Avoiding Problems by Avoiding Decisions

Don Sanders sanders at kde.org
Sat May 15 06:07:44 BST 2004

On Saturday 15 May 2004 10:58, Robert Williams wrote:
> My wife is from Taiwan and, yes they do call themselves Taiwanese. 
> They have their own language, Taiwanese (original language). 
> Though most speak Mandarin now.  

Taiwan's population surpasses 22 million, and with the exception of 
about 400,000 indigenous peoples, the population of Taiwan is 
composed almost entirely of Han Chinese. I would prefer to avoid 
discussing the indigenous people if possible, that's a complicated 
issue within a complicated issue.

> The full name is Taiwan, R.O.C.  
> Mail any letter or package there (which we have done many times,
> from USA), and it is to Taiwan, R.O.C.

I'm not sure you fully understand the point I'm trying to make. I'll 
try to explain further below.

> I guess since New Zealand is an island, they are not a country?

No comment.

> On Friday 14 May 2004 07:36, Don Sanders wrote:
> > I personally have many Taiwanese friends and it gives me a
> > certain sense of pride to see KDE recognizing Taiwan as a
> > country. (In the Country/Region and Language control panel).
> It is as you say country OR region selector. Taiwan is an island,
> there is no
> country refering to itself as Taiwan, but there is a Something
> Something Republic of China, that is sometimes refered to by the
> only island it has control over, to avoid confusion with another
> Something Something Republic of
> China.

Right there are two relevant governments, the People's Republic of 
China (situated in mainland China) and the Republic of China 
(situated in Taiwan). Previously the Republic of China (in Taiwan) 
was recognized (e.g. by the UN) as the legitimate government of all 
of China. 

(The Republic of China, the government of China recognized by the 
Allied forces, and led by Chiang Kai-shek "temporarily" occupied 
Taiwan on behalf of the Allies in 1945. This temporary occupation has 
become rather permanent since Chiang Kai-shek retreated to Taiwan in 

So we are in a position where historically two governments have 
claimed to be the rightful government of all of China, and both 
actually agree that Taiwan is a province of China. I would note 
however that the People's Republic of China (in mainland China) has 
never had control over Taiwan.

The point being that the Republic of China (in Taiwan) has never 
formerly declared that Taiwan is an independent country. KDE by 
listing "Taiwan" next to the flag of the Republic of China in a list 
of countries is preemptively making a decision for the people of 
Taiwan. Or at least that's the way I think the People's Republic of 
China (in mainland China) will see it.

I believe the people of Taiwan have at least two options. One is to 
formerly give up "recovery" of the mainland and to declare Taiwan an 
independent state. In which case I'll be the first to support them 
being listed as a country, as I believe they have the right of 
self-determination. The second option for Taiwan is to merge with 
mainland China on mutually acceptable terms.

I think that second option is the most difficult one to realize, but 
also potentially the most rewarding, and that projects like KDE are 
wrong to take a position that makes it more difficult for the people 
of Taiwan to realize this second option.

Regarding the region idea, I'm not convinced marking Taiwan as a 
region rather than a country will help, it could just add another 
level of confusion. I guess the situation can't be resolved by KDE 
but can only be resolved by the People's Republic of China and the 
Republic of China working together.


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