Wed, Oct 04, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Qatar Airways has changed nationality of Taiwanese crew

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday confirmed a report that Qatar Airways has changed the nationality of its Taiwanese staff to “Chinese” as a result of pressure from Beijing, becoming the second international airline to succumb to Beijing’s “one China” principle.

About 100 Taiwanese flight attendants working for Qatar Airways had their nationality changed from “Taiwanese” to “Chinese (TWN)” last month, apparently due to Chinese pressure, Department of West Asian and African Affairs Director-General Chen Chun-shen (陳俊賢) said.

“China is full of petty moves,” Chen told a routine news conference at the ministry, adding that the government had filed a complaint with the airline seeking a correction, but had yet to receive a response.

Chen’s confirmation came days after the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported the change, citing an anonymous Taiwanese member of staff at the airline.

The staff member also gave the newspaper a copy of an e-mail allegedly sent from the airline explaining that the change was “made at the direction of Chinese Immigration Authorities.”

A similar incident occurred in May when Dubai-based Emirates issued a controversial directive asking Taiwanese cabin crew to remove their “Taiwanese flag pins” and replace them with Chinese flag pins in accordance with its “one China” policy.

Emirates later retracted the order after harsh criticism from Taiwanese, saying its original intent was to “recall the flag pins worn by all our cabin crew as part of our uniform update” and that there had been a communication error.

Qatar Airways does not serve destinations in Taiwan, nor does the government have a representative office in the nation, so Taipei holds no bargaining chips over the issue, Chen said.

The change is likely the result of China’s economic pressure and since Qatar Airways is privately owned, it might not reflect the stance of the nation’s government.

At the legislature yesterday, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) asked Premier William Lai (賴清德) to comment on the Qatar Airways issue.

Lai said that the move was detrimental to cross-strait ties and should have been avoided.

Quoting President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) remarks in an interview published yesterday that she hopes the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 19th National Congress on Oct. 18 would bring about new changes in cross-strait ties, Lai said not only Taiwanese and the Executive Yuan, but also China, should take positive steps toward better relations.

Additional reporting by Sean Lin

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