"Taiwan independence" means different things to different people.

  • In a China mindset , it is used in the sense similar to that of "Tibetan independence movement", with the premise that Taiwan is part of China (though they know actually it is not), and separatism attempts are condemned.

  • For many Taiwanese people, the word and the movement doesn't make sense, because Taiwan (ROC) is already an independent sovereign. (Despite having only few diplomatic relations and not having a membership in UN.)

  • For some Taiwanese people, who seek for unification with China (about 7% of the population), "Taiwan independence" means the opposite of unification.

  • For some "Taiwan independence" advocates, it means "independence from ROC", with the goal of replacing ROC with a proposed State of Taiwan.

What are things to be done, if Taiwan people (supposedly) reached a consensus to achieve "Taiwan independence" or "establishment of State of Taiwan" that is independent from the ROC?

Edit: What does the Taiwan independence advocates wants to solve? What will they do to achieve it?

For example: adopt a new constitution, renaming the country...


"Taiwan independence" is a bad choice of word, but it is used all over the place in Taiwan news or Taiwan internet community, and many people are hoping for an "Taiwan Independence" to come some day, there is a high call for "Taiwan independence". The problem is that we don't know clearly what it is.

The reason that the idea of "Taiwan independence" attracts many Taiwan people is that 1. Repulsion against China. 2. The name of Taiwan's government is Republic of China. 3. Many people feel repulsed to be called Chinese.

Survey (2016) shows 59% identifies themselves as Taiwanese, 4% Chinese, 33.6% both, 4% didn't answer.

  • 1
    I think your question is based on the assumption that Taiwan is not independent. Why? Can you elaborate?
    – Rathony
    Oct 4, 2016 at 9:35
  • 3
    What are things to be done, if Taiwan people (supposedly) reached a consensus to achieve "Taiwan independence" or "establishment of State of Taiwan"? I guess that depends on which of the four options listed would be that consensus.
    – Philipp
    Oct 4, 2016 at 10:52
  • @Rathony Formally, Taiwan is the Republic of China, which considers itself the successor of the ROC founded in 1911 and ruled by the Kuomingtang; and claims to be the legitimate government of all of China (Taiwan and continental). Similarly, the People Republic of China (continental China) considers itself the successor of ROC and claims sovereignty of all of China (including Taiwan). Google "One China policy".
    – SJuan76
    Oct 4, 2016 at 12:16
  • @SJuan76 Your comment reads like you didn't understand my point. I am asking the OP why would an independent state should have implementation details of independence? Also, I am asking the OP, "Which side are you?"
    – Rathony
    Oct 4, 2016 at 12:18
  • 1
    @Rathony Because (and I will repeat the word formally) it is not an independent country different from PRC; it does not even claim to be so. It claims to be "the only China" and that the PRC are rebels taking its continental portion, with the PRC making the reverse claim. Check for the international recognition of Taiwan.
    – SJuan76
    Oct 4, 2016 at 12:22

3 Answers 3


From a purely theoretical POV, all they have to do is to formally declare that they are independent and wait for other countries (and international organizations) to recognize that fact.

In a practical sense, the issue is very sensitive to PRC so it is feared that a declaration of independence would lead to reprisal, which would include (depending of how far Beijing is willing to go, and ranged by severity):

  • Break of bilateral trade and communications.

  • Economic pressure against countries recognizing Taiwan as independent, or even that just trade with them.

  • Blockade and war (with the risk of an intervention of the USA).

While I find the last point unlikely, the first two points could still do a lot of damage to Taiwan economy; at the same time that a declaration of independence will mean almost no practical improvement of the status quo of a Taiwan that is already self-governing and with foreign relations.


For Taiwan to achieve formal de jure independence, Taiwan would need to rename the government and define its territory. It would need to do so both internally and externally.

Internally this would mean modifying or discarding the constitution. The constitution of the Republic of China specifies the name "Republic of China" quite a few times, so that would need to change. The constitution also says "The territory of the Republic of China within its existing national boundaries shall not be altered except by a resolution of the National Assembly." So the National Assembly would need to act to say that China is not part of Taiwan.

For external recognition Taiwan would need to formally recognized (with an exchange of ambassadors) by a large number of other countries.

None of this is likely to happen soon due to China's threats. China has threatened to invade Taiwan if Taiwan were to take too many steps toward de jure independence and it is likely that modifying the constitution to change the name or territory is included in those threats. Other countries are unlikely to recognize Taiwan because those other countries want to have good economic relations with China.

There are at least two major conventions for defining what makes a sovereign nation. Under the Montevideo Convention Taiwan is already a sovereign nation-state. Under the constitutive theory of statehood Taiwan is not a sovereign state because it does not have recognition from (many) other countries.

If Taiwan were to go through with de jure independence without China invading, the rest would be fairly easy. Even without formal recognition by other countries, Taiwan already has recognition as a separate entity in many international organizations. Taiwan already has its own postal code, international dialing code, its own ISO country code, etc. It is a member of international organizations - for example it is in the WTO as "a separate customs territory". China of course has a lot of power in these organizations but if China were not to object then adjusting Taiwan's status would just require some pencil pushing and perhaps some formality votes.


Taiwan is ALREADY independent, in all but name. It has its own government, its own money, and its own military. And 4 things ensure that nothing will actually change.

  1. 100 miles of open water in the form the taiwan strait

  2. A suitably strong military for defending the said strait. While the Taiwanese military can't possibly defeat China's army (even in a defensive capacity), China's military has no hope of defeating Taiwan before international pressure and support ended the campaign.

  3. Silicon shield. Taiwan is indispensable to the global technology supply chain. A crisis in Taiwan would crater the global economy, vastly increasing the likelihood of intervention by other great powers.

  4. Geopolitics. China can't implement an actual military strategy. If it can't blitzkrieg Taiwan in 48 hours or less, it becomes a hopeless venture for China. International support, and sanctions will make the whole enterprise more trouble than it is worth (remember china has some serious chips to play with now at the big boys table, they won't want to stack off on an outcome that is far more certain). And with satellites watching from the space, the chance of an overwhelming surprise attack is literally nil.

But that said, the above facts do not explicitly address the question of what does it mean.

The real answer is, the question doesn't mean anything.

Nothing at the moment, or on the geopolitical horizon, can move the needle on this geopolitical standoff.

Taiwan won't get more international recognition as an independent country. (in fact it will likely get less over time)... But as long as Taiwan doesn't want to become a part of China (and there is no reason to think that they would, given the government in Beijing), there is nothing China can do about it in the foreseeable future.

It is just a political debate, a hot button issue, but it is really much ado about nothing.

The status quo will continue because that is the most stable solution. And there is literally nothing on the horizon that would / could move it from its current rest state.

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