Taiwan and China

Taiwan is a country many of us are familiar with, but many people cannot tell you the difference between China and Taiwan.  Taiwan is in many ways the result of its history as a land influenced by many cultures.  The complexity of the history of Taiwan has led to a very interesting political dilemma for Chinese and Taiwanese citizens.

In 1624 the Dutch settled in modern Taiwan which they dubbed "Formosa."  They made it a colony and conducted trade from there until they were expelled by Chinese settlers.  By 1683 it was considered part of China, but the Japanese had an interest in the island as well.

In 1895, during the first Sino-Japanese war, the Japanese conquered the island and took over.  They ruled for the next 50 years, during which they improved the infrastructure greatly.  During World War II Taiwan was an important military launching point during the Imperial Navy's campaigns.  However after the Japanese defeat the island was surrendered.

Shortly thereafter, however the Maoist Chinese won the Chinese Civil War and Chang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan.  From there, his people claimed to still be the rightful rulers of China, including the mainland.  Meanwhile, the Communist mainland, unsurprisingly, not only disregarded this claim, but claimed that Taiwan was a part of Communist China.

Many of the refugees who fled to Taiwan to escape the communists were China's intellectual and business elite.  This had a beneficial effect on the developing island.  While a strange form of conflict continued into the 1960's, Taiwan and China were largely operating as separate entities, despite China's claims that it was still a part of the mainland government's rule.

Taiwan has continued to become a more liberal and free-market society over the years, leading to considerable conflict with the ethos and practices of the mainland.  While China has begrudgingly allowed the country to continue some form of self-determination, there is a very strange political aura around the situation. 

Ultimately neither Taiwan nor mainland China seems to prefer to force the issue.  America's role is also unusual in that they make clear their desire to see Taiwan continue self-determination, while all at least ostensibly agreeing to a "one China policy."  To many this seems simply like a form of denial, where the final solution is indefinitely deferred.  Ultimately all parties seem unwilling to disturb the status quo, even if the official status quo is difficult to determine.

Author Info: 

Equity Sweat is a forum for investment and financial discussion, including discussion of Asian policy.

Publish This Article

Photo Source

Tags for Taiwan and China