China's regime has long laid claim to Taiwan, an independent island founded by those fleeing communism. Journalist Jeryl Bier on Friday morning noticed Twitter's discrepancy, which mirrors Chinese Communist Party talking points. The Washington Free Beacon confirmed the pattern and estimated that between four and five tweets with the word China show up for every one that references Taiwan.
A Twitter spokesman said the company was "looking into" the pattern but did not give further explanation. It is not clear whether Twitter is A/B testing the search change on some users, as the search algorithm holds for some Twitter accounts but not for others. Bier noted that the pattern works in both directions: Searches for China show some tweets with the word Taiwan.
The pattern suggests that Twitter maintains a policy of linking the two countries in search, perhaps as a way to placate the Chinese Communist Party. The party says that Taiwan is part of China and has escalated its rhetoric regarding a potential invasion.