TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwanese crew members at Malaysian budget airline AirAsia X have been forced to report their nationality as Chinese for flights to and from China, reports said Sunday.
According to a report in the Chinese-language Apple Daily, this is the latest example of pressure by China against Taiwan, which it regards as a province to be isolated diplomatically and brought into its fold, by force if necessary.
A Taiwanese crew member at AirAsia X said that on a recent flight from Shanghai’s Pudong Airport to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, the nationality listed in the NTLY column on the necessary General Declaration had been changed from TWN for Taiwan to CHN for China.
In a message shown by the Apple Daily, an official at the airline’s cabin crew department writes that the nationality of Taiwanese crew members will be reflected as CHN, but only for flights to and from China.
The change was the result of an incident with Chinese immigration services, the official wrote. “We had a recent incident where our crew was held by immigration in one of our Chinese stations due to the immigration officer questioning the nationality reflected on our General Declaration (GD) was incorrect.”
The airline received feedback that “due to political reasons, they want the airline to ensure that the nationality in the system reflects as CHN instead of TWN,” the official continued.
AirAsia X Berhad is a long-haul sister company of Malaysia’s budget carrier AirAsia.
Even as the controversy emerged, the airline was holding recruitment interviews for Taiwanese staff Sunday morning at a hotel near Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the Apple Daily reported. More than 200 candidates lined up, and several expressed strong opposition to having to be listed as Chinese citizens, reports said.