Republic of China
The Republic of China (Traditional Chinese: 中華民國; Simplified Chinese: 中华民国; Wade-Giles: Chung-hua Min-kuo, Tongyong Pinyin: JhongHuá MínGuó, Hanyu Pinyin: Zhōnghuá Mínguó) is a state that currently administers the island groups of Taiwan, the Pescadores Islands, Quemoy, and the Matsu Islands. In English, the name "Taiwan" is often used synonymously with the Republic of China, while the term "China" usually refers to the People's Republic of China, which controls mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
The Republic of China (ROC) succeeded the Qing Dynasty in 1912 and administered Mainland China until its overthrow there by the Chinese Communists in the Chinese Civil War. As a result, at the end of the Civil War in 1949, the Kuomintang-controlled ROC government evacuated to Taipei where it continued to regard itself as the sole legitimate government of China (including Tibet and outer Mongolia). Meanwhile, the Communists established the new People's Republic of China and claimed to be the successor state of the ROC over all of China and regard the Republic of China on Taiwan as illegitimate. Though the government no longer actively pursues its official claims to mainland China and the tense standoff of the Cold War era has largely subsided, each side remains hostile and the political status of Taiwan remains a contentious issue.
Main articles: History of China, History of the Republic of China
The Republic of China developed out of the Wuchang Uprising against the Qing Dynasty which began on October 10, 1911 and was declared on January 1, 1912, with Sun Yat-sen elected the first interim 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 and declared himself emperor in 1915.
Many provinces declared independence and became warlord states. Yuan Shikai died of natural causes in 1916. Sun Yat-sen gained control of Guangdong province with the help of southern warlords in 1917, and set up a rival government. Sun reestablished the Kuomintang in October 1919.
After Sun's death in 1925, General Chiang Kai-shek gained control of the KMT and, with the help of the Soviet Union, led the successful Northern Expedition which effectively defeated the warlords and united China. However, Chiang soon dismissed his Soviet advisors, and purged communists and leftists from the KMT, inciting the Chinese Civil War.
Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931 and made massive territorial gains in the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). With Japan's surrender in 1945, the Republic of China emerged victorious and became one of the founding members of the United Nations.
The civil war resumed and intensified after the Japanese surrender, and when it ended in the Communist Party of China's favor in 1949, Chiang Kai-shek evacuated the government to Taiwan, which had been recovered from Japan in 1945, and declared Taipei the temporary capital of China, bringing some 2 million refugees from Mainland China. During the Cold War, the Republic of China was seen by the West as "Free China" and a bastion against Communism, so it was recognized as the sole legitimate government of both Mainland China and Taiwan by the UN and most Western nations until the 1970s.
Taiwan remained under martial law for four decades until 1987 and one-party rule until the late 1980s, when Presidents Chiang Ching-kuo (died 1988) and Lee Teng-hui gradually liberalized and democratized the system. In 2000, Chen Shui-bian was elected president, ending KMT rule.
Main article: Politics of the Republic of China
The Republic of China has undergone a process of democratisation since its constitution was reformed in the early 1990s. 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 five administrative branches (Yuan): the Executive Yuan, Legislative Yuan, Control Yuan, Judicial Yuan, and Examination 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.
The main legislative body is the unicameral Legislative Yuan with 225 seats, of which 168 are elected by popular vote. Of the remainder, 41 are elected on the basis of the proportion of nationwide votes received by participating political parties, eight are elected from overseas Chinese constituencies on the same principle, as are the eight seats for the aboriginal populations; members serve three-year terms. Originally the unicameral National Assembly, as a standing constitutional convention and electoral college, held some parliamentary functions, but this has now become a non-standing body of 300 members that has seen most of its powers transferred to the Legislative Yuan.
One key issue has been the political status of Taiwan itself. With the diplomatic isolation brought about in the 1970s and 1980s, the notion of "recovering the mainland" by force has largely been dropped and the Taiwanese localization movement stengthened. The relationship with the People's Republic of China and the related issues of Taiwan independence and Chinese reunification continue to dominate Taiwanese politics. 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, and the pro-independence and center-left Democratic Progressive Party and centrist Taiwan Solidarity Union forming the Pan-Green Coalition.
Pan-Blue Coalition supporters tend to be strongly supportive of the concept of the Republic of China, which remains an important symbolic link to the concept of China as a whole cultural and economic construct.
The Pan-Green factions tend to merely tolerate the concept of the Republic of China which they largely regard as a historical legacy that will fade away. Pan-Green supporters tend to emphasis the Republic of China as referring to Taiwan only, and attempt to define the term China as refering only to the People's Republic of China. For example, in 2004, Chen Shui-bian stated that "Taiwan is an independent, sovereign country" and "There is one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait." Although most supporters of the Pan-Green coalition would probably like to abolish the ROC, most moderate members are willing tolerate its existence to prevent military action by Beijing and political instability on Taiwan. Only the more extreme members of pan-green currently argue for establishment of a Republic of Taiwan and most seem willing to simply redefine the ROC as Taiwan. There have been a number of efforts to reach a consensus on this issue. The idea that the ROC is Taiwan has been proposed by moderate members of both pan-blue and pan-green, but this concept is opposed (for different reasons) by more extreme members of each coalition.
For its part, the PRC has indicated that it finds a Republic of China far more acceptable than an independent Republic of Taiwan, and ironically, it has made it clear that any effort on Taiwan to formally abolish the ROC or formally renounce its claim over the Mainland would result in a strong and possibly military reaction.
Main article: Political divisions of the Republic of China
Current jurisdiction of the ROC
The Republic of China retains administration of all of one, and a small part of a second, of the historical provinces of China, and centrally administers two municipalities:
The ROC also administers the Dongsha Islands, which are part of the disputed South China Sea Islands.
Additionally, the ROC has not officially renounced sovereignty over Mainland China (including Tibet) and outer Mongolia, although in 1991 it stated that it does not challenge the right of the People's Republic of China (PRC) to rule those areas, and it has made some statements that can be interpreted as renouncing sovereignty over the Mainland. Most observers feel that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party would very much prefer to officially renounce such sovereignty.
Main article: Foreign relations of the Republic of China
The Republic of China continues to be officially recognized by 27 nations, mostly small countries in Central America and Africa but also including the Holy See. The People's Republic of China has a policy of not having diplomatic relations with any nation which recognizes the Republic of China and insists that all nations with which it has diplomatic relations make a statement which recognizes its claims to Taiwan. In practice, most major nations maintain unofficial semi-diplomatic relations with Taiwan and the statement which is required by the PRC is couched in extremely carefully worded ambiguity.
The Republic of China, as one of its founding members was in 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 People's Republic of China government. Multiple attempts by the Republic of China to re-join the UN have not made it past committee. (See China and the United Nations)
Besides the dispute with the PRC over the mainland, the ROC also has a controversial relationship with Mongolia. Until 1945, the ROC claimed jurisdiction over Mongolia, but under Soviet pressure, it recognized Mongolian independence. Shortly thereafter, it repudiated this recognition and continued to claim jurisdiction over Mongolia until recently. Since the late 1990s, the relationship with Mongolia has become a controversial topic. The DPP is attempting to establish diplomatic relations with Mongolia, but this move is controversial because it is widely seen as a prelude for renouncing ROC sovereignty over Mainland China thereby declaring Taiwan independence.
Main article: Military of the Republic of China
The Republic of China maintains a large military establishment, mainly as defense against invasion by the People's Republic of China, which is seen as the predominant threat and which has not renounced the use of force against the ROC. Until the 1970s, the military primary mission was to "retake the mainland."
The ROC's armed forces number approximately 300,000, and reserves reportedly total 3,870,000. The ROC begun its implementation of a force reduction program to scale down its military from a level of 430,000 in the 1990s, and is drawing to a close by 2005. Conscription remains universal for qualified males reaching age 18, but as a part of the reduction effort many are redirected to government agencies or defense related industries.
A significant amount of military hardware is bought from the United States.
Main article: Economy of Taiwan
Although the PRC objects to having other countries maintain diplomatic or official relations with the ROC, it does not object to having the ROC maintain economic relations. Consequently, the Republic of China is a member of governmental trade organizations such as the WTO and APEC under the name Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (台灣、澎湖、金門及馬祖個別關稅領域).
The Republic of China on Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy with gradually decreasing guidance of investment and foreign trade by government authorities. In keeping with this trend, some large government-owned banks and industrial firms are being privatised. Real growth in GDP has averaged about 8% during the past three decades. Exports have provided the primary impetus for industrialisation. The trade surplus is substantial, and foreign reserves are the world's third largest.
Agriculture contributes 2% to GDP, down from 35% in 1952. Traditional labour-intensive industries are steadily being moved offshore and replaced with more capital- and technology-intensive industries. Taiwan has become a major investor in Mainland China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam; 50,000 Taiwanese businesses are established in Mainland China.
Because of its conservative financial approach and its entrepreneurial strengths, Taiwan suffered little compared with many of its neighbours from the Asian financial crisis in 1998-1999. 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. Unemployment also reached a level not seen since the 1970s oil crisis, and this became a major issue in the presidential election of 2004.
See also: East Asian Tigers
Main article: Demographics of Taiwan
The aboriginal population of Taiwan, divided into ten main tribes, now makes up 2% of the ROC's jurisdiction. The remainder consists of Han Chinese, who themselves consist of early Han immigrants who are referred to as "Bensheng ren" (84%) and later immigrants which are referred to as "Waisheng ren" or "Mainlanders" (14%) that fled the mainland in 1949. The Bensheng ren consist of descendants of migrants from Southern Fujian, as well as the Hakka (15%), who are concentrated in several counties throughout Taiwan, with extensive intermarriage with Taiwanese aborigines.
Almost everyone on Taiwan born after the early-1950s can speak Mandarin, which has been the medium of instruction in the schools for more than four decades. A large fraction of people also speak one of the Southern Fujianese dialects, Min-nan, also known as Taiwanese. The Hakka have a distinct Hakka dialect. Between 1900 and 1945 Japanese was the medium of instruction and can be fluently spoken by many educated during that period. Chinese romanisation on Taiwan uses both Tongyong pinyin which has been officially adopted by the national government, and Hanyu pinyin which some localities use. Wade-Giles, used traditionally, is also found.
About half of the ROC population can be considered religious believers, most of whom identify themselves as Buddhists or Taoists. At the same time there is a strong belief in folk religion. These are not mutually exclusive, and many people practice a combination of the three. Confucianism also is an honored school of thought and ethical code. Christian churches have been active on Taiwan for many years, a majority of which are Protestant and with Presbyterians playing a particularly significant role.
Main article: Culture of China, Culture of Taiwan
The early years of the Republic of China saw the New Cultural Movement, with the gradual liberalization of society. Old imperial practices such as footbinding were discontinued. In accordance with the tradition of changing the style of dress for successive dynasties, Sun Yat-sen popularized the changshan (female equivalent being qipao). Mao Zedong would later adapt the upper part of changshan and wear the style become known to westerners as the Mao suit.
After the retreat to Taiwan, the Nationalists took many steps to preserve traditional Chinese culture. The government launched a program promoting Chinese calligraphy, traditional Chinese painting, Chinese folk arts, and Chinese opera. The National Palace Museum opened in Taipei, housing over 650,000 pieces of Chinese bronze, jade, calligraphy, painting, and porcelain moved from the mainland in 1949 and accounting for 10% of China's cultural treasures.
Over the years, Taiwan gradually developed a distinct cultural identity (see Taiwan localization movement). Western ideas began to influence local culture, as western dress became popular and western words entered into the Chinese vocabulary.
Until the 1970s, sports teams from the Republic of China continued to play under the name "China," as the communists largely stayed away from the international sporting scene, due mainly to the Cultural Revolution. However, along with the switch in diplomatic recognition, the titles of sports teams were also transferred. Today, sports teams from the Republic of China usually play under the name Chinese Taipei and fly a specially designed non-political flag in place of the flag of the Republic of China.
The ROC might be the first country in Asia to legally support same-sex marriage http://www.fridae.com/magazine/en20031028_1_1.php.
Following the imperial tradition of using the sovereign's Chinese era name and year of reign, official ROC documents and most people in Taiwan still use the Min Guo (Chinese: 民國, pinyin: míngúo, literal meaning: "The Country of the People") system of numbering years in which year one was 1911, the date of the founding of the Republic of China. For example, Year 2002 is "Min Guo 91". As Chinese era names are traditionally two characters long, Min Guo is employed as an abbreviation of the entire ROC title.
See also: Chinese calendar
simple:Republic of China
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