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State

Capital

Taiwan

Taipei

(Republic of China)

Currency unit

Taiwan $

Connections

China

Far East

War

Other Web sites

Critique of Menzies theory

Weblog from Taiwan

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History

Taiwan is an island off the coast of China.

Its original population spoke Malayo-Polynesian languages related to those of Indonesians, Filipinos and Polynesians. 200,000 of them remain in a total of 20 million. Chinese began to move there in the 17th century. It became a province of China after Ming refugees arrived there in 1661 (fleeing from the new Manchu Dynasty). However, Taiwan Nationalists argue that in reality, although ruled by the Manchus eventually, it was never part of China proper.

It was a colony of Japan from 1895 -1945. Although its native population was somewhat different from the main Chinese cultures it received a large influx of mainland Chinese at the end of the Chinese civil war when in 1949 the government and armies of Chiang Kai Shek, leader of the Kuomintang, arrived on Taiwan. Since then their successors have claimed that they are the rightful government of China. Shelling from offshore islands in both directions continued into the 1970s. Taiwan was allied with the United States from 1954 when a defense treaty was signed. It occupied China's Security Council permanent seat until 1971 when it was awarded to mainland China.

It has shared in the rapid economic growth of all the non-communist Chinese communities (Singapore and Hong Kong).

If mainland China democratises it is quite likely that it will reunite with China, but not otherwise. Taiwan represents a similar situation to West Germany in relation to East Germany, except that it is much smaller than mainland China. Until recently, however, it has been much more prosperous. One possibility is convergence and gradual reunification as China adopts a market economy. By 2005 China is seen to be catching up fast.

Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations (it was expelled when China regained its seat). Taiwan elected a president in March 1996. Mainland China has threatened that if Taiwan claims independence it will attack with missiles. Invasion is probably impossible but much damage could be done. However, Taiwan's money is fueling China's development and would cease if the war resumes.

The Taiwanese government has publicly refused to accept that Taiwan could join China on the same terms as Hong Kong (July 1997).

Languages

Mandarin (Kuo Yu)

 

Taiwan is probably the ancestral home from which dispersed all the Austronesian languages. Austronesian speakers are now a small minority of the population.

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Politics

The Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party) ruled for many years as a single party but there has been relaxation from 1989 with the emergence of a multi-party system.

Interesting reading

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Economics

One of the Asian Tigers. Taiwan has followed the Japanese model of rapid industrialization with low wages, high rate of reinvestment and flexibility. It is now comparable with Korea and able to export computer and other electronic equipment to the United States and other western countries. But this role is being taken over by China proper

Taiwan businessmen are investing in the mainland (at first indirectly via Hong Kong). At one time it may have looked as though Taiwan would gradually take over the mainland by investment. However, China proper is now growing so fast that Taiwan may even be in danger of being left behind.

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 Climate

Green/Ecology

Much pollution.

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Human Rights

Climate effects

Last revised 25/05/09


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