What is the difference between China and Taiwan

The Differences Between Taiwan And China

It is surprising how many people confuse Taiwan and China or even bundle them together as a package. The truth is that although their cultures may seem interchangeable at times, they are in fact two very different countries. For those untrained in all things Taiwan and China, here are the differences.

The names


Taiwan is also historically referred to as Formosa, a name given to the island by passing Portuguese sailors who quite aptly called it Ilha Formosa (the beautiful island). However, the official name of Taiwan is actually the Republic of China, although online and in print journalism it is referred to as Taiwan (ROC) or Republic of China (Taiwan).


Although we know the country simply as China or sometimes as mainland China, it is officially called the People's Republic of China.

It would be easy for someone with no real knowledge of the two countries to confuse the official names, but there is really no excuse for the White House to make such a mistake.

The languages


Mandarin Chinese has been the official language of Taiwan since 1945, although Taiwanese Hokkien, also known as Taiwanese, is also spoken by about 70% of the population on a daily basis.

Other languages ​​include Taiwanese Hakka, which is made up of several dialects spoken by people of the Hakka race while several indigenous languages ​​are spoken by Native American tribes.

Taiwanese use traditional characters in all written Chinese.


Standard Chinese, a form of Mandarin Chinese, is the official language of China, and while there are differences between Chinese and Chinese in Taiwan, the two are very similar.

China is also home to many languages ​​and dialects. This means that there are many regions within the country where residents may not speak the country's official language.

Written Chinese in China uses a simplified form of traditional characters known as simple Chinese. The simplified characters were first introduced in the 1950s to promote literacy.

The culture

The majority of Taiwanese people can trace their roots back to China, so it is inevitable that both countries share many traditions and cultural practices. Dragon Boat Festival, Moon Festival, New Year Festival and Lantern Festival are obvious, but there are also many stories and legends that are passed down through the generations of both countries.

Shanghai Lantern Festival | © North Sea Deamer / Wikimedia

Of course, people from both sides of the strait will offer a multitude of cultural differences between the two nations - and that would be correct - but such subtle nuances are way too much to list.

Since China is home to a large number of minorities, the biggest difference between the two cultures can obviously be seen in their ethnic minorities. The indigenous people of China have very different cultures from the indigenous tribes of Taiwan, who are in fact more closely related to the Pacific islanders.

World perception


Once thought of as a manufacturer of cheap products, Taiwan is now recognized as a world leader in electronics, especially computers and their components. People are now also thinking of Taiwan as a emerging vacation destination and as the home of Taipei 101. And while there is way more than just the tallest building in the world, it's good that people are finally recognizing Taiwan as more than a factory-filled one Island.

Taipei 101 | © Free-Photos / Pixabay


With so much tourism in the country, people's opinions about China are slowly changing. Yet the country is still viewed as a place that employs cheap labor and produces inferior products. Just as it took Taiwan a long time to shake that reputation, it will be some time before people think of China as they do Taiwan.

Great Wall of China in Badaling | © CE Photo Uwe Aranas / Wikimedia

The next time you hear that Taiwan and China are one and the same thing, you can clarify them and explain why they are, in fact, two very different nations. And the next time the White House introduces a dignitary as President of the Republic of China, double-check your homework and facts.

Author: Nathan Vega

Nathan Vega is a 36 year old journalist. Alcohol expert. Pop culture geek. Freelance travelaholic. Twitter practitioner. Subtly charming internet specialist.