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The Republic of China (ROC), commonly known as Taiwan, is a state in East Asia that has transformed from a single-party state with full global recognition and jurisdiction over Chinamarker into a democratic state with limited international recognition and jurisdiction only over Taiwanmarker and minor islands, though it enjoys de facto relations with many other states. Before 1949 it was the internationally recognized government of China, and as such was a founding member of the United Nations and one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, until being replaced by the People's Republic of Chinamarker in 1971.

Established in 1912, the Republic of China encompassed much of mainland China and Mongoliamarker. At the end of World War II, with the surrender of Japan, the Republic of China added the island groups of Taiwan and Penghumarker to its jurisdiction. When the Kuomintang (KMT), the Chinese Nationalist Party, lost the civil war to the Communist Party in 1949, the ROC's government relocated to Taiwan and established Taipeimarker as its temporary capital (also called the "wartime capital" by Chiang Kai-shek); while the Communists founded the People's Republic of Chinamarker (PRC) in mainland China. Taiwan, together with Penghu, Kinmenmarker, Matsumarker, and other minor islands then became the extent of the Republic of China's authority. Although its jurisdiction only covers this area, during the early Cold War the ROC was recognized by many Western nations and the United Nations as the sole legitimate government of China.

Constitutionally, the ROC has not relinquished its claim as the legitimate government of all China although in practice it does not actively pursue these claims. The political parties of the ROC often have radically different views regarding the sovereignty of Taiwan. Both former Presidents Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian have held the view that it is a sovereign and independent country separate from mainland China and there is no need for a formal declaration of independence. President Ma Ying-jeou has expressed the view that the ROC is a sovereign and independent country that includes both Taiwan and mainland China.

The ROC is a democracy with a semi-presidential system and universal suffrage. The president serves as the head of state and the Legislative Yuan serves as the legislative body. One of the Four Asian Tigers, Taiwan is the 26th-largest economy in the world. Its technology industry plays a key role in the global economy. The ROC is ranked high in terms of freedom of the press, health care, public education, and economic freedom, among others.


The official name of the state is "Republic of China"; it has also been known under various names throughout its existence. Shortly after the ROC's establishment in 1912, while it was still located on the Asian mainland, the government used the abbreviation "China" ("Zhongguó") to refer to itself, for instance during the Olympic Games or at the United Nations. During the 1950s and 1960s, it was common to refer to it as "Nationalist China" to differentiate it from the "Communist China" on the Asian mainland. The ROC also called itself "Free China" in an attempt to portray the PRC as an illegitimate government. At the UN, it was present under the name "China" until it lost its seat to the People's Republic of China. Since then, the name "China" has been commonly used to refer only to the People's Republic of China.

Over subsequent decades, the Republic of China has been commonly known as "Taiwan", which comes from Tayuan or Tayoan in the Siraya languagemarker. It is also often informally referred to as the "State of Taiwan". The Republic of China participates in international forums and organizations under the politically neutral name "Chinese Taipei"; for instance it is the name under which it competes at the Olympic Games since 1979, and its name as an observer at the World Health Organization.


The Republic of China was established in 1911, replacing the Qing Dynastymarker and ending over two thousand years of imperial rule in China. It is the oldest surviving republic in East Asia. The Republic of China on mainland China went through periods of warlordism, Japanese invasion, and civil war between the Kuomintang and the Communists. The Republic of China on Taiwan has experienced rapid economic growth and industrialization, and democratization.

Starting in 1928, the Republic of China was ruled by the Kuomintang as an authoritarian one-party state. In the 1950s and 1960s, the KMT went through wide restructuring and decreased corruption and implemented land reform. There followed a period of great economic growth, the Republic of China became one of the Four Asian Tigers, despite the constant threat of war and civil unrest. In the 1980s and 1990s the government peacefully transitioned to a democratic system, with the first direct presidential election in 1996 and the 2000 election of Chen Shui-bian, the first non-KMT after 1949 to become President of the Republic of China. The KMT regained presidency and increased its majority in the legislature in the 2008 presidential and legislative elections.

Founding (1911–1927)

In 1911, after over two thousand years of imperial rule, a republic was established in China and the monarchy overthrown by a group of revolutionaries. The Qingmarker government, having just experienced a century of instability, suffered from both internal rebellion and foreign imperialism. The Neo-Confucian principles that had, to that time, sustained the dynastic system were now called into question, and a loss of cultural self-confidence was blamed for a total of 40 million Chinese consumers of opium by 1890 (roughly 10% of the population). By the time of its defeat by an expeditionary force led by the world's major powers in 1900 during the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion, the Qing government was already in its final throes, with only the lack of an alternative regime in sight prolonging its existence until 1912.

The establishment of Republican China developed out of the Wuchang Uprising against the Qing on 10 October 1911. That date is now celebrated annually as the ROC's national day, also known as the 'Double Ten Day'. On1 January 1912, Sun Yat-sen officially proclaimed the establishment of the Republic of China, and became provisional president. As part of the agreement to have the last emperor Puyi abdicate, Yuan Shikai was officially elected president in 1913. However, Yuan dissolved the ruling Kuomintang party, ignored the provisional Constitution by asserting presidential power, and ultimately declared himself Emperor of China in 1915.

Yuan's supporters deserted him, and many provinces declared independence and became warlord states. Yuan Shikai gave up on becoming Emperor in 1916 and died of natural causes shortly after. Thus devoid of a strong, unified government, China thrust into a decade of warlordism. Sun Yat-sen, forced into exile, returned to Guangdongmarker province with the help of southern warlords in 1917 and 1920, and set up successive rival governments. Sun re-established the KMT in October, 1919.

The Beiyang government in Beijing struggled to hold on to power. An open and wide-ranging debate evolved regarding how China should confront the West. In 1919, a student protest against the weak response of China to the Treaty of Versailles led to a nationwide uprising known as the May Fourth Movement. These demonstrations helped reinforce the idea of a republican revolution in China.

In general, Chinese anarchism, specifically anarchist communism, had been a prominent form of revolutionary socialism. Following the Russian Revolution, the influence of Marxism spread and became more popular. Li Dazhao and Chen Duxiu led the Marxist-Leninist movement in the beginning.

Tutelage and World War II (1927–1945)

After Sun's death in March 1925, Chiang Kai-shek became the leader of the KMT. Chiang had led the successful Northern Expedition which, with the help of the Soviet Unionmarker, defeated the warlords and nominally united China under the KMT. However, Chiang soon dismissed his Soviet advisors, and purged the Communists and leftists from the KMT, leading to the Chinese Civil War. Chiang Kai-shek pushed the Communists into the interior as he sought to destroy them. The Nationalist government was founded in Nankingmarker in 1927.. By 1928, Chiang's army finally overturned the Beiyang government and unified the entire nation, at least nominally.

According to Sun Yat-sen's theory, the KMT was to rebuilt China in three phases: a phase of military rule through which the KMT would take over power and reunite China by force; a phase of political tutelage; and finally a constitutional democratic phase. In 1930, the Nationalists, having taken over the power, started the second phase, and promulgated a provisional constitution for the political tutelage period and began the period of so-called "tutelage". They were criticized by the Communist and the West as totalitarianism but claimed they were attempting to make to establish a modern democratic society. Among others, they have created the Academia Sinica, the Bank of China, and other agencies. In 1932, China sent a team for the first time to the Olympic Games. Historians argue that establishing a democracy in China at that time was not possible due to various factors, including the threat from Communism, corruption within the government, the failure of democracies in Europe and the increased power of Chiang and the military over the government. The Nationalist government wrote a draft of the constitution in 5 May 1936.

Stability was interrupted by the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, with hostilities continuing through the Second Sino-Japanese War, part of World War II, from 1937 to 1945. The government of the Republic of China retreated from Nanking to Chongqingmarker. In 1945, after the war of eight years, Japan surrendered and the Republic of China, under the name "China", became one of the founding members of the United Nations. The government returned to Nanking in 1946.

After World War II (1945–1949)

Civil war in Manchuria, 1946
After the defeat of Japanmarker during World War II, Taiwan was surrendered to the Allies, with ROC troops accepting the surrender of the Japanese garrison. The government of the ROC proclaimed the "retrocession" of Taiwan to the Republic of China and established the provincial government at Taiwan. The military administration of the ROC extended over Taiwan, which led to widespread unrest and increasing tensions between Taiwanese and mainlanders. The shooting of a civilian on 28 February 1947 triggered island-wide unrest, which was suppressed with military force in what is now called the 228 Incident. Mainstream estimates of casualties range from 18,000 to 30,000, mainly Taiwanese elites. The 228 incident has far-reaching effect on the following Taiwan history.

From 1945 to 1947, under United States mediation, especially through the Marshall Mission, the Nationalists and Communists agreed to start a series of peace talks aiming at establishing a coalition government. They however failed to reach an agreement and the civil war broked again. In the context of political and military animosity, the National Assembly was summoned by the Nationalists without the participation of the Communists and promulgated the Constitution of the Republic of China. The constitution was criticized by the Communists, and lead to the final break between the two sides. The full scale civil war resumed from early 1947..

In 1948, the ROC administration imposed perpetual martial law. Meanwhile, the civil war was escalating from regional areas to the entire nation. Eventually, the Communist troops, with the help of the Soviet Union, defeated the ROC army. In December 1949, Chiang evacuated the government to Taiwan and made Taipei the temporary capital of the ROC. In his retreat, he also transferred China's gold reserves to Taiwan. Between one and two million refugees from mainland China followed him, adding to the earlier population of approximately six million.

In October 1949, the Communists founded the People's Republic of China.

Government on Taiwan (1949 onward)

The ROC government, now threatened by both demands for independence within Taiwan, and by the Communists in mainland China, became increasingly dictatorial. The White Terror, started while the ROC central government was still governed from mainland China, remained in place until 1987 as a way to suppress the political opposition. During these acts of violence, 140,000 Taiwan residents were imprisoned or executed for being perceived as anti-KMT or pro-Communist.

Initially, the United States abandoned the KMT and expected that Taiwan would fall to the Communists. However, in 1950 the conflict between North Koreamarker and South Koreamarker, which had been ongoing since the Japanese withdrawal in 1945, escalated into full-blown war, and in the context of the Cold War, US President Harry S. Truman intervened again and dispatched the 7th Fleet into the Taiwan Straitsmarker to prevent hostilities between Taiwan and mainland China. In the Treaty of San Francisco and the Treaty of Taipei, which came into force respectively on 28 April 1952 and 5 August 1952, Japan formally renounced all right, claim and title to Taiwan and Penghu, and renounced all treaties signed with China before 1942. The United States and the United Kingdommarker disagreed on whether the ROC or the PRC was the legitimate government of China—as a result both treaties remained silent about who would take control of the island. Continuing conflict of the Chinese Civil War through the 1950s, and intervention by the United States notably resulted in legislations such as the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty and the Formosa Resolution of 1955.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the ROC began to develop into a prosperous, technology-oriented industrialized developed country, while maintaining an authoritarian, single-party government. This rapid economical growth, known as the Taiwan Miracle, was the result of a fiscal regime independent from mainland China and backed up, among others, by the support of US funds and demand for Taiwanese products. The country became known as one of the Four Asian Tigers. Because of the Cold War, most Western nations and the United Nations regarded the ROC as the sole legitimate government of China until the 1970s and especially after the termination of the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty; after that, most nations switched diplomatic recognition to the PRC.

Up until the 1970s, the ROC was regarded by Western critics as undemocratic for upholding martial law, for severely repressing any political opposition and for controlling media. The KMT did not allow the creation of new parties and those that existed did not seriously compete with the KMT. Thus, competitive democratic elections did not exist. From the late 1970s to the 1990s, however, reforms slowly moved the Republic of China from an authoritarian state to a democracy. In 1979, a pro-democracy protest known as the Kaohsiung Incident took place in Kaohsiungmarker to celebrate Human Rights Day. Although the protest was rapidely crushed by the authority, it is today considered as the main event that united Taiwan's opposition. In 1986, Chiang Ching-kuo and Lee Teng-hui allowed for the creation of new political parties, which led to the founding of the first opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party. In 1987, the martial law was lifted along with, a year later, the ban on new newspaper registration. The democratization process eventually led to the first direct presidential election by universal adult suffrage in 1996.

Political status

The political status of the Republic of China is a contentious issue. The People's Republic of Chinamarker (PRC) claims that the ROC government is illegitimate, referring to it as the "Taiwan Authority". The ROC, however, views itself as an independent sovereign state, with its own constitution, independently elected president and a large army.

Conflict with the PRC

The political environment is complicated by the potential for military conflict should overt actions toward independence or reunification be taken. It is the official PRC policy to use force to ensure reunification if peaceful reunification is no longer possible, as stated in its anti-secession law, and for this reason there are substantial military installation on the Fujianmarker coast.

The PRC supports a version of the One-China policy, which states that Taiwan and mainland China are both part of China, and that the PRC is the only legitimate government of China. It uses this policy to prevent the international recognition of the ROC as an independent sovereign state.

United States involvement and current standpoint

The United Statesmarker is one of the main allies of the ROC. As a result of Cold War politics, the US has provided military training and sold arms to the Republic of China Armed Forces. However, the current status quo, as defined by the US, is supported on a quid pro quo basis between the ROC and the PRC. The latter is expected to "use no force or threat[en] to use force against Taiwan" and the ROC is to "exercise prudence in managing all aspects of Cross-Strait relations." Both are to refrain from performing actions or espousing statements "that would unilaterally alter Taiwan's status."

For its part, the People's Republic of China appears to find the retention of the name "Republic of China" far more acceptable than the declaration of a de jure independent Taiwan. However, with the rise of the Taiwanese independence movement, the name "Taiwan" has been employed increasingly more often on the island itself.

Opinions within the ROC

Within the ROC, opinions are polarized between those supporting unification, represented by the Pan-Blue Coalition of parties, and those supporting independence, represented by the Pan-Green Coalition.

The Kuomintang, the largest Pan-Blue party, supports the status quo for the indefinite future with a stated ultimate goal of unification. However, it does not support unification in the short term with the PRC as such a prospect would be unacceptable to most of its members and the public. Ma Ying-jeou, former chairman of the KMT and the current ROC President, has set out democracy, economic development to a level near that of the ROC, and equitable wealth distribution as the conditions that the PRC must fulfill for reunification to occur.

The DPP, the largest Pan-Green party, officially seeks independence, but in practice also supports the status quo because its members and the public would not accept the risk of provoking the PRC.

Former President Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party stated during his years of administration that any decision should be decided through a public referendum of the people of the ROC. Both parties' current foreign policy positions support actively advocating ROC participation in international organizations, but while the KMT accepts the One-China principle, the DPP encourages the participation of Taiwan as a sovereign state.

On 2 September 2008, El Sol de México asked President Ma Ying-jeou about his views on the subject of "two Chinas" and if there was a solution for the sovereignty issues between the two. The ROC President replied that the relations are neither between two Chinas nor two states. It is a special relationship. Further, he stated that the sovereignty issues between the two cannot be resolved at present, but he quoted the "1992 Consensus", currently accepted by both sides, as a temporary measure until a solution becomes available.


The government of the Republic of China was founded on the Constitution of the ROC and its Three Principles of the People, which states that "[the ROC] shall be a democratic republic of the people, to be governed by the people and for the people." The government is divided into five administrative branches (Yuan): the Control Yuan, the Examination Yuan, the Executive Yuanmarker, the Judicial Yuan, and the Legislative Yuan. The Pan-Blue Coalition and Pan-Green Coalition are presently the dominant political blocs in the Republic of China.


The head of state is the President, who is elected by popular vote for a four-year term on the same ticket as the Vice-President. The President has authority over the Yuan. The President appoints the members of the Executive Yuan as his cabinet, including a Premier, who is officially the President of the Executive Yuan; members are responsible for policy and administration.

Executive Yuan

The ROC's political system does not fit traditional models. The Premier is selected by the President without the need for approval from the Legislature, but the Legislature can pass laws without regard for the President, as neither he nor the Premier wields veto power. Thus, there is little incentive for the President and the Legislature to negotiate on legislation if they are of opposing parties. After the election of the pan-Green's Chen Shui-bian as President in 2000, legislation repeatedly stalled because of deadlock with the Legislative Yuan, which was controlled by a pan-Blue majority. Historically, the ROC has been dominated by strongman single party politics. This legacy has resulted in executive powers currently being concentrated in the office of the President rather than the Premier, even though the Constitution does not explicitly state the extent of the President's executive power.


The main legislative body is the unicameral Legislative Yuan with 113 seats. Seventy-three are elected by popular vote from single-member constituencies; thirty-four are elected based on the proportion of nationwide votes received by participating political parties in a separate party list ballot; and six are elected from two three-member aboriginal constituencies. Members serve three-year terms. Originally the unicameral National Assembly, as a standing constitutional convention and electoral college, held some parliamentary functions, but the National Assembly was abolished in 2005 with the power of constitutional amendments handed over to the Legislative Yuan and all eligible voters of the Republic via referendums.


The Judicial Yuan is ROC's highest judiciary. It interprets the constitution and other laws and decrees, judges administrative suits, and disciplines public functionaries. The President and Vice-President of the Judicial Yuan and fifteen Justices form the Council of Grand Justices. They are nominated and appointed by the President of the Republic, with the consent of the Legislative Yuan. The highest court, the Supreme Court, consists of a number of civil and criminal divisions, each of which is formed by a presiding Judge and four Associate Judges, all appointed for life. In 1993, a separate constitutional court was established to resolve constitutional disputes, regulate the activities of political parties and accelerate the democratization process. There is no trial by jury but the right to a fair public trial is protected by law and respected in practice; many cases are presided over by multiple judges.

Like most Asian democracies, Taiwan still allows for capital punishment. Efforts have been made by the government to reduce the number of executions, although they have not been able to completely abolish the punishment. As of 2006, about 80% of Taiwanese oppose the abolition of the death penalty.


The Control Yuan is a watchdog agency that monitors (controls) the actions of the executive. It can be considered a standing commission for administrative inquiry and can be compared to the Court of Auditors of the European Union or the Government Accountability Office of the United Statesmarker.


The Examination Yuan is in charge of validating the qualification of civil servants. It is based on the old Imperial examination system used in premodern China. It can be compared to the European Personnel Selection Office of the European Union or the Office of Personnel Management of the United States.

Administrative regions

According to the 1947 Constitution, written before the ROC government retreated to Taiwan, the highest level administrative division is the province, which includes special administrative regions, regions, and centrally-administered municipalities. However, in 1998 the only provincial government to remain fully functional under ROC jurisdiction, Taiwan Province, was streamlined, with most responsibility assumed by the central government and the county-level governments (the other existing provincial government, Fuchien, was streamlined much earlier). The ROC currently administers two provinces and two provincial level cities. Under ROC law, the area currently under ROC jurisdiction is the "Free Area of the Republic of China".


The Republic of China also controls the Pratas Islandsmarker (Dong-Sha) and Taiping Islandmarker, which are part of the disputed South China Sea Islands. They were placed under Kaohsiung City after the retreat to Taiwan.

Taichungmarker is currently under consideration for elevation to central municipality status. Also, Taipei County and Kaohsiung County are considering mergers with their respective cities.

Claimed territories

Constitutional administrative division of the Republic of China
The ROC claimed to be the sole legitimate government of all China after its relocation to Taiwan in 1949 until the lifting of martial law in 1987. Although the administration of pro-independence President Chen Shui-bian (2000–2008) did not actively claim sovereignty over all of China, the national boundaries of the ROC have not been redrawn and its outstanding territorial claims from the late 1940s have not been revised. Thus, the claimed area of the ROC continues to include mainland China, several off-shore islands, Mongolia, and Taiwanmarker. The current President Ma Ying-jeou reasserted the ROC's claim to be the sole legitimate government of China and the claim that mainland China is part of ROC's territory. He does not, however, actively seek reunification, and prefers to maintain an ambiguous status quo in order to improve relations with the PRC.

In practice, although ROC law still formally recognizes residents of mainland China as citizens of the ROC, it makes a distinction between persons who have household residency in the Free Area and those that do not, meaning that persons outside the area administered by the ROC must apply for special travel documents and cannot vote in ROC elections. De-emphasizing the ROC claims of sovereignty over Mongolia, the DPP government under Chen Shui-bian has established a representative office in Mongoliamarker's capital, Ulan Batormarker. Offices established to support the ROC's claims over Outer Mongolia, such as the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission, lie dormant.


The constitution of the Republic of China was drafted before the fall of mainland China to the Communists. It was created by the KMT for the purpose of all of its claimed territory, including Taiwan, even though the Chinese Communist party boycotted the drafting of the constitution. The constitution went into effect on 25 December 1947.

The ROC remained under martial law from 1948 until 1987 and much of the constitution was not in effect. Political reforms beginning in the late 1970s and continuing through the early 1990s liberalized the ROC from an authoritarian one-party state into a multiparty democracy. Since the lifting of martial law, the Republic of China has democratized and reformed, suspending constitutional components that were originally meant for the whole of China. This process of amendment continues. In 2000, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the ROC presidency, ending the ROC's one-party rule history under the KMT. In May 2005, a new National Assembly was elected to reduce the number of parliamentary seats and implement several constitutional reforms. These reforms have been passed; the National Assembly has essentially voted to abolish itself and transfer the power of constitutional reform to the popular ballot.

Major camps

The political scene in the ROC is divided into two camps, with the pro-unification and center-right Kuomintang , People First Party , and New Party forming the Pan-Blue Coalition, who wish that Taiwan would eventually reunify with mainland China to form one political entity, and the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party and centrist Taiwan Solidarity Union forming the Pan-Green Coalition. The latter parties (pro-independence parties) desire to be severed from China completely, be recognized as a separate country (be known as Taiwan, not ROC), and to possess a seat in the United Nations.

On 30 September 2007, the then ruling Democratic Progressive Party approved a resolution asserting separate identity from Chinamarker and called for the enactment of a new constitution for a "normal country". It called also for general use of "Taiwan" as the country's name, without abolishing its formal name, the Republic of China.

The Pan-Green camp tends to favor emphasizing the Republic of China as being a distinct country from the People's Republic of Chinamarker. Many Pan-Green supporters seek formally declaring Taiwan's independence and dropping the title of "Republic of China". Many members of the coalition, such as former President Chen Shui-bian, have moderated their views and explain that it is unnecessary to proclaim independence because "Taiwan is already an independent, sovereign country" and the Republic of China is the same as Taiwan.

Pan-Blue members generally support the concept of the One China policy, which states that there is only one China and that its only government is the ROC. They favor eventual re-unification of China. The more mainstream Pan-Blue position is to lift investment restrictions and pursue negotiations with the PRC to immediately open direct transportation links. Regarding independence, the mainstream Pan-Blue position is to maintain the status quo, while refusing immediate reunification. As of 2009, Pan-Blue members usually seek to improve relationships with mainland China, with a current focus on improving economic ties.

Current political issues

The dominant political issue in the ROC is its relationship with the PRC. For more than 60 years, there were no direct transportation links, including direct flights, between Taiwan and mainland China. This was a problem for many Taiwanese businesses that had opened factories or branches in mainland China. The former DPP administration feared that such links would lead to tighter economic and political integration with mainland China, and in the 2006 Lunar New Year Speech, President Chen Shui-bian called for managed opening of links. Direct weekend charter flights between Taiwan and mainland China began in July 2008 under the current KMT government, and the first direct daily charter flights took off in December 2008.

Other major political issues include the passage of an arms procurement bill that the United States authorized in 2001. In 2008, however, the United States were reluctant to send over more arms to Taiwan out of fear that it would hinder the recent improvement of ties between the PRC and the ROC. Another major political issue, is the establishment of a National Communications Commission to take over from the Government Information Office, whose advertising budget exercised great control over ROC media.

The politicians and their parties have themselves become major political issues. Corruption among some DPP administration officials has been exposed. In early 2006, President Chen Shui-bian was linked to possible corruption. The political effect on President Chen Shui-bian was great, causing a divide in the DPP leadership and supporters alike. It eventually led to the creation of a political camp led by ex-DPP leader Shih Ming-teh which believes the president should resign than stay in disgrace. The KMT assets continue to be another major issue, as it was once the richest political party in the world. Nearing the end of 2006, KMT's chairman Ma Ying-jeou was also hit by corruption controversies, although he has since then been cleared of any wrong-doings by the courts. Since completing his second term as President, Chen Shui-bian has been charged with corruption and money laundering.

The merger of the KMT and People First Party (PFP) was thought to be certain, but a string of defections from the PFP to the KMT have increased tensions within the Pan-Blue camp.

National identity

The majority, about 85%, of Taiwan's population is descended from Han Chinese from mainland China who immigrated to Taiwan between 1661 and 1895 A.D. Another significant fraction is descended from Han Chinese who immigrated from mainland China in the 1940s and 1950s. But between 1895 and the present, Taiwan and mainland China have shared a common government for only 5 years. The shared cultural origin combined with several hundred years of geographical separation, some hundred years of political separation and foreign influences, as well as hostility between the rival ROC and PRC have resulted in national identity being a contentious issue with political overtones. Since democratization and the lifting of martial law, a distinct Taiwanese identity (as opposed to Taiwanese identity as a subset of a Chinese identity) is often at the heart of political debates. Its acceptance makes the island distinct from mainland China, and therefore may be seen as a step towards forming a consensus for de jure Taiwan independence. The pan-green camp supports a distinct Taiwanese identity, while the pan-blue camp and the PRC supports a Chinese identity only. The KMT has downplayed this stance in the recent years and now supports a Taiwanese identity as part of a Chinese identity.

According to a survey conducted in March 2009, 49% of the respondents consider themselves Taiwanese only, and 44% of the respondents consider themselves as Taiwanese and Chinese. 3% consider themselves only Chinese.. Another survey, conducted in July 2009, showed that 82.8% of respondents recognized the Republic of China as a different country from the People's Republic of China.

Percentage of Taiwanese residents who feel themselves Taiwanese, Chinese or Taiwanese and Chinese according to various surveys.
Survey Taiwanese Chinese Taiwanese and Chinese
National Chengchi University survey (December 2008) 50.8% 4.7% 40.8%
TVBS Poll Center (March 2009) 72% 16% (not an option for this question)
TVBS Poll Center (March 2009) 49% 3% 44%

Foreign relations

Before 1928, the foreign policy of Republican China was complicated by a lack of internal unity—competing centers of power all claimed legitimacy. This situation changed after the defeat of the Beiyang Government by the Kuomintang, which lead to widespread diplomatic recognition of the Republic of China. After the KMT retreat to Taiwan, most countries, notably the countries in the Western Bloc, continued to maintain relations with the ROC. Due to diplomatic pressure, recognition gradually eroded and many countries switched recognition to the PRC in the 1970s.

The ROC was a founding member of the United Nations and held China's seat on the Security Council until 1971, when it was expelled by General Assembly Resolution 2758 and replaced in all UN organs with the PRC. Multiple attempts by the ROC to rejoin the UN have not made it past committee. The seat of China at the United Nations is currently occupied by the PRC.

Due to its limited international recognition, the Republic of China is a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, represented by a ROC government funded organization, the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD) under the name "Taiwan".

Diplomatic relations

[[Image:CountriesRecognizingROC.png|thumb|right|Countries maintaining diplomatic relations with the ROC
|alt=A map of the world showing   highlighted countries. Only a few small countries recognize the ROC, mainly in central and south America, as well as Africa.]]

The PRC refuses to have diplomatic relations with any nation that recognizes the ROC, and requires all nations with which it has diplomatic relations to make a statement recognizing its claims to Taiwan. As a result, there are only states that have official diplomatic relations with the Republic of China. In practice, most countries view the ROC as an independent state and as such maintain unofficial relations with it.

The ROC maintains unofficial relations with most countries via de facto embassies and consulates called Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Offices (TECRO), with branch offices called "Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices" (TECO). Both TECRO and TECO are "unofficial commercial entities" of the ROC in charge of maintaining diplomatic relations, providing consular services (i.e. visa applications), and serving the national interests of the ROC in other countries.

The United States maintains unofficial relations with the ROC through the instrumentality of the American Institute in Taiwan, which is the de facto embassy of the US in the ROC.

Relations with Mongolia

Besides the dispute with the PRC over mainland China, the ROC also has a controversial relationship with Mongoliamarker. Until 1945, the ROC claimed sovereignty over Greater Mongolia, but under Soviet pressure, it recognized Mongolian independence. Shortly thereafter in 1953, due to the deterioration of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, it revoked this recognition and kept considering it a part of mainland China. In 2002, however, the Republic of China announced that it was administratively recognizing Mongolia as an independent country, even though no legislative actions were taken to address concerns over its constitutional claims to Mongolia.

Participation in international events and organizations

The flag of the ROC, under the name "Chinese Taipei" (中華台北), during the Olympic Games

Also due to its One China policy, the PRC only participates in international organizations where the ROC is not recognized as a sovereign country. Each year since 1992, the ROC has petitioned the UN for entry but has been unsuccessful. Most member states, including the United States, do not wish to discuss the issue of the ROC's political status for fear of souring diplomatic ties with the PRC. However, both the US and Japanmarker publicly support the ROC's bid for membership in the World Health Organization as an observer. However, though the ROC has applied for WHO membership every year since 1997 under various denominations, their efforts have consistently been blocked by PRC.

At present, the ROC usually uses the politically neutral name "Chinese Taipei" in international events such as the Olympic Games where the PRC is also a party. The ROC is typically barred from using its national anthem and national flag in international events due to PRC pressure; ROC spectators attending events such as the Olympics are often barred from bringing ROC flags into venues. The ROC is able to participate as "China" in organizations that the PRC does not participate in, such as the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

The relationship with the PRC and the related issues of Taiwanese independence and Chinese reunification continue to dominate ROC politics. For any particular resolution, public favor shifts greatly with small changes in wording, illustrating the complexity of public opinion on the topic.


The Republic of China Army takes its roots in the National Revolutionary Army, which was established by Sun Yat-sen in 1925 in Guangdongmarker with a goal of reunifying China under the Kuomintang. When the People's Liberation Army won the Chinese Civil War, much of the National Revolutionary Army retreated to Taiwan along with the government. It was later reformed into the Republic of China Army. Units which surrendered and remained in mainland China were either disbanded or incorporated into the People's Liberation Army.

Today, the Republic of China maintains a large and technologically advanced military, mainly as defense against the constant threat of invasion by the PRC under the Anti-Secession Law of the People's Republic of China. From 1949 to the 1970s, the primary mission of the military was to "retake the mainland." As this mission has shifted to defense, the ROC military has begun to shift emphasis from the traditionally dominant Army to the air force and navy. Control of the armed forces has also passed into the hands of the civilian government. As the ROC military shares historical roots with the KMT, the older generation of high ranking officers tends to have Pan-Blue sympathies. However, many have retired and there are many more non-mainlanders enlisting in the armed forces in the younger generations, so the political leanings of the military have moved closer to the public norm in Taiwan.

The ROC began a force reduction program to scale down its military from a level of 450,000 in 1997 to 380,000 in 2001. As of 2009, the armed forces of the ROC number approximately 300,000, with nominal reserves totaling 3.6 million as of 2005. Conscription remains universal for qualified males reaching age eighteen, but as a part of the reduction effort many are given the opportunity to fulfill their draft requirement through alternative service and are redirected to government agencies or defense related industries. Current plans call for a transition to a predominantly professional army over the next decade. Conscription periods are planned to decrease from 14 months to 12.

The armed forces' primary concern at this time is the possibility of an attack by the PRC, consisting of a naval blockade, airborne assault and/or missile bombardment. Four upgraded Kidd class destroyers were recently purchased from the United States, significantly upgrading Taiwan's air defense and submarine hunting abilities. The Ministry of National Defense planned to purchase diesel-powered submarines and Patriot anti-missile batteries from the United States, but its budget has been stalled repeatedly by the opposition-Pan-Blue Coalition controlled legislature. The defense package was stalled from 2001–2007 where it was finally passed through the legislature and the US responded on 3 October 2008, with a $6.5 billion arms package including PAC III Anti-Air defense systems, AH-64D Apache Attack helicopters and other arms and parts. A significant amount of military hardware has been bought from the United Statesmarker, and, as of 2009, continues to be legally guaranteed by the Taiwan Relations Act. In the past, Francemarker and the Netherlandsmarker have also sold military weapons and hardware to the ROC, but they almost entirely stopped in the 1990s under pressure of the PRC.

The first line of defense against invasion by the PRC is the ROC's own armed forces. Current ROC military doctrine is to hold out against an invasion or blockade until the US military responds. There is, however, no guarantee in the Taiwan Relations Act or any other treaty that the United States will defend Taiwan, even in the event of invasion. The joint declaration on security between the US and Japan signed in 1996 may imply that Japan would be involved in any response. However, Japan has refused to stipulate whether the "area surrounding Japan" mentioned in the pact includes Taiwan, and the precise purpose of the pact is unclear. The Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty may mean that other US allies, such as Australia, could theoretically be involved. In practice, the risk of losing economic ties with China may prevent Australia from taking action.


The quick industrialization and rapid growth of Taiwan during the latter half of the twentieth century, has been called the "Taiwan Miracle" or "Taiwan Economic Miracle". As it has developed alongside Singaporemarker, South Koreamarker and Hong Kongmarker, the ROC is one of the industrialized developed countries known as the "Four Asian Tigers".

By 1945, hyperinflation was in progress in mainland China and Taiwan as a result of the war with Japan. To isolate Taiwan from it, the Nationalist government created a new currency area for the island, and started a price stabilization program. These efforts helped significantly slow the inflation. In 1950, with the outbreak of the Korean War, the US began an aid program which resulted in fully stabilized prices by 1952. The KMT government instituted many laws and land reforms that it had never effectively enacted on mainland China; it implemented a policy of import-substitution, and it attempted to produce imported goods domestically. Much of this was made possible through US economic aid, subsidizing the higher cost of domestic production.

Today the Republic of China has a dynamic capitalist, export-driven economy with gradually decreasing state involvement in investment and foreign trade. In keeping with this trend, some large government-owned banks and industrial firms are being privatized. Real growth in GDP has averaged about 8 percent during the past three decades. Exports have provided the primary impetus for industrialization. The trade surplus is substantial, and foreign reserves are the world's third largest. The Republic of China has its own currency, the New Taiwan dollar.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, the economic ties between the ROC and the PRC have been very prolific. As of 2008, more than US$100 billions have been invested in the PRC by Taiwanese companies, and about 10% of the Taiwanese labour force works in the PRC, often to run their own businesses. Although the economy of Taiwan benefits from this situation, some have expressed the view that the island has become increasingly dependent on the PRC economy. A 2008 white paper by the Department of Industrial Technology states that "Taiwan should seek to maintain stable relation with China while continuing to protect national security, and avoiding excessive 'Sinicization' of Taiwanese economy." Others argue that close economic ties between Taiwan and the PRC would make any military intervention by the PRC against Taiwan very costly, and therefore less probable.

In 2001, Agriculture constitutes only 2 percent of GDP, down from 35 percent in 1952. Traditional labor-intensive industries are steadily being moved offshore and with more capital and technology-intensive industries replacing them. The ROC has become a major foreign investor in the PRC, Thailandmarker, Indonesiamarker, the Philippinesmarker, Malaysiamarker, and Vietnammarker. It is estimated that some 50,000 Taiwanese businesses and 1,000,000 businesspeople and their dependents are established in the PRC.

Because of its conservative financial approach and its entrepreneurial strengths, the ROC suffered little compared with many of its neighbors from the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. Unlike its neighbors, South Korea and Japan, the Taiwanese economy is dominated by small and medium sized businesses, rather than the large business groups. The global economic downturn, however, combined with poor policy coordination by the new administration and increasing bad debts in the banking system, pushed Taiwan into recession in 2001, the first whole year of negative growth since 1947. Due to the relocation of many manufacturing and labor intensive industries to the PRC, unemployment also reached a level not seen since the 1970s oil crisis. This became a major issue in the 2004 presidential election. Growth averaged more than 4 percent in the 2002–2006 period and the unemployment rate fell below 4 percent.

The ROC often joins international organizations under a politically neutral name. The ROC is a member of governmental trade organizations such as the World Trade Organization under the name Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu since 2002.


The higher education system was established in Taiwan by Japan during the colonial period. However, after Taiwan was restored to China in 1945, the system was promptly replaced by the same system as in mainland China which mixed features of the Chinese and American educational systems.

The educational system includes six years of elementary school, three years of middle school, three years of high school, and four years of university. The system has been successful in that pupils in the ROC boast some of the highest test scores in the world, especially in mathematics and science; However, it has also been criticized for placing excessive pressure on students and eschewing creativity in favor of rote memorization.

Many Taiwanese students attend cram schools, or bushiban, to improve mathematics, science and other topics. The teachers in cram schools focus on questions that are likely to appear during exams. Lessons are organized in lectures, reviews, private tutorial sessions, and recitations.

As of 2003, the literacy rate in Taiwan is 96.1%.


The population of areas under control of the Republic of China was estimated in August 2009 at 23,082,125 spread across a total land area of making it the twelfth most densely populated country in the world with a population density of . Ninety-eight percent of Taiwanmarker's population is made up of Han Chinese while two percent are Austronesian aborigines. Taiwan is undergoing a decline in birth rates with a population growth of just 0.61% for the year 2006.


There are approximately 18,718,600 religious followers in Taiwan as of 2005 (81.3% of total population) and over 14–18% are non-religious. According to the 2005 census, of the 26 religions recognized by the ROC government, the five largest are: Buddhism (8,086,000 or 35.1%), Taoism (7,600,000 or 33%), I-Kuan Tao (810,000 or 3.5%), Protestantism (605,000 or 2.6%), and Roman Catholicism (298,000 or 1.3%). But according to the CIA World Factbook and other latest sources from US State Department or the Religious Affairs Section of the MOI, over 80% to 93% of the population are nominal or cultural adherents of a Chinese traditional combination of Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism (Ancestor worship) and Taoism.


The official national language is Mandarin Chinese though the majority also speak Taiwanese (variant of the Hokkien speech of Fujianmarker province) and many speak Hakka. Aboriginal languages are becoming extinct as the aborigines have become sinicized and the ROC government has not preserved the Formosan languages. Like Hong Kongmarker and Macaumarker, Taiwan uses the Traditional Chinese writing system.

Largest cities

The figures below are the 2009 estimates for the twenty largest urban populations within administrative city limits; a different ranking exists when considering the total municipal populations (which includes suburban and rural populations).

Public health

Health care in the ROC is managed by the Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI).

The current program was implemented in 1995 and is considered social insurance. The government health insurance program maintains compulsory insurance for citizens who are employed, impoverished, unemployed, or victims of natural disasters with fees that correlate to the individual and/or family income; it also maintains protection for non-citizens working in Taiwan. A standardized method of calculation applies to all persons and can optionally be paid by an employer or by individual contributions.

BNHI insurance coverage requires co-payment at the time of service for most services unless it is a preventative health service, for low-income families, veterans, children under three years old, or in the case of catastrophic diseases. Low income households maintain 100% premium coverage by the BNHI and co-pays are reduced for disabled or certain elderly peoples.

According to a recently published survey, out of 3,360 patients surveyed at a randomly chosen hospital, 75.1% of the patients said they are "very satisfied" with the hospital service; 20.5% said they are "okay" with the service. Only 4.4% of the patients said they are either "not satisfied" or "very not satisfied" with the service or care provided.

Taiwan has its own Center for Disease Control, and during the SARS outbreak occurring in March 2003 confirmed 347 cases. During the outbreak the CDC and local governments set up monitored stations throughout public transportation, recreational sites and other public areas. With full containment in July 2003, there has not been a case of SARS since.

In 2004 the infant mortality rate was 5.3 with 15 physicians and 63 hospital beds per 10,000 people. The life expectancy for males was 73.5 years and 79.7 years for females according the World Health Report.

Other health related programs in Taiwan are the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Health.


The Republic of China uses two official calendars: the Gregorian calendar, and the Minguo calendar. The latter numbers years starting from 1911, the year of the founding of the Republic of China. For example, 2007 is the "96th year of the Republic".

Months and days are numbered according to the Gregorian calendar. Year numbering may use the Gregorian system as well as the ROC era system. For example, 3 May 2004, may be written 2004-05-03 or 93-05-03. The use of two different calendar systems in Taiwan may be confusing, in particular for foreigners. For instance, products for export marked using the Minguo calendar can be misunderstood as having an expiration date 11 years earlier than intended.

Taiwan also uses the lunar calendar for traditional festivals such as the Chinese New Year, the Lantern Festival, and the Dragon Boat Festival.

International rankings

The following are international rankings of the Republic of China:

Context Organization Rank Year Source
GDP International Monetary Fundmarker / CIA 19/179 (IMF)

18/227 (CIA)
GDP per capita International Monetary Fundmarker / CIA 28/179 (IMF)

40/227 (CIA)
Human Development Index Government of the Republic of China 25/182

if ranked
Worldwide press freedom index Reporters Without Borders 32/169 2007
Freedom of the Press Freedom House 32/195 2008
Index of Economic Freedom The Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation 35/179 2009
Economic Freedom of the World Fraser Institute 24/130 2004
Ease of Doing Business Index World Bank 61/181 2009
Global Competitiveness Report World Economic Forum 12/125 2009–2010
Business Competitiveness Index World Economic Forum 21/121 2006
Worldwide quality-of-life index The Economist 21/111 2005
Global e-Government Study Brown Universitymarker 2/198 2006
World Competitiveness Yearbook International Institute for Management Developmentmarker 13/55 2008
Network Readiness Index World Economic Forum 17/127 2007–2008
Corruption Perceptions Index Transparency International 34/180 2007
Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index World Economic Forum 52/130 2008
IT industry competitiveness index Economist Intelligence Unit 2/66 2008
Business Environment Rankings Economist Intelligence Unit 18/82 2008
E-readiness rankings Economist Intelligence Unit 19/70 2008
Environmental Performance Index Yale Universitymarker 40/149 2008
Bertelsmann Transformation Index (Status) Bertelsmann Foundationmarker 4/125 2008
Bertelsmann Transformation Index (Managem.) Bertelsmann Foundationmarker 7/125 2008

Image gallery

See also


  1. "Nationalist disunity, political instability, civil strife, the communist challenge, the autocracy of Chiang Kai-shek, the ascendancy of the military, the escalating Japanese threat, and the "crisis of the democracy" in Italy, Germany, Poland, and Spain, all contributed to a freezing of democrary by the Nationalist leadership."
  2. 评马歇尔离华声明,周恩来选集上卷,1947-1-10
  3. 首都卫戍司令部,淞沪重庆警备司令,分别致电函京沪渝中共代表,所有中共人员限期全部撤退,重庆:大公报,1947-3-1
  4. Woodward, Taiwanese hyperinflation, "Yet, the Chinese Nationalist government attempted to isolate Taiwan from the mainland inflation by creating it as an independent currency area. And during the later stages of the civil war it was able to end the hyperinflation on Taiwan, something it was unable to do on the mainland despite two attempts."
  5. "Nanjing was not only undemocratic and repressive but also inefficient and corrupt. [...] Furthermore, like other authoritarian regimes, the GMD sought to control people's mind."
  6. "The response to national emergency, critics argued, was not merely military, it was, even more important, political, requiring the termination of one-party dictatorship and the development of democratic institutions."
  7. Section 1: "Since the KMT ruling clique retreated to Taiwan, although its regime has continued to use the designations "Republic of China" and "government of the Republic of China," it has long since completely forfeited its right to exercise state sovereignty on behalf of mainland China and, in reality, has always remained only a separate state on the island of Taiwan."
  8. BBC News, "Taiwan Flashpoint", "But Taiwan's leaders say it is clearly much more than a province, arguing that it is a sovereign state. It has its own constitution, democratically-elected leaders, and 400,000 troops in its armed forces."
  9. BBC News, "Taiwan Flashpoint", "Since neither outcome looks likely in the short or even medium term, it is perhaps not surprising that opinion polls suggest most Taiwanese people want things to stay as they are, with the island's ambiguous status unresolved."
  10. BBC News, "Taiwan Flashpoint", "Officially, the DPP still favours eventual independence for Taiwan, while the KMT favours eventual re-unification."
  11. Survey on President Ma’s Approval Rating and Cross-Strait Relations After First Year of Direct Flights (Global Views Survey Research Center)
  12. Quote: "Table 12: In Taiwan, some people identify themselves as Chinese, some identify themselves as Taiwan (sic). Do you identify yourself as Taiwanese or Chinese? (Do not prompt both Taiwanese and Chinese)"
  13. Quote: "Table 13: In Taiwan, some people identify themselves as Chinese, some identify themselves as Taiwan (sic). Do you identify yourself as Taiwanese, Chinese or both Taiwanese and Chinese?"
  14. BBC News, "Taiwan Flashpoint", "Given the huge divide between these two positions, most other countries seem happy to accept the current ambiguity, whereby Taiwan has most of the characteristics of an independent state, even if its legal status remains unclear."
  15. Swaine 2001, p. 65, "The ROC military functioned until very recently as an instrument of KMT rule [and] the bulk of the officer corps is still composed of Mainlanders, many of whom allegedly continue to support the values and outlook of more conservative KMT and New Party members. This is viewed as especially the case among the senior officers of the ROC Army. Hence, many DPP leaders insist that the first step to building a more secure Taiwan is to bring the military more fully under civilian control, to remove the dominant influence of conservative KMT elements, and to reduce what is regarded as an excessive emphasis on the maintenance of inappropriate ground force capabilities, as opposed to more appropriate air and naval capabilities."
  16. Woodward, Taiwanese hyperinflation, "It was the fiscal regime change on Taiwan, as in the European episodes, that finally brought price stability. It was the aid program that brought the budget to near balance, and when the aid program reached its full proportions in 1952, prices stabilized."
  17. "Notably, cross-strait political tensions have not prevented Taiwanese firms from investing heavily in China. The cross-strait investments now exceed US$ 100 billions. Four Taiwanese-owned firms rank among China's top 10 biggest exporters. 10% of the Taiwanese labor force now works in China."
  18. "Although used-to-be-hostile tension between Taiwan and China has been eased to a certain degree, Taiwan should seek to maintain stable relation with China while continuing to protect national security, and avoiding excessive "Sinicization" of Taiwanese economy. Strategies to avoid excessive "Sinicization" of the Taiwanese economy could include efforts to increase geographic diversity of overseas Taiwanese employment, diversifying Taiwan's export markets and investment. "
  19. BBC News, "Taiwan Flashpoint", "Some Taiwanese worry their economy is now dependent on China. Others point out that closer business ties makes Chinese military action less likely, because of the cost to China's own economy."

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