As Taiwan celebrates its National Day on 10 October, let us look at its history, its relations with China and its presence in the 21st Century.
Crux of the Matter
Taiwan is an island separated from China by a 150 km strait.
Taiwan Before World War II
- Taiwan was ruled by Qing Dynasty of China till 1895.
- 1895: The First Sino-Japanese War occurred. Japan defeated China, with Taiwan being ceded to Japanese control.
- 1911: Uprising started against the Qing dynasty.
- 1912: The Qing dynasty was removed and the ‘Republic of China’ (RoC) was established. China went under the rule of the Nationalist party (Kuomintang), which was later transformed into Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) in 1919.
Taiwan After WW II
- Japan surrendered at the end of World War 2, after which the Allied forces put Taiwan under the control of China, which was ruled by the KMT (Nationalist Party).
- 1949: Civil war in China, going since the 1930s, ended. Communist Party of China (CPC), under Mao Zedong, won the war and declared a People’s Republic of China (PRC).
- KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek took exile in Taiwan along with 2 million of his soldiers. He formed a Government there and claimed itself the official Government of China. Meanwhile, the CPC continued its rule in China.
- 1971: The United Nations (UN) officially recognized the Communist Party of China as the official representative, and stopped recognising Taiwan. Several countries shifted their embassies to Beijing and considered Taiwan as Chinese territory.
Taiwan embarked on economic development through industrialization labelled as “Taiwan miracle”. It proved successful as its Gross National Product (GNP) grew by 360% in the period 1965 – 1986, while its Global Industrial Production output grew by 680% in the same period.
- China provided a “peaceful reunification” option to Taiwan in 1980s. A ‘1 country, 2 systems’ was offered to grant Taiwan autonomy while uniting it with China, which Taiwan did not accept.
- 1988: Lee Teng-Hui became the first President of Taiwan born in the country.
- 1996: First elections occurred in Taiwan. China initiated “missile tests” amidst elections, against which the US sailed aircraft carriers to protect Taiwanese elections.
- 2000: Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian promised to not declare independence if China did not attack it and let it continue with its autonomy.
Taiwan In 21st Century
- 2006: Taiwan removed the National Unification Council (to manage unification with China), which drew strong criticism from the mainland.
Relations between Taiwan and China improved in the following years.
- 2008: China sent 2 giant pandas to Taiwan as gifts.
- 2010: Both countries signed ‘Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement (ECFA)’, the most significant pact in their history.
- 2016: Tsai Ing-wen, a pro-independence candidate of the Democratic Progressive Party, became the President of Taiwan. China broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan as Tsai didn’t acknowledge “one China”.
- In the same year, US President Donald Trump broke decades old protocol and talked to Taiwanese President on phone.
- January 2020: Tsai claimed in January 2020 that “we don’t have a need to declare ourselves an independent state [as] we are an independent country already and we call ourselves the Republic of China, Taiwan”.
Chinese aggression has prompted several nations to strengthen their ties with Taiwan.
France discussed supplying upgrade to the French warships Taiwan bought in 1991 in May 2020 and told China to focus on the Covid-19 pandemic when it criticized the move. US put a demand to include Taiwan in the UN in May 2020 as Taiwan successfully managed the Covid-19 pandemic, with 524 total cases and 7 deaths as of 8 October.
Did you know that the Chinese embassy in India has written a letter to Indian media to not refer to Taiwan as a nation or its leader as the President after several Indian newspapers featured an ad by the Taiwanese government ahead of Taiwan National Day, which featured President Tsai Ing-wen with a slogan “Taiwan and India are natural partners”? Quench your curiosity here: Taiwan National Day: China Interferes In Indian Media Reporting
- The Blue Sky with a White Sun serves as the national emblem of the Republic of China. In the “Blue Sky with a White Sun” symbol, the twelve rays of the white Sun represent the twelve months and the twelve traditional Chinese hours.
- Deng Xiaoping was a Chinese politician who was the paramount leader of the People’s Republic of China from 1978 until 1989. The system of “one country, two systems” was formulated by Deng himself.
- The Taiwan consensus is a Taiwanese political term, which was coined in 2011 by Tsai Ing-wen, and is intended to replace the “1992 consensus”. The “1992 consensus” is based on the “One-China policy”, which is a policy asserting that there is only one sovereign state under the name China.
- Al Jazeera – Timeline: Taiwan-China relations since 1949
- WION – Get lost, says Taiwan after Chinese mission asks Indian media to follow ‘One-China’ policy
- Hindustan Times – China says it doesn’t recognise ‘illegal’ UT Ladakh, denies it’s building military bases near LAC
- Reuters – Timeline: Taiwan’s road to democracy
- The Guardian – Tsai Ing-wen says China must ‘face reality’ of Taiwan’s independence
- BBC – Taiwan profile – Timeline