Emirates tells cabin crew to swap Taiwanese flag pins for Chinese ones

Leaked email to Taiwanese staff says airline has been instructed by Beijing to follow One China policy

Emirates cabin crew walk past a sign at Taoyuan airport
Emirates did not respond to questions asking whether staff could still choose to wear a Taiwanese flag pin. Photograph: Chen Chi-Chuan/AFP/Getty Images

Emirates airline has waded into a decades-old diplomatic spat after ordering Taiwanese cabin crew to swap flag pins worn on their uniforms for Chinese ones, sparking anger and calls for boycott on social media.

The airline sent an email to staff saying Emirates was “instructed by the Chinese government” to “follow the One China policy”.

That policy refers to an arrangement where countries can maintain formal diplomatic relations with China or Taiwan, but not both.

China claims Taiwan as a breakaway province, but the democratic island has been self-ruled since 1949. China often bristles at any suggestion that Taiwan is a separate country and has not renounced the use of force to achieve unification.

“You must remove the Taiwanese flag from your service waistcoat and replace it with the Chinese flag,” Nicola Parker, a uniform standards and development manager at Emirates, wrote in an email, which was leaked to the South China Morning Post.

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