Taiwan based China Airlines have changed its livery in a subtle move that could lead to backlash from Beijing.
The airline is named after the Republic of China, the official name of Taiwan, however it is often confused for an airline from mainland China.
China Airlines debuted the first of six new Boeing 777F cargo planes looking slightly different than previous designs.
The plum blossom logo still remains and the China Airlines brand appears, however the text has been reduced in size making it barely visible.
On the side of the plane is the word ‘Cargo’, with the shape of the island of Taiwan placed within the ‘C’.
The changes have not been made without reason.
“The new paint job is meant to dispel any misperceptions that (the airline) is linked to mainland China,” an article in Hong Kong based outlet Apple Daily reads.
Opposition Kuomintang legislator Lee De-wei said the new design showed Taiwan had been metaphorically “swallowed by the big C,” referring to China, according to Apple Daily.
Lawmaker Wang Ting-yu from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party said the design might be too subtle for foreigners to make the connection to Taiwan.
Foreigners confused over China Airlines
Confusion over the airline’s name recently became an issue when it flew millions of face masks to the US and Europe during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, with Taiwan’s Premier Su Tseng-chang concerned the carrier’s name may have led people to believe the donations came from Beijing.
So this seems to be the mysterious livery of China Airlines showing the elements of #Taiwan - the word "Cargo" with the inside of the letter C shaped like Taiwan (only the people who already know the shape of Taiwan will get it...) https://t.co/t6quhRfbqO pic.twitter.com/CIwQkzGj7L
— Tomasz Śniedziewski司勇智 (@TSniedziewski) December 14, 2020
More recently the BBC mistakenly used an image of a China Airlines aircraft in a story that was about aviation on mainland China.
Earlier this year, Taiwan’s transport Minister Lin Chia-ling said he was open to a name change for the airline with parliament passing a proposal for the transport ministry to create “both short and long-term rebranding plans”.
The new design appears to be the first step towards a rebranding.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.