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Should "state" be capitalized when it refers to a national government? I am editing documents about censorship written by native Chinese and they frequently use the term "the State" to refer to the Chinese government as a whole. Not sure which way it should be written.

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  • It's an issue for a style manual. Consider your audience. In general, it would not be capitalized.
    – Xanne
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 22:42

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Introductory comment: Referring to a style manual just brings the discussion back here: we're supposed to be presenting proper style; indeed, we take pride in showing the reason(s) for a style being proper.

To the Question (A rule and an example): Most of the rules for capitalization I have been taught (or harangued about) propose that, when referring to a specific State (e.g., China), the word "State" acts as if it is a stand-in or place-holder for the name of the State. Thus, if "China" rates capitalization, then "State" does also. Where the discussion is about some abstract government, then "state" would be appropriate.

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