Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Taiwan Facts: Introduction

In 1895, military defeat forced the Qing China to cede Taiwan to Japan, and thus Taiwan became Japanese colony. Taiwan reverted to Chinese control after World War II in 1945. In 1949, however, two million KMT Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a government, following the Chinese Communist victory on the mainland. Over the next five decades, the ruling authorities gradually democratized and incorporated the local population within the governing structure. Throughout this period, the island prospered and became one of East Asia's economic "Tigers."

In 2000, as a shining example of Asian democracy, Taiwan underwent its first peaceful transfer of power from the Nationalist to the Democratic Progressive Party. The country’s dominant political issues, nevertheless, continue to be the relations between Taiwan and China—specifically the question of Taiwan independence or eventual unification. More than 50 years after the Chinese revolution and the communist seizure of power in Beijing, relations between China and Taiwan remain shaky.

Taiwan is the island which has been, for all practical purposes, independent for half a century. However, China still regards Taiwan as a part of its territory that must be re-united with the mainland, and has sanctioned the use of force against Taiwan if it moves toward declaring statehood. It also insists that no state in the international community can form formal ties with both China and Taiwan at the same time. As a result, Taiwan has formal diplomatic relations with only less than two dozen countries and no seat at the UN.

Despite its diplomatic isolation, Taiwan has become one of Asia's big traders. It is considered to have achieved an economic miracle, becoming one of the world's top producers of computer technology. Additionally, Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy with gradually decreasing guidance of investment and foreign trade by government authorities. Moreover, the island runs a trade surplus, and foreign reserves are the world's third largest.

Even though there exist restrictions on cross-strait links, China has overtaken the US to become Taiwan's largest export market and its second-largest source of imports after Japan in the year of 2006. In 2006, strong trade performance pushed Taiwan's GDP growth rate above 4% and unemployment is below 4%.

(Reference sources: The World Factbook and BBC news)


Tim Maddog said...

Don't trust the BBC for facts about Taiwan. Much of what you see there is written from a POV that ignores both historical reality and the opinions of the Taiwanese -- which means that Ma "Eventual Unification" Ying-jeou himself might use many of the very same words as talking points in a campaign speech. Notice how that sentence in the first paragraph about "Over the next five decades" totally skips the four decades of martial law the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) imposed on Taiwan.

Tim Maddog

Dr. T said...

Thank you Mr. Maddog! What you have mentioned is absolutely right. Since the BBC's description is partial, we do point out Taiwan's de facto independence as well as KMT's 50 year long authoritarian rule in our paragraphs. And the reason why we still keep the term of "eventual unification" is to address the fact--namely the diverse views of Taiwan's future within our society and domestic politics. Still, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with us!

Dr. T