Why Taiwan is not a country

March 14, 2012 — by Samuel Liu

The Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin’s recent rise from obscurity to basketball stardom has cast a spotlight on ethnic disagreements between mainland Chinese and Taiwanese. The question is, is Taiwan a legitimate country?

The conflict, especially relevant in Saratoga since Chinese and Taiwanese Americans (who are the majority) coexist, originated when the communists rose to power in mainland China. With American support, the nationalist government fled to Taiwan, where they call themselves the Republic of China. However, mainland China’s government claims that Taiwan is part of China, and disregards Taiwan as a country, which has spawned a major point of contention between the two sides.

I want to ease into this. If you’re Taiwanese or feel strongly about the issue, grab a chair and find a comfortable place. Think happy thoughts. Grab a bite to eat. Remember, happy thoughts.

Ready? OK, here’s the answer. Taiwan is not a country.

(You’re either vomiting or burning this paper right now)

Stay calm. Remember, I love Taiwan and nearly all of my friends are Taiwanese Americans. Give me some time, and I’ll convince you.

It was 1949, and with American support, the nationalist government fled to Taiwan, where they called themselves the Republic of China. The problem is, mainland China’s government continues to claim that Taiwan is a part of China, and disregards Taiwan as a country.

Mainland China's position on Taiwan is that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of China. China hopes to regain Taiwan someday.

Taiwan has formed its own separate culture and is self-governing. In all practicality, it is its own country, but it does not dare to declare independence because China will most certainly invade. Obviously, Taiwan’s people feel a deep sense of nationalism, as well as understandable resentment.

But the most interesting facet of the debate is where the rest of the world stands. Taiwan resigned from the United Nations when China joined, and the communist government was officially recognized as the governing body of China.

Neither the UN nor the U.S. recognizes Taiwan as a country—but that’s where relations are less clear.

The Taiwan Relations Act does not recognize the terminology of "Republic of China" after Jan. 1, 1979, but uses the terminology of "governing authorities on Taiwan," which means that the U.S. does not recognize the Taiwan, or the “Republic of China.” The U.S. uses a “strategy of ambiguity” with China; it never specifically says that it won’t help Taiwan.

Taiwan is a valuable asset to America in that it is westernized and a democracy, in contrast to China’s restrictive communist ways. Still, America does not want to risk conflict with China, which views the Taiwan Relations Act as "an unwarranted intrusion by the United States into the internal affairs of China."

America’s affinity for Taiwan has directly influenced Saratoga High. Although Taiwan is minuscule in comparison to China, the Taiwanese population in the Bay Area outweighs the Chinese population.

I am a first-generation Chinese-American; my relatives are all from mainland China. At the risk of becoming pariah in this school where Chinese-Americans are a minority, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Taiwan is by definition not a country; but it should be. I’ll hold the Constitution as my defense, and a criticism to the United States’ hypocrisy. Government, the Constitution states, derives “their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed..."

If Taiwan acts as a country, then it should be recognized as a country. But by strict definition, Taiwan cannot yet be considered a country.


Do all High Schools in the States have student-written papers? That's something I wish my school in Canada had :(

I think those are really good points, but the issue is by far more complicated than that. "TAIWAN" is now simply the common name given to the island of Taiwan which is controlled by the ROC (The Republic of China) However, the island was never controlled by PRC and has remained in control of the ROC ever since the Chinese Civil War. Therefore, we can conclude that Taiwan is not independent in a sense that there is NO country named Taiwan, but it belongs to the ROC. However, since the ROC ONLY controls the island of Taiwan as its territory, it is now commonly referred to as Taiwan.

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