Taiwan lodges complaint with SIA and Scoot for listing it as part of China

Taiwan has lodged a complaint with Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Scoot for naming Taiwan as part of China on their bookings websites. This followed a demand from Beijing towards airlines globally to make the switch.

When contacted by Marketing, a Scoot spokesperson confirmed that Singapore Airlines had “received a formal letter from Civil Aviation Administration of China, and the changes were made in response to the request”. The airline was unable to comment further.

SIA's spokesperson told Marketing that the changes were made on 11 June 2018 after it received a formal letter from the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

In a statement to The Straits Times, a Taiwan representative confirmed that the office has lodged a complaint with SIA and Scoot over the move to change Taiwan’s designation to “Taiwan, China”. The representative added that most Taiwan citizens take SIA and Scoot flights to visit Singapore and “would not be happy” with the name change.

SIA and Scoot were not only airlines which have acceded to Beijing’s request to list Taiwan as a part of China. Most recently, Australia flight carrier Qantas Airways revealed plans to change its website to refer to Taiwan as a Chinese territory and not as an independent country. However, it added it needed more time to comply with the request.

This followed after China’s aviation regulator told three dozen airlines to remove references on websites which states Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as countries independent from China. The deadline was on 25 May 2018, according to Reuters, but has since been extended to June, ST reported.

Beyond the aviation industry, retailers have also come under fire for not making the distinction clear. Last month, Japanese retailer Muji was fined for using packaging that mentions Taiwan as a country. According to Reuters, the fine amounts to 200,000 yuan and this occurred when Muji imported 119 clothes hangers from Japan last year in packaging that marked Taiwan as the “country of origin”, the Shanghai Administration for Industry and Commerce said in a statement.

Gap also apologised for selling a shirt with an incorrect map of China after photos of the shirt found in an outlet store in Canada made the rounds online. The fashion retailer also pulled the product off its shelves in China and destroyed the shirts, a statement on its Weibo read. It also added that it would implement more rigorous reviews to ensure the same thing would not happen again.

In January, a number of brands including Marriott came under fire both by netizens and authorities when it emailed a Chinese-language questionnaire to its customer rewards programme members, one of which asked members to list their country of residence, giving Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as possible options.