TAIPEI -- Japan's top two airlines temporarily labeled Taiwan and China together on their online route maps Friday, raising speculation that the companies had bowed to Beijing's demand to do so.
Taiwan's Liberty Times first reported the change, in which the island was labeled "Taiwan (China)." The websites of Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings' All Nippon Airways were quickly amended. Both companies said the change was unintentional, placing responsibility on a third-party map site created overseas. Links to that site from the airlines' websites were suspended Friday.
China's Civil Aviation Administration in April demanded 44 airlines around the world modify all references to Taiwan to show the island as a province of China. Some carriers, such as Air France and Germany's Lufthansa, have done so, while others, including the two Japanese airlines, applied for extensions.
Most airlines have long avoided taking a firm position on Taiwan's political status. ANA and JAL say they are consulting with various parties whether to change references to Taiwan on ticketing sites and elsewhere. The Japanese airlines' response to China's demand has attracted particular attention, given the close ties between Taiwan and Japan.
In the U.S., the government is pushing airlines to resist Beijing's demands.