Let’s talk about some big questions you may have about Taiwan’s status.
Is Taiwan a Country? Is it part of China? Is it an independent nation? Why isn’t there a Taiwanese embassy or consulate in my country? Why is Taiwan listed under “China” on many websites?
You will never find a black or white answer to the question “is Taiwan a country”. The interpretations are infinite. The only simple answer is that there is no simple answer!
Here, I won’t be sharing my own personal views about the never-ending controversy debating if Taiwan is an independent country, or a part of China.
Instead, I will simply offer you the facts as they are presented in most travel guides, history books, and as I have witnessed them living in Taiwan since 2000.
So you think Taiwan is part of China?
Well, you’re not the only person who mistakenly believes so – many people do!
That’s because Taiwan is listed on many travel websites as Taipei China, Chinese Taipei, or some other weird names. Many private companies, such as airlines and hotels, have to list Taipei and other Taiwanese cities that way if they still want to have access to China’s enormous market.
China wants the world (and you) to believe that Taiwan is a part of its territory, a province of the PRC. Ultimately, Beijing sees an existential threat in Taiwan’s enduring freedoms, and it wants to suppress its voice at any cost.
Is Taiwan a Country? Some Facts
- Taiwan is also called Republic of China, (ROC), not to be mistaken with China’s official name, which is People’s Republic of China (PRC).
- Taiwan meets most of the requirements to qualify as a country. The only requirement it does not fully meet is “the capacity to enter into relations with other states“, and that is due to ongoing pressure from the authoritarian communist regime in China.
- Taiwan has its own passport. On the Taiwanese passport’s cover page, both “Taiwan” and “Republic of China” are written.
- Taiwan issues its own visas for travelers. A visa to Taiwan cannot let you enter China. A visa to China cannot let you enter Taiwan.
- Taiwan has its own military.
- Taiwan has its own national anthem.
- Taiwan has its own currency, called the New Taiwan Dollar, or NT$.
- Taiwan has its own government. Taiwanese people get to vote to elect their leaders. It is said that the island is one of the strongest and most vibrant multi-party democracy in the world. The nation is widely recognized as a beacon of freedom, democracy and human rights in the Asia-Pacific. It ranks 3rd in Asia, and 32nd globally in the Democracy Index of 2018.
- Taiwan has its own postal service, and it’s own stamps.
- Taiwan has its own police force, which is officially called the National Police Agency, or NPA.
- According to World Atlas: “Taiwan is a self-governing republic which is recognized by a few countries and international bodies. Nonetheless, Taiwan has its own fully functional government. The seat of the government is in Taipei, Taiwan.” more…
- More than 70 percent of the Taiwanese public agree that Taiwan is an independent sovereign country.
- Multiple opinion polls conducted regularly in Taiwan have indicated that there is very little support for immediate unification with China. As China flexes its muscles more aggressively in the region, and after seeing what is happening in Hong-Kong, fewer and fewer Taiwanese are ready to consider the idea of re-unification with China.
- As of December 2019, Taiwan only had 15 diplomatic allies left around the world. Most of them are nations that (sadly) people don’t even know exist.
Is Taiwan a Country – What China says
- Beijing claims that Taiwan is a part of China, which must be re-unified with the motherland at any cost.
- The government of China considers the island to be a breakaway province.
- In 2005, under then-president Hu Jin-tao, China passed the Anti-Secession Law, which states that the PRC reserves the right to use “non-peaceful means” against the Taiwan independence movement in the event of a declaration of independence.
- Xi Jin-ping, China’s president, has repeatedly stated that: “China reserves the right to use force to achieve re-unification.”
China has forced countries and the United Nations to ban Taiwan from attending regional and international forums and gatherings. Taiwan has also been banned from attending World Health Organization summits, even as an observer. It gets worse, even Taiwanese news outlets are denied access to this most important event.
- Beijing refuses to hold talks with Taiwan’s elected officials from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has been led by Taiwan’s first ever female president, Tsai Ying-wen.
Is Taiwan a Country – What the US says
- In 1979, the United States officially established diplomatic relations with China (PRC).
- Since 1979, the bilateral relationship between the United States and Taiwan are non-diplomatic, non-official, and informal.
- The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) provides the legal basis for the relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan, and enshrines the U.S. commitment to assist Taiwan maintain its defensive capability.
- The United-States has the obligation to provide Taiwan with weapons to defend itself agains a potential attack / invasion from China. The arms sales are one of the thorniest issues between China and the U.S..
- In 2018, president Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act, allowing high-level diplomatic engagement between Taiwanese and American officials, and encourages visits between government officials of the United States and Taiwan at all levels. This has sparked massive outrage from the PRC, and has been applauded by Taiwan. This is a HUGE game-changer in the US-Taiwan relationship.
- In September 2019, following China’s vicious campaign to lure Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, the U.S. said it was highly concerned over China’s suppression of Taiwan’s international space, which is deemed by Washington as a change of the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.