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Is Taiwan a country or not?



The UK referred to Taiwan as an “independent country” in a report, despite not officially recognizing Taiwan as a country.

Defining what is and isn’t a country is a lot more complicated than many people would realize. Take the case of Taiwan.

On Aug. 30, 2023, a committee of the U.K. Parliament referred to Taiwan as an “independent country” in a report. This is the first time any part of the British political system has used that phrasing.

Officially, the U.K. “does not recognise Taiwan” as a country, nor does it “maintain formal diplomatic relations with the island,” which is one way states recognize each other as equals on the international stage.

Like the U.K., the U.S. also “does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan,” although there is a “robust unofficial relationship,” according to the State Department. Many other countries are in a similar boat.

So where does that leave Taiwan? Is it, or is it not, a country?

From my perspective as a political scientist, here’s how I would approach this question.

A country by declaration

According to what’s known as the “declarative theory of statehood,” a country – which is often referred to as a “state” in political science and international relations terminology – must possess the following qualities: “(a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.”

These four qualities were agreed upon in the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, which is an international treaty registered with the League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations.

Article 3 of that treaty says that the existence of a “state is independent of recognition by the other states.” In other words, as long as the four qualities above are met, an area qualifies as a country even if other countries choose not to recognize it.

One criticism of this framework is that it opens the door for many areas to be considered countries, even though they may seem outlandish.

For example, in the 1960s, Italian engineer Giorgio Rosa built a 4,000-square-foot (400-square-meter) platform 7 miles (11 kilometers) off the coast of Italy. On June 24, 1968, Rosa – whose last name means “rose” in English – declared that his platform was an independent country named the Republic of Rose Island. This artificial island had a restaurant, bar, souvenir shop and post office. Its official language was Esperanto.

It could be argued that Rose Island met the criteria outlined in the Montevideo Convention, as there was a permanent population because Rosa lived there; his humanmade platform had a defined territory; there was a government because Rosa declared himself president; and Rose Island’s post office gave it the capacity to communicate with, and thus enter into relations with, other countries.

Although several countries, including the U.S., have ratified the Montevideo Convention, Italy has not. So, 55 days after Rose Island declared independence, the Italian military destroyed the platform.

A country by recognition

In contrast to the declarative theory of statehood, what’s called the “constitutive theory of statehood” considers a country to be a country only if it is recognized by other already recognized countries.

There is no magic number for how many countries one must be recognized by. Rather, those that aspire to be regarded by the world as an independent country must join the United Nations as a full member.

In order to join the United Nations, applicants must be recommended by the Security Council, which comprises 15 members. Five of those members are permanent and have a veto. Applicants must have the support of nine of the 15 members, including each of the permanent members.

If the Security Council recommends admission, the application is presented to the General Assembly, where each full member of the United Nations has a single vote. A two-thirds majority is necessary before a country can join.

U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, met with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, right, at the presidential office in Taipei, Taiwan, in September 2023.
Taiwan Presidential Office via AP

One China or two?

Today, most of the world’s countries officially adhere to some variation of the idea that there is only one China, whose capital is Beijing, and which encompasses both the mainland territory and the island of Taiwan.

There is a government there, but there is also a government on Taiwan, based in its capital, Taipei. That government calls itself the Republic of China and traces its history to the early 20th century, when a revolution overthrew the emperor of China.

Notably, at that time, nobody’s definition of China included the island of Taiwan, which was then commonly called Formosa. Japan had seized the island in a war in the late 19th century.

In 1927, an uprising by the Chinese Communist Party attacked the Republic of China government. That kicked off a bloody civil war that lasted until 1949.

In that year, the government of the Republic of China retreated to the island of Taiwan. That same year, Mao Zedong, leader of the Chinese Communist Party, proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China, with its capital in Beijing.

But Mao still sought control over his enemy’s territory, declaring, “Taiwan is ours, and we will never compromise on this issue, which is an issue of internal affairs.”

To this day, the government of the People’s Republic of China, whose capital is Beijing, considers Taiwan part of its “sacred territory.” The constitution of the People’s Republic of China states that “(i)t is the lofty duty of the entire Chinese people, including our compatriots in Taiwan, to accomplish the great task of reunifying the motherland.” Its foreign affairs ministry says, “Taiwan is a sacred and inseparable part of China’s territory.” On Oct. 2, 2023, the Beijing government celebrated its national day by releasing a video signifying its focus on unity with the people of Taiwan.

In contrast, the Republic of China refers to the area under its control as “the Taiwan area,” or “the free area.” It refers to the rest of China as “the mainland area,” which the Taiwanese government has described as being under a “Period of Communist Rebellion.”

Other countries are similarly delicate. For example, in 1972, the U.S. “acknowledge(d) that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China.” In 1979, the U.S. again “acknowledge(d) the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.”

Taipei’s Mid-Autumn Festival drew crowds to the Night Market.
AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying

Taiwan’s place in the world

Taiwan argues that it meets the Montevideo Convention’s criteria for being considered a country under the declarative theory of statehood. However, Taiwan has not yet formally declared itself to be a new, independent country. According to President Tsai Ing-wen, “(w)e don’t have a need to,” because “(w)e are an independent country already and we call ourselves the Republic of China.”

But recall that, according to the constitutive theory of statehood, a country is only a country if it’s recognized by other already recognized countries, and the ultimate manifestation of such recognition is full membership in the United Nations.

Interestingly, the Republic of China was actually a founding member of the United Nations. However, in 1971, the United Nations voted “to expel” the Republic of China, and instead recognized the Communist government “as the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations.” Subsequent attempts by Taiwan to join the United Nations have been unsuccessful.

Today, only a dozen or so countries continue to maintain formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, most of which are small island developing states such as Nauru, Palau and Tuvalu.

Each of these countries recognizes Taiwan as “the Republic of China,” and none of them simultaneously maintains offical ties with the People’s Republic of China.

Until Taiwan formally declares itself independent of the rest of China – or until Taiwan is recognized by the international community as being independent of the rest of China – Taiwan’s status as a country will continue to be questioned.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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The Latest Updates on China’s Visa-Free Policies



China has fully reopened its borders, allowing international tourism to recover. Visa-free travel policies are reinstated, and visa fees for foreign travelers will be reduced by 25% from December 11, 2023, to December 31, 2024. China and Singapore are also pursuing a 30-day visa-free travel arrangement.

China has fully reopened its borders, promising recovery of international tourism and travel. Many of the visa-free travel policies that were in place prior to the pandemic have therefore come back into effect, enabling people from a wide range of countries to visit

UPDATE (December 8, 2023): On December 8, 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released the Notice on Temporary Reduction of Fees for Applying Visa to China. According to this notice, during the period from December 11, 2023, to December 31, 2024, China shall cut visa fees by 25 percent across the board for foreign travelers. For more details, please consult with your local Chinese embassy or consulate.

UPDATE (December 7, 2023): China and Singapore are seeking to establish a mutual 30-day visa-free travel arrangement to boost people exchanges between the two countries, according to Reuters. At the time of writing, no further details have been released regarding the timeline or the eligibility, requirement, and application procedures of this new arrangement. Click here for more information regarding this mutual 30-day visa-free travel between China and Singapore. 

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at

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Analysis of UK Investments in China for 2023: Evaluating Deals, Values, M&A, and Investments



British Government underwent reshuffle with pro-China David Cameron as Foreign Minister. Possible mild rapprochement with Beijing. Analysis of UK investments in China this year reveals potential trends. Report includes unique Q1-Q3 data and predicts outlook for 2024.

By Chris Devonshire-Ellis & Henry Tillman   

With a reshuffle in the British Government and ex-Prime Minister – and generally pro-China politician David Cameron now as the UK’s Foreign Minister, there have been early signs of a potential mild rapprochement in the British governments overall attitude towards Beijing.

But before people get carried away, we can look at what investments the UK has made into China this year – as investments made while anti-China politics have tended to be the norm are typically indicative of stronger trends. In this report I include unique data that has not previously been made public, and examine the Q1-Q3 investment trends to see what may lie ahead for 2024.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at

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Ratings agency cuts China’s credit outlook



Financially strapped local governments and state-owned enterprises pose a risk to China’s future economic growth, the ratings agency Moody’s said today in a report downgrading the country’s credit outlook from stable to negative.

Growing evidence suggests that the central government will be required to shore up the debt-laden entities, creating “broad downside risks to China’s fiscal, economic and institutional strength,” Moody’s said.

Local governments are thought to have accumulated trillions of dollars of debt due to spending during the COVID pandemic and a loss of income due to a troubled real estate market.

Despite the challenges, Moody’s maintained China’s overall credit rating of A1, which it describes as low-risk though not the safest category of investment. Moody’s said the rating reflects its belief in the country’s “financial and institutional resources to manage the transition in an orderly fashion.”

“Its economy’s vast size and robust, albeit slowing, potential growth rate, support its high shock absorption capacity,” Moody’s said. 

Even so, the outlook downgrade signals some concern about China’s future creditworthiness.

In a statement, China’s Foreign Ministry said it was disappointed in the ratings change and that Moody’s concerns about its growth and financial stability were “unnecessary.” 

In recent years, through the continuous efforts of relevant departments and local governments, China has established a system to prevent and resolve the risks of local government debt,” the ministry said. “The trend of disorderly and illegal borrowing by local governments has been initially curbed, and positive results have been achieved in the disposal of local government debt.”

An employee works at a steel plant in Huaian, in China’s eastern Jiangsu province, Dec. 3, 2023. (AFP)

Moody’s projects China’s annual growth rate will be 4% in 2024 and 2025 but average 3.8% from 2026 to 2030, at which time it might drop again to 3.5%. 

Derek Scissors, the chief economist at China Beige Book, a firm that analyzes China’s economy for investors, said in an email that the downgrade was to be expected.

“It’s a recognition of long-standing conditions, not a new development,” said Scissors, who is also a senior fellow at the free-market think tank American Enterprise Institute in Washington. “I think growth will be faster than Moody’s thinks in 2024 and decelerate more than they think after that.”

Fees from local land sales account for nearly 40% of the revenue to local and regional governments. But China’s real-estate sector has been hit hard by overbuilding. One giant, Evergrande, defaulted under massive debt last year, triggering a broader real estate crisis.

Moody’s report said that “the downsizing of the property sector is a major structural shift in China’s growth drivers which is ongoing and could represent a more significant drag to China’s overall economic growth rate than currently assessed.”

Edited by Tara McKelvey

Read the rest of this article here >>> Ratings agency cuts China’s credit outlook

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