Taiwan vs Thailand

This is a departure of what I usually write about, but it has been bugging me for a while so here goes…

When people stateside notice “I’m not from around here“, instinctively their first question is always, “Where are you from?”.   Hmm, where am I from?  Last I checked, I’m American.  But for giggles, I tell them I’m from Taiwan to see what happens.  Predictably, I get comments like:

“Oh, I love Thai food”
“I’ve always wanted to visit Thailand”

and many times people mistakenly assume Taiwan is either IN China or part of China.  Which leads to questions like, “Oh you’re from Taiwan? You must make good Chinese food.”  These comments used to make my skin crawl and I’ve wondered if it was just plain ignorance or people really didn’t know that there was a difference.

First of all, Taiwan, Thailand, and China are three completely different countries.  Just because two countries have similar pronunciations doesn’t mean they’re the same – I’m looking at you, Chechnya (or is it Czech Republic?).

Taiwan is the pink dot and Thailand is the yellow dot. One is in East Asia and the other is in South East Asia

Secondly, Taiwan is really not on the radar because it’s only recognized as an independent country by 23 other nations. And those countries are mainly islands themselves or in Latin America.  I recently discovered that Vatican City recognizes Taiwan as independent of China.

The politics between Taiwan and China are very complicated. I am always impressed when I meet people who know that there’s a difference between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Peoples Republic (China). It’s akin to calling a Spanish person a Mexican.


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