As the Chinese civil war ended back in 1949, the remainder of the Nationalist Army and government escaped to the formerly Japanese colony of Formosa Island, now known to all as Taiwan, its original Chinese name. The island and its Government is officially The Republic of China.
In more recent times the island has become democratic, and acts as a completely independent country but its still, technically, Chinese sovereign territory. Many in Taiwan think it should declare formal independence and break from The communist People’s Republic of China in Beijing.
That, as the communists in Beijing have made clear, would result in an invasion, and a conflict with the United States which is legally obligated to protect the island.
Anything to do with Taiwan and its appearance of independence is crushed mercilessly abroad by mainland China, even forcing airlines to display Taiwan as “Taiwan, China”, on pain of loosing their rights to fly to the mainland. Taiwan is recognised as independent by just 14 countries, and that shrinks yearly, as China persuades anyone with links to break formal ties.
And the Taiwanese still, de facto, fly the flag on their main airline, CHINA AIRLINES. The state airline of the communist government in Beijing is Air China.
Taiwan has put up with a lot from China but Covid19 has made it even worse. This weekend a sharp chord was struck when headlines in various countries showed a CHINA AIRLINES 744 disgorging tons of medical gowns and masks made in and donated by Taiwan.
News agencies and broadcasts praised not Taiwan, its people and its generosity, but the Chinese communist government. All they saw was the giant CHINA AIRLINES, and made the assumption it was Beijing they should praise and thank.
The Taiwan media and government are clearly not amused, and it’s seen publicly, and unsurprisingly as something of an insult.
Now calls are rising yet again for China Airlines to either change its name – though to what nobody is saying, as it will cause more problems with Beijing, or to at the least, shrink the size of the CHINA on its aircraft.
It seems rather silly to those outside of the problem perhaps, but locally this is a potentially explosive issue. In Taiwan and China, it will be a big deal and a lot of eyes will be watching what happens next.