TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- In response to a backlash from Taiwanese crew, netizens, and a formal protest by Taiwan's foreign ministry, Dubai-based airline Emirates on Wednesday backtracked on its order that its Taiwanese cabin crew wear Chinese lapel flag pins, and is now asking its Taiwanese crew not to wear any flag pins at all.
On Tuesday, the airline requested its Taiwanese cabin crews refrain from wearing the red and blue Republic of China (ROC) flag (the official flag of Taiwan) pin as part of their uniform and replace it with a pin depicting the red and yellow flag of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the flag of mainland China which symbolizes the Communist revolution and rule by the Communist Party in China since 1949.
Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Wednesday said it lodged a protest with Emirate headquarters in Dubai and also called the airline's office in Taiwan to express strong discontent over the matter. MOFA said that the order to switch the flags on the lapels of the Taiwanese cabin crew members originated from the Chinese government.
Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said it expressed its concern over the matter and informed Emirates that asking Taiwanese flight attendants to wear Chinese flag pins was "extremely inappropriate." The CAA said it asked the airline to "properly deal with the matter" and it would continue to monitor the situation.
The original email in question sent by Emirates Airlines' Uniform Standards and Development Manager Nicola Parker on Tuesday:
The subsequent email sent on Wednesday by Parker rescinding the company's original order:
As all cabin crew members on Emirates flights are required to wear label flag pins of their nationality, the Taiwanese crew will be the only staff without flag pins, and so are symbolically stateless.
Ever since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took office in May of last year and refused to directly reaffirm the "1992 Consensus," Beijing has taken measures to exclude Taiwan from the meetings of all major international organizations, strip it of its remaining diplomatic allies, extradite Taiwanese suspected of telecom crimes, and find other ways to intimidate Taiwanese nationals overseas all as punishment. The 1992 Consensus is an oral agreement between Taiwan and China that states there is only "one China" but each side is free to interpret what "one China" means.
Emirates is salivating over the booming Chinese aviation market, which is expected to be the largest in terms of numbers of flights by 2029. The Dubai-based carrier already serves numerous Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Yinchuan and Zhengzhou.
Over a 1,700 comments were posted on the Emirates' Facebook post for Tuesday, with the majority showing support for Taiwan, though a few mainland Chinese managed to access Facebook, despite the fact it's blocked in China, to post their support for the absorption of Taiwan into the communist mainland.
Image posted by Da Shan Su.
Image posted by May Lee.
Pro-China post reads, "We will definitely liberate Taiwan," posted by 徐嘉甫.
Image posted by Ryan Chiu saying in Chinese, "Taiwan and China are not the same."
Image posted by Ken Lin.
Richard Lin posted his take on the Chinese flag with the Chinese character for "feces" faintly evident on the right.