There are some countries that recognise Taiwan (Republic of China) as the sole legitimate government of China instead of the People's Republic of China.

Recently, just a few days ago, São Tomé and Príncipe switched its recognition from the ROC to the PRC.

According to Wikipedia, there are still 21 entities that has full diplomatic relations with Taiwan:


So, why do they recognise the ROC and are there any benefits for doing so?

Note: Sources or examples are greatly appreciated

  • 1
    Why not? There are two Chinese countries. One or both of them could be legitimate governments and opinions on that probably vary. Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 8:54
  • @Trilarion not both - this is the only point both of them agree on. One china, two systems. But ONE china. Commented Mar 15, 2019 at 23:40
  • @user1721135 Maybe they both agree on that but that doesn't mean anyone has to agree on that. One China, two Chinas, infinitely many Chinas. It's not really unthinkable. And there are always oppositions which probably have different opinions which one day might be in charge. The support for one or many Chinas would probably make a good question here. Commented Mar 16, 2019 at 12:00
  • It's not a coincidence that these countries are tiny. The plan is simple. Recognize Taiwan (perhaps in exchange for some loans or monetary benefits). Then wait for mainland China to offer you an even better deal. Win-win. Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 20:32
  • 1
    @user1721135 You're right but the expression "one china, two systems" is (usually) used for a very different thing, namely to describe the special status of Hong Kong and Macau within PRC. PRC and ROC agree on that there's exactly one entity named China, and there's a disagreement on which of them is the legitimate government.
    – Neinstein
    Commented Aug 9, 2020 at 21:19

3 Answers 3


In order to have an official relationship with the People's Republic of China (mainland China), you have to discontinue official relationships with the Republic of China. So if you want any official relationship with the Republic of China, you can't have any official relationship with the PRC. Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-China_policy

There are some developing countries that probably choose to have relations with the ROC (or the PRC) in return for favours of one sort or another.

The Vatican City recognizes the ROC rather than the PRC. Plausible reasons for doing so include China's interference in religious freedom of Christians, and the ROC being a capitalist state while the PRC was, and is still nominally, a communist state.

  • 1
    Just curious...does the Vatican have a stance on capitalism v communism?
    – user1530
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 9:58
  • 2
    @blip my impression is that it's in favour of capitalism. For example, it was supportive of former right-wing dictator Augusto Pinochet. However, some of the political positions espoused by the Catholic Church can be left-wing in nature.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 12:26
  • 8
    @blip communists killed tens of millions of Christians last century and officially repressed the church in it's domain. What do you think the Vaticans stance on communism is?! Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 14:04
  • 3
    @AndrewGrimm - not under the last Pope. He's pretty unhappy with capitalism.
    – user4012
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 15:11
  • 6
    @blip specifically communists. In china, combodia, vietnam, korea, russia, Ukraine, Belrus, Poland, Germany, etc. Specifically in China the CPC has taken over the catholic hierarchy in the country in order to maintain 'social stability' and propagate communist ideology through the pulpit. Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 18:15

The Taiwanese needs votes in the United Nations to be recognized as a state. Currently they have less than 30 votes but they care about it. For instance, Taiwan offers some commercial preferences, external aid, technical missions in agricultural area and some scholarships for the university.

Take the example of Paraguay where the taiwanese government made a donation to build the Legislative Palace, place where both Representative and Senators work everyday and make sessions in order to keep the vote of Paraguay in the United Nations and also to make the request to recognize Taiwan as a state in the General Assembly each year. This is a diplomatic tradition held since 1990 so far.

This building was funded 100% by the taiwanese in order to keep the paraguayan vote at UN

Take into consideration also the new plan they have in order to expand their commercial borders. President Tsai is looking to partner new allies in the Pacific but also try to keep the old friends in order to prevent another leak like Sao Tome.


Following the example of Paraguay, the benefits are small: for the ruling class, Taiwan helps with social credits for house development, scolarships and technical assitance in agriculture.

Again, the beneficies only goes with the ruling power.


China has a policy of refusing to recognize any country that recognizes Taiwan, so other countries can only choose to have diplomatic relations with only one of Taiwan and China. Most choose China because China has more power and influence.

A few recognize Taiwan due in exchange for favors from Taiwan - usually in the form of money.

China broke off diplomatic relations with the Vatican long ago. Relations have not been restored due to the way China treats Roman Catholic members and especially clergy, and China's demands to have final say in the appointment of clergy. However at this point in time the two sides appear to be nearing a breakthrough and they may establish relations soon - at which point we can assume that the Vatican will break off relations with Taiwan. https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-02-02/vatican-china-near-agreement-bishops-controversy-remains

  • This looks like a summary of the two answers by AndrewGrimm and nelruk, but nothing new. Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 8:56
  • 1
    @Trilarion It corrects/adds the information about why the Vatican hasn't recognized China.
    – Readin
    Commented Feb 15, 2018 at 5:25

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