Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a de facto independent entity in East Asia. Its neighbours include the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to the west, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. Taiwan is the most populous state and largest economy that is not a member of the United Nations. The PRC has consistently claimed sovereignty over Taiwan and asserted the ROC is no longer in legitimate existence. Under its One-China Policy, the PRC refuses diplomatic relations with any country that recognises the ROC. Today, 20 countries maintain official ties with the ROC, but many other states maintain unofficial ties through representative offices and institutions that function as de facto embassies and consulates. Although Taiwan is fully self-governing, most international organisations in which the PRC participates either refuse to grant membership to Taiwan or allow it to participate only as a non-state actor. Internally, the major division in politics is between the aspirations of eventual Chinese unification or Taiwanese independence, though both sides have moderated their positions to broaden their appeal. The People’s Republic of China has threatened the use of military force in response to any formal declaration of independence by Taiwan or if PRC leaders decide that peaceful unification is no longer possible. The PRC and ROC standoff date back from the Chinese Civil War, First Taiwan Strait Crisis, Second Taiwan Strait Crisis and Third Taiwan Strait Crisis.
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