History of Taiwan

Taiwan as part of the Chinese Empire: 1683 to 1895

The Qing empire had possession of Taiwan, but didn’t do anything to settle it. Migration from the Chinese mainland to the island was prohibited, but poverty and food shortages sent thousands of peasants to seek better lives in Taiwan.

The island was often lawless. Immigrants fought each other and the aborigines over land and water rights.

Taiwan becomes a colony of Japan: 1895 to 1945

Following China’s defeat in the 1894 war with Japan, Taiwan belonged to Japan. In the first 20 years of Japanese rule, great improvements were made in public health on the island. However, Japanese control of natural resources such as coal and forests angered residents.

Taiwan after World War II: 1945 to 1975

Following the withdrawal of the Japanese after World War II, Taiwan became part of the Republic of China (ROC), the state founded on the Chinese mainland in 1911after the overthrow of the last emperor. After World War II, the ROC’s president was Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Unfortunately, the Taiwan governor made a bad situation worse. The economy was mismanaged, and there was massive corruption.

Many Taiwanese were angry at the new regime, and there was a full-scale uprising.

Meanwhile on the mainland, the KMT was losing to Mao Zedong’s Communists. In December 1949, Chiang moved to Taiwan, which was still free from the Communists. Over 1.5 million mainland Chinese joined Chiang in Taiwan. He established an ROC regime, which claimed to be the legitimate government of all China. No dissent was permitted. Until the 1970s, opponents were locked up or executed.

The new government started a successful land reform. Manufacturing grew and became the main export.

Between 1950 and 1970, the population almost doubled to 14.6 million. On the streets, motorcycles and cars replaced bicycles and ox carts.

Taiwan since 1975

Chiang Kai-shek died in 1975. In 1978, the United States broke off relations with Taiwan in order to establish diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China (Communist China).

In 1996 Lee Teng-hui became the country’s first Taiwan-born president when he won the island’s first real presidential election. He pushed democracy for Taiwan. Taiwan’s parliament and newspapers were free to reflect public opinion.

Taiwan enjoyed an economic boom from the 1980s, based on high-tech products such as computer accessories. Taiwan has made progress on other fronts, introducing a much-admired National Health Insurance system and social welfare programs.

Source: History of Taiwan
© Copyright 2012 - 2020 Life of Taiwan

Back to top