Pro-Trump ad mistakes Taiwan's CAL for Chinese airline

Pro-Trump ad highlights need to change name of Taiwan's China Airlines

(America First Action screenshot)

(America First Action screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In yet another episode of Taiwan and its organizations being confused with China, a pro-Trump TV ad accidentally used an image of Taiwan's China Airlines (CAL) to represent a Chinese carrier.

The 30-second TV advertisement, which was produced by the Super PAC America First Action and posted on the Twitter account America First Ads on May 2, was designed to attack Joe Biden for being soft of China. However, early in the ad, an image of a CAL jet is erroneously juxtaposed with the former vice president to link him to communist China.

The ad starts out with Biden giving a speech at Sichuan University saying "It is in our self-interest that China continues to prosper." Next, it cuts to Biden appearing to overlook a sea of People's Liberation Army soldiers while a text box cites a vote he made on Sept. 19, 2000, in favor of giving China permanent normal trade relations, or PNTR, which the ad describes as an example of "job killing trade deals with China."

It then skips to 20 years later and accuses Biden of failing to support Trump's China travel ban on Jan. 31. Rather comically, the image that appears next to Biden giving a speech is a CAL jet, with the name "China Airlines" clearly visible.

However, the ban did not apply to Taiwan, as the U.S. did not deem it to be a high-risk area at the time. It appears the use of the CAL jet was simply an example of confusing it with its Chinese counterpart — Air China.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time Taiwan's flagship carrier has been mistaken for a Chinese airline. In recent weeks, as Taiwan has embarked on its "mask diplomacy" campaign to deliver quality, Made-in-Taiwan medical supplies to countries hit hard by the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, citizens in the recipient countries are often befuddled by the massive "China" on the fuselage.

On Feb. 3, pro-Taiwan independence group Taiwan Republic Office (台灣國辦公室) called for the airline's name to be changed to "Formosa Airlines" (福爾摩沙航空) or "Yushan Airlines" (玉山航空). Similarly, on Feb. 20, the Taiwanese American Senior Society - East Bay & Washington DC launched a petition on the U.S. website calling for the name of the national carrier to be changed to "Taiwan Airlines."

As public support for a new name has increased, Minister of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) on April 11 stated he had an "open mind" toward calls to change CAL's name amid the pandemic, but he expressed concern about aviation rights. However, Huang Chu-cheng (黃居正), a professor at National Tsing Hua University's Institute of Law for Science and Technology, said that changing the name should not affect aviation rights, as the naming issue has not been expressly addressed in air rights accords.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) in mid-April called for the MOTC to launch a task force to implement the name change, while New Power Party (NPP) legislator Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) proposed creating a holding company to manage the airline and enable it to fly under the name "Taiwan."