Japan air carriers dodge China-Taiwan spat with website tweak

File photo showing a Japan Airlines plane taking off next to an All Nippon Airways plane. Both carriers have escaped a Chinese push to label Taiwan as part of China after removing country labels from all East Asian destinations on their website.
File photo showing a Japan Airlines plane taking off next to an All Nippon Airways plane. Both carriers have escaped a Chinese push to label Taiwan as part of China after removing country labels from all East Asian destinations on their website. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO/TAIPEI - Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) have dodged a Chinese demand to label Taiwan as part of China by removing country labels from all the East Asian destinations on their website, the Nikkei Asian Review reported on Wednesday (July 25).

Previously, the carriers distinguished between destinations in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, but now, only city names are listed under the heading of "East Asia", which also includes South Korea. The change has been made across all versions of the website, including the ones geared towards customers in Taiwan and mainland China.

The strategy is similar to what has been adopted by Korean Air Lines, which has not received any complaints from either Beijing or Taipei so far.

China's Civil Aviation Authority had ordered 44 airlines from around the world to label Taiwan as part of China or face penalties. Many have already done so, fearing that their China business could take a hit.

In June, JAL and ANA generated controversy when their online route maps briefly labelled China and Taiwan together. Later in the month, they started using the label "Taiwan, China" on their mainland and Hong Kong websites, which prompted Taiwan's Foreign Ministry to lodge a stiff protest.