Skip to content

A comparison of Taiwan and China

Taiwan looks very small on the world map but its total population is approximately 23,000,000, which is larger than 170 countries in the world. It may not have done as badly as some suggest.

  • The size of population in china is 58 times of that in Taiwan but their total national income is only 10 times greater than Taiwan’s.
  • Taiwan’s GDP per capita is 5 times more than that of China. Even though China’s economy has been growing rapidly, the gap between Taiwan and China has actually remained the same.
  • In terms of PPP, Taiwan ranks 39th in the world whereas China ranks 133rd.
  • China’s infant mortality (21.96/1000 live births) is 4 times of that in Taiwan (5.45).
  • In China, 8% of the population live under the poverty line whereas there’s only 0.95% in Taiwan.
  • The unemployment in Taiwan was 3.9% when the DPP handed it to the KMT and it’s now over 4% after Ma took over but the unemployment in China is estimated to be between 15-20%.
  • On average, each individual in Taiwan have 1.06 mobile phones but those in China only have 0.41. In Taiwan, 57% of population have access and use the internet but there’s only 19% in China.
  • Looking at Gini Index (the level of economic inequality, the greater the figure, the worse the inequality), Taiwan got 33 in 2000 and fell steadily between 2001 and 2006. China got 41 in 2001 and 47 in 2007. Well, inequality in a ‘communist’ regime is greater than a country generally considered ‘capitalist’?
  • Taiwan’s corruption index is 5.7 but China is only 3.5 (worse). Corruption in China seems to be prevalent.
  • Most importantly, Taiwan’s press freedom is 10, which ranks 32nd in the world but China is only 89, which is the 163rd place in the world and only better than 6 other countries. In other words, there’s literally NO press freedom in China!
  • On average, 550,000 Taiwanese share an airport but in China, 2,840,000 people share an airport.
  • The life expectancy in Taiwan is 4.6 years longer than that in China.
  • Looking at the Global Competitiveness Index, Taiwan is the 14thworldwide (5.25) and China comes the 34th (4.57).

China has always been clear about their intention to take Taiwan and alarmingly, the current ruling party, KMT, is very willing to help China in this regard. However, Taiwan is still ahead of China on various measures and it’s still a long way to go to bring China to where Taiwan is. As of now, most Taiwanese identify ourselves as Taiwanese and would not accept the level of human rights abuse in China and let go of the freedom and democracy we have fought hard for. Unfortunately, the majority of press are pro-China or even owned by Chinese business and have been exaggerating China’s success, which is limited to certain areas and certain social circles, and putting Taiwan down whenever they can.


39 Comments leave one →
  1. tramilisha permalink
    15/08/2009 15:42

    I’m Taiwanese and I was born in America. Often people at school ask where I’m from because I’ve gotten sick and tired of people not knowing the existence of Taiwan. People always say everything but Taiwan. One person said even said Taiwan, China. I was very offended by that person’s ignorance. From this blog entry Taiwan seems better than China so why doesn’t anyone know it at all? =] This is a very nice blog. ^-^

    • Yaswanth permalink
      17/04/2012 08:11

      Really it helped foreign students like me to understand in what ways Taiwan is far better than China. Thank you for your valuable information.

    • Ruinan permalink
      24/02/2013 04:30

      Taiwan’s official name is ” republic of China”

      • felix permalink
        27/05/2014 12:44

        It doesn’t matter what it’s named.

    • Tati permalink
      23/08/2014 03:17

      If it makes you feel better at all about the lack of acknowledgment people have of Taiwan, I’m an American student and Taiwan is the sole reason I took Chinese in college. :)

  2. csuf permalink
    24/11/2009 04:19

    china is much larger than taiwan, so wouldn’t it be harder for them to match taiwan in such regards on average? besides, there are pockets of areas in china that can rival the quality of life in taiwan.

    also, i find it ironic that people care for the people of taiwan and wish that it does not lose its freedom and sovereignty, and yet they don’t say anything for the 1.3 billion people in china who are already under the “communist” regime that taiwanese so do not want to fall under themselves. the enemy here is not china, but rather its regime. the people of china should be seen as being on the same side of taiwan, who are both trying to fight the common enemy, which is china’s government/regime.

    • Claudia Jean permalink*
      24/11/2009 17:31

      Bigger countries don’t necessarily achieve better quality of life. It all depends on the government and the system. China is a one party state where the government’s interests supersede their citizens.

      China and Taiwan are two different countries. It is up to the Chinese people to fight that regime with friendly support from other countries, including Taiwan, rather than dragging Taiwan in. Taiwan doesn’t belong to China; therefore, Taiwanese should not fight the fight for the Chinese. BUT Taiwanese support democracy and human rights and that’s why they speak out for Tibet, East Turkestan, the Chinese (e.g. Tienanmen Square Massacre) and many other who are suppressed around the world.

      Chinese people deserve sympathy but those who buy the government’s propaganda also seek to harm Taiwan and the Taiwanese if the Taiwanese don’t agree with them. It’s hard to see anyone as friends when they want to arbitrarily impose on you or harm you, isn’t it?

      • Ardy Pantozzo permalink
        31/01/2010 10:55

        “Chinese people deserve sympathy but those who buy the government’s propaganda also seek to harm Taiwan and the Taiwanese if the Taiwanese don’t agree with them. It’s hard to see anyone as friends when they want to arbitrarily impose on you or harm you, isn’t it?”


      • Joseph permalink
        26/08/2013 13:03

        “BUT Taiwanese support democracy and human rights and that’s why they speak out for Tibet, East Turkestan, the Chinese” please do keep in mind the fact that Taiwan (The Republic of China) still claims Tibet, “East Turkestan” and Mongolia (which is now independent from China) and mainland China to be part of its territory. Bit ironic to try and win independence for areas that you still claim, no?

        And FYI, those areas have been historically part of China for centuries, especially “East Turkestan” as they’ve been in Tang borders 1500 years ago. Tibet had been independent for periods but was part of China since the Qing. The KMT were also the first to oppose Tibetan independence.

        I see that you moderate your comments, I just hope that maybe you could tolerate a different opinion to yours and allow my posts to come through. I’m going to visit Taiwan next month and yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing the difference. Cheers.

      • Claudia Jean permalink*
        20/10/2013 00:57

        No, actually Taiwanese don’t claim those places as their territory. The nationalist Chinese did.

        A lot of territories in the world used to belong to another country. It doesn’t mean the people there can’t seek a new identity or a different path.

        I do tolerate different opinions as long as they are not threats, trolling or insults. I will continue to moderate comments

    • catnip permalink
      27/01/2013 19:13

      oh my gosh i almost cried after reading these. as a chinese, i do feel sad when people criticize china, but how many of them know that we sometimes are embrrassed when facing the political issue like Taiwan’s problem and we are also struggling to fight for more democracy.

      • 24/08/2013 02:39

        Hello Catnip,

        A people are often different from their government. I am American, and while I love my country, I do not always agree with what our government does. Sometimes our countries do right, sometimes our countries do wrong. We all must try to have the best governments we can.

  3. ZeRoberto permalink
    05/01/2010 04:55

    I am Peruvian, and In my opinion is true most of the comments that they said above,on the other hand, if Taiwan want to be known and not being confused with China, the Taiwan goverment should invest more in difund the Taiwanese culture.

    In addition China goverment try to shut up every person who show the bad side of the goverment, two typical cases are in the case of TV, Chinese Tv just transmit national channels, and other case is that China banned different websites (cnn, mbc, google,youtube,etc etc). I hope that it won`t happen in Taiwan, however I can highlight that China education is good, statistically in the year 2009, universities such as HongKong and Tsingua are on top places on the ranking of best universities in Asia.

    • Claudia Jean permalink*
      09/01/2010 19:04

      Thanks for your comments. I agree with you about Taiwanese culture and democracy.

      As to universities, it’s true that China has some universities at top but bear in mind that all the HK universities were founded and operated under the British system. It wasn’t the Chinese government’s doing. Even though Tsingua is good, but if you take an AVERAGE, the average standard of Taiwanese universities may not be worse than the overall standard in China.

      The most important aspect I see is the lack of academic freedom in China. I do believe that the government restrictions on freedom of speech would have an impact on the academic freedom and creativity. It may not be so obvious in hard science or engineering but certainly so in social science and humanities.

  4. Jane permalink
    20/12/2010 22:56


    I’m scared with some rumors that came from internet. I have 17 years old and from 2 years from now on I think I will choose Taiwan instead of Beijing since traditional characters are much more beautiful and I love literatura, and having censorship is a real problem to me.
    But I’m still scared, a lot of rumors are on internet like:
    “Reunification of China with Taiwan”

    • antartica_clay permalink
      30/06/2011 17:44

      Haha, when I looked at the best answer in yahoo, I cannot help burst into laughter.
      This Q&A was brought up by the same guy which was called the notorious “5-cent party” from China. By “5-cent party” it means that many Chinese people are hired by the Chinese authority and post pro-government articles and get paid 5 cents (RMB) for each article. (This one is more elaborate and influential so I guess it may be worth 1 RMB. Don’t worry, just come to Taiwan and explore the beautiful scenery as well as the very best part of traditional Chinese culture. Taiwan will never unite with China in the next 50 years, I promise.
      (A Taiwanese local from Taipei)

    • Calvin permalink
      27/01/2013 12:43

      The best answer on yahoo answer is just stupid. What Macau and Hongkong is experiencing right now is not because of China’s doing, but because of the colonization of the Portugal and the British Empire respectively. and ever since they returned the land to China, China did nothing to it.

      • Joseph permalink
        26/08/2013 12:45

        Ignorance, ignorance and more ignorance. Although a major part of Hong Kong and Macao’s today is the work of the British and the Portuguese; without the booming Chinese economy and trade, Hong Kong and Macao (especially due to its heavy reliance on the gambling industry) would find themselves in some serious economic trouble. China has played a major role in Hong Kong and Macao’s continued growth over the last decade and hence the statement “China did nothing to it.” is blatantly vague, stupid and ignorant.

        And please, don’t overly associate the government of China with the people of China. The government may be a piece of shit, but the Chinese people are not. Our 5000 year history makes us one of the greatest ethnicities in the world, and that’s something we should all be proud of.

      • Claudia Jean permalink*
        20/10/2013 01:55

        The British can equally argue that China’s later intervention wouldn’t have worked without their prior influence.

        True. One should not equate the people to their government. Equally, I hope the Chinese do not equate other people with their governments and certainly do not associate Taiwanese people with the KMT propaganda and their interpretation of Taiwan.

  5. 12/01/2011 01:57

    I was born in Canada, and I’m Taiwanese and all I wanna to said that TAIWAN IS NOT PART OF CHINA, in fact I think TAIWAN IS MUCH BETTER THAN CHINA, because we got more freedom than them and we are much cleaner. p.s. No offence to the Chinese, I’m telling the true. And all I want to say is, with all those thinks Taiwan is part of China, will its not, too bad so sad. I had a friend from Hong Kong, he said he rather be Taiwanese instate of Chinese.

  6. Juan Pablo permalink
    02/05/2011 03:50

    I’m a Taiwanese born in Spain. I used to travel almost every summer to Taiwan to study Chinese. Now I’m working in China, been here for almost a year and not leaving anytime soon yet. Even though I’ve encountered many nice and likeable folks at both countries. I must say the differences are inmensely vast, what’s more, all the nationalistic propaganda gets really tiring (even at some business meetings) and at the worst, Chinese people would get mad at me for claiming I’m Taiwanese or even just Spanish.
    But not absolutely everybody thinks this way around here, my girlfriend is Chinese, and some other YOUNG Chinese people I’ve happened to meet are actually quite opposed to the Communist mentality and are pretty wary of all the damage the bi-products of Communism has caused, Cultural Revolution, Great Leap Forward, Tiannanmen Massacre, so on and so forth…
    Still a minority I must say, though.

  7. 17/08/2011 07:34

    I’ve travelled in both Taiwan and China, and have studied the history of both countries for some time. My observation is that Taiwan, while predominantly Han Chinese in culture, language, and even ethnicity, is no more Chinese than Austria is German or Australia is British. It is not necessarily language, ethnicity, or even culture that is decisive — it is shared (national) experience. Taiwan was only under Chinese rule from the mainland for four years. This rule was of dubious legality and was never officially or legally sanctioned. Rather, it was simply done as a fait accompli with the support of the USA in order to reward Chiang Kai-shek. While it has in the past been argued that Taiwan was part of China under the Ch’ing Dynasty, the Ch’ing were not themselves Chinese and never considered themselves such, nor were they especially kind to the Chinese. Even after they gained control, they would do the best they could to avoid any sort of Sinfication. It becomes even trickier when it is acknowledged that the vast majority of Han Taiwanese are descendants of those Chinese who fled China, illegally, in order to get away from Chinese rule. It becomes even more difficult to justify mainland China’s claim on Taiwan considering the fact that Japan was the country that finally was able to bring some measure of peace and modernity to the island. I don’t want to go on for too long, so I will stop with my own personal observation. There are some really, really nice, fun, and thoroughly decent Chinese people. Some, I am lucky to say, are my friends. The experience in Taiwan, however, is infinitely superior. There is an energy in the air, a feeling that things are getting better all the time. The light is beautiful, the people nice. I never felt pushed there, I left almost in tears because I was so sad to leave it behind. China was different, I was happy to leave, it just didn’t have a good aura. It just felt fake.

    • Calvin permalink
      27/01/2013 12:38

      I’m Taiwanese and i’m proud of it, and I really hate the fact that some people don’t recognize Taiwan as a country but a part of China. I just can’t stand that Taiwan is a much better country than China but not recognize as one. Although I haven’t been to China (and I will never will), I have read that most people in China have very bad manners, and I read at a forum that If vendors in China found out that your a foreigner, they will charge you as high as 10 times for what their selling,they think that you’re a fool. And one time, my friend went to China then when she was leaving China, a boy came to her then said “Are you from Philippines? Aren’t you scared that China and Philippines are fighting(over the spratly’s Island) then you still have the nerve to come here? Go! Go now.” that’s what my friend told me, I’m currently leaving in other country, and I really miss Taiwan, and wish that everyday of my life will spend there, living a peaceful life. I wish that someday, someday, that Taiwan will gain that recognition that is longing for a long time. Being a part of United Nation, being known as an independent country and not part of China. And I don’t really like Taiwan and China to be united even if Taiwan gets to rule over China, it’s just because I think that if it will be united, Taiwan’s named will be stained forever, because of China’s doing over these years, such as faking products, contaminated foods and etc.

  8. Pohsuan permalink
    15/02/2013 13:59

    Thank you for doing so much for Taiwan’s figure. Indeed, Taiwan is not a well-known place (let alone its political status) to most people, but we’ve got to do something to change that.

  9. China permalink
    07/06/2013 01:01

    1) You can’t really compare such a small country with a country with such a large country, this makes the figures very unreliable due to their reliance on population size meaning that this whole comparison is just a person’s rage on China.

    2) You make China sound so corrupted, compare it to the United States of America which has a corruption score of 2.2 which is considerably worse than the People’s Republic of China which is considerably larger in population (nearly 5 times larger)!

    3) This is a totally biased comparison between Taiwan and China.

    4) Taiwan is part of China, the Republic of China that is (That’s what it says on the passport so deal with it).

    • Claudia Jean permalink*
      20/10/2013 01:07

      1) Of course we can divide resources by the total population when we talk about individual quality of life. This is basic logic. You can reflect on the source of your resistance to such comparisons.

      2) No one can make a country ‘sound’ corrupted. The figures speak for themselves. This comparison is not between China and USA.

      3) What would be ‘objective’?

      4) Their passport also says ‘Taiwan’ on the front cover.

  10. Lin permalink
    18/08/2013 17:06

    I am Thai, and I love Taiwan, so much love Taiwan, it’s because Taiwan has democracy, most of people has their rights. As I experienced, Taiwanese are very very nice and friendly, I went back home in Thailand but I really miss Taiwan that I want to go back again. The first day of arrival in Taiwan, I can speak a little bit Chinese and there was a women coming to help me in reserving the hotel and calling the taxi for me. It was the first impression I faced, what’s more, I went to buy the simcard Fareastone in Taiwan, the officer said before I would leave ” Welcome to Taiwan, we hope that you leave Taiwan, will have a chance to come here again, we are always welcome ” this made me think that Taiwan is definitely different from China. I have Chinese friends too but I feel that Chinese and Taiwanese are very different. Besides, when I finished the chinese course, the teacher gave me a gift before I left Taiwan, I almost cried at that time, because she drove her car outside to buy it for me. Not only the teacher but also friends, one of my friends did the hand made gift for me and 一路順風 that means have a safe trip. It made me cry in the last day that I left Taiwan. I really didn’t want to leave there .. I feel like Taiwan is a country that I love the most. I used to ask friends about Taiwan and China and most of people in Thailand who have been to these 2 countries, they said Taiwan is not a part of China, I agree that too.
    I really love Taiwan and very proud to go there. I hope one day Taiwan will go through the world sight and be recognized as a country officially.

    I love Taiwan so much !!

  11. Joseph permalink
    26/08/2013 12:34

    The fact that Taiwan officially speaks Chinese and proclaims itself as the “Republic of China” justifies that the people of Taiwan are Chinese (as a matter of fact, majority of the population migrated from China when Mr Jiang and his fascists went there).

    There’s a barrier between politics and ethnicity. Although Taiwan is a separate political entity, the people of Taiwan are Han Chinese.

    I find the fact that some of you consider yourself to be “Taiwanese” and those in mainland to be “inferior Chinese” to be utterly disgusting. You are all Chinese, ruled by different systems.

    You must understand the “inferior Chinese” are your relatives suffering under the communist system. Everybody is sick of the Commie regime in China and it’s only a matter of time before the younger generation replaces the piece of shit with a better system.

    Till then, please steer clear of China bashing and save some face for our people.

    All this said with due respect (not intending to start a Taiwan parliament style bitch fight)

    • Claudia Jean permalink*
      20/10/2013 01:49

      Americans, Australians and New Zealanders all speak English. No one calls them English. More importantly, they don’t call themselves English. Any country’s name can be changed. Regardless of race, self-determination is a right.

      I think you need to get the fact right. Those who went to Taiwan with Jiang Kai-shek did not constitute the majority. They made up probably 10-15%. Jiang killed many Taiwanese and exercised such tight control and deprived the majority Taiwanese equal opportunity precisely for that reason. He feared the majority would push them out.

      I have never referred to the Chinese people as being inferior even though I am very clear about the system being less than desirable. I’d invite you to reflect on why facts and logical comparisons would appear to be bashing. I don’t think being obsessed with ‘face’ and avoiding issues with emotive expressions would get anyone very far.

      Taiwanese MPs do fight and it is not good. However, they at least have a system and a platform to practice democracy and potentially get better at it. The US houses have seen their share of fighting in the 200 odd years of history. Taiwan’s democracy is only 20 odd years old. What system the Chinese people have is up to yourselves. Having a dig at the Taiwanese parliament may make some Chinese feel better about not having a democratic system but does not ultimately make the Chinese system more desirable for anyone.

      • srger permalink
        11/12/2013 14:03

        I disagree. Chiang’s authoritarian rule in Taiwan in mainly due to communist threat, it was a time of war and he fear communist infiltration. Under the martial law, NO ONE had freedom. And officially Taiwan is CHINA, Taiwan had a claim to the name since the Ming. However the rise of local consciousness (I would say all PRC provinces have this to an extent), and the associate of china with PRC/CCP led to the rejection of the use of 中國人and 中國. I’m willing to bet that if you use 華人you wouldn’t met much resistance.

      • Claudia Jean permalink*
        19/04/2014 04:55

        Some people accept the communist threat as a good enough justification but some see that as an excuse to suppress Taiwanese.

  12. kai permalink
    30/08/2013 01:57

    I am a Chinese.I think everything will become better and better in the future.I have enough confidence about my country’s future.

  13. Tai permalink
    18/11/2013 07:03

    Having lived outsife of Taiwan all my life, I’ve come to see it from a foreigners point of view. Sure we’re striving from the inside but that’s all thanks to the merits of China. If Taiwan were indeed to become independent, China would cut ties and leave us stranded. The pressure would be far greater than what lingering hostilities we have now. The big picture is that the world is inevitably supporting each other and independence isn’t going to solve much let alone grant freedom. There is no free country, it’s just another fancy slogan slapped on a hypocrisy of democratic abuse.

  14. toutou permalink
    25/11/2013 04:10

    I always reminded my fellows Taiwanese, China is developing, but it’s none of our business,
    after all China still our officially threat and one and ONLY enemy in this planet, no matter how friendly face they representing, we still have to be aware, and it MUST keep distance,

    Sorry, Chinese, my words might hurt you, but it’s high time for your people learn how to confront to the fact, that we are two different nations, which is The heaven’s will(separated by the Taiwan Straight

    And we are deserve to be our own, we can be good neighbor, but if you desire more, sorry, then we had better forget any deal.

  15. Bertman permalink
    10/01/2014 00:20

    I am chinese and born in canada. Im suprised that on many official maps, they dont recognise Taiwan or the Republic of China as a seperate country from China. both countries have seperate governments, laws, militaries, etc. personally though, I wouldn’t want to live in either country because of different schooling systems and competition

  16. Just a girl permalink
    24/03/2014 23:45

    Apparently Ma is about to hand Taiwan over to China. That upsets me quite a bit.

  17. 06/04/2014 13:30

    To Chinese,

    I’m an Indian & i lived in China for 2 1/2 years. Chinese are very kind people (irrespective of their economical status) unlike their government. I think that Chinese are struggling inside whether to love their government or not cos Communistic ideas are never good for preserving Humanitarian values but they have no option & if you ask a Chinese ”Does Taiwan belong to China?” – He / She’ll definitely say YES just because they love their land & there’s no wrong with their opinion.

    Coming to economic growth in China – Yes, China is one of the most corrupted countries a few decades ago but it is now stabilising except for that Press Freedom mostly after that Tiananmen Square Massacre.

    In view of Taiwan, they’re having every right to remain as an independent country cos they achieved that All what we are seeing now & the whole credit goes to them.

    Finally, it’s all about Freedom. I hope one day China will be Democratic & it’s not impossible just because it seems now.

    From Your Ever Loving Indian.

    • pp34 permalink
      21/03/2015 02:37

      No, there definitely is something wrong with their opinion. They want to impose their will on a separate country’s people against their desires. The Chinese government has managed to manipulate the masses into blending a patriotic love with believing some ridiculous notions. They will say that Taiwan was ALWAYS a part of China- anyone who knows a little bit about Taiwan’s history will know that this is a lie.
      The Chinese have no business telling the Taiwanese how to feel or who they are. If Taiwan is to be annexed by China or not is up to the Taiwanese people. Not, contrary to the rhetoric of the Chinese and the KMT, up to “all Chinese on both sides of the strait”.

      In fact, the concept of Chinese (outside of the definition of citizen of the PRC) is flimsy and full of holes- are Tibetans Chinese? Are Manchurians Chinese? (about a hundred years ago they weren’t).

      So Chinese people should stop imposing their BS on Taiwan, refrain from hating on Japan for five minutes and deal with their own issues (which are many).

  18. Nick permalink
    10/10/2014 07:11

    The reason I choose Taiwan over china. Because the Taiwanese are more welcoming. The chinese however are overly nationalistic.

    Let’s say you are in china. And some local causes you grief. Or whatever the situation is. And you end up in a fist fight with whoever the local is. Other chinese nearby will attack the foreigner as well without even questioning who’s fault it is.

    Taiwan however is better than that. If a local and foreigner get into a physical confrontation, local Taiwanese would likely intervene to break up the fight without taking one side or the other. But just diffuse the situation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: