Taiwan, Are You a Country or Not?

Well, it depends who you ask whether Taiwan is a country or not. Most of the world will unofficially say it is. It has its own government, issues its own currency, and has its own flag.

Image from Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

Yet, only 23/191 members of the United Nations officially recognizes it. Taiwan has a population of over 23 million, and its sovereignty is disputed, yet Vatican City has less than 900 people and is a sovereign state. Why is that?

China puts a great deal of political pressure on the world to support them in saying that Taiwan is just another province of China. No one wants to make China mad. In fact, China has said they will invade of Taiwan ever tries to officially state its independence. After living in China for 2 years, I can tell you firsthand that it is a very sensitive subject. Chinese people refer to Taiwan as Chinese Taipei.

Modern-day Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China,  began when the communists took over China in 1949. Over 2 million Chinese nationalist fled to Taiwan and began a government there. That’s why the language is Mandarin Chinese, the food is similar to Chinese cuisine, and many aspects of the cultural are identical to mainland China. I’m very interested to see exactly how similar or different these two places are for myself.

So, what makes a country a country? This short video does a good job at explaining it.

Most will agree there are 196 countries in the world, Taiwan included.



8 thoughts on “Taiwan, Are You a Country or Not?

  1. Fascinating! My Godfather was from Taiwan and have a loyalty to that country even though I have never been there. Thanks for sharing the information 🙂

  2. During the Cultural Revolution, my grandmother and father fled China to Taiwan. But I had no idea that China was such a huge thorn in Taiwan’s side. Thanks for the educational rundown and video. Looking forward to your comparisons, too!

    • I didn’t realize that about your family. That’s nice to know! Yes, China and Taiwan have, uh, quite the dramatic relationship!

  3. The official language of Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese because it was forced by Republic of China government. However, culture and cuisine from China was brought to Taiwan by immigrants starting in the 1600s during the Ming dynasty. These are the people who brought the Min Nan (now called Taiwanese) and Hakka languages to Taiwan. The descendants of these immigrants lived through the Japanese occupation of Taiwan from 1895 to 1945. The Republic of China was established in China in 1912 and fled to Taiwan in 1949, taking over and declaring martial law on Taiwan. Martial law was not lifted until 1987.

  4. 6 years in China, and this is the one topic that probably bothered me the most. My first year in Hangzhou I remember trying to draw a map of China on the board so we could discuss some basic Chinese geography. I continued talking, but a student stopped me because I hadn’t included Hong Kong and Taiwan on the map. I explained that it didn’t really matter, because the discussion wasn’t centered around that region at all and they would take up board space needed for other things. The student insisted that no map of China is complete without Hong Kong and Taiwan, and wouldn’t let me continue the discussion until I added them. So I drew them in… and then put in a dotted international border between the mainland and Taiwan, because that’s what you get for forcing a stupid issue. The insistence on including them shows what a threat the topic is to them. I don’t need every map of the US to include Alaska and Hawaii, because I know they’re part of the Union, and I don’t feel threatened by their exclusion from a map for whatever reason.

    I ran into the issue again a couple weeks ago. I can make a lot of statements about politics and China without my wife really caring. She’s laid back about most things and has never taken issue with most of what I’ve said. But when I implied that Taiwan is an independent country she got very defensive. It was kind of shocking, because after she’s heard all of my opinions, I never thought that would be the one to cause an issue.

    • During my time in China, I heard about this probably weekly! Chinese people are so concerned about this issue and so defensive about it! I found that Taiwanese people don’t really think about it often. After living in China for 2 years and visiting Taiwan, I do feel that they are two separate countries. The culture (food, language, etc.) is pretty much the same, but the feeling there is so different- freedom of speech, press, religion, etc. makes it feel so different than China. Thanks for your comment. It’s good to hear the opinion of someone else who lived in China about this situation.

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