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

Jul 22, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more travel news

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.

More: Experiencing Taipei’s night markets

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.

Review: China Airlines A350 business class

“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 photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.