Abbreviated Intrepretation of Taiwan's History

History of Taiwan

I have been very apprehensive to write this post, although I’ve seen it to be extremely valuable to our readers. I have felt like I lack expertise and knowledge in this area, given the complexities of Taiwan history. But, through the journalistic approach of three or more sources, I feel that I have a slight grasp now and can make an attempt of making sense of the tumultuous history of the Taiwan people.
Taiwan has both a really long history, since most of the people living here have mainland Chinese ancestry; and rather short history, because Taiwan has been a “nation” since the mid-1900’s (read on to find out why I put nation in “”).

Taiwan, also known as the Republic of China has transformed over the last two centuries from a small island off the coast of mainland China, being owned by China, to becoming one of the most economically stable nations in the world. Taiwan also had the luxury and intelligence as a developing nation in the 80’s and 90’s to study other countries’ infrastructures and implement the “best of” each entity to create a really remarkable and functional infrastructure of their own. Taiwan accomplished this by creating a healthcare system, a transportation system, a viable economy with moving out of textile production into become one of the world’s leaders in technology and computer parts, bill paying (you can pay just about any bill at 7-11), and more, by using things that worked in other countries.
The island of Formosa was part of China, inhabited mostly by islanders and sometimes European settlers (Dutch, Spanish) until the late 1800’s. Japan ruled Taiwan throughout the 20th century until the end of World War II when Japan surrendered to the Allies and moved out of Taiwan. The Republic of China (R.O.C.), led by Chiang Kai-shek, accepted the surrender and many powerful Chinese followed Kai-shek to Taiwan to escape Communist China.

Kai-shek was a powerful military leader in China, but was outlawed when he tried to lead an uprising against the communist government to overhaul its rule and form a democracy. So this was perfect timing for Kai-shek to gather up his troops and start a democracy, a long boat ride away from mainland China.

Kai-shek is regarded with very mixed feelings today in Taiwan. He ruled Taiwan as a dictator, and while he stood for a democratic government, he and his men were extremely intolerant of the aboriginals and people’s rights. He was highly suspicious of communist activity among the people and members of families would disappear, taken by Kai-shek’s men in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. Although I believe it was Kai-shek’s eternal ambition to build an army to overthrow communist China, he also began to build Taiwan as a nation, and as hated as he is, he was a strong leader that laid the groundwork for a successful economy. He was so organized and brilliant as a leader that the United Nations recognized the Republic of China as the sole legitimate government of China throughout the 60’s and 70’s because of the Cold War and its effect on how the rest of the world viewed communist countries.

Chiang Kai-shek eventually stepped down as leader in the early 80’s and his son, Chiang Ching-kuo took over and is credited with developing Taiwan into a successful nation. He is known for representing the people instead of his own personal ambitions, unlike his father. He picked a Taiwanese vice president and together they began to give the Taiwan people a pride in Taiwan, and not just Chinese ideology and tradition (since at Taiwan was a mix of Chinese and Taiwanese aboriginals). Ching-kuo cleaned up many of his father’s dictator moves and gave more and more freedoms to the people, such as press and education, and continued to build up Taiwan’s trades to become internationally known and needed.
In 2007, Taiwan attempted to break away from China’s overall hold. This is from Wikipedia:

On September 30, 2007, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party approved a resolution asserting separate identity from China and called for the enactment of a new constitution for a "normal country". It also called for general use of "Taiwan" as the island's name, without abolishing its formal name, the Republic of China.[31] The Chen administration also pushed for referendums on national defense and UN entry in the 2004 and 2008 elections, which failed due to voter turnout below the required legal threshold of 50% of all registered voters.[32] The Chen administration was dogged by public concerns over reduced economic growth, legislative gridlock due to a pan-blue, opposition controlled Legislative Yuan, and corruption involving the First Family as well as government officials.[33][34]

So in short, I’ve been really confused about Taiwan’s current global position. Are we a country or aren’t we? The answer is, as much as it sucks to be stuck as a “wannabe” nation, that’s what Taiwan is. Taiwan has some benefits and imitations as an independent country, but is still a part of China. It’s too risky right now to demand independence and Taiwan does not have the military capability to stand up to China, especially because of China’s recent major development.

Taiwan would love to be a part of the United Nations and contribute troops to world wars, to issue real visas and to have total governmental control of its people, but it’s just not there yet. And many of the people I’ve interviewed don’t see it happening any time in the next 10 or 20 years. China still pushes Taiwan around like its immature kid-brother, and as mad as this makes Taiwanese leaders, they’re stuck to do nothing about it. Taiwan is split down the middle on their views of independence, with the KMT party leaning towards working with China and using China’s global position for protection and stability, and the opposing party, the DPP, yearning to become an independent nation.

So Taiwan pushes on, hoping still to be internationally recognized for its innovation in technology, tourism, and kindness. I would love to see this classic story of the underdog rise up and stick it to the man, but unfortunately, that’s probably not going to happen.


Lara said...

Free Taiwan!!! :)

Sean said...

Actually Taiwan had extensive infrastructure built by the Japanese Imperialists and towards the end of their administration was one of the richest areas in all of Asia. Due to historical revisionism (especially how modern school textbooks claim that Taiwanese lived in huts outside which is contrary to all historical and photographic evidence) it is often overstated in Taiwanese textbooks Chiang Kai Shek's contribution towards Taiwan's economy. It is more accurate to say Taiwan's economy has flourished despite the kleptographic nature of the ROC government.

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