TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Despite having its own constitution, democratically elected government, military, currency, 20 diplomatic allies, population of 23.5 million and territorial boundary encompassing 36,197 square kilometers, Wikipedia editors have decided to demote Taiwan's ranking on the list of countries by GDP to a hyphen for being a "state with limited international recognition."
On Monday (March 19), a user of the social media site Reddit posted a link to Wikipedia's English ranking of countries based on their GDP, titled "List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita." The page currently explains because of its "limited international recognition" Taiwan is not ranked in the chart, but is listed in italics "in sequence by GDP for comparison."
A look at the edit history of the page reveals that Taiwan had as recently as January of this year been ranked 34 under the International Monetary Fund estimates, was not in italics and there was no such categorization of it as an having less international recognition.
Screen capture of Jan. 19 version.
However on Feb. 2, without explanation, Wikipedia editors, took its ranking off the chart and replaced it with a hyphen and added the wording about its limited recognition.
Screen capture of Feb. 2 version.
Since the creation of the page in 2004 (when Taiwan was listed as a country), Taiwan's status as a sovereign country has been changed multiple times on the page, with those in favor of keeping Taiwan on the list saying that it is recognized as a sovereign state by Wikipedia itself. "Taiwan is described as a "sovereign state" on its wiki article. Italics and dash only for non-sovereign entities," wrote EvergreenFir on May 17, 2016.
While those he seek to demote Taiwan's status on the page or remove it entirely argue that Taiwan is not recognized by certain international organizations such as the IMF: "Taiwan's eventual status is undetermined and is certainly not sovereign. In fact, they are considered a "Province of China" by the IMF," wrote Shen333 on May 22, 2016.
Yet, in a textbook case clearly demonstrating that Wikipedia is anything but reliable and consistent, the traditional Chinese version of the page ranks Taiwan 34 and does not subjugate it as a state with limited status.
Screen capture of current traditional Chinese version.
Wikipedia editors make a decision over a disputed item through an amorphous process referred by the organization as "consensus" and looking through the archive of edits, the last time a comment regarding Taiwan's status was made in the edit archive Chrischen0410 on March 15, 2017 wrote, "Taiwan is not recognised by the UN, therefore is not a sovereign state." Another editor, AuH2ORepublican on Feb. 21 of this year returned Taiwan to the list of sates with limited recognition when someone tried to list it as a county and wrote, "Adding Palestine back in; placing in italics and without numbering as in case of other states with limited recognition (Kosovo and Taiwan)."
As there have been no dissenting comments in either case, the "consensus" is that Taiwan is not a country and therefore does not deserve to be ranked on the list of nations, despite having the 34th highest GDP on the planet. Though the Wikipedia entries are theoretically entirely based on input from the public, repeated edits that go against the "consensus" of Wikipedia editors can incur "sanctions" from its administrators.
This year's removal of Taiwan from the ranks of countries by Wikipedia matches the timing of a series of corporate and government websites that have relented to pressure from Beijing to list Taiwan as "province," "area" or part of China.