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"Taiwan, China", "Taiwan, Province of China", or "Taiwan Province, China" are a set of politically controversial and potentially ambiguous terms that characterize Taiwan and its associated territories as a province or territory of "China". The term "Taiwan, China" is used by Chinese media whenever Taiwan is referenced, even though the People's Republic of China (PRC) ― which is widely recognized by the international community as the legitimate representative of "China" ― does not currently exercise jurisdiction over areas controlled by the Republic of China (ROC). In English, "China" is inserted after "Taiwan" by adding ", China", per English grammar rules. In the Chinese language, however, the Chinese characters 中國 ("China") would be inserted in front of "台灣" (Taiwan) per Chinese convention to indicate the larger and higher-level entity first. For example, the word "China" would be inserted into video captions on television, whenever a person mentions the word "Taiwan" but the characters 中國 ("China") would be inserted in front of "Taiwan" (台灣) despite the fact that the person never said the word "China", to propagandize to the audience that Taiwan is part of China. (Video subtitling is standard practice on Chinese television due to the existence of many mutually unintelligible "Chinese dialects".) The term "Taiwan, Province of China" also sometimes appears in the drop-down menu of websites and computer software that show a list of ISO 3166-1 country names (see UN and ISO section below).[1]

Taiwan, China
China map.png
Territory controlled by the People's Republic of China (purple) and the Republic of China (orange). The size of minor islands have been exaggerated in this map for ease of identification.
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese中國臺灣
Simplified Chinese中国台湾
PostalChungkuo Taiwan
Taiwan, Province of China
Traditional Chinese中國臺灣省
Simplified Chinese中国台湾省
Tibetan name
Tibetanཐའེ་ཝན, ཀྲུང་གོ་
Zhuang name
ZhuangDaizvanh Cunggoz
Mongolian name
Mongolian CyrillicТайвань Хятад
Mongolian scriptᠲᠠᠶᠢᠪᠠᠨᠢ ᠬᠢᠲᠠᠳ
Uyghur name
Manchu name
Manchu scriptᠠᡳᠸᠠᠨ ᠵᡠᠨᡤᠣ
RomanizationTaiwan Jungg'o

The terms are contentious and potentially ambiguous because they relate to the controversial issues of the political status of Taiwan and Cross-Strait relations between "Taiwan" and "China", in that whether they are two separate countries or "two areas of one country". Since 1949, two countries with the name "China" (Two Chinas) actually exist, namely the Republic of China (ROC, founded 1912 and now commonly known as "Taiwan") and the People's Republic of China (PRC, founded 1949 and now commonly known as "China", and "the China"). However, only one "China" actually rules Taiwan, namely Republic of China, and has an administrative division called "Taiwan Province" but refers to it as "Taiwan Province, Republic of China"; whereas, the other "China", namely the People's Republic of China, which is the one internationally recognized as "China" (not the ROC), claims but does not control Taiwan as part of its territory.

The juxtaposition of "Taiwan" and "China" in this order into one single term "Taiwan, China" implicitly places the Taiwan under the sovereignty of PRC/"China", in the same sense as "California, USA". The use of this term is officially and politically sanctioned by the Communist Chinese government as a way to claim and propagandize that Taiwan is under its sovereignty,[2] since the PRC claims to be the legitimate government of "all China", which, according to its own definition, includes Taiwan also, despite its lack of control. Some of the ROC government disputes the PRC position and it, along with Many of the Taiwanese people, considers this term incorrect and offensive, in that its use is a lie which denies the ROC's sovereignty and existence, reducing Taiwan's status to a province of the PRC (see "Taiwan, PRC"), and objects to its use.[3] The term is particularly offensive to supporters of Taiwan Independence and want to disassociate Taiwan with "China" and a Chinese identity, (i.e., de-Sinicize), and consider it an oxymoron, i.e. in the view that Taiwan and China are different countries, and that the legitimacy of the ROC's rule of Taiwan is disputed in the first place.

Background and ambiguity over "China"Edit

The dispute and ambiguity over the meaning of "China" and which "China" stemmed from the division of Republic of China into two Chinas at the "end" of the Chinese Civil War in 1955.[note 1] (Fighting between the two merely eased off after 1949 and no signing of a peace treaty or armistice ever occurred; the PRC still threatens attack on ROC/Taiwan when it deems necessary.) The term "China" historically meant the various regimes and imperial dynasties which controlled territories in mainland Asia prior to 1911, when the imperial system was overthrown and the Republic of China (ROC) was established as the first republic in Asia. In 1927, the Chinese Civil War started between the Kuomintang (KMT, founding party of the ROC) and the Communist Party of China, a rebel force at the time. The Chinese Communists eventually won control of most of ROC's original territory (mainland China) in 1949, when they proclaimed the "People's Republic of China" (PRC) on that territory.

Since then, two Chinas have existed, although the PRC was not internationally recognized at the time. The Republic of China government received Taiwan in 1945 from Japan, then fled in 1949 to Taiwan with the aim to retake mainland China. Both the ROC and the PRC still officially (constitutionally) claim mainland China and the Taiwan Area as part of their respective territories. In reality, the PRC rules only Mainland China and has no control of but claims Taiwan as part of its territory under its "One China Principle". The ROC, which only rules the Taiwan Area (composed of Taiwan and its nearby minor islands), became known as "Taiwan" after its largest island, (an instance of pars pro toto). It stopped active claim of mainland China as part of its territory after constitutional reform in 1991.[4]

However, since the 2008 election of Ma Ying-jeou, he again asserted that mainland China is part of Republic of China territory according to its constitution, and, in 2013, he stated that relations between PRC and ROC are not between countries but "regions of the same country".[5][6]

In 1971, the People's Republic of China won the United Nations seat as "China" and use of the name and expelled the ROC from the UN. Since then the term "Taiwan, China" is a designation typically used in international organizations like the United Nations and its associated organs under pressure from the PRC to accommodate its claim and to give the false impression that Taiwan belongs to the PRC. (The term "Chinese Taipei" was similarly created for the same purpose.) However, the political status of Taiwan is a complex and controversial issue and currently unresolved, in large part due to the United States and the Allies of World War II handling of the surrender of Taiwan from Japan in 1945 (which was to be a temporary administration by the ROC troops), and the Treaty of Peace with Japan ("Treaty of San Francisco") in 1951, for which neither the ROC nor the PRC was invited, and left Taiwan's sovereignty legally undefined in international law and in dispute.

Ambiguity of "Taiwan Province"Edit

The term "Taiwan, (Province of) China" is also potentially ambiguous because both the ROC and the PRC each has administratively a "Taiwan Province", Taiwan Province, Republic of China and "Taiwan Province, People's Republic of China", and neither of these provinces covers the Matsu Islands, Wuchiu, Kinmen, all of which have been retained by the Republic of China. Geographically speaking, they both refer to the same place. The existence of the extra term "Taiwan Province, PRC" is merely because of PRC's insistence that Taiwan is part of China. Without more specific indication, it is unclear to which "Taiwan Province" is being referred. However, since China (PRC) does not control Taiwan and its "Taiwan Province" exists only on paper, as a practical matter, "Taiwan Province" refers only to the Taiwan Province under Republic of China's administration.

Although the word "China" could also possibly be interpreted to mean "Republic of China", this interpretation is no longer common since "China" is typically understood as referring to the PRC after the ROC lost its UN seat as "China" in 1971, and is considered a term distinct from "Taiwan", the name with which the ROC has become identified. Also, only the ROC's Taiwan Province exists in reality and is under the ROC's actual territorial control, whereas the PRC's "Taiwan Province" exists only on paper, under the PRC's administrative structure but without an actual provincial government. Instead, the PRC has a Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council to deal with issues and policy guidelines relating to Taiwan.

The ROC also does not refer to its Taiwan Province as "Taiwan, China" in English but rather as "Taiwan Province, Republic of China" (中華民國臺灣省; Zhōnghuá Mínguó Táiwānshěng), and typically such reference only occurs in the Chinese language in the ROC's official documents and as the marquee in the administrative offices of Taiwan Province government. However, references to the province is now rare since the Taiwan Provincial Government has largely been dissolved and its functions transferred to the central government or county governments since 1997. Therefore, recent uses of the term "Taiwan, Province of China" appears mainly in PRC-controlled media like CCTV (Chinese Central Television) and in the ISO 3166-1 codes to convey the sense that Taiwan is part of its "China".[2]


ROC (Taiwan) governmentEdit

Although the Republic of China is no longer a member of the United Nations, the term "Taiwan, China" has sometimes been used by the U.N. to refer to the Republic of China.[7] The ROC is prohibited from using its official name internationally under pressure from the PRC[citation needed] and uses "Chinese Taipei" in other organizations. The ROC sees its use as a denial of the ROC's status as a separate sovereign state, diminishing it under "China", which implicitly is the PRC. Various instances of the use of the term by international organizations or news media have been met with protest from the Taiwanese government officials and citizens.[citation needed]

In an incident on 10 May 2011, the World Health Organization referred to Taiwan as "Taiwan, China" in its documents. (The ROC participates in the WHO under the name "Chinese Taipei", due to political pressure from the PRC.[citation needed] ROC president Ma Ying-jeou protested the WHO's action and accused the PRC of "pressuring the UN body into calling" the ROC "Chinese territory", and stated that Beijing's moves were "very negative" for bilateral ties.[8] Ma, who took office in 2008, has taken many measures to improve Cross-Strait relations.[citation needed]

Taiwan Independence SupportersEdit

The confusion and fight over use of the "China" name and the lack of name recognition of "Republic of China" itself and recognition as a country are part of the reason for the supporters of Taiwan independence to push for an identity apart from "China" and for renaming the ROC and gaining international recognition as "Republic of Taiwan". Some supporters also reject the legitimacy of Republic of China's takeover of Taiwan from Japan at the end of World War II since 1945 (due to the lack of transfer of sovereignty in the Treaty of Peace with Japan). They also view that Taiwan is no longer part of China since "China" is recognized by the UN as being the People's Republic of China (PRC) rather than the ROC/Taiwan, so placing "Taiwan" and "China" together in one term is not only incorrect and an oxymoron but also offensively denies the ROC's national sovereignty and existence and places it under China.


The United Nations and the ISOEdit

The term "Taiwan, Province of China" also appears in the International Organization for Standardization's ISO 3166-1 country codes because its information source, the publication UN Terminology Bulletin-Country Names, lists Taiwan as "Taiwan, Province of China" due to the PRC's political influence in the United Nations as a member of the UN Security Council. Since the ISO 3166-1 code is commonly used as the data source for a complete list of country and territory names for computer programs and websites, "Taiwan, Province of China" is sometimes seen on dropdown menus instead of "Taiwan" for this reason.[9][10]

People's Republic of ChinaEdit

The term is often used in Chinese media whenever the word "Taiwan" is mentioned, as in news reports and in TV shows. Particularly, when Taiwanese entertainers are on talk shows or being interviewed, the Chinese subtitles on the TV screen would always say "Taiwan, China" (中国台湾 / 中國台灣) despite the fact the person never mentioned the word "China" (中国 / 中國), thereby putting words in the person's mouth.[11] (It is standard practice for Chinese television to display subtitles in all programs.) Also, there has been controversy about Chinese talent shows forcing Taiwanese contestants to introduce themselves as from "Taiwan, China" or from "Chinese Taipei." For example, Taiwanese singer Uni Yeh, on her first appearance on the Voice of China, introduced herself as being from "Pingtung District, China Taipei," which caused an uproar among Taiwanese netizens. Her response was that she was instructed to say so by the directors and was nervous.[12]

United StatesEdit

If a place of birth on a United States passport application is written as "Taiwan, China" that cannot be shown in passports as per the One-China policy, the United States Department of State requires its officials to contact the applicant to ascertain whether "Taiwan" or "China" is preferred place of birth to be printed.[13]


In Vietnam, most government documents and many state media[14][15] usually use the forms Đài Loan (Trung Quốc) ["Taiwan (China)"] or Đài Loan, Trung Quốc ("Taiwan, China") to refer to Taiwan or Republic of China in many contexts, including in music and entertainment coverage.[16][17][18] In other media, they often use the term vùng lãnh thổ ("territory")[19] or đảo ("island")[20][21] to refer to Taiwan when wanting to avoid repeating the term "Taiwan" many times in their article. The term Tỉnh Đài Loan ("Taiwan Province")[22] sometimes appear in media to refer to all of "Taiwan Area" (not only referring to the Taiwan Province of ROC). In general, Vietnamese state media never refer to Taiwan as a "nation" or a "state".

International airlinesEdit

In April, 2018, the China Civil Aviation Authority, wrote a letter to 36 airlines throughout the world, including US Airlines Delta, United, and American, Canadian airline Air Canada, Japan Airlines, ANA, Air New Zealand, Qantas, etc., demanding that they change travel destination cities in Taiwan in their websites to list them under "Taiwan, Province of China", or directly list them as, for example, "Taipei, China" and "Kaohsiung, China".[23] Air Canada and other non-US airlines quickly complied. However, US Airlines requested a time extension to consider the issue, and replied to the China Civil Aviation Authority that they will confer with the U.S. government regarding the course of action. The White House responded by labeling the move as "Orwellian nonsense".[24] The China Civil Aviation Authority therefore extended the deadline for US airlines to July 25, 2018 for compliance.[25] All of the resisting US airlines - American, Delta, and United - gave in to Beijing's demand by the July 25 deadline, and dropped all references to Taiwan as a country.[26]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ There is some debate whether the war has ended since the two Chinas are still fighting for international recognition and assurance of sovereignty. See Chinese Civil War for details.


  1. ^ "How the ISO helps China change Taiwan's status quo".
  2. ^ a b 请央视自律 关于正确使用涉台宣传用语的意见.
  3. ^ "Taiwan protests "province of China" WHO label".
  4. ^ "A Pivotal President-- Lee Teng-hui's 12 Years". Taiwan Panorama (Sino). June 5, 2000.
  5. ^ "Taiwan and China in 'special relations': Ma". China Post. September 4, 2008.
  6. ^ "Taiwan President: Mainland China is Still Our Territory". ChinaSmack. October 29, 2013.
  7. ^ "Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Taiwan, China". World Health Organization. December 17, 2003.
  8. ^ "Taiwan president protests China pressuring UN body into calling island a Chinese territory". The Associated Press. Reading Eagle. May 10, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  9. ^ Lin, Keng-yu; Tsai, Rex (November 2, 2011). "Taiwan listed as "Taiwan, Province of China"". Launchpad. Canonical Ltd. Retrieved September 17, 2016.
  10. ^ "Taiwan is not a province of China".
  11. ^ Mangapower. "Pressured by "higher-ups paying attention", so UNI Yeh said "Taipei, China"". Apple Daily (in Chinese). Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  12. ^ Jianhong Wu. "UNI Yeh self-introduction blunder of "Pingtung, China" on "Voice of China" criticized". Apple Daily (in Chinese). Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  13. ^ "8 FAM 403.4 Place of Birth". Foreign Affairs Manual. United States Department of State. June 27, 2018. Retrieved July 18, 2018. d. If an applicant born in Taiwan writes "Taiwan, China" as her/his POB on a passport application, you must contact the applicant to ascertain whether she/he prefers either TAIWAN or CHINA as her/his POB (Information Request Letter 707-06)." "f. Passports may not be issued showing the POB as "Taiwan, China," "Taiwan, Republic of China," or "Taiwan, ROC."
  14. ^ Trần Nga theo Ap. "Đài Loan, Trung Quốc quyên góp 26 triệu USD cho Nhật Bản" (in Vietnamese). Retrieved November 29, 2011.
  15. ^ "Danh Sách Công Dân Việt Nam Được Thôi Quốc Tịch Việt Nam" (in Vietnamese). March 25, 2005. Retrieved November 29, 2011.
  16. ^ "Trung Quốc, Đài Loan khai trương triển lãm đèn lồng" (in Vietnamese). February 12, 2010. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  17. ^ VietNam Airlines tổ chức đoàn khảo sát điểm đến Đài Loan (Trung Quốc)
  18. ^ "Dị nữ Lady Gaga khuấy động thị trường Đài Loan" (in Vietnamese). November 9, 2008. Retrieved November 29, 2011.
  19. ^ "Đài Loan dùng sức mạnh mềm chống Trung Quốc?" (in Vietnamese). October 25, 2010. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  20. ^ "Tên lửa Hsiungfeng 2E của đảo Đài Loan có gì mạnh?" (in Vietnamese). October 5, 2010. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  21. ^ "Tên lửa Hsiungfeng 2E của đảo Đài Loan có gì mạnh?" (in Vietnamese). Retrieved November 29, 2011.
  22. ^ "4 người Việt bị bắt ở Đài Loan" (in Vietnamese). Retrieved November 29, 2011.
  23. ^ JAMES PALMER, BETHANY ALLEN-EBRAHIMIAN (April 27, 2018). "China Threatens U.S. Airlines Over Taiwan References". Foreign Policy. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  24. ^ "White House: China push on Taiwan is 'Orwellian nonsense'". The Seattle Times. May 5, 2018. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  25. ^ "Beijing's demand to refer to 'China Taiwan' still being defied by US airlines". South China Morning Post. June 26, 2018. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  26. ^ Wee, Sui-Lee (July 25, 2018). "Giving In to China, U.S. Airlines Drop Taiwan (in Name at Least)". The New York Times. Retrieved August 14, 2019.