Four reasons led Air India to replace Taiwan with Chinese Taipei on website

At least four factors prompted the government to advise Air India to refer to Taiwan as Chinese Taipei on its website, two people familiar with the development said. One of the two insisted it was just advice and not an instruction and that the move to change the name was the airline’s alone.

The people spoke in the backdrop of the move being interpreted by some analysts as a capitulation to China.

“Chinese Taipei is a standard nomenclature used internationally,’’ said the first person, listing one of the factors.

Taiwan represents itself at international organisations such as Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, the World Health Organisation, World Bank and International Monetary Fund under the name of Chinese Taipei.

The second factor was that the Taiwanese participation in sporting events such as the Olympics, Asian Games, and in beauty pageants such as Miss Universe or Miss World is also under the Chinese Taipei banner.

Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre in India (TECC), which had sent a “formal note concerning the change” to the external affairs ministry, also uses the same nomenclature. TECC is seen as Taiwan’s unofficial embassy in New Delhi.

“Most airlines across the world have started referring to Taiwan as Chinese Taipei. There is nothing unusual about Air India’s decision,’’ said another person, claiming that the perception that India’s existing position on Taiwan has changed is “inaccurate”.

Air India does not have flights to Taipei, but it has a code-sharing arrangement with Air China. A spokesperson for the airline said on Thursday that the national carrier had changed the name following instructions from the government. China on Thursday approved the Air India’s move.

The move has created a storm with some experts calling it a capitulation to China.

Defence analyst Uday Bhaskar said this is another Indian measure to improve the relationship with China. “But what India is expecting in return as a measure of reciprocity is still not very clear.”

Strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney called it “just the latest Indian step this year to propitiate China”. “Has China taken even a tiny step to commit itself to a one India policy?” he asked.

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