Taiwanese lawmakers have signed off on a bid to rename the national carrier, China Airlines (CAL), citing confusion among states receiving much-needed medical equipment from the island nation.
While the state-owned airline’s branding has been a long-standing point of contention for many of Taiwan’s 23 million residents, local media reported that freighter flights delivering PPE to destinations around the world have commonly been mistaken as originating from mainland China.
The democratically-elected government of Taiwan, formally known as the Republic of China, retreated to the island at the close of the Chinese Civil War in 1949.
Both Taiwan and the much larger People’s Republic of China continue to lay claim to both the island and the mainland, and both operate national carriers tagged with the term “China” – China Airlines and Air China, respectively.
All 64 members present voted in favour of the motion, which requires Taiwan’s transport ministry to study and propose a plan to “strengthen China Airlines’ international recognition”, though it isn’t tied to any formal timeline.
On its part, CAL told media in April that it was mooting rebrand proposals “with an open mind”. The idea was first floated in the Taiwanese Yuan earlier that month, in the days and weeks after the airline began operating medical cargo flights to east Asian destinations.
Yet even prior to the outbreak, grassroots movements have pushed for a rebranding of CAL. A petition requesting a name change was initiated in early February on Change.org – as of 23 July, it has attracted over 55,000 signatures.
CAL was founded in Taiwan in 1959 and operates out of Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport, servicing 160 destinations in 29 countries.
The airline’s controlling shareholder is the China Aviation Development Foundation, which is in turn wholly owned by the Taiwanese government.