|Passport difference: ROC Taiwan vs Hong Kong, China|
By Asia Pop Culture
Financial advisory firm Arton Capital releases a Passport Power Rank study every year on the strength of the world's passports based on the number of countries citizens can travel to without the hassle of applying for a visa. Germany and Singapore were ranked number one as the most powerful passports in 2017. Only three Asian nations were in the top 3 spots in 2017 -- Singapore, South Korea, and Japan.
Mapped: The world's most powerful passports
(Figures on the map below are for the 2016 rankings and will be updated for 2017 soon)
Singapore ties with Germany at number one where citizens may travel visa-free to a total of 159 countries or destinations. South Korea tied with Sweden for the 2nd place with visa-free access to a total of 158 countries. Japan, along with United States, Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, Spain, and Norway ranked number 3 with 157 visa-free countries. Malaysia ranked number five along with Canada and Ireland.
Taiwan, the Republic of China (R.O.C.) was in the 32nd place with access to 120 visa-free countries. In contrast, China's passport failed miserably in this study. China came in at 72th place with a whopping 57 visa-free countries, not even half as "powerful" as Taiwan's passport.
Many people probably do not even realize Taiwan has its own passport, and that Taiwan citizens do not hold a Chinese (Beijing) passport (Taiwan government does recognize dual-citizenship, so many citizens could hold more than one passport).
Taiwan's ranking, though seemingly unimpressive, was no small feat considering Taiwan is probably the most lonely island on this planet earth. Beijing has tightened the screw on Taiwan to diminish the island's global standing since last year after the President Tsai's independence-leaning government refused to endorse the 1992 One-China consensus. Today, only 20 countries (tiny ones) in the world maintain formal diplomatic relationship with Taiwan.
In other words, while only 20 nations recognize the sovereignty of Taiwan, yet 120 countries in total not only recognize and accept Taiwan's passport, but also grant visa-waiver status to everyone holding a Taiwan passport. From this perspective, Taiwan passport power rank should deserve a top ranking.
Taiwan was booted out of the United Nations in 1971, and then the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979. Taiwanese, instead of feeling despaired, have shifted their thinking to emphasize "informal, substantive relationships over formal diplomatic partnerships."
Taiwan maintains strong relations and trade agreements with many large economies in the world. For example, Taiwan is Australia's seventh largest customer for exports sans a formal diplomatic relation. This latest Passport Power Rank is essentially an affirmation of Taiwan's true international status regardless of Beijing's effort and manipulation.
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