Thursday, December 18, 2008

US Postal Service Flouts US Policy, Annexes Taiwan to China

My acutely intelligent and highly organized friend Andrew K., who also possesses the manic determination of a Formosan Dog on the hunt, has recently been tracking the tale of the US Postal Service's apparent stamping out packages to Taiwan with "province of China" at its Oakland international mail portal. Drew sent along these photos for me, and provided the discussion:



1. The address was applied in Maryland by Snapfish with the Country designation, "TW=Taiwan". This is the standard Country Code suggested by the USPS.[if you click on the image to the right, you can see the enlarged pic which shows that the USPS label is clearly applied over the Snapfish label, which simply says "TW=Taiwan" -- MT]

2. Snapfish applied the original USPS First Class label in their mailing facility with the designation, "TW=Taiwan". [As is clear in the photo! -- MT]

3. A label which reads, "Taiwan, Province of China" was applied over the original Snapfish label. The new label reads, "Oakland, CA Permit 2323", in the upper right hand corner. Oakland is the site of a major USPS International Service Facility (ISF), which was opened in 2000. Why would the Snapfish mailing facility in Maryland apply an Oakland CA sticker? [Snapfish uses TW = Taiwan as their order form clearly shows. -- MT]

4. The other screen captures were taken yesterday from USPS related websites and show, "Taiwan, Province of China" is still alive and well at the USPS.

Possible Conclusions:

A: Snapfish has a separate mailing facility in Oakland CA that deemed it necessary to issue a second INTERNATIONAL label over the one applied by the company in Maryland. The Oakland facility uses a different country code generator from the rest of the company.

B: There may be sections within the USPS than have not modified their software to conform with the 2006 country code change to "Taiwan". This incongruity may have caused this particular package, and possibly others, to be inadvertently mislabeled and the situation can be rectified by locating the troubled software or machinery within the USPS.

C: The USPS has made a deliberate change to their policy in regard to Taiwan's Country Code in an effort to appease a growing number of customers who are from the PRC or Chinese Nationalists, who consider Taiwan to be a "Province of China". This policy may be localized to areas with higher volumes of Chinese mail traffic.

D: A error was made by an employee or employees of the USPS Oakland facility in their selection of an out dated country code for Taiwan. This problem may be remedied by ensuring the former "Province of China" code is completely deleted from the systems within the USPS.

E: A unilateral decision was made by an employee or employees at the USPS Oakland facility to Change Taiwan's Country Code to "Taiwan, Province of China". This may be an act to reflect the employee's personal views against the existing policy set by the USPS and it may be an isolated act that may not be widely practiced within the USPS system.


a. Who applied the label, "Taiwan, Province of China"?

b. How was the label generated? Was it generated in a USPS facility, from a Web kit provided by the USPS or from Private postage vendor?

c. Why was the label issued in Oakland when the original label was addressed in Maryland?

d. Could an error have occurred in the USPS system? If so, how could it have occurred and how can it be avoided?

e. Why are the different USPS related websites incongruent in their designation for Taiwan?

f. Who has authorization to change the country codes?


US officials deny that this is a USPS problem.

Let me add this simple fact: the policy of the US government is, and has been for the last five decades, that the status of Taiwan is undetermined. As a government entity, USPS should not be flouting official policy.


NONE said...

According to Sec-15 of the TRA:

SEC. 15. For purposes of this Act-
(1) the term ''laws of the United States'' includes any statute, rule, regulation, ordinance, order, or judicial rule of decision of the United States or any political subdivision thereof; and
(2) the term "Taiwan" includes, as the context may require, the islands of Taiwan and the Pescadores, the people on those islands, corporations and other entities and associations created or organized under the laws applied on those islands, and the governing authorities on Taiwan recognized by the United States as the Republic of China prior to January 1, 1979, and any successor governing authorities (including political subdivisions, agencies, and instrumentalities thereof)."

The officials research into this matter consisted entirely of checking on the USPS International Shipping selection on the USPS website.

They never addressed the problems highlighted in this post.

Maybe they consider this a mountain of a mole hill... but this should not be allowed. Furthermore, they should not be providing a web tool kit with "Province of China" either.

I hope AIT and the USPS can look into this matter a little closer.

Anonymous said...

I hope you find out how this label was applied.

If it is a case of PRC citizens in the US pressuring the US postal service, or of rogue US postal employees from the PRC, it is absolutely disgusting and should not be tolerated.

If PRC citizens want to do this kind of crap in their own country then fine. However, exporting this crap to the west is not fine at all.

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael, this is to address Andrew's Point #4: Since you say that the country code was changed to Taiwan in 2006, therefore I'm guessing that the Oakland USPS facility may have recently updated its software (possibly written by a Chinese company) and so was unaware of this issue.

Of course, this doesn't explain the heavy-handedness of the postal worker who was "kind" enough to "correct" the mistake. He/she should have laxed a little and just let things be. Unfortunately, it's no crime to bring nationalism to the workplace. Nationalism does add some dignity to the job, don't you agree? (^_^)

And yes, I suspect this mischief to be the work of a second-generation Chinese American; or perhaps a Chinophile.

Unknown said...

Every thinking human being should write "Taiwan Republic" either on the "To:" section of mail directed to the island, or on the return address, when sent from the island. This is what I certainly do on occcasion!

Dixteel said...

Some how I sense a conspiracy behind this...why is it so essential to add "Province of China" on mailing address? Does it add to the precision or does it clarify where it should be send? I don't think those are the reasons. Hopefully someone can discover the truth behind this.

skiingkow said...

For the record,

Canada post has Taiwan as a country.

Richard said...

On topic, but on a different area. I was checking out Google Analytics' Map Overlay function that shows where your visitors (to your blog) come from. As I hovered over Taiwan, China was also highlighted. I then shot off an email asking what that was all about... their response:


Hello xxx,

Thank you for your email. I understand you are concerned about China
getting highlighted when you hover over Taiwan. Thanks for your inquiry
about the maps feature in Google Analytics. I would like to tell you that
we use Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications (M49) adopted by
the United Nations Statistics Division to determine borders and
continental classifications. To see how the United Nations classifies
geographic regions, visit . We understand that
borders change over time and we make every effort to reflect the changes
periodically within the product. Political borders within the Google
Analytics maps are meant to help our users understand where their visitors
are coming from and should be considered as a general guideline. They in
no way represent a political opinion or position.


Since USPS is an agency of the U.S., they should adhere to U.S. policy and not some independent policy of their own, nor international policy, which is in the case of Google.

Anonymous said...

The package obviously reached its proper destination so what's the problem?

With all the wars, starvation, and turmoil in the world, does it really make any practical difference whether the USPS or even the USA, for that matter, thinks Taiwan is a Chinese province or not? If the USPS website changed Taiwan to a province of Mexico, what practical effect would that have on the lives of Taiwanese?

Michael Turton said...

If the USPS website changed Taiwan to a province of Mexico, what practical effect would that have on the lives of Taiwanese?

On Mexico, none. But "province of China" has serious practical effects.

It's a simple problem, easily solved, not like world hunger.


Anonymous said...

Michael, if Taiwan were to become a province of Mexico, then we should all be putting tacos in our congees, instead of 油條。Hmmm, I wonder how that would taste? I ought to try it soon. Winter has come.

Wish you peeps a nice weekend.

Anonymous said...

One thing I think is interesting about this is that TECRO (the symbolic gate keeper of the old ROC sovereignty over all of China) has been very forthcoming and helpful. On the contrary, the US Government (AIT) has not.

At this point, AIT has failed to acknowledge the discrepancies between the vendor's address and the one stamped in Oakland.

If it is the case, as some others have speculated, that employees in the USPS (US Government) are making/breaking US policy due to their allegiance to another country, this is potentially a very serious matter.

Anonymous said...

The USPS main website lists Taiwan as simply Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

Taiwan, Province of China is an ISO standard in software. In Japan, Taiwanese can choose between PRC or China for their country on their documents, and many choose China over PRC. So in this case, simply saying "Taiwan, China" should be enough, and the "Province of" is a bit redundant.

J. Michael Cole 寇謐將 said...


As I pointed out in a recent posting on my site, I had a similar encounter with Royal Bank of Canada, which used the designation PROVINCE OF TAIWAN in its correspondence.

However, I just received an order from (which uses USPS for deliveries) and my address was Neihu, TAIWAN, no 'PROVINCE OF CHIHA.'

It would seem, therefore, that human intervention or policies at the office level — rather than at company/state/agency — is the reason for this problem.

Dixteel said...

man, anon, you don't get the point do you?

The problem is with all the war, starvation, turmoil, and shoes thrown at the US president, why did USPS bother to add "Province of China"? That's the real question.

Tommy said...

"If the USPS website changed Taiwan to a province of Mexico, what practical effect would that have on the lives of Taiwanese?"

Um... a lot, as mail would probably get sent to Tiajuana. ;)

Seriously, do you really mean to say that identity as well as international perception of where borders lie has no effect on a country or the people who live there? If I send a letter to the Tibetan Republic, do you really think the mail is going to make its merry way along without anyone taking offense? Please!

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:32,

You just did the exact amount of fact finding AIT did.

This just underscores why there is a problem. Somewhere else along the way someone made the change. Why If it is not supposed to happen?

Anonymous said...

With all the wars, starvation, and turmoil in the world, does it really make any practical difference whether the USPS or even the USA, for that matter, thinks Taiwan is a Chinese province or not? If the USPS website changed Taiwan to a province of Mexico, what practical effect would that have on the lives of Taiwanese?

For several long years, while people were being slaughtered, the European Union, NATO, the UN, etc. refused to intervene in the conflict between Serbia and Bosnia because it was considered a civil war. Had this not been the case, intervention would have happened much more quickly to preserve the principle of the inviolability of national borders in Europe.

Whether hostile actions by China against Taiwan are perceived as "domestic" or "international" could very well determine when and how strongly strong the rest of world reacts, or if they react at all.

If the hostile action is military, the perception of that action as domestic or international will determine how much genocide will be needed to prompt the civilized world to do something.

Tim Maddog said...

To those who imagine that there are more "innocent" reasons for this (or who simply wish to fool others into believing so), I wish to point out another example of a recent change regarding Taiwan's designation.

On Talking Show (大話新聞) earlier tonight (the Friday, December 19, 2008 show), host Cheng Hung-yi (鄭弘儀) read a letter from a viewer whose adult daughter wasn't allowed to board an AeroMéxico flight in Peru. She was told it was because she didn't have a Mexican visa (she had a stop there along the way home), and that because she was from "China Taiwan" -- as they put it -- she needed one. Previously, a Mexican visa was not needed, but airline staff said that this change had come into being just last month, and that "China Taiwan" was the airline's new designation for Taiwan.

The discussion of the above begins at the 1:56 mark in this video

This crap doesn't originate with the ISO's "software standards." It has all been brought to you by the bullies in Beijing -- completely unimpeded by the feckless Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

Tim Maddog

Anonymous said...

Kinda irrelevent but it's the same kind of crap with the entertainment industry.

I recently got "The Dark Knight" blue ray and try to register the BD-Live service* which was offered by the blue ray. However, the registration also spew the same kind of crap as the USPS...motherf....

I already sent the email to Warner Bro but this is getting really distasful. Adding "a province of PRC" next to Taiwan on the Country/Region selection is simply retarded propoganda whichever angle you look at it. It really looks like some retarded kid spit on other kid's cookies and yell "those are mine". You can simply exclude Taiwan from the selection (Hell, this would be more effective propoganda compare to that) or just leave it as Taiwan. Fuck, even Taiwan/ROC is good enough.

*BD Live is basically audio comment sharing services, which means people can play the movie which other people's commentary.

Anonymous said...



just saw this, amazing nerve, for US PO to call Taiwan on stamp as Province of China....omigod! funny and sad at same time

News now about Taiwan's country code calling number 886, why it is so similar to CHINA's 86? letter in Taipei Times on Wednesday to get things going, research continues, Geneva tells me that the 886 code was reqesuted by CHINA for Taiwan, and the ITU, International Telecommunications Union of the UN, yes, a UN agency, the ITU assigned 886 for Taiwan AT CHINA'S REQUEST, so be simuilar to china;s 86 code.... and of course, nothing Taiwan could do because not member of UN due to CKS' refusing to take a separate seat alongside PRC back in the day. Dumb CKS, he messed up big time for Taiwan, but he didn't care did he? he was only here for a short stay. anywys, spoke with lawyer today in Genvea at ITU and he said they aint much that can be done......but the truth is that Taqiwanh's code 886 was not requested by Taiwan but by China and Taiwan accepted it. The date of this assigning and Taiwan's accepotance of it i still don't know? 1953? 1971? 2006? anybody know when the 886 was first ass8igned to ROC at PRV's request?

-- danny b.