Air India follows Japanese airlines in changing status of Taiwan

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Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told reporters, "Air India's action shows its respect for this and deserves to be recognized".

Air India operates flights to two destinations in China region - Shanghai and Hong Kong.

However, Ambassador Chung said the TECC has written to the MEA in protest against Air India's action and is awaiting a response. This is the reason that this destination is listed on Air India website.

Not to be outdone, Taiwan's Economic and Cultural Centre (TECC) in India also responded with a sharply worded statement expressing its "disappointment" at the state-owned Air India "succumbing to the unreasonable and absurd pressure from China". The Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC), on April 25, had sent out letters to various foreign airlines asking them them to change the way Taiwan was referred to in their website, as per media reports.

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India does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Many global airlines, including Air Canada, Singapore Airlines, Emirates and others have submitted to Beijing's demand and changed Taiwan's name on their websites, some of which now directly imply Taiwan is a province of China.

"They argue that India's communiqués with China do not mention or support the one-China policy and Indian leaders did not speak explicitly about this policy; therefore, Indian companies do not have to abide by it", it said. Had Air India not complied with China's request, the government would likely have forbidden Air India from operating at all in the region.

"I want to repeat that respecting China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and obeying Chinese law is the basic principle that foreign companies need to follow in China", Lu said.

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As of press time, India's Ministry of External Affairs had not commented on the matter.

Yesterday's decision comes as the government has gone the extra mile to make nice with China in the past few months, raising questions about whether India had compromised its traditional positions.

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. China's economic power has caused worldwide airlines including Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways, Air Canada, Finnair, and Malaysia Airlines to identify Taiwan as "Chinese Taipei".

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