country.
The day after Delta apologized for "emotional damage caused to the Chinese people," the Civil Aviation Administration of China published a notice saying it requires foreign airlines operating in China to avoid referring to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as countries.