I have seen a certain factions of Taiwan independence supporters claiming that Taiwan's current status is "de facto independence" and only needs to formally declare independence to make its status "de jure independence".

I looked up Oppenheim's International Law (Chinese version) and could not find the two terms. But a search on Google did get some results talking about the two terms.

Are "de facto independence" and "de jure independence" really international law terms?

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    I just wanted to let you know I deleted my answer so I could rewrite it again to answer your latest questions, which are important ones. This may take a few hours, since I am busy with other things this morning.
    – Just a guy
    Dec 4, 2019 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


"De Jure" and "De Facto" are Latin adjectives to describe a situation that legally might be different than how everyone actually practices it. In the case of independence, Taiwan is "De Facto" independent as it's highest level of government is not answerable to any other government (in this case, the government of mainland China) but it would not be "De Jure" independent because it's not a recognized independent nation (because doing so causes problems with main land China).

By Law, Taiwan is territory governered by the same government as Mainland China, but because of the actual situation of Taiwan having powerful friends that China does not want to go to war with and those friends don't want to start a war with China either, it is not De Facto territory of China.

De Jure means "in law" while De Facto means "in fact"

  • Thanks. I know the meanings of "De Jure" and "De Facto". What I'm trying to figure out is whether “de facto independence” and “de jure independence” are international law terms or not.
    – Ian Y.
    Dec 4, 2019 at 14:45
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    Not really... it's more that "De Facto" and "De Jure" are legal adjectives that modify independence which is a more international legal term. Typically it's more likely to call nations "recognized" or "Unrecognized" states, when the territory might be self-governed but the question of nation status is discussed.
    – hszmv
    Dec 4, 2019 at 15:17
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    When you say “by law” you mean by the law of mainland China. There is not an international universal law that says Taiwan is governed by the same government as mainland China. From Wikipedia - “ The Republic of China (ROC), referred to by many states as "Taiwan", is recognised by 14 out of 193 United Nations member states, as well as the Holy See.” Dec 4, 2019 at 15:51
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    @GeorgeWhite Bingo! I would just add that there is no "universal international law" that says anything. This is why many people say either: a) there is no such thing as international law; or, b) International law is what people who do international law do. It is also why it is so hard (maybe impossible) to answer questions like this one to everyone's satisfaction.
    – Just a guy
    Dec 4, 2019 at 18:03
  • @GeorgeWhite: Actually, the states that recognize the ROC/Taiwan do agree that it's governed by the same government as mainland China... because they don't recognize the PRC's sovereignty over mainland China, and regard the ROC as the proper government of the whole shebang.
    – Vikki
    Feb 22, 2022 at 20:46

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