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Act 3: Shipping around China – In Which Case is Taiwan a Province?


This post is a continuation of “A Logistical Nightmare in Three Acts Part 2”.

Of course the other minor question that arose from this whole process is Taiwan. Now, as you probably are aware if you have read anything about China, the status of Taiwan is a bit of a delicate matter. Ask a mainlander and chances are they will say Taiwan belongs to the mainland; ask a Taiwanese the answer will probably differ quite substantially. Now I will not go into too much detail about this question here; suffice it to say that this makes things such as Taobao shopping and shipping a little iffy. While the store we were buying from did ship to Taiwan, the delivery fee is three times higher than to any location in China. Furthermore, my Taiwanese friend had a disturbing experience where an item took a grand total of three months to be delivered to her from the mainland. One cannot help but wonder if it went on a trip through the entire country before finally flying over the sea and into the correct inbox.

Granted, the same thing happened with a number of packages sent by my mother via regular post from Germany to China; they generally tend to take at least a month until they arrive. The dubious quality of the Chinese post, though, was never illustrated better than when I had to send a letter to Wales. I mean, you have probably heard of Wales, right? Well, my local post office looked at me with quizzical eyes and then proceeded to open a shockingly large and heavy book, in which apparently all the countries in the world the Chinese post can ship to are listed. Behold, no Wales. “I think I will just write Ireland”, says the geographically challenged postal worker. I mean, I am sorry, when it comes to geography, I always thought I was as ignorant as they come. Show me a world map and I hardly know which way is up. Ironically, I know much more about China’s geographical landscape than about my own countries of origin. But as an employee of an institution that makes its living off of sending things from one place and possibly country to another you would hope that Geography 101 is part of the general training. Apparently not. But then really all this anecdote illustrates is how isolated China still is in the grand scheme of things; after all Nanjing calls itself a 1.5 tier city, quickly catching up to Beijing and Shanghai, and yet it took a lot of convincing that sending a letter intended for Wales to Ireland is really not a good idea.

I am happy to say that since I insisted that we write Wales, UK on the letter, it did arrive in the end. Returning to the Taiwanese debacle, the vendor suggested we opt for pay on arrival for the package, since in China, if the service has not yet been paid for the motivation to actually deliver the service is infinitely higher. In the end the package did arrive in Taiwan after only three working days, what a success story for the Chinese post. Hurray!

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6 thoughts on “Act 3: Shipping around China – In Which Case is Taiwan a Province?”

  1. All I can think of is how irate a Welshman or an Irishman would be upon hearing that they are one and the same. Did you tell the employee that it would be tantamount to addressing a package destined for China as “Taiwan?”

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  2. Chinese name for UK, Britain, England are the same, which is comprised of a “ying” sounding character that derived from England and a character meaning “nation, country, or realm”. So, most Chinese people really just don’t have know UK is consisted of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. You should have just told the postal worker you want it send to Yingguo. I’m sure the British would sort it out base on the full mailing address in English.

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    1. Hello Chuck, I can only partly agree with you on this one – yes 英国 can refer to UK, Britain and England, however within the UK each country still has their own name 苏格兰 for Scotland 北爱尔兰 for Northern Ireland and 威尔士 for Wales (and the lesser used 英格兰 for England). Now had the letter been going to Scotland or Northern Ireland, I am pretty certain the postal office would have known – Scotland is rather famous. It’s just poor Wales doesn’t seem to have reached that level yet in its own right. You are right with your solution, that is exactly what I did, send it to the UK and rely on the English to sort it out.

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  3. My husband is Taiwanese, and his Taiwanese company that went to Shanghai – with speaking, it is not considered International but when it comes to facts and actual paperwork, they have no choice but to call it international. My husband shipped clothes back to Taiwan from Shanghai, they couldn’t put China or the word province because it would end up shipping back to China. Hahaha. He used the slowest method…ship..and it took about two weeks.

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