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Acknowledged or not, a heritage of history and memory is shared between them: we seek to evaluate the part it plays in the political development of relations across the Taiwan Strait. Yet, in light of the increasingly significant development of their trading, academic and cultural relations, it seems useful also to study all that helps to bring the two sides together, and thus to throw light on points of contact between them.

In general, a political settlement is required first, before two human collectivities that have been divided by war can be reunited. But where these cross-Strait relations are concerned, a contrary dynamic seems to have been established; and that allows us to adopt a more positive view of developments ahead. Yet, this prospect has been raised several times over by political leaders in Taipei as in Peking.

And Chinese and Taiwanese engineers—dreamers, of course—have gone so far as to imagine building a tunnel that would link the island to the mainland, a project they judge technically feasible 1. What an ideal vision this is, in terms of peace and reconciliation! It would be a real umbilical cord, joining at last these two countries, these two peoples, across five decades of open hostility. So far, 40 people have taken part: 30 in France and ten in mainland China.

Ten more interviews will be conducted in Taiwan. The participants, all university students, are aged between 23 and Each is invited, following a preset questionnaire 2 , to speak about the same period of Chinese history: the four decades between and 3. Thus the questions have been framed to bring the participants to draw upon a generality of data arising both from their historical knowledge and also from a collective and individual store of memory. My aim in approaching these young people, in addition to highlighting the dominant historical account in China and Taiwan, is to understand the perception that each group has of this moment of history and to identify how individuals represent it to themselves.

How do they imagine the Others? How do they see themselves in sharing their stores of history and memory with the Others? Can they imagine a common future within an entirely peaceful social and political context?


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The two sides found it impossible to reach a compromise settlement. Both governments claimed to be the legitimate representatives of the Chinese people in their totality. In the wake of decolonisation, there was a change in the international context; the process of normalising relations between Washington and Peking began; and both led in to a reversal of the situation.

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Indeed, Peking became a permanent member of the UN Security Council and was accorded, by most states, that political recognition that had hitherto been denied. This development has allowed the beginnings of a policy of rapprochement with China, reflected in unofficial meetings between two private bodies entrusted with handling technical or commercial questions connected with cross-Strait exchanges.

Independence rapidly came to the forefront of its claims. This was to lead to a break with the constitutional framework of the Republic of China and the proclamation of the Republic of Taiwan. Links with mainland China including historical and cultural ties were minimised, thus removing all justification for reunification plans. The Three Mini Links xiao santong permitted trade, transport and postal exchanges between, on one side, the two closest islands of the Archipelago to the mainland, Kinmen and Matsu and, on the other, the province of Fujian: the links were to be direct, with no obligation to pass through Hong Kong or Macao.

Further, they allowed Chinese nationals to visit the two islands for trading purposes and, for the first time, the rest of the Archipelago as tourists. Charter flights were organised for the whole period of the Chinese New Year holiday, to allow Taiwanese businessmen settled on the mainland, and their families, to go back to Taiwan. Yet, citing security reasons, Taipei allowed only Taiwanese airlines to fly the route. In any case, this necessarily meant flying via Hong Kong or Macau and terminating at Shanghai; no other destination was permitted.

The scope here was far more significant than in For one thing, authorisation for flights to Taiwan was now extended to mainland companies. And such flights could for the first time be direct, with no obligatory stopovers in Hong Kong or Macau. Destinations on the mainland could be Peking, Shanghai or Canton. In Taiwan they could be Taipei or Kaohsiung 4. The success of these direct flights was so great that the authorities on both sides of the Strait expressed the wish to continue the experiment beyond the holiday period, beginning with cargo flights 5. In May , on the occasion of his inaugural address, he explained the new orientation that he aspired to give to cross-Strait relations.

In February , when the defeat of the Democratic Progressive Party in the local elections pushed the government towards reaching a consensus with opposition leaders better disposed towards Peking, Chen appealed anew for progress towards cross-Strait reconciliation and co-operation 8. Several times over, he has challenged the policy of appeasement towards the mainland. Caught off balance, the United States had succeeded only in negotiating a softening of the terminology. The Taiwanese mainland community has grown considerably.

Mixed marriages are frequent, particularly between Taiwanese men and mainland women.

What's behind the China-Taiwan divide?

This human community which, in a sense, embodies the link between the two societies is a source of political pressure. Indeed, the direct flights that began in February owed a great deal to sustained pressure exerted by Taiwanese entrepreneurs living in China. The same can be said of the gradual relaxation of Taiwanese laws governing mixed marriages, to take into account the interests of mainland spouses. Such links are made easier by the fact that the two peoples share so much of their historical and cultural heritage.

Recollections are passed on to the younger generation in the stories told by elder generations. And through novels or films, and coloured by patriotic feeling, the memory takes shape; and it has been able to impart emotional and affective substance to the official history. For young Chinese people, looking back over these moments of history does nothing to disturb the feeling of national belonging; but the issue for the Taiwanese proves far more sensitive. Looking back over the history of the Republic of China, with reawakened memories of the break with the mainland, amounts to a bewildering exposure to a complex and now strongly politicised identity.

Where do people stand in regard to this moment of history, when in Taipei the question of independence has become, with the passing of the years, a question of honour, and of pride in the national community? And then, what should they make of those chevaleresque epics about warring kingdoms? Of the military and political greatness of the Qin Dynasty?

Of the cultural influence of the Tang Dynasty? Of the humiliation represented by the Opium Wars? Of dignity regained on the day the Republic of China was formed, or of the feeling on hearing its national anthem today? Of the words they pronounce, or the Chinese characters they draw? Questioning the collective, family or individual career must, in the depths of the memories aroused, affect the perceptions that all young people make of their own identities and futures, within an unusually troubled political and geostrategic context.

While all their families originate from mainland China, they have grown up with the policies of reform and openness launched in while benefiting, unlike their parents, from some measure of material comfort. Yet, recalling family experience inevitably draws these young people into a critical analysis of contemporary political history. Those participants questioned in Paris are usually more restrained in their views, the drawbacks of the Maoist period being moderated by pragmatic considerations linked to the sociopolitical context of the time and minimised in light of the subsequent economic success of the Deng Xiaoping era.

By contrast, the people questioned in China have, curiously, far less positive attitudes. Some have no hesitation in condemning the vagaries of Maoism, especially during the Cultural Revolution, and they often regret the absence of freedom of expression or of worship in present-day China. Subscribe Magazine Newsletter. Login Sign up Search. Subscribe Login Sign up. Foreign Policy. Hacker and Paul Pierson. The U. Afshon Ostovar.

What If China & Japan Went To War?

How Should a Liberal Be? The KMT authorities implemented a far-reaching and highly successful land reform program on Taiwan during the s. The Rent Reduction Act alleviated tax burden on peasants and another act redistributed land among small farmers and compensated large landowners with commodities certificates and stock in state-owned industries. Although this left some large landowners impoverished, others turned their compensation into capital and started commercial and industrial enterprises.

These entrepreneurs were to become Taiwan's first industrial capitalists. Together with businessmen who fled from mainland China, they once again revived Taiwan's prosperity previously ceased along with Japanese withdrawal and managed Taiwan's transition from an agricultural to a commercial, industrial economy. In all American aid ceased when Taiwan had established a solid financial base. Tremendous prosperity on the island was accompanied by economic and social stability.

Taiwan's phenomenal economic development earned it a spot as one of the Four Asian Tigers. Until the early s, the Republic of China was recognized as the sole legitimate government of China by the United Nations and most Western nations; who refused to recognize the People's Republic of China on account of the Cold War. The KMT ruled Taiwan under martial law until the late s, with the stated goal of being vigilant against Communist infiltration and preparing to retake mainland China.

Therefore, political dissent was not tolerated. The late s and early s were a turbulent time for Chinese people born in Taiwan, as many of the people who had originally been oppressed and left behind by economic changes became members of the Taiwan's new middle class. Free enterprise had allowed native Taiwanese to gain a powerful bargaining chip in their demands for respect for their basic human rights. The Kaohsiung Incident would be a major turning point for democracy in Taiwan. Taiwan also faced setbacks in the international sphere. In , the United States switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

Chiang Kai-shek died in April , and was succeeded to the presidency by Yen Chia-kan while his son Chiang Ching-kuo succeeded to the leadership of the Kuomintang opting to take the title "Chairman" rather than the elder Chiang's title of "Director-General". Formerly the head of the feared secret police , Chiang Ching-kuo recognized gaining foreign support to securing the ROC's future security required reform.

His administration saw a gradual loosening of political controls, a transition towards democracy, and moves toward Taiwanization of the regime. Though opposition political parties were still illegal, when the Democratic Progressive Party was established as the first opposition party in , President Chiang decided against dissolving the group or persecuting its leaders.

Its candidates officially ran in elections as independents in the Tangwai movement. In the following year, Chiang ended martial law and allowed family visits to mainland China.


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  • The move followed other reforms giving more power to native born citizens and calmed anti-KMT sentiments. After Chiang Ching-kuo died in , his successor, President Lee Teng-hui , continued to democratize the government. Lee transferred more government authority to Taiwanese born citizens, and Taiwan underwent a process of Taiwanization. In this localization process, local culture and history was promoted over a pan-China viewpoint. Lee's reforms included printing banknotes from the Central Bank instead of the usual Provincial Bank of Taiwan.

    He also largely suspended the operation of the Taiwan Provincial Government. In the Legislative Yuan and National Assembly elected in were forced to resign. These groups were originally created to represent mainland China constituencies. The restrictions on the use of Taiwanese languages in the broadcast media and in schools were also lifted. However, Lee failed to crack down on the massive corruption that pervaded the government and many KMT loyalists felt that Lee betrayed the ROC by taking reforms too far, while those in the opposition felt he did not take reforms far enough.

    Lee ran as the incumbent in Taiwan's first direct presidential election in against DPP candidate and former dissident, Peng Min-ming. This election prompted the PRC to conduct a series of missile tests in the Taiwan Strait to intimidate the Taiwanese electorate so that electorates would vote for other pro-unification candidates, Chen Li-an and Lin Yang-kang. The aggressive tactic prompted U.


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    President Clinton to invoke the Taiwan Relations Act and dispatch two aircraft carrier battle groups into the region off Taiwan's southern coast to monitor the situation, and PRC's missile tests were forced to end earlier than planned. This incident is known as the Taiwan Straits Crisis.

    Lee's statement was met with the PRC's People's Army conducting military drills in Fujian and a frightening island-wide blackout in Taiwan, causing many to fear an attack or cyberattack. The presidential election marked the end of the Kuomintang KMT rule. In , President Chen was re-elected to a second four-year term after an assassination attempt which occurred the day before the election.

    Two shots were fired, with one bullet grazing the President's belly after penetrating the windshield of a jeep and several layers of clothing and the other bullet penetrated the windshield and hitting the vice president's knee cast. She was wearing a knee cast due to an earlier injury. Police investigators have said that the most likely suspect is believed to have been Chen Yi-hsiung , who was later found dead.

    That incident might also have given president Chen the ability to declare a state of emergency and martial law, which allegedly prevented the police and military, which were strongly Pan-Blue, [ citation needed ] from voting. Lien refused to concede, alleging voting irregularities. Kuomintang and PFP supporters held mass protests throughout the following weeks. Subsequently, Kuomintang and PFP took the case to the court.

    The Court decided that the election result was legitimate and valid. In a move that some [ who? However, this law was met with overwhelming protest from nearly all political parties and public figures of the Republic of China and disapproval from the western countries. Negotiations in January in Macau between the aviation authorities from both the Republic of China and People's Republic of China resulted in direct cross-strait charter flights between mainland China and Taiwan during the Chinese Lunar New Year Period.

    In a twist of events, President Chen and PFP Chairman Soong held a summit and the independence-leaning president indicated that eventual reunification with mainland China would be an option. Against the anti-secession law proposed by the People's Republic of China, President Chen held a video conference with the European Parliament in Brussels urging the European Union not to lift the arms embargo on the People's Republic of China. Domestic politics during the Chen administration were largely a political stalemate as the Kuomintang and PFP together held a pan-Blue majority in the legislature.

    The president of the Republic of China , unlike the president of the United States, does not wield veto power , providing him with little to no leverage in negotiating with an opposition legislature, regardless of how slim the majority. The constitution was further amended in , creating a two-vote electoral system, with single member plurality seats and proportional representative seats, and abolishing the National Assembly, transferring most of its former powers to the Legislative Yuan , and leaving further amendment voting to public referendums.

    The issue of formally declaring the independence of Taiwan is also a constant constitutional question. Arms purchases from the United States are still a controversial political question, with the Pan-Green Coalition camp favoring the purchase, and the Pan-Blue Coalition opposing it. Recent allegations about corruption inside the First Family had led to three recall motions votes in the Legislative Yuan aimed at ousting President Chen Shui-bian. All of them had failed since the Pan-Blue Coalition lacked the two-thirds majority required to complete the process and the political parties voted according to political lines.

    The First Lady , Wu Shu-chen was prosecuted for corruption, namely illegally using state funds for personal reasons. The president faced similar accusations as his wife, but was protected from prosecution by presidential immunity. He had promised to resign if his wife was found guilty. However, after his wife fainted in the preparation hearing, she had sought and obtained absence of leave from the Court 16 times citing health concerns before President Chen Shui-bian's term was complete.

    In December , municipal and mayoral elections were held in Taipei and Kaohsiung. Huang Chun-ying lost to Chen Chu by a margin of 0. In , President Chen proposed a policy of Four Wants and One Without , which in substance states that Taiwan wants independence; Taiwan wants the rectification of its name; Taiwan wants a new constitution; Taiwan wants development; and Taiwanese politics is without the question of left or right , but only the question of unification or independence.

    The reception of this proposed policy in Taiwanese general public was unclear. On the same day President Chen left office, losing presidential immunity, the Supreme Prosecutor's Office announced that they were launching an inquiry into corruption charges regarding Chen. Chiou I-jen was found not guilty, [85] while Yeh Sheng-mao was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. In March and April , students protesting against undemocratic methods used by the KMT occupied the parliament building.

    In the end, the government agreed to put on hold the ratification of an agreement with China which they had pushed through without proper debate. This event had far reaching consequences, and changed the mood of the electorate. The election marked the first time a non-KMT party won a majority in the legislature. The elections held on November 24, resulted in a major setback for the DPP majority and led to President Tsai Ing-wen resignation as leader of the party.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the history of the island of Taiwan. For the history of the polity which currently governs Taiwan, see history of the Republic of China. Part of a series on the. Main article: Prehistory of Taiwan. Main articles: Dutch Formosa and Spanish Formosa. Main article: Kingdom of Tungning. Main article: Taiwan under Qing rule. Main article: Taiwan under Japanese rule. See also: Chinese Nationalist Party retreat to Taiwan. By Bellwood, Peter. Wiley Blackwell. In Ikeda Yoshifumi ed.

    How Taiwan Became Chinese. Project Gutenberg Edition. Columbia University Press. Encyclopedia of Taiwan. Hope Publishing House.

    China–Japan relations

    Retrieved 10 December The Colonial 'civilizing Process' in Dutch Formosa: — Ministry of Education, R. Nantou City: Taiwan Historica. Gordon Lexington Books. China and the Taiwan Issue. London: Praeger Publishers. M London: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 11 November Archived from the original on Retrieved Taipei Times. Pending a Japanese peace treaty, the island remains occupied territory in which the US has proprietary interests.

    The international status of Taiwan in the new world order: legal and political considerations.

    Strong but constrained Japan-Taiwan ties

    Kluwer Law International. This interpretation of the legal status of Taiwan is confirmed by several Japanese court decisions. For instance, in the case of Japan v. American Journal of International Law, July Taiwan Documents Project.

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