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China Airlines may not have the same name in the future because of China

July 22, 2020
3 min read
China Airlines may not have the same name in the future because of China
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China Airlines (CAL) may not have the same name in the near future.

Taiwan's parliament passed a proposal today to rename the "flag" carrier that its government partly owns. The reason? To avoid confusion with carriers from mainland China, specifically Air China – the mainland's national carrier.

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Similarity in names has led some to mistakenly conclude that China Airlines is based in mainland China, when in fact its name stems from Taiwan's official name – Republic of China. This confusion became even more prominent amidst the pandemic, when Taiwan's aid and repatriation flights were viewed in connection with Beijing. Even in American politics, a China Airlines plane was incorrectly used to depict the China travel ban in an attack ad against former Vice President Joe Biden.

The move from the Taiwanese parliament is a significant development from April, when the local government's Ministry of Transportation and Communications had indicated an "openness" to renaming the airline.

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At that time, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung stated potential concerns about changing China Airlines' name because of its status as a listed company and the complications "involving aviation rights and routes." Fast forward to today, lawmakers are taking action to formalize this renaming process, despite the potential for blow-back from their counterparts in Beijing.

This is because Beijing views Taiwan as its territory, part of its longstanding "one China" policy. To Beijing, any suggestion that Taiwan is a separate country is seen as a threat to its "core interests."

Taipei's moves to rename China Airlines, which it has used for diplomatic purposes during this pandemic, can be seen as a method to distinguish itself from the mainland government. The airline's name was a throwback to the immediate aftermath of the Chinese Civil War, when the then-Taiwanese government set itself up as a rival to the People's Republic of China in Beijing.

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“The ministry should make CAL more identifiable internationally with Taiwanese images to protect Taiwan’s national interests as overseas it is mistaken for a Chinese airline,” parliament speaker Yu Shyi-kun said.

While the approved proposal did not indicate a clear timeline for when the airline should be renamed, it directs the transport ministry to develop short- and long-term rebranding plans for the carrier.

Earlier reports have indicated potential names that could serve as replacements, such as Yushan Airlines, Formosa Airlines and Taiwan Airlines. The government is expected to consider the choices once official plans are submitted.

More: Using miles to fly the Boeing 747, including China Airlines

Featured image by A China Airlines Boeing 747 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy)

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases