Emirates Claims China & Taiwan Flag Fiasco Was A “Communication Error”

Filed Under: Emirates

Yesterday I wrote about how Emirates sent out an email to crew members advising they that they needed to remove Taiwanese flags from their uniforms, and replace them with Chinese flags, based on a demand by the Chinese government. All Emirates cabin crew wear flags that show which country they come from, and I’ve always thought it was a nice touch that reinforced how international Emirates flight attendants are.

The email that Emirates’ Uniform Standards and Development Manager sent out to employees read as follows:

We have been instructed by the Chinese Government that with immediate effect, Emirates airline cabin crew are to follow the One China policy. This means you must remove the Taiwanese flag from your service waistcoat and replace it with the Chinese flag.

This must be followed by all Taiwanese crew without exception.

Additional stock of Chinese flags have been ordered and expected to arrive in the coming weeks. You will receive an email when they arrive. In the meantime carry the attached letter to show your seniors why you are not wearing a flag.

Then Emirates sent a follow-up email to crew members, “after reviewing [their] responses,” acknowledging that the request was “incorrect and inappropriate.” Here’s what that email said:

After reviewing your responses to the email below the original request for you to wear a Chinese flag was incorrect and inappropriate.

Please refrain from wearing your Taiwanese flags on flights until further notice. Therefore no flag is required on your uniform.

I do apologize for any upset that I may have caused.

Given what a contentious topic the whole China vs. Taiwan thing can be, I think it’s no surprise that this created quite a bit of outrage on both sides. Well, per Twitter user @timmysung, an Emirates spokesperson has now issued a public statement on the situation, which reads as follows:

On May 30, an internal email was sent to cabin crew instructing them to remove a flag pin from their uniform and replace it with another flag pin. This email was sent in error and has since been retracted. Our intent is to recall the flag pins worn by all our cabin crew was part of our uniform update. This is based on ongoing feedback and review from our teams. All cabin crew are no longer required to wear a flag pin as part of their uniform. Emirates apologises for the communication error.

I guess I’m not surprised in the slightest, but it drives me nuts when companies don’t own what happened and pretend that something was simply a “communication error.” So Emirates is claiming that their intent was to make cabin crew flag pins optional, but the way they communicated that was by advising Taiwanese crews that they needed to wear Chinese flags instead? C’mon…

Unfortunately it sounds like the solution here is to make these flags optional and maybe even remove them as part of the uniforms, which sort of makes me sad, since I thought it was always a great way for Emirates to highlight how international they are.

What do you make of Emirates’ statement about the situation?

  1. Seriously, this makes me laugh. In your previous post, nowhere in detail it says China forced EK to do that but you claimed that China was behind it, in the title. It started people ranting about China and how bad the Chinese government is. Now you are issuing this post to say how bad EK’s communication is. Still won’t admit that you jumped into conclusion too quick and too soon? What’s the difference between your wrong saying and EK’s miscommunication?

    Traveling, oh no, flying, all over the world really didn’t make you open minded to respect other countries’ history and culture. What a shame.

  2. “Traveling, oh no, flying, all over the world really didn’t make you open minded to respect other countries’ history and culture. What a shame.”

  3. @doublejade Emirates clearly stated China was behind their actions in the emails. Instead of hurling insults you should learn how to read.

    The request by Emirates would be like Russia asking a US president to wear their flag… oh wait bad example 🙂

  4. @doublejade
    The memo starts off by saying that the Chinese government requested this…don’t know how much more specific you can get.

  5. @doublejade, I don’t understand how you have related either of Ben’s posts to him not being open minded or lacking in respect of other countries’ cultures?

    This so called change in uniform policy is just a way to make it look like they are not kow towing to China which they clearly are. What EK should have just done from the beginning is tell Taiwanese crew to refrain from wearing the Taiwanese flag (maybe even only on China flights?) but not that they MUST wear the Chinese flag instead. I figure that flag pins are have always been optional as not every crew member wears one but many do, at least in my experience.

  6. This whole Emirates Taiwan situation is unnecessary, they could have just stopped flying their Taiwanese staff to China and their Chinese staff to Taiwan.

  7. What bugs me most about this is it comes across that EK is flat out lying about the memo/email. At no point do any of the emails paint the situation with a broad, multi-national brush. It VERY specifically states just the countries of Taiwan and China. If this was really a uniform update, then no countries would be singled-out.

    So now they’ve essentially looked like assholes for making the lame requirement in the first place. Then they looked like assholes that don’t know how to properly communicate with their employees and had to retract a previous statement. And now they look like lying assholes that STILL don’t know how to communicate at all, either with their employees or the public. The communications team needs some new leadership and/or expertise. Not to mention how poorly written the emails/memos are from a grammatical standpoint.

  8. China is at fault for oppressing a country and EK is at fault for enabling that oppression. Lucky highlights the fact that EK doesn’t even own up to it (who would?).

  9. Taiwan now at least is not a country acknowledged by most of the world’s government. Only part of the people in Taiwan hope to be independent.

  10. Well… a corporate exit has been laid. Sure, Taiwan flag is singled out due China’s pressure. Sure, there is pressure from China government to Emirates or maybe UAE. Sure, Emirates wouldn’t want to lose Chinese market.

    So, is China is a bully? Is Taiwanese people/FA are victim here? Its funny to read people’s comments here. Sarcasm were thrown without knowledge of China-Taiwan politics and history. Very funny indeed….

  11. @doublejade, your ranting sounds pretty clueless. EK’s Standards and Development Manager’s internal email clearly mentioned “We have been instructed by the Chinese Government that with immediate effect”. If the instruction from Chinese government were not true, EK should have clarified it. But instead, EK used a lousy excuse saying ” This email was sent in error and has since been retracted. The intent is to recall the flag pins worn by all our cabin crew was part of our uniform update.”.

    How could such intent result in the original email? And how on earth this excuse proved the instruction from Chinese government was untrue? If Chinese government didn’t interfere at all, how would the manager even mentioned that? The excuse at most simply implied the manager should not have sent out that email to stir the controversy.

    Unless somehow you find out their manager was actually lying or his/her account was hacked to send a fake email, it’s very logical to assume Chinese government interference on EK’s business is real. Even if the manager sent out that email by accident, that does not change the fact revealed in the mail.

    So to me, Lucky drew his judgement based on what presented there. How did it make him close minded?

  12. Emirates gets so much right, then they go ahead and essentially call their internal and external markets void of critical thinking skills, by wanting us to believe its’ drivel. I guess if wearing a pin is now an ‘option’, there should be no problem for the staff to wear the Taiwan flag. :p

  13. @David,Taiwan is a country,it has own army, constitution,president,currency and so on but not attend to United Nations because of issues with China.

    @ James, it doesn’t matter if taiwanese and /or living in taiwan have(has) the right and freedom to express their options.

    In my options, I don’t agree the decision “All cabin crew are no longer required to wear a flag pin as part of their uniform” but I realize it was so hard to get this decision done.For me, it’s always so good to see how the international flight crews while step into the flight.

  14. @David It would be similar to that England says “Only part of the people in Scotland hope to be independent.”

  15. This is what happens when you allow a bully like China too much power. Taiwan should declare its independence. I’m sure both Taiwanese airlines Eva Air and China Airlines air crew have their uniforms include the Taiwan flag lapel pin.

  16. “Now you are issuing this post to say how bad EK’s communication is. Still won’t admit that you jumped into conclusion too quick and too soon? What’s the difference between your wrong saying and EK’s miscommunication? ”

    So doublejade, wondering when you’ll admit you were wrong, as you complained that lucky hadn’t.

    Or is it just the case you’re hypocritical?

  17. EK drives their staff nuts with continuous half baked missives. Staff leave all the time because of the airlines ability to treat their most valuable resource fairly and consistently. They have to recruit new pilots continuously to replace the ones they have driven nuts with their ill considered scheduling. The pin issue is just a glimpse into this.

  18. Whether Taiwan is a country or not, is irrelevant. Scotland, Wales and England are ell countried by themselves, but they form the UK. But without a doubt, based on international law, Taiwan is a sovereign state.

    “A sovereign state is, in international law, a nonphysical juridical entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area.”

    The ROC was not only a member of the UN, it was even a permanent member of the security council with veto rights. It had the chance to retain a seat in the UN in 1971 but was rejected by the Nationalist government, without the consent of the Taiwanese people.

    It is all politics. The entire world is bullied by China under this “One China policy” and that is the reason that most of the world do not recognize Taiwan as a country, although in reality, many countries has formed some sort of unofficial diplomatic relationship with Taiwan. No one dares to upset China. Trump dare not upset China otherwise China may not cooperate to resolve the crisis in North Korea.

    If today China stops it’s bullying, or if Taiwan has the backing of US like South Korea, Taiwan would have become an independent country already.

  19. Taiwan is not a country. Only “Republic of China” is. Taiwan doesn’t have its own constitution and it considers itself part of “Republic of China”.

    I understand the urge from Taiwanese people to declare independence. But please do so internally first, like changing the constitution to officialy the country name of “Taiwan” instead of “Republic of China”. If you don’t dare to do that, please stop claiming “Taiwan is a country” in the world……

  20. They claim that their intent is to recall the flags worn yet the first email says – “Additional stock of Chinese flags have been ordered”

  21. “Traveling, oh no, flying, all over the world really didn’t make you open minded to respect other countries’ history and culture. What a shame.”

  22. Dear keyboard warriors and political wannabes,
    Talk is cheap. It’s like “mental masturbation” – self-satisfaction without real action. Action speaks louder than words. So do it! For example:

    1. If you are a South Carolinian wanting independence from the United States, do this – put up the confederation flag on your state capitol building; Burn the flag of USA; Start a military onslaught against US air force and US marine etc; Then we shall all see whether the 300 million Americans (minus whatever the polulation in S. Carolina} will say: “We Americans will not bully you South Carolinian. It is undemocratic for us to impose our popular will on you. The future of South Carolina is up to South Carolinian – and only South Carolinians, not the rest of USA – to decide.You have the human rights to be independent, free, and proud. And I will help you by peeing on Abraham Lincoln’s statue in Washington DC, for Lincoln is the worst president ever for insisting on ‘one nation indivisible’ “. Do that, and I will respect you. Talk is cheap.

    2. If you are scottish, or from Quebec etc wanting independence, do this – in voting for independence, add the following proposal into the voting agenda: “upon indepedence, for the sake of national security, Scotland / Quebec will invite Russia to put sufficient tactical nuclear missiles (and whatever other necessary offensive weapons) along the border of scotland-england / quebec-restOfCanada, such that Scotland / Quebec will be the new frontline military base of Russia against the rest of UK / Canada.” Then we shall all see whether the rest of Briton and Canadian will say: “Unlike Russia who protest NATO setting up new military bases in newly independent states near Russia border, and stupid Americans who started a cuban missile crisis just because Russia wanted to put nuclear weapons in Cuba, do not worry – we Britons / Canadians very proudly respect and welcome Scotland / Quebec becoming ‘independent’ in name, but actually russian stooges in reality; We are democratic people who do not bully others. We respect your human rights to be independent – if the result of Scotland / Quebec’s independence is that you will hosts many Russian military bases with tactical nuclear missiles able to reach our London / Toronto cities within minutes (which Russia will do tic-for-tat against abovementioned NATO action), we are happy to live with it because we know you are just trying to defend yourself against us and since we won’t attack you, there is nothing for us to be afraid…”. Do that, and I will respect you. Talk is cheap.

    3. As for the taiwanese people. Sigh. How about we start with the simples action – get your parliament to outlaw your Republic of China‘s flag, and rename it in law as Taiwan’s Flag. Surely such an action is stronger than your cheap talk of “taiwan flag, taiwan flag, taiwan flag” which does NOT exist in your law! Then let’s see whether the 1 billion Chinese people are as gutless and weak as the Americans in example 1 above, or as ball-less as the Britons and Canadians in example 2 above.

    4. As for the rest of you “Taiwan flag” (is there even such a thing?) supporter – if you are an American, can you please show some concrete support (rather than just moral cheap talk)? An airfare to Washington DC is inexpensive, as readers on this site knows. A Uber trip to the Lincoln Memorial is convenient too, as Lucky will tell you. Go pee on Lincoln’s statue and say loud enough for all the visitors to hear: “To hell with ‘one nation indivisible’. South Carolina’s independence or otherwise, is up to the people of South Caolinians only to decide. And if that results in South Carolina hosting Russia nuclear tactical missiles within minutes of Washington DC, like the cuban missile crisis all over again, so be it”. — do that. I am sure 300 million Americans will applaud your democracy, non-bullying position, and oh yes, respect for human rights to be independent.

    Talk is cheap. Dont be a keyboard warrior like me. Don’t masturbate mentally. Do it. Need Lucky Ben to teach you how to buy cheap fare to Washington DC and how to get good Uber rates?

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