Google: Taiwan now not a province of China

In a move widely reported in China at the moment as ‘hurting the feelings of the Chinese people’, US-based Google have removed previous references to Taiwan as a province of China:

Chinese media reports said “, world’s largest Internet search engine, deleted the words ‘Taiwan, a province of the People’s Republic of China’ on a map of Taiwan linked to its maps search engine This has drawn rage from Chinese officials and the people.”

Google made the changes “under pressure of extremists in Taiwan’s pan-Green camp (a pro-independence alliance between the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and the hard-line Taiwan Solidarity Union party),” Xinhua reported.

This must be a bit of a blow as China is used to foreign Internet companies kowtowing and strictly towing the official party line. Google China boss Li Kaifu will be hoping that the incident will quickly blow over. However, the media have already warned that the government ‘has many options at its disposal’ to punish Google such as increased bureaucratic red tape, fines and even orders to close down business in China. Such tactics have been used before. China’s notorious Internet users are already talking of boycotting Google in retaliation.

The Discussion: 24 Comments

Really, the change makes sense.
No matter whether you support independence, or support reunification, i don’t think google should be the one to say “taiwan is now a province of the PRC,” especially when not many other people have made such straightforward statemeents

October 19, 2005 @ 7:31 pm | Comment

Good news. Thanks for posting this.

October 19, 2005 @ 8:03 pm | Comment

Perhaps Google can copy the Chinese maps of a few decades ago. They showed HK and Macau as separate places but in brackets said “occupied by UK” and Portugal respectively.

Then the Google map could have, er, “Taiwan: occupied by Taiwan”.

October 19, 2005 @ 8:05 pm | Comment

“Taiwan: occupied by the Republic of China” ?

October 19, 2005 @ 8:58 pm | Comment

Makes you wonder what they’ll do to Baidu

October 19, 2005 @ 9:00 pm | Comment

Really, why did Google did it in the first place? If Taiwan and China has a feud, teh government should deal with it. Not the business people.


October 19, 2005 @ 9:23 pm | Comment


The Baidu site has the Chinese border illustrated by a monster fat grey dashed line. Twice as think, I’d point out, as any other national border. And, of course, it extends all the way down through the South China Sea.

I think they get a fruit basket or something for that.

October 19, 2005 @ 9:32 pm | Comment

whoops, that should read “twice as thick”

October 19, 2005 @ 9:35 pm | Comment

It’s tremendous to have the power to ‘hurt the feelings’ of 1.3 billion people.

October 19, 2005 @ 9:46 pm | Comment

Google reverses course on Taiwan

Google is no longer describing Taiwan as a “Province of China” on Google Maps. Google had previously come under fire from pro-independence activists and one can expect they’re now calling down the wrath of Beijing. Further discussio…

October 19, 2005 @ 9:51 pm | Comment

For the love of god, what’s the problem? I see it now and there’s nothing to suggest it’s independent- there are no borders for it (unlike the Koreas for example or HK and Macao) and doesn’t have Quemoy or Matsu shown as Taiwanese territory.

October 19, 2005 @ 9:53 pm | Comment

Perhaps, just to piss everyone off, they could label it Formosa!

October 19, 2005 @ 10:25 pm | Comment

Do you think Google could mention something about the peeing in public problem. That really hurts my feeling and quite a few others feeling as well.

October 19, 2005 @ 10:46 pm | Comment

Thumbs up to Google for sticking to their principles. I just wish the ISO had their spine.

October 19, 2005 @ 10:51 pm | Comment

Google has only done what they SHOULD have done in the first place. Left Taiwan’s political status ambiguous. The new map doesn’t politically designate Taiwan as anything. And it doesn’t call the island a province of ANY country. That way, if you believe Taiwan belongs to the PRC, you can believe that at you will. If you believe it is a province/the entirity of the ROC, or a ROT, you can believe that too. It is a very smart move for Google. This way, nobody can really say their map is right or wrong.

October 19, 2005 @ 11:04 pm | Comment

It’s probably a good thing I don’t work for Google. The temptation to invite the PRC authorities to “grow up” or possibly to “know thyself” (in the Biblical sense) might be too great.

October 19, 2005 @ 11:39 pm | Comment

I wonder what would happen if a website like Google, which has much more power to influence world opinion than the PRC government (not including the 25% of the world population who have no choice), turned the tables and actually went after them. You know, put a banner at the top of every page and search result denouncing China and all the perceived evils of the CCP, shamed businesses and politicians for working with the CCP, etc, and then said that they would only stop if the CCP gave up certain territories, claims or unbanned the F@lun Gng? It would be interesting to see which organisation won the PR battle. My money’s on Google.

October 20, 2005 @ 2:50 am | Comment

I’m actually REALLY surprised at this, I never thought in a million years that google would change, especially after it sent out that press statement that said that it wasn’t going to.

Is there a Chinese language version of google map? maybe it woul be worth checking to see if that has changed too.

October 20, 2005 @ 4:40 am | Comment


China would win.

The CCP would block Google immediately and prevent it from doing business in China. Google would lose revenue as a result. Google’s shareholders would then sue, rightly alleging that the company’s directors and officers had breached their duty by engaging in a political act having nothing to do with business and which hurt the company and thereby the shareholders.

The shareholders would win. The directors and officers would owe millions and the policy would be dropped.

Any other great ideas?

October 20, 2005 @ 5:49 am | Comment


I don’t know how much of a difference it would make. Google is certainly making money out of China, but it is so popular outside of it that it has a very secure base to operate on.

October 20, 2005 @ 4:15 pm | Comment


This is obviously not a serious suggestion and I’m sorry that you thought it was!

However, I still think that if companies stopped kow-towing to China in the belief that they will one day make huge profits then China will find it harder to impose its will on people and overseas corporations.

Furthermore, I seriously doubt that the CCP would win. In terms of being able (should they want to) shape world opinion, Google is far far stronger. The CCP may quieten down if Google managed to make it unfashionable for companies to invest in China. After all, remember how righteous people became by boycotting South African products in the Apartheid era? By almost all measures te PRC government is far worse than the SA government, and I don’t think it would take much to turn world opinion against the CCP (note that there is a difference between the country and the government).

Lastly, as regards shareholders suing the directors: Google’s profits from China will be tiny compared to those made in the west; and since when does committing a political act constitute a breach of duty? How much money do you think companies give to politicians the world over, especially the US.

October 20, 2005 @ 7:38 pm | Comment

I have to agree with Tucker on this Google vs. CCP wager. Not with the outcome, necessarily, but the intent. Feelings are going to get hurt, whether those feelings translate into dollars or not.

October 20, 2005 @ 9:09 pm | Comment

Good work, Google. I’m sure this took balls, but it really does fit better with Google’s slogan of “don’t be evil.”

October 21, 2005 @ 1:08 am | Comment

[…] I can’t verify this, but it doesn’t sound impossible. I remember the controversy when Google Maps listed Taiwan not as a country but as a province of […]

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