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Succinct Statement on Taiwan's Status

The following is a key excerpt from a recent FT story about Taiwan, by Kathrin Hille, which (unlike 90% of what you read in the papers) manages to accurately describe Taiwan-Chinese relations in less than 225 words.

“International news reports frequently claim that Taiwan “broke away from the mainland at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949”. Beijing “has shaped international discourse to the extent that many observers will talk about China’s plans to ‘reunify’ or ‘retake’ Taiwan without acknowledging that Taiwan has never been a part of the People’s Republic,” says Ms Kassam.

For starters, the country whose founding anniversary Taipei celebrates is the Republic of China (ROC), the state created in the first Chinese Revolution in 1911. Taiwan was at that time not part of China but a Japanese colony.

Neither the ROC’s ruling party, the Kuomintang, nor the Chinese Communist party viewed Taiwan as part of China during this period. It was not until 1943 that the CCP reversed course.

In 1945, after Japan lost the second world war, the KMT took over Taiwan and fled to the island four years later upon its defeat in the Chinese Civil War.

By imposing martial law, persecuting local elites and imposing a Chinese nationalist ideology on the Japanese-educated population, KMT rule quickly sparked resentment. It also gave rise to an independence movement in which today’s ruling Democratic Progressive party has its roots. But this movement had nothing to do with the People’s Republic of China — it was aimed at shaking off Taiwan’s ROC.”

For more on Taiwan’s current international status, read “Taiwan’s Status Is a Geopolitical Absurdity” by Chris Horton in The Atlantic.

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