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Our company outsources a lot of ODM and some OEM design with companies in China (and sometimes Taiwan). The views of China's recognition of Taiwan as a sovereign state is different than many Western countries including mine (the United States). We also have an office in Taiwan that goes to China from time to time as a "diplomat" and they discuss our goals in the manufacturing process.

Is there a way to mention the name of "Taiwan" without sounding insensitive to what the Chinese believe? The Chinese call Taiwan as the "Republic of China" or "Taiwan, China" but we simply call them "Taiwan", implying that they have independence from mainland China.

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    As far as I know the USA do not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state, therefore it might be better to edit the question to reflect that it's your personal viewpoint. – Chris Apr 3 at 18:39
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    Voting to close as this is a question that solicits opinion-based answers. – BryanH Apr 3 at 18:58
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    @BryanH Um, no. This is diplomacy, and very easily answered. – Retired Codger Apr 3 at 19:42
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    Just to hammer in how loaded with confusion this is - Taiwan actually calls itself The Republic of China. With China being the People's Republic of China. – Grimm The Opiner Apr 4 at 11:36
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    Thank you for the response everyone. One of my goals for asking this was for reference on how I should communicate with other people of different views on such topics. We've done business with China for a very long time. However, our Taipei office is actually our most recent member of my company. I just wanted to make sure I was saying the right stuff :) True, I can agree why question is put on hold. However, I didn't mean for it to sound like I'm delegating with the Chinese government. – KingDuken Apr 4 at 15:13
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As you've found, Taiwan is a VERY sensitive subject for China. The situation is both political and ethnic for the Chinese mainland, and very complicated.

If you want to avoid the situation entirely, refer to your office in Taiwan by the name of the location within Taiwan, and don't refer to the nation at all. That way, you avoid offending both the Chinese and the Taiwanese.

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    So i.e. "Our office in Taipei"? – KingDuken Apr 3 at 15:45
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    "Taipei Office". With the companies I've worked at, it's usual to refer to the offices by their city name. This is especially important when there are multiple offices per country. – Gregory Currie Apr 3 at 15:54
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    @KingDuken exactly, The Chinese will not be offended because you are not calling them "Taiwan", and the Taiwanese will not be offended, because you are not acknowledging China's claim. Everybody gets to save face. While saving face isn't AS much of an issue in China as it is in Japan, in this case, it is. – Retired Codger Apr 3 at 16:02
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    @GregoryCurrie exactly, none of the multinationals I've worked for have ever said, "London, UK" or "Tokyo, Japan", or "New York, USA", et cet, just the city name. – Retired Codger Apr 3 at 16:04
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Dissenting opinion to the top voted answer from Richard U

I have never found this to be a problem at all.

Many of the larger Chinese Manufacturing companies such as Foxconn are actually headquartered in Taiwan and a lot the engineering and senior management staff is from Taiwan and travels back and forth a lot.

So if you sit in a meeting room and ask "hey, what are you doing on the weekend", it's perfectly normal to get the answer "I'm going home to Taiwan".

Taiwan is talked about frequently and I have never heard anyone (Chinese or otherwise) refer to it other than simply "Taiwan".

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    I think the question sort of implies that you're dealing with someone who does have a problem. Obviously if there's no problem, there's no problem. But if there is a problem, well Richard has a solution. – corsiKa Apr 4 at 4:21
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I've worked, and work, constantly with Taiwanese and Mainland Chinese. It's not a problem unless you, or they, want to make it a problem.

Calling it Taiwan is absolutely fine since they'll take it however they wanted it. Maybe Taiwan (as a country), or Taiwan (as People's Republic of China, Taiwan Province). No one refers to them as "name province".

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Noteworthy is that, in my experiences dealing with Chinese-nationals (in Canada, my locale), most of them do not care if I say "Taiwan", and usually they will themselves refer to Taiwan as "Taiwan" when speaking in English (I don't know what they say in Chinese to each other because I don't speak Chinese). If you are dealing with Chinese individuals and not the Chinese government, it's probably not an issue to refer to Taiwan as "Taiwan"; as with most dictatorships or dictatorship-esque countries (of which China is one), the opinions of the populace tend to be very opposite the official positions of the leadership.

There's nothing wrong with saying "Taipei" as suggested in Richard U's answer; I'm simply making note that this might not be nearly as big of an issue as you're making it out to be.

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    There's a bit more involved when actually doing business in China, because the Chinese government is directly involved, and they will tend to flex their muscles over things like this. – Retired Codger Apr 3 at 20:18
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TL;DR: Just refer to it as "Taiwan" and never user the term "Republic of China"

Is there a way to mention the name of "Taiwan" without sounding insensitive to what the Chinese believe? The Chinese call Taiwan as the "Republic of China" or "Taiwan, China" but we simply call them "Taiwan", implying that they have independence from mainland China.

I think you got this wrong. "Taiwan" is the name of the Island and informally refers to the modern day "Republic of China" because of the territory the RoC controls. Officially the RoC claims the Chinese mainland which is controlled by the People's Republic of China (or just 'China' for most people).

There is nothing controversial about saying that Taipei belongs to Taiwan, neither for mainland Chinese nor for Taiwanese. This is just a geographic truth and doesn't imply independence.

Chinese people usually don't refer to Taiwan as "Republic of China" and it would probably be seen as offensive to use it outside of a historical context.

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Is there a way to mention the name of "Taiwan" without sounding insensitive to what the Chinese believe?

Taiwan is an independent country, with it's own army and president. It's not part of China. It's as ridiculous as saying the independent Hong Kong is part of China.

People who are offended for the obvious facts are not very intelligent, you need to be professional and avoid as much contact with them as possible. Don't ask for troubles, but please also don't back down from the history.

  • Definitely not true. Very few countries recognize Taiwan as a country (not even the U.S does so). Taiwan is also not a member of the U.N. – dan-klasson Apr 30 at 20:55

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