TAIWAN, THE REPUBLIC OF CHINA
official name: Taiwan, Chung-hua Minkuo
3. administrative division
5. political parties
6. state system
7. state structure
8. international status
9. Cross-Straits relations
Appendix: ideas for dummies
1. Names: Formosa, Taiwan Province, Republic of China (ROC), Taiwan (1)
Taiwans oldest name Formosa is attributed to Portugese sailors passing the island on their way to Japan and naming it ilha formosa, beautiful island.
On January 1, 1912 Sun Yat-sen, chosen as interim president by the provisional national assembly of provincial delegates, proclaimed the establishment of the Republic of China. At that time the island Taiwan was a Japanese island (2) and thus the name Republic of China did not relate to Taiwan.
In 1945 Chiang Kai-shek sent troops to Taiwan to recover it from the Japanese. Until 1949 it had the status and name of Taiwan province of the Republic of China. In that year Chiang Kai-shek lost control of the mainland to the communists, and had to flee to Taiwan and install the government of the Republic of China there. Taiwan had still the status of a province (3) of this republic-in-exile but represented also the Republic of China, and thus a double name: Taiwan (province) and Republic of China.
Political and economic developments in the 80s and 90s moved state power away from Chiang Kai-sheks mainlanders (4) to the Taiwanese (5), and the Kuomintang had to compete for power with the Democratic Progressive Party. Both parties have champions for Taiwan independence who wish to rectify names(6) and discard the name Republic of China for the name Taiwan(7).
The area of Taiwan includes the islands Taiwan, Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu (the Pescadores) and some smaller islands and islets.
The total area of Taiwan is 32.260 km² of land and 3.720 km² of water. Taiwan also claims 12 nautical miles territorial sea and 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone. Taiwan island is approximately 394 kilometres long and at its widest point 144 kilometres wide, and has 1566 kilometres coastline The eastern and central part of the country is mountainous, its highest point is mount Yushan (3997 metres), and about two-hundred mountain peaks are over 3000 metres high; the western part is flat.
Taiwan island is situated less than 160 kilometres off the south-eastern coast of China. Since China also claims 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone, arise boundary disputes (8) arise, not so much with China (9) which already claims sovereignty over all of Taiwan, but with Chinese fishing-boats (10). More serious boundary disputes arise from the conflicting claims on the Spratley and Paracel Islands (11).
3. Administrative division
Taiwan administers two provinces (sheng): Taiwan and part of Fukien, and two provincial-level municipalities (zhixiashi): Taipei and Kaohsiung. Taiwan province administers Taiwan island and Penghu and is divided into eighteen counties (xian) and five provincial cities (shengguanshi). Fukien province administers two island groups of county level, Kinmen and Matsu.
Administrative hierarchical structure: national level, provinces and provincial-level municipalities, counties and provincial cities, rural townships and urban townships, villages and neighbourhoods.
Total population: 22.708,280 million, density 627,51/km²; birth rate: 8,29 , death rate: 6,13 , population growth: 2,16 (12).
Ethnic groups: Taiwanese 84%, mainland Chinese 14%, aborigines 2%. Languages: Mandarin, Taiwanese (Minnan), Hakka dialects, aboriginal dialects(13).
5. Political parties:
During Chiang Kai-sheks reign the Emergency Decree put a ban on the formation of new political parties. Political activists were sent to prison. When in 1975 Chiang Kai-Shek died , his son Chiang Ching-kuo succeeded him and became president in 1978 after Yen Chia-kan had served out the remainder of Chiang Kai-Sheks term.
Under his administration there was a gradual loosening of political controls, culminating in the second half of the eighties with freedom of demonstration, of association and press freedom laid down in new legislation. Most important: the lifting of the Emergency Decree on July 15, 1987 and the passing of the Law on civic organizations January 20, 1989, thereby legalizing new political parties.
From that date the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), established September 28, 1986, could openly compete for power with the old Kuomingtang (KMT) of mainland Chinese and Taiwanese. There are other new parties, like the People First Party but for now only DPP and KMT have great appeal to the electorate, and since the elections in 2000 the DPP got the upper hand (14).
6. State system:
The Constitution of the Republic of China, adopted January 1, 1947 is the basic document for the Taiwan government. It was drawn up to govern the whole of China. When the KMT government fled to Taiwan in 1949, it was internationally still recognized as the government of all China and it continued to assert that claim until 1991. The repulsion of the ROC from the U.N. and its subsidiaries, its seat and membership given to the Peoples Republic of China (1971) and the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Peoples Republic of China and the United States (1979) and other western countries and Taiwan, always on the condition of cutting diplomatic relations with the ROC, made it clear that the ROC had to give up its key point of recovering the mainland from the communists. In the end it recognized that it effectively exercised jurisdiction only over Taiwan (province), that is, the islands of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (15). The focus then shifted to the educational and economic development of Taiwan. Chiang Ching-kuo also made the first moves toward political reform. Political reform continued under Lee Teng-hui (16) who steered Taiwan towards full democracy and full enjoyment of the freedoms the Constitution had promised (17).
The transition from a one-party system to a multiparty system, from autocracy to democracy came about by legislation and especially by amendments to the 1947 Constitution, in the form of additional articles, in 1991 (18), 1992 (19), 1994 (20), 1997 (21), 1999 (22), 2000 (23) and 2005 (24).
The question whether Taiwan will have a parliamentary or presidential state system is still open, as the current system is a sort of combination of the two: the president has the first word and the legislative combined with the judicial council the last word (25).
7. State structure
According to the constitution Taiwan is a republic with a national assembly (26), a president and vice-president and five branches of government (27): the executive council (cabinet), the legislative council (parlement), the judicial council, the examination council and the control council. The additional articles/amendments to the Constitution have allowed for a transfer of most functions of the national assembly and some functions of the control council to the legislative council, and strengthened the powers of the president.
The additional articles of 1994 transferred the right to elect the president and the vice-president from the national assembly to the people of Taiwan.
The five additional articles of 2005 halved the seats of the legislative council from 225 to 113 seats; enlarged the number of constituencies from 29 to 73, with single representatives and two ballot first past the post elections; elimination of the national assembly; ratification of future constitutional amendments, if approved by a three-quarter majority in the legislative council, by a national referendum and passed if endorsed by 50% of registered voters; and transfer of the power to impeach the president and the vice-president to the legislative council and the Grand Judges of the judicial council.
According to the amendments of 2005 the state structure is now: a president and vice-president and five branches of government. There are plans in the make to reduce the five councils to three, legislative, executive and judicial, eliminating the examination and control councils. That will be a hard nut to crack because of the new ratification procedure for future constitutional revisions introduced by the amendments.
8. International status of
The international status of Taiwan is a controversial issue. The DPP and the KMT take opposite positions: the DPP favours eventual independency of China, the KMT favours reunification with China, whenever the Chinese Communist Party-PRC should hand the power over China back to the KMT-ROC. As Taiwan has its own parliament, cabinet and judiciary, and governs itself, it is de facto an independent country. But China considers Taiwan de jure as part of its own territory and insists on its reunification with the mainland. To prevent an outright war (28), China, Taiwan and its protector, the United States, all oppose any unilateral action that alters the actual status of the island. But they interpret this status quo differently.
China defines the status quo of the cross-straits relations as a synonym for the one-China policy, that both sides of the Taiwan Straits belong to one and the same China, with the eventual reunification of Taiwan with its motherland. But it will not respect the status quo indefinitely, and reserves the right to employ and execute non-peaceful means should secessionist forces cause Taiwans secession from China or in case all attempts at peaceful reunification should fall flat (29).
Taiwan defines the status quo as a synonym for Taiwans independence as a de facto independent country within specified boundaries(30), with a permanent population, a government exercising exclusive control over its territory, and formal and informal bilateral diplomatic relations with many countries and membership in a number of international organisations like APEC, ADB, WTO and IOC(31).
The United States, acknowledging but not recognizing Chinas claim on Taiwan, define the status quo as factual independence though not internationally recognized legal independence. All parties should tolerate indefinitely Taiwans ambiguous status of de facto independence until Taiwan and China can agree on a peaceful resolution of their dispute.
Taiwan independence is a political movement for the creation of a sovereign Republic of Taiwan, seeking international recognition as a de jure independent country, separate from any concept of China. The movement started in 1895 when Japan began to rule the island, and intensified under the rule of the mainlanders because of the 1947 massacre and the discrimination (32) of Taiwanese people. As Taiwan over the years developed into a prosperous and democratically governed country, with real constitutional freedoms for all, Taiwanese and mainlanders, the prospect of reunification with the dictatorial and relatively poor mainland was far from attractive. Symbols of the movement are using the name Taiwan instead of Republic of China, promoting the use of the Taiwanese language and rewriting history books to focus exclusively on Taiwan.
Another interpretation of Taiwan independence is acceptance of the status quo, that Taiwan is de facto an independent country under the official name of Republic of China, separate from China. For the DPP independence and sovereignty are identical, the KMT makes a distinction and will maintain the sovereignty of the Republic of China but opposes Taiwan independence.
The PRC defines Taiwan independence as splitting Taiwan from China. The PRC holds that in 1949 the Republic of China was replaced by the PRC as the legitimate government, so assertions that the Republic of China is still a sovereign state and therefore independent are unacceptable, as are proposals to bury the Republic of China and change the name to Taiwan. Instead the PRC adheres to the status quo, that there is only one China and both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China. Basis for peaceful national reunification is the acceptance of the one-China principle. If no peaceful reunification is possible, China will resort to non-peaceful means to bring reunification about, that is by force of arms (33).
The majority of the people in Taiwan want the status quo, whatever the definition, not reunification because Taiwans position in the union is uncertain, nor a declaration of independence because in that case Chinas angry reaction is certain (34). But whether China will react with words or indeed with arms is less certain. If China resorted to war, Taiwans ally, the United States, could find there an alibi to enter the war and crush Chinas economic and political expansion and growing influence as a second world power (35).
Chinas basic principle is that there is only one China, i.e. the Peoples Republic of China which in 1949 succeeded to the Republic of China and that Taiwan is therefore a renegade province (36) of the Peoples Republic of China. In 1950 the PRC intended to liberate Taiwan by military force, but repeated naval engagements resulted in heavy losses. The Korean War 1950 till 1953, with the Seventh Fleet of the United States deployed to Taiwan, and the mutual defence treaty between the U.S. and Taiwan, made military liberation of Taiwan not a realistic option. In 1956 Zhou En-lai proposed peace negotiations and asked the Taiwan authorities to set a date and a place. Taiwan replied with five conditions for negotiations, e.g. that land, commercial and industrial enterprises and other private property be returned to the owners, prisoners in concentration camps be released, that the political authority in Peking be annulled and transfer its loyalty to the Republic of China (37)! After the establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States, the PRC renewed its efforts for reunification with declaration after declaration (38) and diplomatic manoeuvring blocking Taiwans membership of international organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) (39) and refusing to maintain diplomatic relations with any country that recognises the Republic of China.
Most countries want favourable diplomatic relations with China because of its cheap labour and potentially big market. They uphold Chinas official line and cut (official) diplomatic ties with Taiwan. The exclusion from organizations of the United Nations is a consequence of the 1971 U.N. declaration that the representatives of the government of the PRC are the only lawful representatives of China to the United Nations (40). The refusal of the WHO to give Taiwan information during the SARS-epidemic (41) and the enterovirus epidemic (42) on the ground that Taiwan was not a member or observer of the WHO - no wonder since the WHO repeatedly turned down Taiwans bid to join -, was illogical and against the WHO constitution which declares that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition(43). During the 2005 session the WHO even signed a memorandum of understanding with the PRC, declaring Taiwans bid a domestic Chinese (i.e. PRC issue (44), thereby endorsing the one China policy. But the One-China is just a policy, it is not a description of present-day reality. All Chinas declarations, diplomatic manoeuvres and threats mask its impotency to come to terms with facts and find a political formula that could be acceptable to both countries.
Taiwans basic principle is that the Republic of China is an independent, sovereign state. This opening sentence of the six-point statement of President Chen Shuibian (45) regarding Chinas anti-separation law, continues Taiwans sovereignty belongs to the 23 million people of Taiwan and only the 23 million people of Taiwan may decide to change the future of Taiwan. Clearly, the Republic of China and Taiwan are seen as identical. The process of the formulation and passage of the anti-separation law is seen as proof of the institutional differences between the two sides, between democratic and undemocratic, between peaceful end non-peaceful. For the president the anti-separation law is undemocratic and un-peaceful in that the law expressly stipulates the use of violence to infringe the basic rights and interests of other people. By this law the Chinese government would unilaterally change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. This has a negative impact on the cross-strait relations which lately were showing signs of improvement. Taiwans position in the dispute reconciliation but not flinching, standing firm yet avoid confrontation. We have been happy to share our developmental experiences in all areas, but what people on the other side of the Strait need most, are three special products of Taiwan that we are most happily to share: our democratic system, complete freedom and protection of human rights. And indeed, Taiwan has been a key factor in Chinas economic transformation, moving industries and services to the mainland at astonishing speed. In the 1970s and 1980s, the light-industrial firms moved their toy, textile, electrical appliances and footwear factories to Fujian and Guangdong because they needed cheap labour to remain competitive. In the 1990s, Taiwans high-tech and IT firms followed for the same reason. Most Taiwanese motherboard makers, computer-chip factories, desktop computers and notebooks manufacturers moved their production lines to China (Acer, Mitac, and contractors for Dell, HP etc.). Investments have shifted from Fujian and Guangdong to Shanghai and the surrounding Yangtze River Delta. Entrepreneurs in Taiwan are concentrating on high-tech research, development and design, in cooperation with Taiwans universities.
Globalisation, fierce international competition, and the complementarity of the two sides have led to an informal integration of their economies. The shift to China causes great concern to Taiwanese political and business leaders. Political leaders are careful, without economic independence Taiwans political independence is at risk. The business leaders are concerned because of the danger of politico-economic blackmail.
The cross-straits relations remain as volatile as ever. As long as Taiwans political independence is not accepted, this trend is not likely to change.
1) This namelist is not exhaustive. In international
organisations it is pressed to assume the name of Taipei, China, Chinese Taipei, or:
separate customs territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (Chinese Taipei); for the
fine political distinction between Taipei, China (Zhongguo Taibei) and Chinese
Taipei (Zhonghua Taibei), see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Taipei
APPENDIX: IDEAS FOR DUMMIES
1. open the links folder for an overview of all the subject folders so you know there is more than just law in life
2. then go the folder you want to explore, and
3. if you have a certain subject in mind, just type Ctrl-F and fill in the subject name, e.g. if you consider taekwondo as part of your culture, go to the culture folder and type Ctrl-F taekwondo
4. if you don't find your subject in the links, try http://www.google.com or http://search.yahoo.com or one of the Chinese engines of http://www.searchenginecolossus.com/Taiwan.html, or descend to Hooverplein 9 (-1), B-3000 Leuven
5. if a link is broken, do not despair, try Explorer's View-refresh, or paste the url in a fresh Explorer page, or paste the url in Google's search and try its cache, or paste the url in http://www.archive.org/mediatypes-browse.php, or write to the webmaster
6. if a link shows strange characters, go to Explorer's view-encoding (traditional characters, resp. simplified characters)
7. when you use the folder 'Chinese law texts', attention!
The law.moj.-links of the type A00, B00 &c. are subject-specific clusters, a collection of all laws on that subject, even laws that have been abolished. These have a red mark engraved with the character fei (i.e. abolished)
Open a link and select a law, which brings you to the site quanguo fagui ziliaoku, click the folder suoyou tiaowen for the text of your selected law.
If the selected text is an amendment, there will be a link on top for the full text of the amended law. And vice-versa: if the selected has been amended, you will find a link to the amendment on top of the selected law.
Searching for a law in the lawbank-links follows the same way: open the link and select a law, arrive in the site falüwang and click the folder suoyou tiaowen for the text of the selected law.
8. when you use the folder 'translations', attention!
Open the general law.moj.-links: selecting a text, opens the text.
Searching for a law in the general lawbank-links: open the link and select the law, which brings you to the site lawbank, click the title and/or the folder article content for the text of the translation
9. Your legal education needs a little updating? Consult http://search.moj.gov.tw/fun_summer/index.asp
© 2005 Jacoba J.H.M.Hanenburg