Taiwan the Complicated

This is where I will attempt to explain Taiwan’s political status: how in the world did Taiwan get to where it is today? What’s all the fuss between China and Taiwan?

DISCLAIMER: The author of this article is not an expert in history or political science, but someone born to Taiwanese parents and grew up in Taiwan. The view expressed here should only be considered as an opinion on the Taiwan-China relationship.

So first thing first, is Taiwan a part of China?

That would actually depend on which “China” you are referring to, as there are at the moment two regimes using the word.

The earliest evidence of human occupation on the island of Taiwan is believed to be from 30,000 to 20,000 BCE. The ancestors of today’s indigenous Taiwanese are believed to have migrated to Taiwan between 4000 and 3000 BCE. Subsequently, several indigenous cultures emerged, while tribes are believed to have migrated south to eventually spread throughout insular Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, and Madagascar. The first major wave of Han migration to Taiwan began in the 17th century.

The Dutch East Indies Company (1624-1662) and the Spanish Empire (1626-1642) established formal settlements in Taiwan in the 17th century. The Dutch drove the Spanish out of the island in 1642, yet was defeated in 1662 by Koxinga 鄭成功, a remaining general of the Ming Empire after it was overthrown by the Qing Empire in mainland China. In 1683, the Qing Empire defeated the remaining Koxinga army in Taiwan and formally annexed the island in 1684 as a part of Fujian province 福建省. Taiwan became a separate province in 1885, with the first governor of Taiwan, Liu Mingchuan 劉銘傳, managing affairs in Taipei.

Regimes occupying geographic regions of China and Taiwan beginning 1895.

In 1895, the Qing Empire lost the First Sino-Japanese War and signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki 馬關條約, which ceded Taiwan, the Pescadores, and the eastern portion of the bay of Liaodong Peninsula to the Japanese Empire. A number of notables in Taiwan resisted the transfer and declared Taiwan to be independent in the form of the Republic of Formosa 臺灣民主國, which was never internationally recognized and was conquered by the Japanese troops in less than five months.

In 1912, the Nationalists (along with the different militia on mainland) overthrew the Qing Empire and established the Republic of China 中華民國 (ROC) with its capital in Nanjing (but moved to Beijing within one year of establishment, and back to Nanjing in 1928). Taiwan and the Pescadores were still colonies of the Japanese Empire at that time.

In the Cairo Conference in 1943 held during WWII, one of the three main clauses of the Cairo Declaration was that “all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa, and The Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China.”

On October 25th, 1945, when the commander-in-chief of Japanese forces on the island signed an instrument of surrender to the Allies in Taipei, the clause was accepted by the Japanese, and Taiwan and its nearby islands’ sovereignty was transferred from Japan to the ROC.

In 1949, the Nationalists lost the civil war and retreated to Taiwan, while the Communists established the People’s Republic of China 中華人民共和國 (PRC) with its capital in Beijing.

In 1951, Japan signed the Treaty of San Francisco 舊金山和約 with the Allies, renouncing “all right, title and claim to Formosa and the Pescadores” in Article 2(b), without specifying to which party was the sovereignty transferred. Neither the ROC and PRC were invited due to controversy over the legitimacy of the two governments. The ROC and Japan signed the Treaty of Taipei 台北和約/中日和約 in 1952, which acknowledged the terms of the San Francisco Treaty but added that all residents of Taiwan and the Pescadores were deemed as nationals of the ROC.

Since 1912 up to today, the Republic of China 中華民國, now on the islands of Taiwan 臺灣, the Penghu islands 澎湖, Kinmen 金門, and Matsu 馬祖, has been in establishment for more than a century (1912-1945 occupying mainland China, 1945-1949 occupying both mainland China and Taiwan, 1949-present occupying Taiwan).

For more than a century, Taiwan has only been governed from the mainland for less than five years. Taiwan was never under the People’s Republic of China‘s control. The People’s Republic of China currently does not have, nor did it ever have, any jurisdiction over Taiwan and its nearby islands. All that happened was the ROC (or more precisely, the Nationalists) lost and never regained control of mainland China.

So to answer the question, is Taiwan part of China? NO, Taiwan is NOT part of the People’s Republic of China 中華人民共和國. The government controlling Taiwan currently calls itself the Republic of China 中華民國 (some will even say Taiwan is the Republic of China). Currently the territory that’s actually under the ROC’s control only includes Taiwan, the Penghu islands, Kinmen, and Matsu (and some islands in the South China Sea). Since the ROC doesn’t have sovereignty over any area other than Taiwan and nearby islands, I usually just tell people, “I am from Taiwan” or “I am Taiwanese” and only talk about the ROC with history buffs and people who have lived in the region.

So why do you call Taiwan a country then?

It’s really a branding issue. Taiwan is much easier to explain to people than the ROC, which people tend to confuse with the PRC. And whenever we say the word “China”, people automatically associate that with the PRC. Since Taiwan by itself fits the definition of what most people would agree to be a country/sovereign state, we’d like to think of Taiwan as a country/sovereign state. In fact, you would see that the English websites of Taiwanese governmental agencies style the country as “the Republic of China (Taiwan)”. Taiwanese people are still in the process of forming a unifying identity and don’t have a mutual agreement on which names (Republic of China, Taiwan, Republic of China (Taiwan), Republic of China on Taiwan, etc.) is/are the best to represent the country we love. We often argue quite fiercely about it, but we would like the world to know and recognize that our country is completely separate from and in no way under the control of the PRC government.

Percentages of Taiwan’s population that identify with Taiwanese and/or Chinese (adapted from National Chengchi University Election Study Center).

Surveys has shown that more than 90% of people in Taiwan today identifies themselves as Taiwanese, either as a single identity or in combination of also identifying as Chinese.

What are these definitions of a country/sovereign state?

We have a defined territory, a permanent population that lives in the said territory, a government that rules the said territory, and capacity to enter into relations with other states or international recognition from other sovereign states.

–Article 1. Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States

1. Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.

2. The admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.

Article 4, Chapter II. Charter of the United Nations

So what’s there to argue about then?

The problems are international recognition and membership in the UN. It might be a surprise to you, but Taiwan is not in the UN. In 1949 when the PRC was first established, most countries still recognized the ROC as the only legitimate government of China. Slowly, however, many countries severed relations with the ROC and recognized the PRC instead. In 1971, the ROC lost its seat in the United Nations after the General Assembly decided that PRC would be the sole government representing people of China (the territory of which wasn’t specified). When the UN was first established in 1945, the ROC was not only one of the founding members that signed the UN Charter, but also a permanent member in the UN Security Council (Charter of the UN, Chapter V, Article 23) during 1945-1971. However, on October 25, 1971 the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 2758, which recognized the PRC as the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations (after multiple different propositions and negotiations that were rejected, some would have allowed ROC to remain in the UN as a regular member). Almost all UN members chose to recognize the PRC in the following years, but avoided to state what territory the PRC actually included (see Timeline of diplomatic relations of the Republic of China).

Also, before the 1990s, the ROC government continued to claim to be the only legitimate government of “China”, including territories that are actually under PRC’s control. It was only after 1990s when the ROC government started to claim Taiwan by itself as an independent country. Currently only 14 members of the United Nations and the Holy See recognize Taiwan as a country (meaning they recognize the government of the ROC, not the PRC) and have official diplomatic missions in Taiwan. Taiwan has been attempting to rejoin the UN in recent years, but due to Resolution 2758, opposition from major powers in fear of conflict in the Taiwan Strait, and PRC’s power to veto in the Security Council, these attempts have been unsuccessful.

Most countries, though not actually recognizing Taiwan as a sovereign state, adapt perspective of the status quo: that is, to unofficially treat Taiwan as a state and at a minimum, to officially declare no support for the government of this state making a formal declaration of independence, i.e. forming a new country called Taiwan. This means that while most countries do not actually say Taiwan is a country, they would treat Taiwan like a country, consider a ROC passport valid, and consider Taiwanese citizens holding a ROC passport within their countries as different from Chinese citizens holding a PRC passport.

Currently Taiwanese citizens (holding a ROC (Taiwan) passport) are granted visa-free, visa-on-arrival, or electronic travel authority privileges in more than 140 countries and territories around the world. Different visa requirements apply to Chinese citizens (holding a PRC passport).

So what happens if I am to travel to Taiwan and need help from my country? Is there an embassy?

Other than the handful of countries that recognize Taiwan as a country, no countries have embassies in Taiwan. However, most countries operate de facto embassies fashioned as representative or trade offices that do everything an embassy would do in other countries, but without the official diplomatic status. The Taiwanese government nevertheless treats them as embassies. For example, the equivalent of American embassy here is called the “American Institute in Taiwan”. For a list of de facto embassies in Taiwan, visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China (Taiwan) or view the list of foreign missions in Taiwan.

Wait, Taiwan has a Ministry of Foreign Affairs?


Taiwan has a fully functional government like those of any other developed countries. The head of the state is the President of the ROC, who is elected by the people through popular vote every four years. (Read Government of Taiwan 101 for more.) The ROC Constitution was adapted on December 25, 1946, went into effect on December 25, 1947, and is still in use today. Among many other things, Taiwan has its own laws, its currency (New Taiwanese Dollar), military (Army, Air Force, Navy including Marines, and Military Police), national anthem, national flag anthem, and issues its own passports (all different from that of the PRC’s).


Do I need a visa to visit Taiwan? Does Taiwan have embassies in my country?

Visa-free for 14 days: Citizens of Brunei, the Philippines, Russia, and Thailand (until 31 Jul 2020).

Visa-free for 30 days: Citizens of Belize, Dominican Republic, Malaysia, Nauru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Singapore.

Citizens of Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam who have received a visa from Australia, Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Schengen Area, UK, or US within the last 10 years will also be able to visit Taiwan visa-free for 30 days by going through an online verification process before arrival.

Visa-free for 90 days: Citizens of Andorra, Australia, Canada, Chile, Eswatini, European Union, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Japan, Republic of Korea, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Marshall Islands, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, North Macedonia, Norway, Palau, Paraguay, San Marino, Switzerland, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, United States, and Vatican City.

Citizens of Canada and the United Kingdom may also apply to extend the stay to 180 days once they are in Taiwan.

Visa on arrival: Citizens of Turkey.

eVisa: Citizens of Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Dominica, Ecuador, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kuwait, Mauritius, Montenegro, Oman, Panama, Peru, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Solomon Islands, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. Citizens of certain Southeast and South Asian countries may also qualify.

For more information on countries whose citizens do not need a visa to enter Taiwan, please visit the website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bureau of Consular Affairs. Separate entry requirements apply to holders of Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and PRC passports.

If you wish to visit the People’s Republic of China, you will have to get a visa from a PRC embassy/consulate. A visa issued by Taiwan does not work in the PRC, and a visa issued by the PRC does not work in Taiwan. There are separate immigration controls and customs in Taiwan and the PRC. If you wish to obtain a PRC visa while you are in Taiwan, contact a Taiwanese travel agency, which will send your passport to Hong Kong for a PRC visa to be issued.

Since only less than two dozen countries recognize the ROC, Taiwan officially does not have embassies in most countries. Taiwan instead operates de facto embassies and consulates in most countries, usually called the “Taipei Representative Office” or “Taipei Economic and Cultural Office”. To find an office nearest to you, visit Portal of the Republic of China (Taiwan) Diplomatic Missions.

“Taipei” Representative Office? Why not the “Taiwan” Representative Office?

The People’s Republic of China tries very hard to convince other countries that Taiwan is part of the PRC and that we live happily under policies made by the Beijing government. Hence any appearance of Taiwan on anything that suggests Taiwan as a separate sovereign nation in any part of the world is unfavorable. The PRC is known to pressure countries and international organizations to list or recognize Taiwan as a part of the PRC. It so happens (and doesn’t help) that the PRC economy is booming, the PRC is the second largest economy in the world, and the PRC is a huge market. Many countries give in in exchange for (or in fear of losing) the market and other benefits. It is for this reason Taiwan cannot use “Taiwan” in many of its diplomatic missions or international activities abroad. Using “Taipei” or “Chinese Taipei” is a compromise we made (PRC feels that by using “Taipei”, the name of a city, people will recognize the representative office as a local branch of the PRC government). This is also the reason why Taiwan appears as “Chinese Taipei” in the Olympics and many other international organizations.

So you don’t get recognized, what’s the big deal?

I am well aware that the ROC flag has the KMT party emblem in it, but it’s what we have before a better alternative is created.

As people of Taiwan live in a separate political entity from the PRC, it is my opinion that they should have the right to be called what they want, not what some other government that doesn’t have control over us wants, and be treated the same as the citizens of any other recognized nation. Imagine winning an international competition and not seeing your country’s proper name and flag displayed, or even worse, to have another country’s name and flag displayed. Imagine travelling abroad and have trouble getting help from your own government because there isn’t an embassy or because your own government or passport isn’t recognized. Imagine unable to obtain assistance from the World Health Organization during a global pandemic because your country is claimed to be part of another country that doesn’t provide your country with crucial information. As a advanced society, there is a lot of contribution Taiwan could make if the international society would let her and treat her as a country. This is why this blog strives to inform anyone who would listen that Taiwan is an independent sovereign state.

Taiwan’s Country Profile & Pages (external sites):

International Organizations:

Asian Development Bank  | International Energy AgencyOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development | Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization | World Trade Organization

UN Members:

Australia | Österreich | België Belgique | Canada | Česká republika | Danmark | European Union | France | Deutschland | 日本 | 한국 | Nederland | New Zealand | Sverige | Suisse Schweiz Svizzera | United Kingdom | United States US Trade Representative USDA

CIA World Factbook


The Council on Foreign Relations also provides a relatively neutral introduction on the China-Taiwan Relations.

Further Reading: Taiwan and “China”

For a different view, read rebuttal of this article from The View of Taiwan

Where TO next? Discuss at The Way Forward.

Comments and discussion about the article are appreciated and sometimes moderated for better understanding. Irrelevant and derogatory comments will be removed.

103 thoughts on “Taiwan the Complicated”

  1. Taiwanese want independence, freedom of speech, freedom of fear.
    We need a good president to lead Taiwan as a healthy and wealthy nation, demonstrated by the local Taiwanese!!!

  2. So you are writing CHINESE characters speaking CHINESE and having CHINESE culture. Sure you have different political governments but it doesnt mean you are not CHINESE you SNOB

    1. There are many countries using English as official language, but they’s are obviously different nations, some of them are really far away with each other. One more thing, Taiwanese do not use the same Chinese characters with Chinese, they simplified the real character into something actually incomplete.

      1. Well… just want to mention one point…

        People in Taiwan use the Traditional Chinese (the real character). It is the people in China that use the simplified characters. In this case, the Chinese culture is conserved in Taiwan instead of in China.

      2. According to wikipedia, Character Simplification started 1909 and was first officially introduced 1935, which in another word, ROC were the ones who FIRST simplified it (and then you left, went back to traditional Chinese and start to criticize on this system because you lost the control of mainland China).

      3. Also according to Wikipedia, character simplification was suspended in 1936, before ROC left mainland China. There is a difference between introducing something and deciding it might not be the best idea, and introducing something then making it mandatory for implementation.

    2. So you are writing ENGLISH characters speaking ENGLISH and also having some ENGLISH culture. Sure you have different political governments but it doesnt mean you are not ENGLISH you…know what I wanna say.

    3. It all boils down to the definition of “CHINESE” and how we interpret it. I come from taiwan and used to think or call myself chinese because I thought it means 華人 (it may come from my middle school education) but then soon after I came to the united states, I realized when people hear you are chinese, nobody thinks it means 華人, the ONLY interpretation is you are from china. so I stop using the word unless talking about the language to avoid unnecessary confusion

      1. What is the official name of Taiwan?
        The Republic of CHINA

        The official name of USA does not include the word Britain

    4. Your logic is extremely faulty and disturbing. Just because someone says they are Taiwanese and not Chinese (so as not to be confused with Communist Party) does not make one a snob. Americans have the same language as the English, so in your definition, Americans are SNOBS for not calling themselves English.

    5. Americans have English characters , speaking English, and were having some English culture, does that make them English?

      I think you’re more like the snob.

    6. So the americans, australians and new-zeelanders write in enligsh, speak english, and share english culture, are they considered english then?

    7. Americans are writing English characters speaking English and having English culture, as well. Sure they have different political governments, and do anyone who has common sense says US is UK. You pathetic moron!!!
      By the way, PRC citizens write in simple Chinese which includes incomplete characters of traditional Chinese. Don’t say what you write is Chinese. It is a disgusting insult to Chinese.


  3. I am American and I consider Taiwan an independent country.

    For the Record, the Chinese also claim Tibet, and they even occupy it but it does not make the Tibetans, Chinese.


      1. I’m an American citizen, and I wholly recognize that the US displaced and killed a lot of native Indian tribes in the US’s formation and expansion. Two wrongs don’t make a right. The US was wrong to do so then, and the PRC government is wrong to do so now.

      2. yeah, but I think there is some misunderstanding of your last words.. As a matter of fact, the Chinese government did not want to solve this problem by any battles and did not hurt anyone in Taiwan. The government do respect the human rights of Taiwanese, but under the specific context. As we all know, the American government claim that they will try their best to maintain the global peace. But, as a prime, if anyone want to do something for the others, they need at least get permission to “get into the house”. One’s territory is protected by his citizens, not the other. Imagine that if there were problems in the US, and Chinese government say that they can help to solve the problem, and further transform its army right to the mainland without any permission. You will feel angry right? That is what US government did for Syria.

      3. Chinese government want to solve this matter with peace and not to hurt anyone? I think globally everyone would have heard the news when PRC was shooting missiles at coast of Taiwan a few years back. Act of violent to me it seems.

    2. “Chinese government did not want to solve this problem by any battles and did not hurt anyone in Taiwan”…….oh my god, I am going to vomit. Do you have any idea how many missiles aim Taiwan from PRC? Is it a kind of threat? Just like a man put a gun on your head and tell you I don’t want to hurt you, so don’t worry. It is despicable!!!!!
      By the way, about “the permission to get into the house”, that is because you think Taiwan belongs to PRC. But the truth is the war between ROC and PRC is “international war.” PRC has never ruled Taiwan, not even a single day.

  4. As your own “constitution” states “The territory of the Republic of China within its existing national boundaries shall not be altered except by a resolution of the National Assembly”. Before you can claim anything like what you claim in this article, please make sure you have the resolution of the National Assembly. Or please change your “constitution” if you can. Otherwise, any claim like Taiwan is ROC and Taiwan is a country which definitely indicates the territory change of ROC would be illegitimate by your own standard (your “constitution”.

    1. This is a more complicated problem that isn’t discussed here. Taiwanese cannot easily change the ‘very old’ constitution which can’t reflect the political reality today, because of great pressure from China (They claim if Taiwan tries to change anything, they will attack) and other issues between Taiwanese.

      To sum up, we Taiwanese people already believe Taiwan is ROC (no one else would admit he is from China if travel abroad), but the reality makes changing anything (including the name of the country) difficult.

  5. It doesn’t help that (according to Wikipedia), PRC is a big bully and refuses to have diplomatic relations with any country that officially recognises the ROC.

    Oh, and to the naysayer above, it’s probably worth pointing out that Japanese Kanji are Chinese characters – although as they were imported several hundred years ago, many now have different meanings and/or pronunciations to Chinese. Several aspects of mythology were also transferred and changed over the years. I don’t know if that’s the only case and the writing systems used elsewhere in SE Asia developed independently, or whether there was any transfer between China and its neighbours.

  6. I’m Taiwanese and I will always consider Taiwan a country, regardless of what others might think. To be honest, I don’t care if non-Taiwanese people don’t agree, as their opinion does not matter to me. I personally don’t understand why so many Taiwanese people want recognition from other countries. You can’t expect to educate people who choose to remain ignorant.

    1. we care because of many international issues. I dare say you never travel outside the island, or you will know that country recognition is so important in many situation. you can’t close the door anymore.

      Besides, they aren’t ignorant, just because political reality.

      1. I emigrated to Canada and is currently working in the US. I think I know a little bit about traveling outside the island. 99% of the people who tell me Taiwan isn’t a country also know nothing about the political issues between Taiwan and China. I see no reason why I should waste my time explaining anything to them when they should go pick up a book or go online and do some research themselves.To me, hearing people say Taiwan is a part of China is about as ignorant as my telling an American that they belong to the U.K. Anyone with a grasp of history would not be making such asinine and ignorant comments.

  7. The countries that currently recognize Taiwan are:
    1. Burkina Faso
    2. El Salvador
    3. Belize
    4. Nauru
    5. Palau
    6. Marshall Islands
    7. Solomon Islands
    8. Kiribati
    9. Tuvalu
    10. Guatemala
    11. Paraguay
    12. St. Vincent and the Grenadines
    13. Nicaragua
    14. Dominican Republic
    15. Honduras
    16. Vatican City
    17. Panama
    18. Swaziland
    19. Malawi
    20. Sao Tome and Principe
    21. Haiti
    22. Gambia
    23. St. Kitts and Nevis
    24. Saint Lucia

  8. In my opinion, both Simplified and Traditional Chinese characters have their own advantages.

    Simplified characters do save you a lot of time, while traditional characters is more, as the name suggests, traditional and contains more meanings, stories and history inside the characters. I believe even Taiwanese now write 台灣 instead of 臺灣.

    They are the same language, just different versions.

    And question for real Taiwanese: (Just a pure curious question, not meant to offend or anything)

    In your current situation, why not give up ROC and just be part of PRC. You can still have your own government, passport, currency and everything. Just like Hong Kong and Macau. “One country, two systems” works just fine for China, Hong Kong and Macau. We know there are problems, but at least you guys will get official recognition and going to a Chinese embassy will get help or something.

    1. 1) When it comes to Chinese characters, you can’t mix the natural transition of single char and the modification whole char set. In your example, 台灣 to 臺灣 is cultural transited, but that’s not artificially developed. In China’s situation, they intentionally change the whole set of Chinese characters.
      And I believe native traditional Chinese writer don’t think it will save any time to write in simplified version (in many case those char brings misunderstanding and looks pretty ugly for us)

      2) As mentioned above, Taiwan can’t give up its origin name, which is ROC, only because of PRC’s great pressure.

    2. The problem with “one country, two systems” is that there is no way to guarantee what would happen after the system is in place. When Hong Kong and Macau were returned to PRC, the declarations between PRC and the UK and PRC and Portugal both mentioned that whatever rights and authorities given to the Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR would remain unchanged for 50 years. Those 50 years have not expired, yet we are already seeing increasing interference from the Beijing government to the affairs of Hong Kong and Macau. That’s not a promising sign. And unfortunately, if the Beijing government eventually decides that it’s not going to continue with the system, there won’t be much Hong Kong and Macau can do about it, because foreign and defense affairs were transferred to PRC when HK and Macau were returned.

      You mentioned that Taiwan can still have its own government, but under “one country, two systems”, it is extremely unlikely to be its “own” government, and also unlikely to be Taiwan’s own everything. Right now the government in Taiwan has its own say in all of Taiwan’s affairs, internal or foreign (rather feeble say in foreign affairs, but at least enough to be treated as a de facto nation in most other nations). If Taiwan does become part of PRC, there would be no backing out. And if one day the Beijing government decides “one country, two systems” doesn’t work and wants to change, there won’t be much anyone can do about it. It would all come down to whether you are willing to trade democracy with other conveniences that might come with going into the “one country, two systems”, and I think for most people in Taiwan, it’s not worth it.

    3. Maybe the Japanese should give up Japan and join the PRC as well. So much easier when asking someone else to give up something. By the way, 90% of Chinese gladly give up the PRC for the USA, Canada, so on and so on,,,

    4. One country, two systems is anything but “works fine” lol especially whats been happening since 2012 july, which is a BIG BIG warning to all my Taiwan friends, whatever you do, don’t become part of PRC.

      IMO PRC should probably become part of ROC because as far as I can see, the general public in Taiwan lives a way better standard of living than PRC, so somewhere somehow, the Taiwanese is doing it right.

      And really what kind of logic the PRC is thinking? PRC lost HK and Macau over war and they want them back, ROC lost mainland China over war and now PRC wants to eat up ROC?? WTF

  9. It’s just a matter of pride. When you have distinct culture and values, especially when you don’t think that PRC’s values or culture are more desirable than yours, you wouldn’t want to be labelled as the same.

    IMO from my own interactions with PRC Chinese I must say that the culture and core values in China have pretty much been ravaged and left barren in the wake of the cultural revolution and communism. Much of their heritage is also compromised in the rush for economic growth, although this is true everywhere. If I were a Taiwanese (and my experiences have been all good in Taiwan and with Taiwanese) I would never want to forsake my sovereignty.

    Not at this point of time anyway. =P

  10. The biggest reason why it’s a big deal is the wasteful spending and possibility of accidental military conflict. The Communist Party needs to stop making a show, but then again, their whole existence is just that…

    1. Japan accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration on August 15, 1945, and signed the Instrument of Surrender on September 2, 1945. General Douglas MacArthur then ordered (General Order No. 1) Japanese forces within Taiwan, among other places, to surrender to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. The signing for the instrument of surrender from Japanese forces on the island took place on October 25, 1945, also known as Retrocession Day in Taiwan. But thanks for pointing out the ambiguity, I’ll further clarify it.

  11. Nice explanation, sums up Taiwan’s predicament. However, with regards to the last paragraph, I don’t think the writer can speak for everyone in Taiwan, as in “we try so hard to tell anyone who would listen, that we are from Taiwan, an independent sovereign state.” Maybe the writer does, maybe the writer’s peers do, but that hardly constitutes the Taiwan people, especially the ones in office now. I don’t know, maybe some try harder than others.

  12. I have just returned from a visit to the PRC, and knowing Taiwan a little as well, it occurs to me that … simply, the PRC is backwards relative to the freedom and fairness evident in Taiwan. These two entities differ so greatly, that there can be no real ‘ownership’ argument based on common heritage any longer … the PRC would do well to model itself aspiration-ally on Taiwan, BUT I DON’T SEE THIS HAPPENING ANYTIME SOON, OR EVER! The PRC government has taken the people of Mainland China down a 50 year dead-end and are now relying on corporate capitalism to recover from the misadventure AND preserve the privileges of the ruling elites.

  13. Even Taiwan becomes an independent country, you can’t deny the fact that by ethnicity, you are still Chinese descent (華人). Noticed that Taiwanese is not really an ethnicity, unless you are Taiwanese aborigines (平埔族, 高砂族..etc). Just like the phenomenon in the U.S., by nationality they are American, by ethnicity there are English, French, German..etc.

    1. I agree that most people living in Taiwan are of the Han ethnicity, which constitutes 92% of PRC’s population. It would be better to think of the term “Taiwanese” as a nationality, just as “American” is a nationality, not an ethnicity. Saying we are Chinese, while correct, does not always convey the idea that we are of Chinese-descent, but usually leads someone to believe we are citizens of PRC. There is more discussion about this in my other article, Taiwan and “China” (https://ilhaformosaaltomtaiwan.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/taiwan-china/).

    2. I absolutely agree with you Abby. I have no shame of being part Han. My great grandmother was 100% Dutch ancestry. Being proud of being a Taiwanese does not mean someone is snobbish, and does not mean I deny the fact that I have ancestry from China. It’s just that my family has been in Taiwan for more than 200 years.

    3. The Chinese is not an ethnicity. Han is an ethnicity. Yes, Han is one of the 5 major ethnicity that builds up the Chinese nationality. Han is also a major ethnicity that builds up the Taiwanese, Singaporean, and Malaysian nationality.

  14. I just want to respond to the last comment about being Chinese descent due to ethnicity. Both ROC and PRC are Chinese descent, they are subsets of the parent set “Chinese” from the ethnicity stand point. This has nothing to do with either party having power over the other. I would proudly say i’m a Chinese descent (華人) but not Chinese PRC (中華人民共和國).

    I really hope more and more people understand the issue here, just because PRC and ROC are from same ethnicity trait and PRC rules over a bigger land compare to ROC, doesn’t automatically give PRC govern power over Taiwan.

    As far as I can see the arguments from PRC supporters can go both ways because we are equal subsets of Chinese.

    1. I don’t give ethnicity a s**t. You won’t call an American English. Anyone belongs to the country Taiwan (ROC) should be called Taiwanese, while anyone belongs to the country China is called Chinese. This makes no mistake.

  15. As far as I know, when the PRC began to rule they never released the Taiwan island to became the home of the ROC. That was a decision of the ROC leaders by themselves and those “hua ren” who decided to be part of this nation.

    I consider that both sides, not only China but Taiwan have to accept that there is a big problem of identity. The Taiwan island is still, constitutionally part of PRC but ROC as nation exist too.

    Am I wrong?

    1. I think it might be problematic to say that PRC never released the island. PRC never controlled it in the first place. When the Chinese Civil War resumed in 1946 after WWII ended, the Communists controlled a rather spread out area of mainland China, while the rest of mainland and Taiwan were under Nationalists’ control. The Communists gained control of most parts of mainland north of Yangtze River in 1949 (and eventually established PRC) while the Nationalists kept retreating southward, and eventually crossed the Taiwan Strait to only have control of Taiwan and other islands.

      The population made up of Taiwan after Chiang Kai-shek came in 1949 would include aboriginal Taiwanese, Hoklo and Hakka (who immigrated to from mainland to Taiwan beginning in the 17th-century), and other Chinese people who came with Chiang in 1949. I won’t necessarily say it was a decision they made to have Taiwan be the home of the ROC, it was their only option.

      The argument that PRC never released the island would work if you consider that there is always only one regime ruling over mainland China and Taiwan. So we went from the Qing Dynasty to ROC and then to PRC. PRC considers itself to replace ROC and that ROC no longer exists (as is written in the PRC Constitution). If that is the reality then you would be able to claim that Taiwan is always a part of PRC since 1949.

      As for identity, I don’t think PRC has much a problem with their identity being “Chinese”. People living in ROC (Taiwan) on the other hand are still trying to figure out if they should go with the identity of Taiwanese or both Taiwanese and Chinese.

  16. Just going to provide a different opinion here (btw my parents are what people would call “local Taiwanese” (I also think the terms 本土and外省 are stupid as hell):

    To be honest I don’t care about independence. I don’t see a future for Taiwan and I’m even leaning towards eventual unification in the future. Big countries like the PRC have muscle power so I am not adverse to unification. Look at the conflict with the Philippines not long ago. How did we feel when Mainland expressed displeasure with the Philippines? Did we feel angry at PRC for meddling? How dependent are we on Mainland’s economy now, how dependent are our neighbors on Mainland? Can we actually pay the price of independence?

    We’re like spoiled brats kicking and screaming, but no one, not even the ever-so-loud DPP, has the balls to take up the responsibility that comes with independence. Plus, the States don’t give a flying f*ck, they just want to use us, that’s all. We’re nothing but tools to both the US and PRC, I’m not naive enough to think we’re anything more than a strategic military location to them, and in choosing allies you chose the closer one, isn’t that logical? I seriously don’t see what all the fear is about. Haven’t dynasties in China been like that all the time? Life goes on, just change the name of your nation, it’s not like the term “Taiwanese” is going away any sooner than the term “Shanghainese”.

    The only people who will feel the real difference from unification are:
    1. our media
    2. our politicians
    And lo and behold! They’re doing their best to inject fear into civilians, brainwashing them with a laughable and pathetic sense of superiority.

    With how unprofessional our media is with news reporting, I could care less if they were all fired. Our reporters don’t even double-check facts before reporting news, I hardly think they’re qualified for the job anyway. All our media is good for is distorting perspective and inviting chaos–the only international news we get is funny news like some truck making a car float in Russia. Including the US government shutdown because that is funny too. No media is immune to political control, but Taiwan’s media have gone way out of hand, all for the sake of independence and this need to feel superior to their Mainland neighbor. To me, the news coming from them is often as *credible* as the news from PRC, but the worst part is that some people actually believe in the sh*t they report because we’re a “democratic” country with “the freedom of speech.”

    And our politicians? Shameless bastards who’d openly support lobbying with the media on their side. Frankly, nothing gets done with these politicians who waste most of our tax money away with the promotions and elections. And what? We voted these assholes in to sit around bickering time away while they fatten their pockets without making any progress whatsoever, just count the bills we’ve passed for these past few years. When a politician’s main goal is to manipulate the ignorant and lazy masses, to oppose for the sake of opposing, when their sights are set on how to garner more personal profits for themselves instead of actually contributing to the society, you know something is wrong. Do we need these politicians? Are they any better than the corrupt asshats up in Beijing?

    What is so important about nationality and ethnicity? It is the source of war and conflict. PRC is a bully? Then what about the States? What about Japan and the Diaoyu islands? They certainly are no knight in shining armors. Even the Philippines want to bully us!

    It all boils down to self-interest, that’s what. The stronger nation has the say. That is simply the way of international politics–Taiwan is too weak. Even if there was no PRC suppressing our international recognition, it would not make a difference that we are a weak little country who will end up having to rely on a stronger country. Reality is reality.

    Right now, PRC is trying to pay the price of unifying us by giving us candy after candy. If we want independence, some price will have to be paid.

    Who is going to actually stand up and pay that price? If big countries from the EU can’t even do it, what can we do? Talk is easy, yet no one dares to walk the walk. So, we should think of the opportunities and advantages we have instead of bemoaning woe is us. Want to complain? Look at North Korea, Africa, Middle East, etc. After reading about the sh*t they go through there, try saying, “Woe is me, I have no international recognition!” This is going to get so much sympathy from international nations indeed, especially since we have all that advantage trading with PRC and whatnot.

    I don’t like the censorship and whatnots in PRC either, but whatever. Plenty of opportunity in PRC, I’ll give them time to improve. Not a big believer of democracy as of late, all I see is inefficiency and ignorant civilians who don’t even know what they’re talking about. Of course I don’t think it’s going to be all sunshine and daisies with the unification, but I also don’t think the sky is going to fall down on us if it happens.

    Bottom end: I don’t give a rat’s ass about independence–a frickin’ label “Taiwanese” or “Chinese” is not going to define who the hell I am.

    1. i really like your post and your ability to see the big picture. i share the same view as you, that is, the debate of id oneself being taiwanese or chinese is far less important than ensuring the nation’s security and prosperity. Your post also led me to think that why ppl in tw are so adamant about being called taiwanese over chinese.

      i have to say that at least some ppl from tw dislike to be called chinese, especially in western countries, is due to the fact westerners tend to associate chinese with ppl in mainland china and subsequent stereotypes twds ppl in mainland china; but by id onself with taiwanese can easily avoid these stereotypical views. but is it really necessary to care what kinds of judgements that come from people who do not really know the situation? people form stereotypes when they don’t know you well, but your friends/colleagues/people who actually know you don’t really judge you by where you come from but more on who you really are. china is a rising country although there are still many important issues to be improved such as human rights and poverty in certain places. since poverty/undereducation/older generation who went thru cultural revolution tend to associate with narrow minded thinking and all the bad stereotypes non-chinese ppl may have. If china today were as developed as the US or Japan and citizens in china are all highly respected individuals with high moral standards, would this debate of clarifying oneself being taiwanese or chinese be as heated as now or for the last many years? Please don’t get me wrong, to the people who believe in tw independence.

      After reading the main post and the author thoroughly clarified the history of tw, i began to believe that it is absolutely reasonable and logical to say that tw is an independent nation with its unique government council that’s very different from mainland china. the situation between china and tw reminds me of canadian history, when canada fought for national independence. most canadians in canada are not true canadians except for the aboriginal people, just like most ppl in tw are not true taiwanese except for the natives. but thru centuries, people around the world started to get used to the fact that canadians are caucasians who share similar language and culture as people in britain. then does this imply to us that overtime, people around the world will reconciliate with the fact that people from tw speak chiense and have chinese culture (such as celebrating chinese new yr) are taiwanese and can readily id the differences?

      then in the present situation, the question of where the country tw will be heading towards is left in the hands of tw citizens. would tw citizens be okay to reunite with mainland china under the condition of parallel ruling (like how hk is run but still part of china)? or should tw continue to fight for complete independence and international recognition as a nation? the latter route may seem more challenging but overtime (hundreds of years?), tw will be totally separated from china, just like how Canada and USA, which were bristish colonies long long time ago, are now independent.

      1. I’m glad you enjoyed reading my perspective. I once studied in the States before and it may seem surprising to you that I once was very adamant about being “Taiwanese, not Chinese”, and I did not even mind explaining to fellow classmates that no, Taiwan is not Thailand. I even went so far as NOT making friends with any students from Mainland China because I was brainwashed by my very pro-independence elementary teacher (shame on her) to believe Mainlanders were still very back-water and inferior. Ironically all that started to change slowly when I returned to study in Taiwan. After much contact with the younger generation online through forums, I realized I was wrong and I was quite ashamed of discriminating against the Mainlanders as others would.

        As for the point you raised, there are several reasons I think the US/Canada independence are not comparable to the situation between Mainland and Taiwan, being:

        1. Geological location.
        In the past, technology/transportation was still pretty primitive. There were no internet, no telephones, airplanes, no missile heads, etc. Weapons back in the day were not as destructive as they are now. War was still fought in an orderly, elite way where people lined up properly and shot–there was no such thing as guerrilla warfare.

        Between Canada/US and Great Britain, there is a huge Atlantic Ocean that would take at least 3 torturous months to travel back in the days, so the soldiers coming off are seasick and homesick. It is also easy to catch diseases on the ships because sanitation and medical care were not very developed at the time. A war between Great Britain and the US or Canada is therefore very costly for Great Britain and quite inefficient, especially since they had their hands full dealing with France. I imagine the soldiers would be unwilling to fight and die in a land so far away from their homeland.

        What is between Taiwan and Mainland? A measly Taiwan Strait. People from Xiamen can even see us across the ocean. It is far easier to draw a circle including Mainland and Taiwan as the entire China than it is for one to draw a circle around Great Britain and US or Canada. For Mainland, Taiwan is a critical defensive point. Hell, we block most of the Typhoons for them.

        2. The Internet and Economy

        This is interlinked with the geographical reason.

        There once was a time when things moved slowly and most people had no means of obtaining any information about what is happening around the globe, they lived in their own little world (though I have to admit, many Taiwanese still live in their own little world). The exchange between civilizations is therefore very slow, and it was easier for them to develop different cultures because information and interactions were not as efficient as it was now. The internet and telephone are relatively recent–they had not existed when the US and Canada became independent.

        Now, however, what I am observing is a meshing of cultures, of the lines becoming increasingly blurred thanks to the fast travel of information. Taiwan and Mainland are very closely interlinked, and the gap between our younger generations is actually shrinking at an incredibly fast rate. Words and terms are being constantly exchanged, such as 小三, 神獸草泥馬, etc. It used to be Mainland China watching TV shows from Taiwan–now, it is increasingly the other way around. The sheer population of Chinese internet users is going to surpass the English internet population in 2015, and most of those users would be from Mainland China. They will be the ones influencing Taiwan, not the other way around.

        Economically, Taiwan can no longer survive without Mainland. Economically, Canada and the US can survive without Great Britain.

        Economically, Mainland can survive without Taiwan.

        Considering the aforementioned two factors, there will only be more interaction between Taiwan and Mainland, as Taiwan is too small for the international community to give a damn about. Our top talents are all running to Mainland, not the other way around, so I find it ridiculous for some Taiwanese to fear Mainlanders coming over for competition. The real Mainlanders who have a competitive edge will never come to Taiwan because international corporations have no desire to establish their HQ in this tiny island with low salary, even if Taiwan one day becomes independent.

        It is different because talents from the US or Canada will not run over to the UK, therefore they can maintain a distance and a sense of independence. They have more land and a bigger market compared to Taiwan, so they have room for development. Frankly it is just not a good idea from an economical standpoint for Taiwan to become independent. As Mainland becomes more and more open and developed, Taiwan’s advantage will become less and less apparent. It is already happening now because Taiwan’s development is hindered by a weak government thanks to all the political jabbering and inefficiency.

        This is not what it is like back in the day with the US/Canada and their independence. The US could become independent because they did not want to pay taxes–they were funding Great Britain’s many wars with France which had nothing to do with them and it pissed them off. The stakes of independence were not as high as it is in Taiwan, therefore the situation is not comparable. US/Canada were brimming with infinite potential, not Great Britain. Mainland is the one brimming with potential, not Taiwan.

        3. Culture

        When I look at Mainland China, I see Taiwan from probably twenty years ago, before I was born. It is pretty much the same there as it is here. Are our people more civilized? Actually, not really, because you cannot imagine how many Taiwanese also do not flush the toilets and do not aim properly when they pee, or how many times I’ve seen pee on the f*cking toilet seat…in my office building, in the cinema toilets…just everywhere. I chalk it up to being a Chinese thing because frankly Taiwanese condemning Mainlanders for their lack of manners is like 五十步笑百步. Mainlanders are slowly improving because they know and are ashamed of all the bad rep involving how “uncivilized” their own people are. If you hear these voices from the younger generation you know that they are on their way to improving, it is the older generation that lacks etiquette as it is in Taiwan, actually.

        Maybe our people are nicer all around, but regional differences already exist anyway–people from Taipei are already different from people in Tainan. Those who live in Tainan are known to be nicer than those who live in Taipei.

        Let us then consider how big Mainland is. Will the difference between people in Guangdong and people in…let’s say Liaoning, be any less than the difference between the people in Taiwan and the people in Fujian?

        I find this argument of “different culture” many Taiwanese propose rather weak. This is probably one of the main reasons Mainlanders cannot understand why the hell Taiwan is always going on and on about how they are so different (read: superior). Our people are far too narrow-sighted to see beyond this tiny island.

        The US and Canada are different because the immigrants there are mostly from all sorts of different countries (there is a large chunk of Canadians who speak French, and the US is a mesh of diversity Taiwan sorely lacks). They also do not happen to worship their ancestors. They have all that land to expand and absorb more people from more different cultures. Taiwan…nothing. We’re at the end of the rope.

        Anyhow…yeah. I’ve been really annoyed with Taiwan as of late, I’m sure it is quite apparent with the long-ass essays I’m typing up. I am very frustrated and disappointed in our government and our people.

        I will not be surprised if one day in the future, Taiwan will beg for Mainland China to take us in and wipe our asses. I sure as hell am not staying on this island–many top talents will agree because our government is not doing anything to keep them. With a government as sh*tty as this, and politicians as inept as our lawmakers, do I really care about preserving this sh*tty political system? It’s still full of holes and corruption.

        Our government is failing our citizens, and our citizens are too selfish to help Taiwan. I have little sympathy for the current situation and little respect for our so-called democracy–who can the Taiwanese blame but themselves? All they know what to do is to complain, complain, and complain. No one reflects on themselves. Our doctors are running away because citizens are so thankless and nasty and our media a frickin’ destructive monster of brainwashing. Our top talents are trickling out because there is no future in this place, and the transition from Taiwan to Mainland is far easier than the transition from Taiwan to the States so Taiwan is going to have less and less talent to bring it out of its current mess.

        The longer Taiwanese keep getting wrapped up with insignificant sh*t, the more they are dooming Taiwan because our politicians are good at nothing but being drama queens. No one is addressing the real issue. The US can afford to have such an inefficient government since they are too strong to fall, but Taiwan cannot afford to get derailed all the time. The world too complex for analogies to stand true, there are too many factors that can render any comparison between two situations meaningless because it cannot be compared. If the world was that simple there would not be war or conflict.

        Le sigh~ This is why I always get angry when people keep telling me how important independence is, how Taiwan is not China, how the US could be well off independent from Great Britain and blah blah balah. They only see the surface–have they considered anything else beyond independence? No plan after that? So…say we could hypothetically become independent right now. What next?

        However, since telling all my opinions in their faces will damage friendships for sure, the only thing I can do is keep my mouth shut and vent online behind an anonymous mask. So sad. I used to want to be able to do something for Taiwan, to contribute to my homeland…but now…my heart has grown cold. I used to get angry at overseas Taiwanese who come back and complain about how much they hate Taiwan. How can one hate their own homeland?

        Well. I personally don’t hate Taiwan despite all my criticism, 愛之深責之切 you know, and there is good if I want to see it…but I’ve lost hope in Taiwan’s future.

      2. Anyhow I realize most of my points don’t make any sense because I was tired when I typed this. But yeah. The point is I cannot imagine Taiwan’s future.

        Maybe we become independent. The moment we become independent is probably the moment Mainland does not need us anymore…which means we’re going to stand on equal grounds with PRC’s other trading partners. So, let’s say we become a member of that coveted UN and WHO, establish more trading links with other countries. What next? We’re still competing with South Korea, and it’s a losing battle since Chinese by nature are not very cooperative/patriotic (崇洋媚外). Will becoming independent raise the salary of our people? Will it give us a competitive edge at long last internationally? Nah, everyone’s focused on Mainland. Taiwan is just a hub for them to get to Mainland China, though HK is admittedly a better point to start off for various reasons.

        What I see is Taiwan becoming less and less competitive in the future, independent or not. This is because we are focusing our energy on something we cannot change, and by the time we become independent it will be too late. We don’t have tourism (those night markets are…just not enough). We don’t have a financial market. We don’t have a market worth investing in. We don’t have renowned universities. People with 7 points can get into a college. Our birthrate is low as hell, half our newborns are from less-well-to-do families with immigrant brides. Most people lack an international vision, which is not right for an island country. We are not Japan. We are not South Korea.

        Taiwan is being left behind–What was once a member of the Four Asian Tigers is no longer a tiger. No independence is going to help us. Being friendlier is still not going to stop foreigners from smiling and saying sorry, we’re going to invest in Mainland, Taiwan is not worth it.

        I am constantly trying to imagine how Taiwan can get itself out of its mess but this has been a slow process that has been happening for over a decade now. Talents have always been trickling out from Taiwan. It is only doing so at a much faster pace no thanks to our neighbor. I suppose life will just go on as it is now if Taiwan becomes independent. But if so there is even less point in arguing about independence then, because it changes nothing.

  17. I really like this post, I read it twice to understand it properly!

    It makes me understand the whole picture much more and understand people supporting different points of views. Do continue to write about explanations of Taiwan history and politics…

    1. I came to ask the author of this article how it feels to have your argument eviscerated by The View from Taiwan. Do you miss your viscera?

      1. lol, yeah, while they’re at it why don’t THEY become a powerful politician in Taiwan, lead all Taiwanese to fight a World War III, and win because they have superior technology, more land, more money, and most importantly tons of atomic bombs to detonate at their command?

        What government in the world is going to give a f*ck about what the people in Taiwan thinks, the Taiwanese are not their citizens, why should they risk their people’s profits for a bunch of foreigners who don’t pay their taxes? If they don’t recognize you they don’t recognize you. International politics is a nasty place where only those with power have a say, where self-interest is the way. One can claim independence and claim the treaty is propaganda all one wants, but yeah…still no WTO, no WHO, no UN and no right to build embassies~ 自爽就好啦,他們連戲都懶得看呢! Foreign governments have their own pile of sh*t to deal with.

        Ironically, the response’s logic that the treaty is irrelevant and a propaganda is the exact reason PRC also say they can lay claim to Taiwan because they are China and Taiwan is, believe it or not, conquered by China before the Japanese occupation. Moreover, Taiwanese were very happy when they were “returned to their motherland”, and no one at the moment would say Taiwan was not a part of China at the time. Well, other than those who are already brainwashed into thinking they’re Japanese. The “locals” simply grew resentful after KMT came over to rule in a not-so-tactful way. The friction therefore is the catalyst for the entire notion of independence, a relatively new concept that I’m sure the ancestors of Taiwanese “locals” would actually not approve of.

        At any rate, what The View from Taiwan is essentially saying is that all Han Chinese immigrants should get the f*ck off Taiwan because the aboriginals claimed it first. How dare the Han Chinese establish government there during the Ming and Qing Dynasty! How dare they steal the land, where are the goddamn documents of consent? Why aren’t the aboriginals dominating the government?

        The only reason these locals became “locals” is because they stole the women and made babies with them, because they forced the dudes away from fertile lands, and wave after wave of immigrants eventually suppressed the aboriginals by sheer force of population. Do people really think there’s a first-come, first-serve thing for the right to rule?

        Yeah, get the f*ck out of Taiwan, KMT and all the 外省人who came with them because locals have no business ruling over them just as they have no business ruling over locals, and while they’re at it, take with them all the goodies in the National Palace Museum, which is a major tourist attraction, because local Taiwanese citizens don’t own those relics, none of it was Made in Taiwan after all~~ Throw away all the history books concerning Chinese history and Chinese literature before the KMT rule because Taiwanese aren’t Chinese, those ancient people in China have nothing to do with us. Confucius? Who’s that? Let’s see if these independence extremists can gain a sense of identity and culture after cutting off everything that has to do with China… All we have that is truly unique to Taiwan is 檳榔西施and aboriginal dances that are actually the cultural property of the aboriginals and not ours, most of us know next to nothing about those dances…but let’s build on that, shall we? Stop praying to those Daoist gods because none of them were born in Taiwan, not even 媽祖–why should these gods bless us if we don’t recognize them as having anything to do with us? (Btw I’m agnostic). Be like the US and only learn Taiwanese history~ but at least the US has people like Thomas Jefferson to fill the books up with. What does Taiwan have? Do the average Taiwanese seriously want to forfeit the claim to being a part of a 4000+ year culture? I’m sure most will not. Most pride ourselves in being able to preserve what the cultural revolution has destroyed.

        Oh, and Taiwanese have no business saying the Diaoyu islands and the ludicrous territory associated with it is theirs…because it was never really theirs anyway, since that treaty is just a propaganda. Japan is sure happy to ignore the Cairo agreement, yes they are. Let’s give up the profits and let Japan ignore the treaty, they will surely let us fish there and share that profit with us, yes they will~

        The entire notion that land is property is ridiculous in and of itself, but alas, no one will agree with me, no citizen and no farmer, because at the core of making land property is profit. Idealism is nice and all, but of course I know abolishing the privatization of land is never going to work, communism has proved it hasn’t it? But the ideal behind communism is not bad–after all, why have all those people rose up against KMT in support of the CPC? Ignorant masses are easily, so easily manipulated by these pretty little ideals, especially when living conditions are bad and dissatisfaction is high. The ideal was there. It just didn’t work because power corrupts…everyone wants to be able to keep the profits. Who is really that altruistic?

        This is life and reality. There is no legitimate and illegitimate rule. There is only the strong and the weak. Being so hung up about 本土and 外省issue is frankly as stupid as racism–one should focus on cooperating instead of screaming on top of one’s lungs to divide the country. It’s just like saying, “Why should we donate to foreign countries?” Did anyone ask “Why are these foreigners donating to us?” when the 921 earthquake struck? As I said, the concept of “them” vs. “us” is stupid, it does not make a single contribution to the world or society.

        Conclusion: This local and foreign issue is not the point, the KMT and DDP political baggage is not the point, only the blog entry’s owner and their narrow-minded ways would think that this entry by Ilha Formosa is a KMT propaganda.

      2. Thanks for posting the different view, it’s always nice to have one’s writing thoroughly examined and contradicted. I think I will skip the nitty gritty details, since those are easily correctable (for example, the decision to upgrade Taiwan to a province was made and announced by the Qing imperial court in 1885, while Liu Mingchuan, first governor of Taiwan Province, was appointed in 1885 and arrived in 1886, and the actual administrative structure for the province wasn’t completely established until 1887). I did not include the details about the Formosan Republic 台灣民主國 (after Qing ceded Taiwan but before Japanese invasion, lasted 150 days) because at the time of writing (the article was written first in 2010, and then updated on multiple occasions), I considered it to be more of a desperate attempt to escape Japanese colonization rather than to actually establish a republic for people of Taiwan. It wasn’t as if the people of Taiwan tried to declare independence while it was a part of the Qing Dynasty. I thought including it was one detail too many for someone new to understanding Taiwan’s status.

        The San Francisco Peace Treaty was certainly important in terms of Taiwan’s sovereignty. However, it is also often used by pro-Taiwan independence groups to suggest that Taiwan never belonged to China (PRC or ROC). I chose not to include it in the article in an attempt to keep it politically neutral (I might conclude now that it is a failed attempt). It seems that by doing that I am automatically classified as pro-KMT, and frankly, supporting a particular political party or the ruling regime of Taiwan is not the point of this article.

        This article was written to clarify for someone who might not understand the Taiwan-China relationship that Taiwan really has never been a part of the PRC. I completely agree with The View of Taiwan in that “the island[s] of Taiwan belongs to the people of Taiwan, who should have the say about who has sovereignty.” But putting people into certain political camps or arguing whose interpretation of historical facts then is correct does little in helping someone to understand the reality that the islands of Taiwan is not part of the PRC today. Is ROC an illegitimate regime occupying the islands of Taiwan? It could be, depending on who you talk to in Taiwan. But the reality is that the regime came and stayed and is still in place, even after 5 direct presidential elections. I don’t think denouncing ROC as a ruling regime of Taiwan is going to start any sort of revolution that all the sudden changes Taiwan’s international status. Is my article the most historically correct and unbiased one on the issue? Most likely not, but growing up and being educated in Taiwan in the 1990s and early 2000s, those facts were what was taught in the schools (which I suppose could be considered as governmental propaganda) and reflected what I and a lot of my peers believe on the issue.

        My hope for this article was that it could convince someone that Taiwan is not a part of PRC or encourages a discussion on the subject. The evisceration made a few scratches, but I think overall my viscera are still intact and functional.

  18. why the map suspiciously omitted the history before the Japanese colonization? The pre-colonial history presents all the historical roots we are talking about.

  19. The vast majority of the people who settled and populated Taiwan are Han Chinese. The aboriginal peoples took no interest in control of the island beyond protecting their resources which, like it did for the Native Americans, turned out to be a lost cause. Culturally the people in Taiwan are Chinese. They speak the same languages. Their writing system is the same (Yes, the mainlanders and the Japanese have modernized theirs). And their cultural habits are closely related. However, politically they are not the same. Taiwan has a democratic system; China has a communist-based system. The future of Taiwan will not be about culture and history, it will be about about political systems. Taiwan has thrived under their current political system. Why would China want to destroy a vibrant economy, just to bring it into the fold? Taiwan needs to stop the political rhetoric, and focus on the economy.

  20. Today in a debate about Taiwan is China? The guy said Taiwan IS a part of China, I disagree. Although I really enjoyed this article I have 1 question (which he asked): since Taiwan was a part of the Qing dynasty, so it IS still a part of China right?

    When my Chinese friend asked that I talked about how that would mean USA is pt of Britain it’s same concept. Right? Since the US was also under the Brits once in their history.

    But after the 1st Sino War, if Japan never went to WW2, then Taiwan would’ve been theirs forever, yes? Which means Taiwan was no longer a part of China AFTER the 1st Sino War, which means the PRC was founded WITHOUT Taiwan of course, while the ROC only AQUIRED Taiwan AFTER WWII correct?

    I also argue that since the Qing dynasty no longer exists, this meant if someone said Taiwan was a part of China, the only proof would have to be during the Qing but no more Qing means Taiwan is independent since the PRC is not the Qing.

    Did I get it right? So does Taiwan being a part of Qing ever mean that Taiwan SHOULD be China’s?

    Thanks, btw I’m Taiwanese.

  21. @ 心灰意冷, thanks for your reply. I really enjoy reading your post. I feel like that you are a very far sighted person. Have you considered bringing your voice to the public? I think the future of Taiwan lies in the hands of people like you who are able to see beyond political power game struggles and personal interests. Just as you said, Taiwan is a small island, being an activist for your nation’s future can be rewarded in your days of living. You’ve had a great start by expressing your true opinions in a forum and I’m sure you can find people who share similar views. Don’t run away from your country when it needs people like you to bring it to a better future.

    1. No, I have not said this because the people who I want to talk sense into will not listen. You also don’t know how irrational some DPP extremists can get–many refuse to face the truth that PRC is surpassing us in every way, instead focusing on all of the Mainlander’s bad rep so they can feel better about themselves. Disagreeing with them will make them angry, some would go as far as threatening to hack your computer or exposing your living address. Internet bullying is the norm for these people, you’ll understand if you go on the Taiwanese bulletin board “PTT”, where the netizens are all green. You either agree with them or you’re blue. If you’re blue you’re like those 外省人 who “don’t love Taiwan”. Being a “local”, I have relatives who are deep green, so I have been accused of being unpatriotic before. Once they think you’re blue, nothing you say will be of relevance to them.

      Wearing the cape of this so-called democratic justice, many will condemn me as an unpatriotic traitor, a communist spy from PRC, a conspirator from Ma’s KMT, etc. Some DPP extremists will tell me to get the f*ck off this island “if I hate it so much”. They will not stand for any criticism of their country. Their life is defined by the fight for independence and the hatred of China (be it PRC or the term ROC since it has to do with the KMT), and they thrive on the satisfaction they get from being a “patriotic activist” who’d march against everything, be it petty or not, just to prove how “democratic” they are. What can people like me be active for? Active against an ideology, against blind belief, against something formless? They are a loud voice, and even though they probably don’t even represent the majority, they are plenty destructive.

      Democracy is not just about the right to vote, it’s not about which party one supports will win the elections. Democracy means responsibility to one’s own nation’s development, and not one’s own short-term profit/comfort–the blaming game and conspiracy theories will get us nowhere, but that’s what Taiwanese love doing, and it is the ultimate cause of our political inefficiency and overall stagnation.

      I do not doubt that many Taiwanese also share my opinion, in fact there may be more than you think who share this thought (those who support the status quo are still in the majority), but unlike me they probably prefer independence in the end. (BTW there is a blog of reason in Chinese, 銀正雄的部落格, there are many like-minded people there, though some a little over-the-top. However, I sometimes look through the comments to feel a little better and a little more hope, only for it to be crushed again when I glimpse the news of course.) Freedom of speech means we’ll just have to tolerate those really annoying and noisy people, right? You will only see the true voice of the majority when the time to vote comes…how did you think Ma won the re-election? However, seeing that all our politicians are beyond hope…I no longer know who to vote for because there is no one I want to vote for. If so then I’d rather the time and money spent on election campaigns be spent on something more productive.

      Speaking of which, Ma has been disappointing to the silent voters who put him in the office because he lacks the internal strength to be a strong leader. However, we cannot blame him entirely, since this is apparently what the citizens want, isn’t it? With so many loud citizens nitpicking him, the media attacking him, and selfish politicians either opposing him or remaining silent and unsupportive… the blame is everyone’s to share. Ma does not understand that he cannot satisfy everyone. These people will oppose him no matter what he does. Sadly he is not firm enough to ignore those voices and unscientifically conducted polls.

      The Wang Jinping incident has convinced me that the people have chosen to doom Taiwan, because political drama, being anti-KMT/anti-PRC/anti-Ma, and independence is apparently more important than fighting corruption and inefficiency. What was not about political division became an issue of political division because they wanted it to be about division, they wanted it to be conspiracy and drama–the media especially loves political drama, after all. And those corrupt politicians in the legislature, be it blue or green, are sure happy to put on a damn show…especially now, they are fighting tooth and nails because they know they’ve done way too many bad things to let their phone calls be under surveillance. Naturally not all Taiwanese are stupid, we can see through this game, and there are some who are standing up against the absurdity of what is unfolding in Taiwan, but most of the time all we get in return is being accused of being Ma’s “internet army”.

      People only see what they want to see, and if they don’t want to see the reasoning behind different opinions they will not.

      I understand the need for identity, because our government is, in the end, not politically affiliated with PRC and we are under democratic rule, but I have grown very bitter about this issue of independence. I love Chinese history and culture, so I’m proud to be Chinese anyway…I’m Chinese and from Taiwan, which is btw currently an island under democratic rule by politicians just as sh*tty as politicians everywhere in the world is. There, problem solved. Can we move on now? Who cares if ROC is not PRC? Who really cares? Only those racist/bigot Chinese-haters I don’t want to be friends with anyway. I’m proud to be Chinese and you look down on Chinese then I don’t like you either, thanks. The you being a general you, of course.

  22. Taiwan and Mainland China both belong to the Chinese Nation… politically it doesn’t matter, who is in control, both pieces of land is identified as China, whether you like it or not.

    In addition, let’s say that during the Chinese Civil War, instead of the Communist who won the way, let’s say the Nationalist did and the defeated Communist controlled Taiwan.

    Would the Nationalist ever give up hope and allow the the Communists to take control of the island? Would the Nationalist give up unification?

    Speaking of which, would the current KMT gov’t let the DPP flee to Penghu and form their own gov’t?

  23. We ARE Chinese. There are Canadian Chinese, American Chinese as well. But we are not PRChinese. Don’t babble with LIBERATION and LIBERATION and LIBERATION at any hour. It’s rather annoying. It’s like rape. I only befriend friendly PRChinese and Taiwanese people. Those who calls for violence and chaos–go bite the dust.

  24. @ 心灰意冷

    You’re darn right! Can’t agree with you anymore.

    You know what? My high school “” teacher (Can’t post the subject or someone may identify me, and then blah blah blah) is deep green and the three years with her were sheer hell. She did not teach properly. She used an arrogant, sarcastic tongue to tell the whole class that how evil were the “Blues”, and how one of her workmate got caught by the soldiers and never returned. What a damnable lie! She was no older than my mother and my mother said her era wasn’t the “White Terror” era. So how can that “victim” got caught by autocratic people?

    “They” state that the Blues are autocratic and are not loyal to this island and might as well be sent to the guillotines, etc. Well, in my opinion, THEY are the autocratic ones: they rule with chaos, irrational hatred, a roar that covers the other voices. I am not exactly a Blue, but my grandfather is one of the KMT soldiers that sojourned this land in 1949–and what does it mean to the Greens? That I’m of a traitor’s blood. This is more realistic than any Fantasy Novels.

    When I tried to tell the school administrators about the “” teacher not teaching her class properly (she viewed my classmates as toys and ordered them not to go to the bathroom during her class, no matter how urgent the calling was, until the College Entry Exam was over. Anyone that disobeyed would be viewed as traitor. She even keyed down some of her class notes–ON THE WALL, for there wasn’t spare space on the blackboard. The contents couldn’t be wiped until her next class, bringing great discomfort to the other teachers), the “” teacher stated that this was a political overthrow, that the cruel Blues were going to fiddle with her again. WHAT IS THIS TO DO WITH FREAKING COLORS?! When I failed attempting to replace her with another responsible teacher, I wrote my observation of the whole event in a novel and tried to submit it in a reward, but it was removed for it “assaulted a teacher “.

    See how coarse and painful my path was? And as conclusion, I agree with your words: in fact there may be more than you think who share this thought (those who support the status quo are still in the majority). Yeah, and I’m one of them. Long live peace and let the chaos and hatred bite the dust!

    Lapis Lazuri (my pseudonym)

    1. Hi, thanks for offering. I actually considered translating the article into Chinese, and ended up with the conclusion that it would look a lot like a pro-Taiwan independence propaganda, and there is already enough bickering on the subject in the Chinese-speaking communities that I don’t have any desire to add fuel over fire. I think on a topic as sensitive as this, it is best to write a new article in Chinese instead of translating it from English. Feel free to create something new with ideas from this article, but I would have to say no to a literal translation. If you are interested in translating it into any other languages, be my guest, and a link back to this article would be appreciated.

      1. Thanks for replying. Is that the reason why you choose to publish it in English instead of Chinese (assuming Chinese is your native language)? I understand. No worry, I won’t go any further. Thanks

      2. I wrote it in English in the first place because my primary audience for it is anyone who has no prior knowledge of the Taiwan-China relationship, and since the majority of that target audience understands English better than Chinese, it made sense. I grew up in Taiwan and Chinese is my native language. Thanks for understanding :)

  25. Years ago I would argue with people from taiwan about the issue. And yes at that time the central government really tried hard to put this issue on the table. Recently, there is a trend of ignoring. The mainland stops yelling about it. Reason? It seems that your economy has been tied to the mainland and it’s kind of drug, you just can’t fix it. Yes, economy is not everything but when you suffer from it, 人心思变。

    Now, for me and other people around from mainland, we actually don’t care about your independence. The island is just too weak to stay on the discussion. Briefly, you are no longer that relevant.

    1. When we made the “economic miracle” happened in Taiwan, we didn’t depend on PRC. PRC now is just copy what Taiwan has done before to make money.
      Economy is not everything, there are so many much more important things, like freedom, security, like culture and environment.

      PRC is big and ROC is small, that’s why PRC has so much more problems. Your poor people are so much many, and they’re suffering now.
      Not because a thing is small then it’s weak. Not because it’s weak and means it’s doesn’t exist.
      If you really care nothing as you said, you shouldn’t’ had write anything here.

  26. The author made a big mistake from the very beginning of the article. First of all, Japan gave up its right over Taiwan only after 1952, not 1945. Furthermore, Taiwan has never been officially given to any country and what ROC has is merely de facto control over Taiwan.

    The truth is, Taiwan is not a part of China, neither PRC, nor ROC. Allowing people on Taiwan to vote ROC’s president didn’t/doesn’t and won’t make ROC a legal, lawful owner of Taiwan.

    The only legal way for ROC to gain legal ownership over Taiwan is to hold a referendum, in which only Taiwanese people who had their Japanese nationality cancelled by the Japan government (and their heirs) can vote, and have the majority of voters vote ROC as the legal owner of Taiwan.

    This is called “national self-determination.”

    Stop cheating people, ROC.

    1. What you’re playing is just a word-game. Maybe you should ask some Taiwanese who are older, like my grandmother to confirm? When 1945 Japanese surrendered and in 1947 the 228 Incident happened. The KMT came to Taiwan in 1949, the year PRC was born in China.

      The way you talked is like Taiwan is only a picture on the map. But it’s also a real island on the earth that some called it home. Many people live there. The history truly happened.

  27. It’s fun to see that so many people left notes here with their different views…… from a person living in Taiwan, I say thank you to you! To your courage, your passion and your perseverance! Mainland China emerges but it does not mean Taiwanese people want to be part of it! International trading is international, I do not think after understanding the whole history, people in China will still believe they have Taiwan as a part of their own country. We pay tax to our government, we have our own national health insurance, I do not see any reason that China currently does to Taiwan over independence ……is not correct at all. sometimes, kids need to learn let go~ just not matured enough, I guess~

  28. I’m a Chinese who studying in the UK now. I have met some Taiwanese who were not so friendly with me. I couldn’t understand before. But today I saw some arrogant Chinese above. I’ve got little understanding of that. Sigh…

  29. Hey,
    nice website, so much people get wrong information about the status of Taiwan and its history…
    Nice also to see different points of view in the comments.

    However, you didn’t show the most important part on the Taiwan/China timeline. You start everything in 1885.
    For people to really understand better the “complicated status”, it would be nice to add the Ming & Qing dynasty, because Taiwan & China have already been one united country during :
    – Qing Dynasty (not the whole Qing Dynasty period but a very big part)
    – between 1945 & 1949 (Republic of China), when Japan gave Taiwan back.

    It’s worth mentioning that Taiwan has been a part of Qing Dynasty during more than 200 years.

    I have nice Chinese friends and nice Taiwanese friends, I often feel strange because I’m like middle in the conflict.

    I have some Chinese friends who say « What? Taiwan a country? Taiwan has always belonged to China. »
    While this is wrong because of the use of the word « always » (Taiwan has belonged to Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish, Ming dynasty, Qing dynasty, Japanese, Republic of China), the word « China » in the question is also a big problem.
    If they mean PRC with the word China, then it’s wrong. If they mean “Qing Dynasty”, then they are right that “Taiwan has belonged to Qing Dynasty”.

    I guess they consider that since 1949, they are the heirs of the ROC and hence the heirs of the Qing Dynasty, because ROC came just after the Qing Dynasty in 1911/1912. It’s true that ROC lost the war and PRC won.
    But the thing is ROC moved to Taiwan in 1949 and control this island since 1945.

    For me, the status quo is not that bad. It makes no blood and Taiwan can at least enjoy its democracy.
    I think there is a big confusion because the word “China” is present in both « People’s Republic of China » & « Republic of China ». While it’s very hard (or impossible?) to change Taiwan’s name, in my opinion, as long as there is a such big ambiguity in their name, they won’t be able to get more recognition.
    The ambiguity is big because people who don’t know anything about Taiwan/China history would just think Republic of China means China (just a “People’s” is missing but they don’t know it makes a difference).

    One of my Chinese friends told me that this is an problem of ego, because ROC lost the war but continued to pretend they control whole China.
    While this may be true at that time (1949), today, it’s not the same, as ROC does no longer pretend to rule whole China (it wouldn’t make sense in 2014!). But! China (PRC) continues to pretend they rule Taiwan. I can also feel ego from that side, because they don’t want to accept that today, they just don’t rule Taiwan. It’s not only “today”. PRC (1949 ~ 2014) has never ruled Taiwan.

    I try to separate people and what they say. When Chinese friends tell me that Taiwan belongs to China, I just think in my head: « Don’t be angry: they just repeat what they have been told by everyone since they are born. At school, at home, everyone around has always said that. ». I could only be angry about the PRC’s government, not about my friends who repeat their words since 1949.

    I could accept PRC says « We intend/would like to control Taiwan ». Because then they would express a wish they have. But I don’t like the big lie they try to spread all over the world that they _already_ control Taiwan. The government use its populous people to spread this.

    The official PRC government website lists Taiwan as one of their provinces. Bad faith.

    I was also surprised that some of my Chinese friends didn’t even know the ROC flag. I guess the PRC doesn’t talk a lot about it when they teach history at school, but it’s a little bit sad: no matter if I like what my ancestors did or not, what they did with my country is part of my country’s story and I want to learn it to understand who I am and where do I come from.
    ROC is a part of China history, because it has ruled mainland China between 1911 and 1949. No matter if we like or not what they did of China during that time, but we have to accept they are part of the history of China.
    I’m personally not proud about what France has done during the last 400 years. But it’s the past of my country.

    I love you my mainland Chinese & Taiwanese friends!

    1. Hi, thanks for the comment. I did mention Taiwan formally became a part of the Qing Empire in 1684 in the text, maybe I’ll add it to the graph once I get proper Internet access. I do agree one of the problems in this mess is the word “China”, although to be honest, I do think a significant amount of people in Taiwan does still have much attachment to all the glory of Chinese-past. the “ego”, if you will. Even overseas, the ROC citizen communities are often split into those identifying with Taiwan and those identifying with ROChina.

      The status quo isn’t awful at the moment, although with the way the incumbent president is steering, it might soon stop being a status quo. A lot of KMT members do have this dream of unifying China as ROC (a dream is probably what it will continue to be).

      PRC has actively suppressed the ROC part of the Chinese history in its education, mostly for its own benefits (won’t seen right by praising the “enemies”). But I think that has been loosening and more and more PRC students are beginning to learn about small bits of what actually happened, both overseas and in mainland China, so that’s a small promising sign.
      Then again, with what is happening in Hong Kong right now, I really don’t think there is much chance that people of Taiwan will peacefully submit to the will of PRC. My hope is we will never have to.

      Thanks for commenting :)

  30. Just two opinions.
    The FLAG of ROC is not the so-called blue-sky-white-sun-red-ground all the time! During the period of 1912 to 1927, the central government of China was not KMT-based, rather than Peking-based, and so the Flag of ROC is different from this one shown in your chart.
    The ROC diminished in 1949, since her formal president Lee flee to the US by the time when PRC established. The government rebuilt in Taiwan is NOT the same as the one formerly in China. It is really a government-in-exile, and play an administration agent on Taiwan via the general order No.1. It’s why the US official once said, Taiwan or ROC is NOT a state.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I never meant for the graph to show a history of the flags of the ROC. It is shown with the current ROC flag because I think the graph would look cluttered and confusing with a different flag added in, potentially implying the existence of a different state from the ROC.

      As for whether Taiwan/ROC is a state or not, I personally think the opinions of the people of Taiwan matter more than an American official or the PRChinese people. After all, we are the people living in Taiwan. Be it a government-in-exile or something else, it is still a de facto independent political entity, and I think discussing and reaching a consensus among Taiwanese people on the future of Taiwan would be more beneficial than what is happening in Taiwan now.

  31. Republic of Taiwan is an independent country. Taiwan should completely ditch Chinese Mandarin and make English the one ONLY official language of the country. Anyone in Taiwan speaks Chinese or other language should be punished by death. All Chinese-related culture should be abolished immediately. Only Western Culture should be legal in Taiwan. Anyone who does business with the Mainland China should be punished Taiwan really needs a wholesale change. Remember 99% of Taiwanese support the independence. 99.99% Taiwanese favor the abolition of Chinese culture and Chinese language. 100% of Taiwanese welcome US military to open bases there.

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