Taiwan to hit airlines saying island belongs to China


TAIPEI • Taiwan is looking at ways to hit back at foreign airlines that recently caved in to pressure from Beijing to refer to the island as part of China.

The Transportation Ministry is studying countermeasures, according to an official who asked not to be identified because they are not authorised to speak publicly.

Taipei-based United Daily News reported earlier yesterday the measures could include banning offending airlines from using boarding bridges, and changing takeoff and landing slots.

Authorities are also considering offering incentives for carriers that switch to a more neutral wording for Taiwan, such as reducing or eliminating landing fees and facility charges.

Retaliation from Taipei would be its first official response to increasing pressure from the mainland.

Beijing has successfully pressured 44 international airlines to refer to Taiwan as a part of China on their websites.

A search for Taiwanese destinations on the websites of Delta Air Lines Inc and American Airlines Group Inc shows Taiwanese cities without a country name or code, unlike say London or Tokyo.

China has declared those changes “incomplete” and has given the carriers until Thursday to fully implement its directive.

While Taiwan has been ruled separately from China for much of the past 120 years, Beijing claims the island, as part of its territory, will be taken by force, if necessary.