On April 25, the Civil Aviation Authority of China sent a letter to dozens of foreign airlines, requesting changes to the way they refer to Taiwan on their websites and in marketing literature within 30 days.
As of May 25, many of these airlines had made corrections on their websites. Some others requested an extension until July 25, citing technical reasons. But airlines from countries like the US and Japan have either refused to correct their mistakes or made changes only on their Chinese websites.
Air India is among the ones yet to change. Some Indian media outlets and scholars believe India has no reason to list Taiwan as part of China, unless China recognizes India's territorial claims. They argue that India's communiqués with China do not mention or support the one-China policy and Indian leaders did not speak explicitly about this policy; therefore, Indian companies do not have to abide by it.
Should foreign companies, including the Indian ones, stick to the one-China principle?
If foreign enterprises want to do business in China or their products are to enter the Chinese market, they must abide by Chinese laws. This works the same way in every country.
As the Chinese mainland and Taiwan have been ruled apart for a long time, some foreign companies list Taiwan as a country on their websites, but they do not necessarily have the intention to support Taiwan independence. But if they refuse to make corrections when reminded, they are obviously supporting Taiwan independence and must face possible consequences or could even be thrown out of the Chinese market.
In the past, China only required foreign governments to adhere to its one-China policy while non-governmental organizations were excluded from the requirement. But the Chinese government and society is now showing less and less tolerance toward activities that tend to split China and support Taiwan independence. They have asked non-governmental entities to stick to the policy.
That Air India lists Taiwan as a country goes against India's official stance. Recognizing that there is only one China in the world, that the government of the People's Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing all of China, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory is the condition on which China establishes diplomatic ties with all countries.
Before the beginning of this century, all governmental joint communiqués that China signed with other countries would admit Taiwan as part of China. The one-China principle has been widely accepted by the international community and since the new century, it doesn't have to be particularly articulated in joint communiqués not because China has given up the one-China policy, but because it is taken as understood.
In recent years, the joint statements between China and India did not mention the one-China policy. Meetings between their leaders did not touch upon this issue either. But it does not mean the Indian government has abandoned this policy.
As for the so-called one India policy, Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj first communicated this to visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in 2014, but did not give any articulation to the policy.
The Taiwan question is a matter of China's domestic affairs. This issue and bilateral territorial disputes are different. China respects India's territorial integrity. It did not support the separatist movement in Assam province, and hence India should not support the demand for Taiwan independence.
As a state-owned company, Air India should abide by the country's political pledge. In the context of better Sino-Indian ties, New Delhi can act wiser on the Taiwan question.
Author：Long Xingchun is a senior fellow at The Charhar Institute and director of the Center for Indian Studies at China West Normal University.