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Chinese History - Taiwan, Republic of China 台灣 (中華民國; since 1949)

The Republic of China Zhonghua minguo 中華民國 (ROC) on Taiwan is the government on the island of Taiwan. It claims to be the heir of the Republic of China (1912-1949) and had until recently a parliament whose members represent the provinces of Republican China. When Chiang Kai-shek 蔣介石 (Jiang Jieshi) and his National Party Kuo-min-tang (KMT, Guomindang 國民黨) fled mainland China in face of the conquest by the Communists, they expected to be able to reconquer the mainland with US support. Yet facts showed that such a war would not be possible, and there were only minor clashes in the late 1950s on some islands located before the coast of mainland China and belonging to the territory of Taiwan.
In 1971 the Republic of China lost its seat in the United Nations and the Security Council. These seats fell to the People's Republic of China. As a consequence, most states do not acknowledge Taiwan as an independant country but only have para-diplomatic relations with the Taiwanese government in the shape of economic bureaus. This is mostly due to the higher economic potential of the People's Republic, and recently, the Communists' political power.
Taiwan belonged nevertheless to the so-called Tiger States (the others being Korea, Singapore and Malaysia) that experienced an economic miracle in the 1980s. All of them were more or less authoritarian one-party-states, but at least two, namely Korea and Taiwan, have transformed into real democracies.
Party chairman Chiang Kai-shek was more or less succeeded by his son Chiang Ching-kuo 蔣經國 (Jiang Jingguo) who initated a series of democratic reform on the local level. The first free elections for office of president were held in 1996. The most important competitor of the Kuo-min-tang party was the new Democratic Progressive Party Min-chin-tang 民進黨 (Minjindang). In 2000 President Lee Teng-hui 李登輝 (Li Denghui) was succeeded by the first president who was not a member of the Kuo-min-tang, namely Chen Shui-bian 陳水扁 (Shen Shuibian). Chen tended to proclaim the independency of Taiwan as an individual state and thus deviated from the one-China principle held upright by the Kuo-min-tang as well as the People's Republic of China. The latter decided to issue the anti-secession law that allows the use of military force to punish "secessive" parts of "China". Chen Shui-bian amended the constitution and abolished the National Assembly that still included representants of the mainland China provinces.
Corruption among the presidential family was one of the reasons for the DPP's failure in the presidential elections in 2008, when Ma Ying-jeou, candidate of the KMT, won the office of president and began a policy of avoiding conflicts about Taiwanese independence. The People's Republic that in the meantime had accumulated huge amounts of foreign reserves, attracts Taiwanese investors to the mainland and its side begins buying out Taiwanese enterprises, as a new strategy to conquer the island.


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© 2000 ff · Ulrich Theobald · Mail