Emirates staff caught in China Taiwan crossfire as airline boosts capacity

Emirates crew were asked not to wear Taiwanese flags on flights to China due to instructions from the Chinese government, angering staff

China-Taiwan relations have caught Emirates in the crossfire, putting it odds with staff who are upset at its stance in the row, according to reports being circulated by the press in Taiwan.

The airline's crew are upset that the carrier has asked them to not wear Taiwanese flags on uniforms during flights to and from China, out of pressure from the Chinese government.

"We have been instructed by the Chinese Government that with immediate effect, Emirates airline cabin crew are to follow the One China policy," a leaked internal email, quoted in part by AFP reads.

Crew were also asked to put down "Chinese" as their nationality as opposed to Taiwanese, according to Hong Kong-based Apple Daily. 

Outrage has flooded the airline's social media pages, with flight attendants unions, including the The Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union saying the move is "coercive" and "threatening," accrding to Singapore-based Channel News Asia. 

China-Taiwan relations are often thorny and a contentious affair in global politics. China includes the island off its Southeastern coast part in its "One China" policy. However Taiwan has historically resisted the claim, more so after electing President Tsai Ing-wen last year who rejects the doctrine.

Since 2015, Emirates staff have donned flag pins on their uniforms to represent the country they are from on flights. 

Emirates has previously faced similar issues in 2016 with staff from Hong Kong, who objected to their nationalities being revised and being made to wear flag pins depicting both Hong Kong and China. 

Emirates has recently been increasing flight capacities to China, announcing all A380 operations to Beijing and China last week.

The airline is looking to new regions including China for growth after the US laptop ban hurt traffic figures.

But Emirates is also particularly sensitive to East to West traffic, according to recent statements by CEO Tim Clark in the wake of the security threats in Europe which saw traffic from China fall on Emirates flights.

As complaints have grown, Emirates has revised its initial message to suggest a softer tone, apologising and asking crew to "refrain" from placing Taiwanese flag pins on their uniforms.

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