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Republic of China

The Republic of China (Traditional Chinese: 中華民國, Simplified Chinese: 中华民国; Wade-Giles: Chung-hua Min-kuo, Tongyong Pinyin: JhongHuá MínGuó, Hanyu Pinyin: Zhōnghuá Mínguó) is a state that currently administers Taiwan, Penghu, and several outlying islands of Fujian, namely Quemoy and Matsu. The term Taiwan is often used synonymously with the Republic of China and "China" is used to mean the People's Republic of China.

Succeeding the Qing Dynasty in China, the Republic of China (ROC) administered Mainland China from 1911 to 1949, until it was defeated by the Chinese Communists, and has administered Taiwan from 1945 until the present. The provisional capital is Taipei and official capital remains the city of Nanjing in Mainland China. (See also: Min Guo)

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China on the mainland, the Political status of Taiwan has been a controversial issue. After losing control over Mainland China, the ruling Kuomintang authorities actively claimed sovereignty over mainland China (including Tibet) and outer Mongolia. In 1991, President Lee Teng-hui stated that the government will no longer challenge communist rule on the mainland. The current administration of President Chen Shui-bian has left the issue of sovereignty deliberately ambiguous. Although the government has stopped mentioning Mainland China and its websites feature maps and pictures of Taiwan, the National Assembly has not formally renounced the ROC's jurisdiction over mainland China and outer Mongolia, as this would be seen as a precursor to Taiwan independence.

JhongHuá MínGuó
(In Detail)
National motto: None
Official language Mandarin Chinese
Capital Taipei¹
Largest City Taipei
PresidentChen Shui-bian
Premier Yu Shyi-kun
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 134th
35,980 km²
 - Total (2002)
 - Density
Ranked 47th
 - Declared
 - Established
Wuchang Uprising
October 10, 1911
January 1, 1912
Currency New Taiwan dollar
Time zone UTC +8
National anthem Three Principles of the People
Internet TLD.TW
Calling Code886
(1) Provisional; official ROC capital remains the city of Nanking in Mainland China

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Political divisions
4 Foreign relations
5 Military
6 Economy
7 Demographics
8 Culture
9 Miscellaneous topics
10 External Links


Main articles: History of China, History of the Republic of China

The Republic of China developed out of the Wuchang Uprising against the Qing Dynasty which began on October 10, 1911 and was declared on January 1, 1912, with Sun Yat-sen elected the first president. As part of the agreement to have the last emperor Puyi abdicate, Yuan Shikai was officially elected president in 1913. However, Yuan dissolved the ruling Kuomintang and declared himself emperor in 1915.

Many provinces declared independence and became warlord states. Yuan Shikai died of natural causes in 1916. Sun Yat-sen gained control of Guangdong province with the help of southern warlords in 1917, and set up a rival government. Sun reestablished Kuomintang in October 1919.

After Sun's death in 1925, General Chiang Kai-shek gained control of the KMT and, with the help of the Soviet Union, led the successful Northern Expedition which effectively defeated the warlords and united China. However, Chiang soon dismissed his Soviet advisors, and purged communists and leftists from the KMT, inciting the Chinese Civil War.

Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931 and made massive territorial gains in the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). With Japan's surrender in 1945, the Republic of China emerged victorious and became one of the founding members of the United Nations.

The civil war resumed and intensified after the Japanese surrender, and when it ended in the Communist Party of China's favor in 1949, Chiang Kai-shek evacuated the government to Taiwan, which had been recovered from Japan in 1945, and declared Taipei as the temporary capital of China, bringing some 2 million refugees from Mainland China. Because of the Cold War, until the 1970s, the Republic of China was recognized as the sole legitimate government of both Mainland China and Taiwan by the UN and most Western nations.

Taiwan remained under martial law for 4 decades until 1987 and one-party rule until the late 1980s, when Presidents Chiang Ching-kuo (died 1988) and Lee Teng-hui gradually liberalized and democratized the system. In 2000, Chen Shui-bian was elected president, ending KMT rule.

See also: History of Taiwan, Timeline of Chinese history


Main article: Politics of the Republic of China

The Republic of China has undergone a process of democratisation since its constitution was reformed in the early 1990s. The head of state is the president, who is elected by popular vote for a four-year term on the same ticket as the vice-president. The president has authority over the five administrative branches (Yuan): the Executive Yuan, Legislative Yuan, Control Yuan, Judicial Yuan, and Examination Yuan. The president appoints the members of the Executive Yuan as his cabinet, including a premier who is officially the President of the Executive Yuan; members are responsible for policy and administration.

The main legislative body is the unicameral Legislative Yuan with 225 seats, of which 168 are elected by popular vote. Of the remainder, 41 are elected on the basis of the proportion of nationwide votes received by participating political parties, eight are elected from overseas Chinese constituencies on the same principle, as are the eight seats for the aboriginal populations; members serve three-year terms. Originally the unicameral National Assembly, as a standing constitutional convention and electoral college, held some parliamentary functions, but this has now become a non-standing body of 300 members that has seen most of its powers transferred to the Legislative Yuan.

The relationship with the People's Republic of China and the related issues of either Taiwan independence or Chinese reunification continue to dominate Taiwanese politics. The political scene in the ROC is divided into two camps, with the unification-leaning Kuomintang, People First Party, and New Party forming the Pan-Blue Coalition, while the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party and Taiwan Solidarity Union forms the Pan-Green Coalition.

Political divisions

Main article: Political divisions of the Republic of China

Current jurisdiction of the ROC

The Republic of China retains administration of two of the historic provinces of China and centrally administers two municipalities:

Foreign relations

Main article:
Foreign relations of the Republic of China

The Republic of China continues to be officially recognized by 27 nations, mostly small countries in Central America and Africa but also including the Holy See. The People's Republic of China has a policy of not having diplomatic relations with any nation which recognizes the Republic of China and insists that all nations with which it has diplomatic relations make a statement which recognizes its claims to Taiwan. In practice, most major nations maintain unofficial semi-diplomatic relations with Taiwan and the statement which is required by the PRC is couched in extremely carefully worded ambiguity.

The Republic of China, as one of its founding members was in the United Nations and held China's seat on the Security Council until 1971, when it was expelled by General Assembly Resolution Resolution 2758 and replaced in all UN organs with the People's Republic of China government. Multiple attempts by the Republic of China to re-join the UN have not made it past committee. (See China and the United Nations)

Besides the dispute with the PRC over the mainland, the ROC also has a controversial relationship with Mongolia. Until 1945, the ROC claimed jurisdiction over Mongolia, but under Soviet pressure, it recognized Mongolian independence. Shortly thereafter, it repudiated this recognition and continued to claim jurisdiction over Mongolia until recently. Since the late 1990s, relationship with Mongolia has become a controversial topic. The DPP is attempting to establish diplomatic relations with Mongolia, but this move is controversial because it is widely seen as a prelude for renouncing ROC sovereignty over Mainland China thereby declaring Taiwan independence.


Main article: Military of the Republic of China

The Republic of China maintains a large military establishment, mainly as defense against invasion by the People's Republic of China, which is seen as the predominant threat and which has not renounced the use of force against the ROC. Until the 1970s, the military primary mission was to retake the Mainland.

The ROC's armed forces number approximately 430,000, and reserves reportedly total 3,870,000. The ROC has implemented a force reduction program to scale down its military to a level of 400,000 by FY 2001. Conscription remains universal for qualified males reaching age 18.

A significant amount of military hardware is supplied by the United States.


Main article: Economy of Taiwan

Although the PRC objects to having other countries maintain diplomatic or official relations with the ROC, it does not object to having the ROC maintain economic relations. Consequently, the Republic of China is a member of governmental trade organizations such as the WTO and APEC under the name Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (台灣、澎湖、金門及馬祖個別關稅領域).

The Republic of China on Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy with gradually decreasing guidance of investment and foreign trade by government authorities. In keeping with this trend, some large government-owned banks and industrial firms are being privatised. Real growth in GDP has averaged about 8% during the past three decades. Exports have provided the primary impetus for industrialisation. The trade surplus is substantial, and foreign reserves are the world's third largest.

Agriculture contributes 2% to GDP, down from 35% in 1952. Traditional labour-intensive industries are steadily being moved offshore and replaced with more capital- and technology-intensive industries. Taiwan has become a major investor in Mainland China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam; 50,000 Taiwanese businesses are established in Mainland China.

Because of its conservative financial approach and its entrepreneurial strengths, Taiwan suffered little compared with many of its neighbours from the Asian financial crisis in 1998-1999. The global economic downturn, however, combined with poor policy coordination by the new administration and increasing bad debts in the banking system, pushed Taiwan into recession in 2001, the first whole year of negative growth since 1947. Unemployment also reached a level not seen since the 1970s oil crisis, and this became a major issue in the presidential election of 2004.

See also: East Asian Tigers


Main article: Demographics of Taiwan

The aboriginal population of Taiwan, divided into ten main tribes, now makes up 2% of the ROC's jurisdiction. The remainder consists of Han Chinese, who themselves consist of early Han immigrants who are referred to as "Bensheng ren" (84%) and later immigrants which are referred to as "Waisheng ren" or "Mainlanders" (14%) that fled the mainland in 1949. The Bensheng ren consist of descendants of migrants from Southern Fujian, as well as the Hakka (15%), who are concentrated in several counties throughout Taiwan, with extensive intermarriage with Taiwanese aborigines.

Almost everyone on Taiwan born after the early-1950's can speak Mandarin Chinese, which has been the medium of instruction in the schools for more than four decades. A large fraction of people also speak one of the Southern Fujianese dialects, Min-nan, also known as Taiwanese. The Hakka have a distinct Hakka dialect. Between 1900 and 1945 Japanese was the medium of instruction and can be fluently spoken by many educated during that period. Chinese romanisation on Taiwan uses both Tongyong pinyin which has been officially adopted by the national government, and Hanyu pinyin which some localities use. Wade-Giles, used traditionally, is also found.

About half of the ROC population can be considered religious believers, most of whom identify themselves as Buddhists or Taoists. At the same time there is a strong belief in folk religion. These are not mutually exclusive, and many people practice a combination of the three. Confucianism also is an honored school of thought and ethical code. Christian churches have been active on Taiwan for many years, a majority of which are Protestant and with Presbyterians playing a particularly significant role.


Main article: Culture of China, Culture of Taiwan

The early years of the Republic of China saw the New Cultural Movement, with the gradual liberalization of society. Old imperial practices such as footbinding were discontinued. In accordance with the tradition of changing the style of dress for successive dynasties, Sun Yat-sen popularized the changshan (female equivalent being qipao). Mao Zedong would later adapted the upper part of changshan and wear the style become known to westerners as the Mao suit.

After the retreat to Taiwan, the Nationalists took many steps to preserve traditional Chinese culture. The government launched a program promoting Chinese calligraphy, traditional Chinese painting, Chinese folk arts, and Chinese opera. The National Palace Museum opened in Taipei, housing over 650,000 pieces of Chinese bronze, jade, calligraphy, painting, and porcelain moved from the mainland in 1949 and accounting for 10% of China's cultural treasures.

Over the years, Taiwan gradually developed a distinct cultural identity (see Taiwan localization movement). Western ideas began to influence local culture, as western dress became popular and western words entered into the Chinese vocabulary.

Until the 1970s, sports teams from the Republic of China continued to play under the name "China," as the communists largely stayed away from the international sporting scene, due mainly to the Cultural Revolution. However, along with the switch in diplomatic recognition, the titles of sports teams were also transferred. Today, sports teams from the Republic of China usually play under the name Chinese Taipei (中華台北 Zhonghua Taipei) and fly a specially designed non-political flag in place of the flag of the Republic of China.

The ROC might be the first country in Asia to legally support same-sex marriage [1].

Public Holidays
Date English Name Local Name Remarks
January 1 Founding Day 開國紀念日 Founding of the ROC on January 1, 1912
February 28 Peace Memorial Day 和平紀念日 February 28 Incident on February 28, 1947
April 5 Tomb Sweeping Day 清明節 Passing of Chiang Kai-shek on April 5, 1975
October 10 Double Tenth Day 國慶日 Wuchang Uprising on October 10, 1911
1st day of 1st lunar month Chinese New Year 春節 Based on Chinese calendar
5th day of 5th lunar month Dragon Boat Festival (Dragon Festival) 端午節 Based on Chinese calendar
15th day of 8th lunar month Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Festival) 中秋節 Based on Chinese calendar

Miscellaneous topics

External Links

Government websites


Countries of the world  |  Asia
simple:Republic of China zh-cn:中华民国 zh-tw:中華民國