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Taiwan can help, but can it help itself?

After an initial buzz about name change for 'China Airlines' the silence is deafening

Name tag (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Name tag (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is constantly looking for recognition from the international community, but how can we as a country expect to be recognized when we continually give out mixed signals?

Back in April when Taiwan began sending personal protective equipment (PPE) to countries struggling against the Wuhan coronavirus, the planes that carried that humanitarian aid carried the words “China Airlines.” The airline is Taiwan’s flag carrier.

Unsurprisingly, when many of these flights arrived at their destinations, they were mistaken as being from China, both by individuals and the media. Another example of mistaken identity was a pro-Trump commercial that used a photo of a China Airlines plane to represent a Chinese airline.

In mid-April, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) both paid lip service to a name change for the airline. Su said the government would push for the change, and also suggested adding the national flag (problematic for its own reasons), signs and phrases to help clear things up.

Lin said he was open to the idea but obstacles were in place, like aviation rights. So has the name change taken off? Unfortunately, it’s still on the ground.

The government needs to stop dragging its feet and just change the name — especially with it being the majority shareholder in the company. Taiwan Airlines, Taiwan Air, or Taiwan Airways all roll off the tongue with ease.

And then there’s the issue of the Taiwan passport, which still carries the “Republic of China” label in English and Mandarin. As long as the word “China” appears, confusion is bound to rear its ugly head.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉) said on April 20 that a bipartisan consensus must be reached and public opinion heeded before the government makes any changes.

But here’s the thing, do we really need bipartisan consensus, especially when the opposition party’s official name in Mandarin is still the “Chinese Kuomintang?” With the majority of people in the country now identifying themselves as Taiwanese, getting the public behind a passport change should not be a problem.

Even though the media may not be reporting on these issues anymore, we as citizens need to remind the government that we demand change. If we want respect from the rest of the world, we first need to respect ourselves and use our real name — Taiwan.