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Republic of China
The Republic of China is a state that consists of Taiwan and several outlying
islands of Fujian, namely Quemoy and Matsu. The term Taiwan is normally used
synonymously with the Republic of China and "China" is used to mean the
People's Republic of China.
Succeeding the Qing Dynasty in China, the Republic of China (ROC)
administered Mainland China from 1911 to 1949, until it was defeated by the
Chinese Communists, and has administered Taiwan from 1945 until the present.
The provisional capital is Taipei and official capital remains the city of
Nanjing in Mainland China. (See also: Min Guo)
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China on the mainland, the
political status of the Republic of China has been a controversial issue.
After losing control over Mainland China, the ruling Kuomintang authorities
actively claimed sovereignty over mainland China (including Tibet) and outer
Mongolia. In 1991, President Lee Teng-hui stated that the government will no
longer challenge communist rule on the mainland. The current administration
of President Chen Shui-bian has left the issue of sovereignty somewhat
ambiguous, although the government has stopped mentioning Mainland China and
its websites feature maps and pictures of Taiwan. However, the National
Assembly has not formally renounced the ROC's jurisdiction over mainland
China and outer Mongolia, as this would be seen as a precursor to Taiwan
Official language Mandarin Chinese
History Capital Taipei¹
President Chen Shui-bian
Premier Yu Shyi-kun
Area Ranked 134th
The Republic of China developed out of Ê- Total 35,980 km²
the Wuchang Uprising against the Qing Ê- % water 10.3%
Dynasty which began on October 10,
1911 and was declared on January 1, Population Ranked 47th
1912, with Sun Yat-sen elected the Ê- Total (2002) 22,548,009
first president. As part of the Ê- Density 627/km²
agreement to have the last emperor Establishment Wuchang Uprising
Puyi abdicate, Yuan Shikai was Ê- Declared October 10, 1911
officially elected president in 1913. Ê- Established January 1, 1912
However, Yuan dissolved the ruling Currency New Taiwan dollar
Kuomintang and declared himself
emperor in 1915. Time zone UTC +8
Many provinces declared independence National anthem Three Principles
of the People
and became warlord states. Yuan Shikai
died of natural causes in 1916. Sun Internet TLD .TW
Yat-sen gained control of Guangdong Calling Code 886
province with the help of southern (1) Provisional; official ROC
warlords in 1917, and set up a rival capital remains the city of Nanking
government. Sun reestablished in Mainland China
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
The civil war resumed and intensified after the Japanese surrender, and when
it ended in the the Communist Party of China's favor in 1949, Chiang
Kai-shek evacuated the government to Taiwan, which had been ceded from Japan
in 1945, and declared Taipei as the temporary capital of China, bringing
some 2 million refugees from Mainland China. Because of the Cold War, until
the 1970s, the Republic of China was recognized as the sole legitimate
government of both Mainland China and Taiwan by the UN and most Western nations.
Taiwan remained under martial law for 4 decades until 1987 and one-party
rule until 1991 when President Chiang Ching-kuo gradually liberalized and
democratized the system. In 2000, Chen Shui-bian was elected president,
ending KMT rule.
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
The relationship with the People's Republic of China and the related issues
of either Taiwan independence or Chinese reunification continue to dominate
Taiwanese politics. The political scene in the ROC is divided into two
camps, with the pro-reunificationist Kuomintang, People First Party, and New
Party forming the Pan-Blue Coalition, while the pro-independence Democratic
Progressive Party and Taiwan Solidarity Union forms the Pan-Green Coalition.
The Republic of China retains administration of two of the historic
provinces of China and centrally administers two municipalities:
* Taiwan Province: completely (all but one county are on the Taiwanese
o Sixteen counties,
o Five provincially administrated cities.
* Fujian Province: partially
o Two counties (under the jurisdiction of the ROC)
* Two Municipalities
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
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 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.
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, 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
The ROC's armed forces number approximately 430,000, and reserves reportedly
total 3,870,000. The ROC has implemented a force reduction program to scale
down its military to a level of 400,000 by FY 2001. Conscription remains
universal for qualified males reaching age 18.
A significant amount of military hardware is supplied by the United States.
Although the PRC objects with 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.
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
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.
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, who
are concentrated in several counties throughout Taiwan, with extensive
intermarriage with Taiwanese aborigines.
The majority of people in the Republic of China on Taiwan speak Mandarin
Chinese, which has been the medium of instruction in the schools for more
than four decades. A large fraction of people in 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 the population also
spoke Japanese. Chinese romanisation on Taiwan remains chaotic with many
different systems, some ad-hoc, in use. In 2002, the government announced
adoption of Tongyong pinyin, but this has not resolved the chaos as there is
a large and mostly political controversy about which pinyin system to use,
with different localities now using different systems. Wade-Giles, and its
various variants, remain the most popular systems.
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.
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 adapted
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
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
Until the 1970s, sports teams from the Republic of China contined 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.
Date English Name Remarks
January 1 Founding Day Founding of the ROC on
January 1, 1912
February 28 Peace Memorial Day February 28 Incident on
February 28, 1947
Passing of Chiang
April 5 Tomb Sweeping Day Kai-shek on April 5, 1975
October 10 Double Tenth Day Wuchang Uprising on
October 10, 1911
1st day of 1st Based on Chinese calendar
lunar month Chinese New Year
5th day of 5th Dragon Boat Festival Based on Chinese calendar
lunar month (Dragon Festival)
15th day of 8th Mid-autumn Festival Based on Chinese calendar
lunar month (Moon Festival)