Is Taiwan a state?

Taiwan is an island off the SE coast of China, between the East and South China Seas. It is difficult to say whether or not Taiwan is a state, because of disagreements between Beijing (People's Republic of China, mainland) and Taipei (Republic of China, Taiwan). Since 1949 mainland China has considered Taiwan to be a rebel province. They each saw themselves as the legitimate government of both. Economic cooperation increased in the 1990's, but things soured when Taiwan redefined its relationship to mainland China as "state to state", implying that Taiwan sees the "two" Chinas as two separate, independent nations. Under the name "Republic of China", Taipei has applied for and has been denied membership in the UN.

In August, 2007, the BBC reported that Taiwan may at some point re-apply to the UN under the name "Taiwan" and not "Republic of China". A spokesman said that this would be a technical decision for purposes of the application, and the constitutional name of "Republic of China" would remain.

The United States of America is made up of 50 states and various possessions and protectorates, but this use of the word state is not the only one. World-wide, the word state implies that a region is an independent nation, able to conduct any affairs of 'state' with any other nation. The origin of the word in the US is not totally unrelated; in the US the 'states', originally independent of one another, have come together as a federation, with a central or federal government taking authority as given to it by the Constitution.