Saturday, September 25, 2010

Phone Code Follies

Taiwan's Next Media animations, famous the world over, has a hilarious depiction of the Chinese fishing boat that apparently rammed the Japanese vessels in the Senkakus last week (still from the video).

China's drive to annex Taiwan is a comprehensive and robust assault on all aspects of Taiwan's international identity. The peripatetic Danny Bloom identified another one in a letter to the Taipei Times this week:
I have always wondered why Taiwan was assigned the country code number of 886 for international calls, since the code for China, 86, is so close. It appears that whoever did the assigning of numbers considers Taiwan to be part of China, since no other country in Asia has a code that is anywhere near the code number of another country. I did some research and found out. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) publishes a list of 192 countries on its Web site, and Taiwan is not on the list. Taiwan is considered a part of China (“Taiwan, China — 886”). Can this mistake be corrected someday? Maybe 88 would do fine.
If you search the Net you'll soon find that it was at the insistence of the PRC that the International Telecommunications Union assigned that code to Taiwan to denigrate its status. One site notes:
The Republic of China (TW Taiwan) is officially recognized by the ITU as a part of CN the People's Republic of China. The country code +886 is designated merely as "reserved," without reference to location. However, most calls to Taiwan originating outside of the People's Republic of China are routed using country code +886, as shown in the table above. (The +86 6 numbering space in China's numbering plan is reserved for Taiwan.)
The ITU refers to Taiwan as "Taiwan, China" in its official documents. Just search on its website...
Daily Links:
  • DPP Taipei Mayor candidate Su proposes more bribes for babies. As if there is no budget deficit. There's nothing like buying Taipei voters with southern Taiwan tax dollars...
  • Although China has denied cutting off rare earths to Japan, this fantastic blog post on the Senkakus mess from Ampontan says that the cut off did not occur as an administrative order, but as an order not to load them onto ships for transport to Japan. Which is not covered by international trade regulations. This is the same pattern we have seen in other Chinese behavior -- remember the complaints from Thai fruit producers that Chinese shippers left their stuff to rot on Chinese docks rather than ship it inland to compete with Chinese fruit?
  • The latest Global Views survey has Tsai Ing-wen standing higher in the public trust than a certain President.
  • English translations of the ECFA agreement are here and the annexes are here.
  • Nat Bellocchi points out the inherent biases in local surveys of preferred status for Taiwan.
  • China's surface ships usefully assessed at Jamestown Brief. As an aside, I'd like to call for an international moratorium on the use of wordplay on the name Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
  • China's missile policy toward Taiwan, also from the Jamestown Brief.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


阿牛 said...

Word up on buying Taipei votes with Southern tax dollars. The story the world over, I say.

mike said...

"There's nothing like buying Taipei voters with southern Taiwan tax dollars..."

Yes there is; the very same thing - buying voters with tax dollars - the theft and bribery has moral salience enough on its own without the north-south specifications.

Anonymous said...

Utterly mysterious this ECFA thing.

The preamble makes clear that it's an agreement concerning "Two Parties": SEF and ARATS. No mention of Taiwan or China by any of their designations.

In the articles that follow everthing referring to the condition, activities and intentions of the two parties (eg "liberalization of trade in goods and services between the Two Parties") is therefore referring to SEF and ARATS. And it's not a translation issue.

The annexes specify Taiwan Side and Mainland Side where needed, but the main body of the agreement is uncompromising: it's an agreement between two organizations each employing a few dozen people and apparently flogging billions of dollars worth of stuff to each other.

Ok, I don't know contract law. Maybe this makes perfect sense to trade lawyers and WTO bureaucrats. But to these untrained eyes it looks like a pretend agreement only, a feeble fudge with no footing in the real world.

Anonymous said...

PLAN is like Earl Boykins , USN is Shaq and the Japanese Navy Carmelo Anthony.

Where's the Heat here?


TicoExpat said...

Michael, have you seen the rhetoric in the local talk shows about the dispute between China and Japan? They are shifting the blame on the US, accusing the current Gov't on looking for an excuse to start a war in South East Asia. That's right. They even had two channels with programs explaining how the current conditions were the same as 1930's and hence the US, in the same way "it waited out to join the WWII at the crucial moment", was just waiting for the opportunity to jump at a war, joining forces with Japan.

Oh, brother...

Oh, and apparently Google also identified Kinmen as part of Fukien Province, People's Republic of China, in Google Maps, including its military installations, schools, etc, ran by the PRC.

jerome in vals said...

@Don, who wrote: "it looks like a pretend agreement only, a feeble fudge with no footing in the real world."

Real world? Let’s see:

In early 1950, CKS told his underlings that ROC was dead and that they were a bunch of exiles in a foreign land.

CKS was aware that Formosa was then US occupied Japanese territory, and that he was in the palm of Truman's hand.

Add to this that in summer 1952, then Foreign Minister of an already bygone ROC, George Ye told the LY that even if she so wanted, Japan could not give CKS what she had already renounced in the SFPT.

With boots on the ground, CKS had effective control over Formosa only because the existence of his puppet dictatorship dovetailed with US core interests in the region at the time.

Now, keep in mind that Taiwan (the old ROC per TRA nomenclature) remains an undecided issue pending an international treaty over its ultimate status of sovereignty.

What can the Chinese twins do about Formosa, except to plod down the road to reunification under the Shanghai communiqué and its Chinese version in the 1992 consensus?

What can they do except fudging the issue in the eye of a brainwashed Formosan public and a listless world opinion in the hope to ultimately put the world under notice that the Formosans are Chinese?

While the US remains mum over its responsibility to the Formosans as an entity separate from Taiwan (the old ROC per TRA nomenclature), the only hope left the Formosans is that all involved know what stock US diplomacy puts in declarations, communiqués and other press releases.

Your comment is scratching upon the thorn in the thighs of the Chinese twins.

Dixteel said...

Thank god there is still "tw" on the internt (if during the internt era, Ma is the President, there probably won't be a "tw" domain on the WWW). China appears to be very anal about this type of things. I wond what they are up to now.

Anonymous said...


Some gumshoe research, declassified, turns up this tidbit about the phone code follies you describe above. Call me anon, reporting from Geneva for now: read carefully or carelessly, your pick:

''Most people forget or don't know, but
country codes for long distance calls are actually a fairly new thing.
In the old days, before 1960, long distance calls all over the world were made indirectly by calling
an operator first, who then connected you to the number you wanted
overseas. [The U.S. had a country code number as far back as the 1920s,
according to sources, but most countries did not get assigned codes until
the 1960s and 1970s.]

''Today, the process continues, and new problems arise,
as in the case of Kosovo and Montenegro in Europe. Check their country codes if you wish. Trouble brewing there, too.

''Believe it or not, Taiwan in the 1960s had a calling code of ''866''. [8 - 6 - 6.....]

that number again: [8-*66]. Not 8-*86, but 866. The ROC, as a then-member of the
UN, chose that number
for itself, and the ITU allowed it to keep it. The PRC did not come into play yet....

But..... after the PRC was admitted to the
the UN in 1971 along with the representatives of stupid arrogant and stubborn CKS being expelled because he did not want to even think of the idea of having a ROC seat along side a PRC seat, which was offered to him by the USA side,
and with US recognition of China in 1979, the issue of country codes
became mucho importante for commie China.

Therefore.... it asked the UN to
take 866 away from the ROC and assign the 866 number to one of its own rural provinces, actually taking the
number away from the ROC.

''As a result, for a
number of years, Taiwan had NO overseas calling number and all
incoming calls from overseas had to be run thru pretty phone operators in
their respective countries, interacting with phone operators in Taipei.....''


[these unverifibale but likely true "facts" above spoken by secret agent ''Deep Swiss Chocolate'' in Geneva during a long distance phone call with an choco-op in the 886 area....]