During the authoritarian KMT era many Taiwanese companies often had the words “China” or “Chinese” placed in their names.
Taiwan has since morphed into one of Asia’s most progressive democracies and a distinct Taiwanese identity has emerged.
President Chen Shui-bian, who favored Taiwan independence, renamed some major companies during his 2000-2008 term.
Renaming China Airlines would need shareholder approval — although a government-controlled foundation is the largest shareholder.
Earlier this week Premier Su Tseng-chang suggested the airline could add more prominent Taiwanese flags and symbols to its planes.
But some warn renaming the airline might provoke China, especially if references to Taiwan were added.
“If China Airlines was renamed, relations between Taiwan and China could never go back,” said lawmaker Chen Hsueh-sheng from the opposition KMT party, which now favors warmer relations with Beijing.
China’s communist party views Taiwan as its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary.
Since 2016 it has ramped up diplomatic, economic and military pressure because current president Tsai Ing-wen refuses to recognize the concept that Taiwan is part of “one China”.
It has also pressured businesses to refer to Taiwan as a province and balks at any naming convention which suggests Taiwan is a sovereign and independent nation.