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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Welcome to Fantasyland: the Commonwealth of Taiwan - Foreign Relations

Japanese Soldiers Entering T'ái​pěi​ City 臺北市 in 1895 after the Treaty of Shimonoseki 下関条約 (

As an associated free state, Taiwan 台湾 is allowed a great deal of leeway in matters pertaining to the island, but foreign relations are strictly the provenance of the Japanese government. Visitors wishing to travel to Taiwan must meet the same entry and visa requirements as those pertaining to Japan proper. All necessary documents must be obtained from Japanese embassies and consulates abroad, and immigration and customs matters at Taiwan’s two international ports of entry, Taihoku 台北 and Takao 高雄, are handled by the relevant Japanese government agencies. Travelers wishing to fly to Taihoku’s Matsuyama Airport 松山空港 or sail into Kīrun’s 基隆 port from Japan do not require any additional documents, however, as these are considered to be domestic travel routes.

There are only a handful of foreign representatives in Taiwan, with the most prominent being the American and British consulates in Taihoku and Tansui 淡水, respectively. Negotiations are underway regarding the establishment of a Chinese consulate in Taihoku, though progress has been slow in this area as China has officially been opposed to Japan’s being allowed to maintain ultimate sovereignty over Taiwan despite its defeat in the Second World War. Recently, however, the Chinese government has softened its stance in the wake of growing trade ties with the island, and efforts are being made to allow direct air links between Taihoku and one or more cities in China (at the moment, all flights must be routed through Hong Kong).

As mentioned earlier, under the terms of the commonwealth, Taiwan’s residents are considered to be Japanese citizens and, therefore, carry the same Japanese passports as other Japanese nationals. Japan represents Taiwan in most major international forums, such as the United Nations and its various agencies, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and APEC, among others. However, Taiwan does maintain a separate international presence in the field of sports. The island is represented as “Taiwan” in sporting organizations such as the International Olympic Committee, FIFA and the International Baseball Federation.

(To be continued...)

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