Qantas has recently come under fire from China after referring to Taiwan as an independent country on its website.
Is Taiwan an independent country? Not according to the Chinese Communist Party.
Although the two countries have separate governments, Beijing considers it a breakaway province, and believes that it will re-join mainland China eventually, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Taiwan is home to 23 million people and has been separate from China since 1949 – which is why it appears as an indpendant country on Qantas’ website. But it may not soon.
Last month, the airline received a letter from The Civil Aviation Administration of China, the state airline regulator, ordering it to get rid of anything on their website that suggests that Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are separate countries to mainland China.
Hong Kong and Macau are special administrative regions – so non-Chinese businesses sometimes portray them as being separate territories. On Qantas’ website, for example, Hong Kong is located in the “Hong Kong SAR” as opposed to in China.
Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, is still listed on Qantas’ website as part of Taiwan, not China.
According to the SMH, a spokeswoman from Qantas confirmed they had received the letter, but did not confirm whether it contained any threats. She said Qantas would “respond in due course”.
Both American Airlines and United Airlines received similar letters – and were warned that their websites would be blocked in China if they didn’t comply.
In January, Marriott International’s Chinese website was suspended for a week after they listed Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong and Macau as separate countries to China in an online survey.
According to the International Air Transport Association, China is dubbed to become the world’s largest aviation market by 2022 – which means having your website disabled in China could see a big dent in profits.
Qantas currently flies directly into Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.