Academics urged the government to take countermeasures against Chinese airlines, as the deadline for China’s request that 44 foreign airlines list Taiwan as a Chinese territory is on Wednesday.
Thirty-eight airlines have reportedly already made the changes.
Six airlines are still applying for an extension, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on Friday.
As of press time yesterday evening, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines have kept Taiwan and China as separate listings on their Web sites, while Korean Air and Asiana Airlines refer to destinations by their cities and airports.
Chris Huang (黃居正), a professor at National Tsing Hua University’s Institute of Law for Science and Technology, has suggested that the government assess Chinese airlines’ slot times — which give airlines the right to operate at an airport at particular times.
President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration should decide at which point it would draw the line, Huang said, adding: “If it continues to let China’s actions go unchecked, it will suffer more in the future.”
China is familiar with the workings of the International Civil Aviation Organization, and knows that airlines are important representations of sovereignty and national power, Huang said.
Huang said he believes that Beijing has been planning to put pressure on foreign airlines for a long time and will continue to do so, especially now that the majority of international airports are free markets, and China is the main taxpayer at many airports, he said.
China’s next target might be travel documents or labels at international airports and on their Web sites, he added.
Lin Wen-cheng (林文程), a professor at National Sun Yat-sen University’s Institute of China and Asia-Pacific Studies, said that the government should use cross-strait flight routes as a bargaining chip to warn China that it cannot continue to act as it pleases, he said.
China’s intervention has damaged the hearts and minds of Taiwanese, Lin said, adding that it contradicts the claim that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) made at his meeting with former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) that he wants to win the hearts and minds of Taiwanese.
The government needs to guard against China potentially forcing other countries to cancel visa-free entry for Taiwanese, and must take concrete action to ensure that the international community is aware of its stance, he said.
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