A Note on the History of China and Taiwan

* Chiang fled to Taiwan in 1949 with 2 million of his followers following their defeat by Communist forces who had achieved effective control of mainland China. The Peoples Republic of China was proclaimed in October 1949

* Chiang established or, more precisely, relocated the government of the Republic of China in Taiwan in 1949. The Republic had been formed following the successful revolution against the Qing in 1911. It was the government of the Republic, under Chiang, which had assumed China’s seat at the United Nations and at the Security Council upon the foundation of the UN in 1945.

* This  situation continued until 1971, when, as a result of the Nixon/ Mao rapprochement, the PRC government replaced the Republic as China’s representative at the United Nations.

* In 1979 Congress passed the  Taiwanese Relations Act which authorised quasi-diplomatic relations with the ” governing authorities on Taiwan”. The Act did not recognise the terminology ‘Republic of China’ after the 1st Jan 1979 but stipulated that the United States would ‘consider any effort to determine the future of Tawan by other than peaceful means, including boycotts or embargoes, a threat to peace and ecurity… and of grave concern to the United States.”

*The Act also authorised the United States “to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character” and “to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force …”The Administration proposal for an Arms sale  presently before Congress is pursuant to these provisions.

* Taiwan became a functioning democracy, recognizing human rights and holding genuine elections, in the early 1980’s

Published in: on February 7, 2010 at 9:53 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi John, your post reminded me of a Radio National program on the history of Taiwan that was produced by “Rear Vision” in 2008. It’s a succinct, 25 minute overview of Taiwan’s recent history.

    If you or your readers are interested, you can find the transcript and download the audio from:

  2. Thanks Harry.Very interesting. Rear Vision is an excellent programme, isn’t it?

    It brings out that the Taiwanese have a claim to self-determination independently of mere opposition to rule by the Chinese Communist Government. During the 1950’s and 1960 those who supported Taiwan did so largely because of opposition to Communist China and not on grounds of legitimate denial by Taiwan that it had ever been subject to Chinese sovereignty.

    The claim by China to sovereignty over Taiwan by conquest is by no means unchallengeable.Taiwan was never part of China throughout most of the long history 2000 year history of China, since the Han,and only became subject to Chinese control and, arguably to its sovereignty, in the 17th century. A Taiwanese revolt against the Chinese invaders was put down in 1638 and thereafter, although the island was subject to a loose Chinese rule, the exercise of any purported sovereignty was relatively tentative.Later,in 1896,the Taiwanese revolted against the invading Japanese, and did so as Taiwanese, not vicariously on behalf of China. Japan ruled Taiwan for half a century. And we know that Chiang, in proclaiming martial law there in 1949, put down, with force, strong Taiwanese resistance to his establishing of the Government of China there.

    But these historical considerations standing alone would probably not be sufficient to justify Taiwanese self-determination. It is additionally the de facto independence from China for the last sixty years, the separate economy, the separate and different political system,together with the resistance to any claim by China, which justify Taiwanese self-determination in accordance with the International Covenant (which China has signed), unless the the Taiwanese people were to express a wish to unite with China. The analogy of Tasmania is, of course, ludicrous.

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