All commercial airlines in Hong Kong have changed the destination name for Taiwan to “Taiwan, China” on Wednesday – the deadline set by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

The airlines include Hong Kong Airlines, HK Express, Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Cathay Dragon, previously known as Dragonair.

Hong Kong Airlines Taiwan China
Photo: Hong Kong Airlines screenshot.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd was the territory’s last commercial airline to comply with the CAAC’s demands.

The company told HKFP: “HKSAR is also where our operations are based. We must comply with the regulations and requirements of the relevant civil aviation authorities.”

Cathay Pacific Taiwan China
Wednesday 10am screenshot (top), 12pm screenshot (bottom). Photo: Cathay Pacific screenshot.

The CAAC sent letters to 44 international airlines in April asking them to remove references to Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong as independent regions. It said it violated the government’s One China policy. The CAAC warned that potential repercussions could include blocking airline websites in China and losing access to the Chinese aviation market.

In a letter published by the Washington Post, Chinese authorities asked that references to Taiwan be changed to “Taiwan, China” or “Taiwan, Province of China.”

Beijing claims that the island nation – officially known as the Republic of China – is a province of China. It does not recognise it as an independent country, though the island has been self-ruled since its split from the mainland after the 1949 civil war.

HK Express
HK Express. Photo: Wikicommons.

When asked about US airlines’ failure to alter the destination name, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Tuesday: “The One China principle is the universal consensus of the international community. Adhering to the One China principle is the political foundation of the steady development of China-US relations, and the US side is well aware of this. The One China principle is un-negotiable.”

The US government called the demands “Orwellian nonsense” in May, despite warnings from Chinese officials that their refusal to comply could damage Sino-American relations.

jennifer creery

Jennifer Creery

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.