Taiwan after World War II
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|History of Taiwan|
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Taiwan after World War II (traditional Chinese: 臺灣戰後時期; simplified Chinese: 台湾战后时期; pinyin: Táiwān Zhànhòu Shíqī) is the history of Taiwan which is ruled by the government of the Republic of China, since 25 October 1945 for present.
Early postwar society
The Second World War came to a close in 2 September 1945, with the defeat of the Empire of Japan and Nazi Germany. Taiwan was placed under the control of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) led Republic of China (ROC) with the issue of General Order No. 1 and the signing of the Instrument of Surrender by Imperial Japan on 25 October 1945.
He Yingqin, the ROC representative at the Japanese surrender ceremonies established an "Office of the Chief Executive of Taiwan Province" (台灣省行政長官公署) separate from the provincial-level executive system on the Mainland. After the establishment of the provincial executive office, Chen Yi was appointed Chief Executive. Chen Yi proclaimed 25 October to be Retrocession Day.
Chen Yi's administration was marred by corruption, as well as a lack of discipline in the military police assigned to occupation duties, resulting in a severe undermining of the chain of command. With the rampant corruption in his administration, Chen Yi began to monopolize power. In addition to this, the island's post-war economy was failing and headed into a recession, causing people on the island to endure economic hardship. The government's program of "De-Japanization" also created cultural estrangement, along with tensions between the growing population of migrants from the mainland and the pre-war residents of the island. The building tensions erupted in 1947, when the arrest of a cigarette vendor by government agents led to the death of a bystander. The clashes between police and residents that followed quickly spread across the island, and grew into a general rebellion against Chen Yi and the Chief Executive's Office in what came to be known as the 228 Incident. Several weeks later, government troops were sent to Taiwan from the mainland to handle the crisis and to suppress any opposition or resistance to the government. Many prominent individuals in Taiwanese society, as well as other residents of the island, many of whom had nothing to do with the incident, were either killed, imprisoned without trial, or simply disappeared. The 228 incident was a prelude to the white terror of 1950s, resulting in ethnic tensions between pre- and post-war residents, as well as the genesis of the Taiwanese independence movement.
After the 228 incident, the Kuomintang-led ROC government reorganized the local government, abolishing the Chief Executive's Office, while establishing a new provincial government. Wey Daw-ming, whose parents were scholars, became the first governor of Taiwan province and, during his administration, reduced the scope of the public enterprises, which had grown significantly under Chen Yi.
Wey was succeeded as governor by Chen Cheng in 1949. Wey reformed the currency system, replacing the devalued old Taiwan dollar with the New Taiwan dollar, at a 40,000:1 exchange rate, and implemented the 375 Rent Reduction (三七五減租), easing the inflationary situation.
In 1949, the National Revolutionary Army and the Kuomintang suffered a major defeat in the Chinese Civil War, forcing the Government of the Republic of China to relocate to Taiwan. This allowed the Communist Party of China to declare the establishment of a new Chinese state: the People's Republic of China. As the Kuomintang were establishing a "provisional" base in Taiwan, the party began to plan and threaten counterattacks on the mainland; however, without the support of the United States and its armed forces, the Kuomintang was only able to coordinate and carry out small-scale military campaigns across the strait, which lasted until the Second Strait Crisis. From that point on, both sides of the strait have ceased all major hostilities against each other. The government under the Kuomintang, through its enforcement of martial law, kept a powerful hold on the state and its people throughout the Cold War. Because the Republic of China was under authoritarian rule, any perceived opposition to the government was considered illegal and dealt with harshly.
Toward political party rotation
In the 2000 presidential election, Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was elected president with Annette Lu as vice-president. This was the first political party rotation in the history of the ROC. The splitting of Kuomintang vote was what apparently led to this result. In August 2002, President Chen openly indicated that the relationship between Taiwan and the mainland is "One Country on Each Side". This declaration led to disputations throughout Taiwan, in mainland China and in the United States. In 2004, the day before the 2004 presidential election, there was a supposed assassination attempt on President Chen and Vice-President Lu. They were re-elected the next day, although the Pan-Blue Coalition disputed the legality of the result due to the close margin of the election and the shooting incident. In 2005, an ad hoc National Assembly passed constitutional amendments ruling that elections for the Legislative Yuan change to use of parallel voting, aiding the formation of a two-party system. As a result of scandals in the DPP administration, on September 9, 2006, former chairperson of the DPP, Shih Ming-teh, led an anti-Chen Shui-bian campaign called the Million Voices Against Corruption, President Chen Must Go but did not achieve the desired result of President Chen's resignation.
Cross-straits relations and international position
At the end of 1943, the Cairo Declaration was issued, including among its clauses that all territories of China, including Formosa (Taiwan), that Japan had occupied would be returned to Republic of China. This declaration was reiterated in the Potsdam Declaration, issued in 1945. Later that year, World War II ended, and Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration, surrendering unconditionally. The Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces commanded that the Japanese forces in Taiwan surrender to the government of the Republic of China. On October 25, 1945 in Taipei Zhongshan Hall, the Japanese government in Taiwan surrendered to the representative of the Republic of China, Chen Yi, the Republic of China formally receiving Taiwan. In 1951, Japan formally signed the Treaty of San Francisco, but, due to the unclear situation of the Chinese civil war, the peace treaty did not clearly indicate to whom Taiwan's sovereignty belonged. In the second article of the 1952 Treaty of Taipei, following the Treaty of San Francisco, Japan reiterated its abandonment of sovereignty of Taiwan, the Pescadores, the Spratlys and the Paracels.
The People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) continued a state of war until 1979. In October 1949 a PRC attempt to take the ROC controlled island of Kinmen was thwarted in the Battle of Kuningtou halting the PLA advance towards Taiwan. The Communists' other amphibious operations of 1950 were more successful: they led to the Communist conquest of Hainan Island in April 1950, capture of Wanshan Islands off the Guangdong coast (May–August 1950) and of Zhoushan Island off Zhejiang (May 1950).
In June 1949 the ROC declared a "closure" of all mainland China ports and its navy attempted to intercept all foreign ships. The closure covered from a point north of the mouth of Min river in Fujian province to the mouth of the Liao river in Manchuria. Since mainland China's railroad network was underdeveloped, north-south trade depended heavily on sea lanes. ROC naval activity also caused severe hardship for mainland China fishermen.
After losing mainland China, a group of approximately 12,000 KMT soldiers escaped to Burma and continued launching guerrilla attacks into south China. Their leader, General Li Mi, was paid a salary by the ROC government and given the nominal title of Governor of Yunnan. Initially, the United States supported these remnants and the Central Intelligence Agency provided them with aid. After the Burmese government appealed to the United Nations in 1953, the U.S. began pressuring the ROC to withdraw its loyalists. By the end of 1954, nearly 6,000 soldiers had left Burma and Li Mi declared his army disbanded. However, thousands remained, and the ROC continued to supply and command them, even secretly supplying reinforcements at times.
During the Korean War, some captured Communist Chinese soldiers, many of whom were originally KMT soldiers, were repatriated to Taiwan rather than mainland China. A KMT guerrilla force continued to operate cross-border raids into south-western China in the early 1950s. The ROC government launched a number of air bombing raids into key coastal cities of mainland China such as Shanghai.
Though viewed as a military liability by the United States, the ROC viewed its remaining islands in Fujian as vital for any future campaign to defeat the PRC and retake mainland China. On September 3, 1954, the First Taiwan Strait crisis began when the PLA started shelling Quemoy and threatened to take the Dachen Islands. On January 20, 1955, the PLA took nearby Yijiangshan Island, with the entire ROC garrison of 720 troops killed or wounded defending the island. On January 24 of the same year, the United States Congress passed the Formosa Resolution authorizing the President to defend the ROC's offshore islands. The First Taiwan Straits crisis ended in March 1955 when the PLA ceased its bombardment. The crisis was brought to a close during the Bandung conference.
The Second Taiwan Strait Crisis began on August 23, 1958 with air and naval engagements between the PRC and the ROC military forces, leading to intense artillery bombardment of Quemoy (by the PRC) and Amoy (by the ROC), and ended on November of the same year. PLA patrol boats blockaded the islands from ROC supply ships. Though the United States rejected Chiang Kai-shek's proposal to bomb mainland China artillery batteries, it quickly moved to supply fighter jets and anti-aircraft missiles to the ROC. It also provided amphibious assault ships to land supply, as a sunken ROC naval vessel was blocking the harbor. On September 7, the United States escorted a convoy of ROC supply ships and the PRC refrained from firing. On October 25, the PRC announced an "even-day ceasefire" — the PLA would only shell Quemoy on odd-numbered days.
Despite the end of the hostilities, the two sides have never signed any agreement or treaty to officially end the war.
After the 1950s, the "war" became more symbolic than real, represented by on again, off again artillery bombardment towards and from Kinmen. In later years, live shells were replaced with propaganda sheets. The bombardment finally ceased in 1979 after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the United States.
During this period, movement of people and goods virtually ceased between PRC- and ROC-controlled territories. There were occasional defectors. One high profile defector was Justin Yifu Lin, who swam across the Kinmen strait to mainland China and is now Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank.
Most observers expected Chiang's government to eventually fall in response to a Communist invasion of Taiwan, and the United States initially showed no interest in supporting Chiang's government in its final stand. Things changed radically with the onset of the Korean War in June 1950. At this point, allowing a total Communist victory over Chiang became politically impossible in the United States, and President Harry S. Truman ordered the United States Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan straits to prevent the ROC and PRC from attacking each other.
In 1972, Japan and the Republic of China broke relations, declaring the Treaty of Taipei to be invalid. At the same time, Japan and the People's Republic of China agreed to and signed the Joint Communiqué of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China.
In 1978, the ROC government began to allow visits to mainland China. This benefited many, especially old KMT soldiers, who had been separated from their family in mainland China for decades. This also proved a catalyst for the thawing of relations between the two sides. Problems engendered by increased contact necessitated a mechanism for regular negotiations.
In order to effect negotiations with mainland China on operational issues without compromising the government's position on denying the other side's legitimacy, the ROC government under Chiang Ching-kuo created the "Straits Exchange Foundation" (SEF), a nominally non-governmental institution directly led by the Mainland Affairs Council, an instrument of the Executive Yuan. The PRC responded to this initiative by setting up the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), directly led by the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council. This system, described as "white gloves", allowed the two governments to engage with each other on a semi-official basis without compromising their respective sovereignty policies.
Led by highly respected elder statesmen Koo Chen-fu and Wang Daohan, the two organizations began a series of talks that culminated in the 1992 meetings, which, together with subsequent correspondence, established the 1992 Consensus, under which both sides agreed to deliberate ambiguity on questions of sovereignty, in order to engage on operational questions affecting both sides.
Also during this time, however, the rhetoric of ROC President Lee Tung-hui began to turn further towards Taiwan independence. Prior to the 1990s, the ROC had been a one-party authoritarian state committed to eventual reunification with mainland China. However with democratic reforms the attitudes of the general public began to influence policy in Taiwan. As a result, the ROC government shifted away from its commitment to the one China policy and towards a separate political identity for Taiwan. Lee's mainland China counterpart, Jiang Zemin, was also unwilling to compromise. Jiang notoriously attempted to influence the 1996 ROC election in Taiwan by conducting a missile exercise designed to intimidate Taiwanese voters and interfere with international shipping, leading to the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis. By 1998, semi-official talks had broken down.
Chen Shui-bian was elected President of the ROC in 2000. Politically, Chen is pro-Taiwan independence. Chen's repudiation of the 1992 Consensus combined with the PRC's insistence that the ROC agree to a "one China" principle for negotiations to occur prevented improvement in cross-strait relations.
Up until the 1970s, the international community generally considered the Kuomintang on Taiwan to be the legal representative of China, but acknowledgment of the nation of the People's Republic of China slowly increased. In 1954, the Republic of China and the United States signed the Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States of America and the Republic of China. In 1971, the United Nations acknowledged the People's Republic of China to be the sole legal representative of China (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758). The KMT government strengthened their "Han and the thief cannot both stand"(漢賊不兩立) stance and announced withdrawal from the United Nations. After this, the international position of the Republic of China slid to a large extent. In 1979, when the United States broke relations, it created an even more severe attack on the diplomatic plight of the ROC. In recent years, the ROC government has tried several times to apply anew to enter international organizations such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization, but, under the opposing side's powerful obstruction, there has been no success.
The question of the political status of Taiwan or whether the two sides are moving toward unification or seeking de jure independence is still unresolved. The assertion of the People's Republic of China both domestically and internationally is "Whether from the perspective of history, government or international law, Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. The political status of Taiwan is a Chinese domestic affair, and, under the premise of no hope for unification as well as certain other (conditions), (the Chinese government) does not abandon (the possibility of) the use of force to resolve it." Those persons promoting Taiwan independence feel that, because of the Treaty of San Francisco signed by Japan and the United States and the unclear indication of the handover of Taiwan's sovereignty (the status of Taiwan was not decided on), Taiwan's future direction should be decided upon by the people of Taiwan and that the People's Republic of China not be permitted to threaten the use of force.
On March 14, 2005, the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China passed the Anti-Secession Law, making clear for the first time in legal form the One-China principle. Some people in Taiwan felt dissatisfied about this, and, on March 26, hundreds of thousands of people went to the streets of Taipei, participating in the 326 Protect Taiwan Demonstration, indicating their strong dissatisfaction with and protest of the law. Beginning on April 26, 2005, KMT, and various Pan-Blue political parties visited mainland China, creating an upsurge in the political dialogue between the two sides (see 2005 Pan-Blue visits to mainland China), but cross-straits relations are still full of uncertainty.
Mainland China and Taiwan resumed regular weekend cross-strait charter direct flights on July 4, 2008, for the first time in 6 decades, as a "new start" in their tense relations. Liu Shaoyong, the China Southern Airlines chair, piloted the first flight from Guangzhou to the Taipei Songshan Airport. Simultaneously, a Taiwan-based China Airlines flew to Shanghai. 5 mainland Chinese cities will be connected with 8 Taiwan airports, with 4 days a week, 36 round-trip flights across the Taiwan Strait, thereby eliminating time-consuming Hong Kong stopovers.
During the post-war period, Taiwan was lacking in goods and materials, the economy was depressed, and inflation was severe. After the national government moved to Taiwan, agriculture was first to grow, and, in 1953, Taiwan's economy returned to its pre-war level. After this, the government pursued a policy of "Nurture industry with agriculture"(以農養工) on the foundation established during Japanese rule. With the capital, manpower, and skilled labor that was in Taiwan, American aid, etc., Taiwan's economy progressively moved toward rapid growth. In the 1950s, the government carried out an import substitution policy, taking what was obtained by agriculture to give support to the industrial sector, trading agricultural product exports for foreign currency to import industrial machinery, thus developing the industrial sector. The government raised tariffs, controlled foreign exchange and restricted imports in order to protect domestic industry. By the 1960s, Taiwan's import exchange industry was faced with the problem of saturating the domestic market. At the same time, the factories of some industrialized nations, because of rising wages and other reasons, slowly moved to certain areas that had both basic industry and low labor costs. Consequently, the economic policy of Taiwan changed to pursue export expansion. In 1960, the government enacted the "Regulations for Encouraging Investment," actively competing for foreign business investment in Taiwan. In 1966, the government established the Kaohsiung Export Processing Zone, Asia's first export processing zone, to expand the manufacturing production. In the role of a manufacturing relay station, Taiwan became a link in the international system of division of labor. In 1963, the proportion of Taiwan's economy occupied by industry exceeded that of agriculture. From 1968, Taiwan maintained two-digit long-term annual average economic growth up until the 1973 oil crisis. In 1971, Taiwan had a foreign trade surplus and continued from then on in an export state.
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