Taiwan conflict

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The Taiwan conflict , including China-Taiwan conflict called, is the at the Chinese civil war subsequent dispute between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China on the status of Taiwan , which belongs to Taiwan islands (including Penghu Islands , Lü Dao , Lan Yu ) and other islands that historically belong to the provinces of Fujian ( Kinmen , Matsu Islands ), Guangdong ( Dongsha Islands ) and Hainan ( Taiping Dao) belong or belonged.

The PRC regards Taiwan as an "inseparable part of Chinese territory" (often imprecisely described as a breakaway province ), while the Republic of China sees itself in Taiwan as a sovereign state , from which mainland China "split" with the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949.

Both states claimed the right to the sole international representation of China as a whole ( one-China policy ). In the 1950s the Taiwan conflict was fought militarily , from the 1980s a process of gradual rapprochement followed, based mainly on economic interests. Relations between the two sides have improved steadily since Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008, which is particularly evident in the Framework Agreement on Economic Cooperation (ECFA) signed in 2010 . However, after President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, relations deteriorated again after Tsai made clear stress on Taiwan's right to political self-determination on several occasions.

Cross-strait map showing the formerly contested Quemoy and Matsu Islands


Development in Taiwan

Map of the Japanese Empire with Taiwan

After the end of the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, the victorious Japanese received the island of Taiwan (then Formosa) and the Pescadoren Islands from China in the Treaty of Shimonoseki . The population protested the treaty by founding the Democratic Republic of Taiwan . The Japanese took military action against this first republic in Asia. In addition, during the colonial rule, uprisings of the original inhabitants of the island by the Japanese and Chinese were suppressed several times and a system of reservation was applied at the end.

Under the Japanese rule, the island developed dynamically, which led to an economic advantage over the mainland. The added value of Taiwanese industry increased by 1,600 times by the end of Japanese rule in 1945 and was only inferior to Japanese industry in Asia. Among other things, the healthcare system also achieved one of the highest standards in Asia.

After the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II , Taiwan was once again placed under Chinese administration , as had already been announced in the Cairo Declaration of 1943. In 1945, the Taiwanese first welcomed the Chinese officials and soldiers sent by the Chinese national government , although they found the Japanese economic and administrative system to be good and useful for all of China. After a short time, however, it became clear that two different worlds were colliding: the Chinese mainland was underdeveloped and, at great sacrifice, was able to win the war imposed by Japan . Taiwan, on the other hand, had participated in Japan's economic boom and now saw itself as a representative of a progressive, material civilization that was to be a model for all of China. The mainland Chinese were alienated because the Taiwanese had adopted parts of the Japanese way of life. This was one of the reasons why the Chinese in Taiwan behaved like occupiers in a foreign country and not like liberators of an island that belonged to them. Therefore, Japanese property was also confiscated and brought from the island to the mainland. This behavior gave rise to resentment among the locals towards the mainland Chinese, which was reinforced by arbitrary justice.

Violent unrest broke out on February 28, 1947 . Since the relationship between Taiwanese and mainland Chinese was already strained due to the great poverty of the population, the situation escalated on February 27, 1947, when continental officials of the Chinese monopoly office were surrounded by bystanders after they had beaten up a Taiwanese cigarette seller. When the officials fled, they shot into the crowd chasing them; a Taiwanese man was killed in the process. The angry crowd now marched together to the monopoly office, which they burned down while the employees were able to flee. The subsequent protests in Taipei were the troops of the Republic of China violently suppressed. This eventually led to a rebellion that spanned the entire island of Taiwan. Reports of real and alleged atrocities committed by the government spread over the radio and over the phone.

To resolve this outbreak of violence, Taiwanese representative bodies were formed to try to settle the conflict. They drafted a policy program to regulate the incidents . The main reasons for the escalation were the alienation between the people and the government, the corruption, the unequal wages of Taiwanese and mainland Chinese and the transfer of formerly Japanese property into state property. To calm the situation and prevent further clashes, the program proposed the disarmament of government forces. In addition, no further soldiers should be requested from the mainland to resolve the incident by force. However, Chiang Kai-shek , the President of the Republic of China, which at that time still represented China as a whole, did not accept the proposals of the Taiwanese representative bodies. Instead, he sent more military to Taiwan. Although retaliatory was forbidden for these troops , they carried out massacres in revenge and deterrence , including deadly bystanders.

At the beginning of April 1947, the war minister of the Chinese national government, Bai Chongxi, recommended the formation of a provincial administration in Taiwan, which should be occupied by locals along the lines of other provinces. Instead of a military commander, a civilian became the governor. Taiwanese were given the opportunity to become civil servants and the state continued to pull out of Taiwan's economy. In addition, a new cultural policy was introduced, aimed at bringing Taiwanese people closer to (mainland) Chinese culture and showing them that they are part of this culture.

The Impact of the Chinese Civil War on Taiwan

After the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War , the Second United Front broke up and the Chinese civil war , which was fought between 1915 and 1937 first by various warlords and then between the Kuomintang , the supporters of the national Chinese government, and the communists , broke out again. In contrast to the course of the civil war before 1937, the communists succeeded in triumphing over the Kuomintang after 1945. The changed situation prompted the leader of the Kuomintang, Chiang Kai-shek, to begin preparations for the relocation of the Chinese national power and government apparatus from Nanjing to Taiwan. He also arranged for the Chinese state treasury to be relocated to the island as well as a large part of the armed forces and the party, because Chiang Kai-shek considered Taiwan the most suitable place for a later continuation of the anti-communist struggle and the reconquest of mainland China.

Stabilization of the Republic of China on Taiwan

The escape of the Kuomintang from the mainland had a sort of sieving effect, only those members who strongly identified with the party and its politics fled. During the Korean War , Chiang Kai-shek subjected his party to a 27-month reform movement aimed at correcting the mistakes of the past. The consequences of this reform were on the one hand the restructuring of the party, the government and the military and on the other hand the consolidation of rule in Taiwan. The reform, however, did not affect the overall Chinese structure of the Chinese national parliament and government, as well as the claim to be the only legitimate government in China. With this position generally recognized, the Republic of China remained a member of the United Nations and retained its seat on the UN Security Council , even though the Soviet Union and UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie sided with the People's Republic to represent China.

Taiwan's military conflicts with the People's Republic of China

The Kuomintang not only ruled Taiwan, but also some of the coastal islands off the coast from the Yangtze River to the Pearl River . From the communist point of view, conquering the islands could help repel an invasion, as they could be used as bridgeheads for such by the Kuomintang troops. The islands were used by the Republic of China to block parts of the Chinese coast. They also served as starting points for educational and propaganda missions . In 1950 the island of Hainan was conquered by the communists.

The coastal islands were also of great psychological importance. They were the last part of mainland China controlled by the national Chinese and raised hopes of return. For the communists, these islands were the humiliating symbol of the fact that they could not completely defeat the Kuomintang on the mainland, and they also represented strategic barriers to shipping and a threat to the security of the coastal region. An additional humiliation for the People's Republic of China was that 70 percent of the Chinese prisoners of war in the Korean War who were under the control of US and UN troops refused to return and moved to Taiwan.

First conflict over the coastal islands (First Quemoy Crisis)

After an attack by invasion troops of the People's Liberation Army in late October 1949 on the Quemoy Islands and a similar attack on the Tatan Islands in July 1950 failed, a crisis broke out again in the Strait of Taiwan in early September 1954. American media reported on August 27, 1954 that the US fleet that had been sent to this region during the Korean War would continue to protect only Taiwan and not the coastal islands held by the Kuomintang. According to these media reports, the People's Republic of China felt safe, not afraid of American intervention in an attack on the coastal islands, and opened fire on the Quemoy Islands on the morning of September 3. The national Chinese garrison there returned fire. The resulting military conflict lasted nine months.

Beijing had three independent goals with the attack:

  1. The elimination of the militarily disruptive and psychologically stressful barriers and the strategic military use of the coastal islands as bridgeheads for a later conquest of Taiwan.
  2. The testing of the military and psychological defenses of the national Chinese as well as their American support.
  3. The strategy of triple deterrence, which was supposed to prevent an alliance between the US and the Republic of China and to exclude Taiwan from the protection area of ​​the emerging Southeast Asia Pact . In addition, the problem of an anti-Beijing protection system for Taiwan should lead to rifts between the US and its allies.

It was assumed that Chiang Kai-shek could not hold the islands without American support. Although they were almost insignificant for the defense of Taiwan, their loss would have significantly worsened the overall military situation in the Republic of China. A proposal by the United Nations to negotiate a ceasefire was rejected by the People's Republic of China, so that the fighting, which was carried out in the form of artillery duels, as well as air and sea battles and also bombing, continued.

The fighting took a turn in favor of the People's Republic with the capture of the northernmost Yijang Shan Island by the People's Liberation Army on January 20, 1955. With the help of the USA, the Republic of China was able to evacuate this island.

Both sides had successes in this conflict. The People's Republic of China succeeded in driving the Kuomintang troops from the northern coastal islands, but they were able to defend the two strategically most important archipelagos, the Quemoy and the Matsu Islands .

Second conflict over the coastal islands (Second Quemoy crisis)

From the beginning of August 1958, the Republic of China took precautionary measures after verbal threats from the People's Republic of China and a concentration of Chinese forces on the coast off the national Chinese archipelagos was observed. The new conflict was opened by a bombardment of the Quemoy Islands by the Air Force of the People's Republic of China. Furthermore, the People's Liberation Army hindered the supply of supplies to the islands with barrages . Beijing also threatened an attack on Taiwan.

After lengthy deliberations, the USA decided to give the Taiwanese supply convoys escort by warships and the air force . By protecting the convoys, the United States prevented a counterattack by the Republic of China. Chiang Kai-shek threatened with one in case the supplies on the islands had run out. The United States also provided military aid to Taiwan in the form of fighter jets (including the F-86 and F-100 ) and other military equipment. In addition, from 1958 to 1959 the USA stationed around 48 then modern air defense systems of the Nike Hercules type of the 71st US Artillery Regiment on Taiwan. The People's Republic of China, in turn, received support in the form of arms deliveries from the Soviet Union. The Soviet head of government Nikita Khrushchev approved of China's measures to conquer the coastal islands because the USA had provoked the conflict and would hinder the representation of China in the UN by the People's Republic. Nevertheless, he avoided direct involvement of the USSR in this dispute, which also contributed to the fact that the People's Republic of China, despite the great military effort, did not gain control of the islands. Because in order to achieve this goal, the People's Republic of China would have had to wage war with the USA, which it would not have been able to do yet.

Thus, with American support, the Republic of China managed to hold the contested coastal islands this time without losing any further territories. In negotiations with Chiang Kai-shek, however, the US indicated that the Republic of China should do everything in its power to reach a ceasefire with the People's Republic of China. Otherwise, it would be internationally isolated due to the threat posed by the Chinese civil war to world peace . The United States of America referred to the example of the Federal Republic of Germany , which also strived for reunification , but only did so through peaceful means.

From Soviet archive material it appears that the leadership of the People's Republic of China did not intend to conquer Taiwan or even the offshore islands at the time. On October 2, 1959, in a conversation with NS Khrushchev in the presence of MA Suslow , AA Gromyko , Zhou Enlai , Liu Shaoqi , Lin Biao and Chen Yi, Mao Zedong said :

“Not only will we not touch Taiwan, but also the offshore islands, for ten, twenty, maybe thirty years. [...] We are firing on the offshore islands, but we will not try to free them. [...] We just wanted to cause trouble for the United States [...] and believe that our operation will be successful. "

Plan for the Republic of China to retake the mainland

Chiang Kai-shek planned a military attack on mainland China in 1962. He believed the political situation was favorable as the policy of the Great Leap Forward and regional natural disasters in the People's Republic of China had led to the so-called Three Bitter Years , in which millions of people died of starvation. In addition, the first cracks in foreign policy between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China became apparent.

The plan was to take two cities on the mainland by airborne forces and so unleash a popular uprising against the communists.

However, in a defense agreement with the USA, Taiwan was obliged to coordinate all offensive steps against the People's Republic of China with the United States of America. However, since the USA did not support an attack on the Chinese mainland and therefore stopped deliveries of kerosene to the Chinese national air force, the plan failed even before it was carried out.

International isolation of the Republic of China

States with diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 2008.

Until the early 1970s, China was represented in the United Nations by the Republic of China. However, this claim has never been undisputed. For example, all states of the so-called Eastern Bloc established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China and recognized them as representatives of China. The western states, on the other hand, had predominantly relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan. Both states - the People's Republic and the Republic of China - insisted on their claim to sole representation and the one-China position and did not allow other states to maintain official relations with the other.

On January 27, 1964, under President Charles de Gaulle , France became the first western country to establish official diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China and at the same time broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which it had maintained since the end of the World War.

In the course of the rapprochement between the USA and the People's Republic of China, Taiwan's position increasingly wavered. On October 25, 1971, at the request of Albania , an ally of Beijing, the United Nations voted on resolution 2758 of the UN General Assembly , which dealt with the representation of China to the United Nations. The result was the admission of the People's Republic as the “legitimate representative of China” to the UN and the expulsion of the republic. 76 states (including almost all European countries, including Austria - the two German states and Switzerland were not UN members at the time) and 35 states voted against the resolution. Votes against came from the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, among others. There were 17 abstentions. Taiwan was absent. In the following decades, more and more states broke off their diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) and established official relations with the People's Republic. A severe blow for Taiwan was the break in diplomatic relations with the old protecting power USA on January 1, 1979.

Despite the increasing diplomatic isolation, Taiwan's international cultural, scientific and economic relations continued and Taiwan developed economically into one of the four " tiger states " of East Asia.

As the last state to date, Kiribati broke off diplomatic relations with the Republic of China on September 20, 2019, just three days after the Solomon Islands took this step. Since then, only 14 states and the Holy See have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan:

In 56 other countries, including the USA , Canada , Russia and most of the European Union countries , Taiwan is "semi-officially" represented by cultural offices.

In contrast, the People's Republic of China maintained diplomatic relations with 161 states in 1999, including the veto powers in the UN Security Council, France , Great Britain , Russia and the USA. The Republic of China is trying to strengthen its foreign policy position with so-called "dollar diplomacy" by granting poor countries development aid and diplomatically recognizing Taiwan for this. This behavior has often led to confrontations with the People's Republic of China, and the partners gained as a result do not have the power to stand up for Taiwan's interests internationally.

Development of diplomatic relations

The fight between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China for diplomatic relations can be seen in the example of Nauru . On July 21, 2002, Nauru severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established official relations with the People's Republic of China. This Nauru probably paid a double-digit million amount to be sure of its support. In 2003, China also agreed to assume Naurus' $ 2.7 million debt to the Export-Import Bank of the United States for the purchase of a Boeing 737 . In March 2005, President Naurus, Ludwig Scotty , supported the efforts of the People's Republic of China in relation to reunification with Taiwan. In March 2005, the incumbent Vice Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China, Yang Jiechi , spoke out in favor of further diplomatic relations between the People's Republic and Nauru after a meeting with President Ludwig Scotty. At the same time, Scotty said that Nauru supports the (PR) Chinese program to reunite the Republic of China with the People's Republic of China. On May 9, 2005, however, Scotty and the President of the Republic of China, Chen Shui-bian , met briefly in Majuro , whereupon on May 14, diplomatic relations between Nauru and the Republic of China were officially resumed. Scotty justified the decision by stating that René Harris' break of relations with the Republic of China at the time was wrong and he was always against it. It can be assumed that they switched back to the Republic of China because the People's Republic of China had never kept its promise to pay the debts for the Boeing aircraft. In addition, the Republic of China promised development assistance in the areas of education , agriculture , fisheries and tourism to be made; In return, Nauru is helping Taiwan to apply for membership in international organizations such as the WHO and the UN .

On January 20, 2005, Grenada resumed diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China and broke off diplomatic relations with the Republic of China that had existed since 1989.

Also Senegal broke on 26 October 2005 its diplomatic relations with Taiwan and took after ten year break its diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China again.

Furthermore, on August 5, 2006, Chad ended its diplomatic relations with the Republic of China that had existed since 1997. According to the government, there were conflicts of interest. As a result, they want to turn to the People's Republic of China. For years, the government in N'Djamena had benefited from Taiwan's financial support for health, agricultural and infrastructure projects.

On May 1, 2007, St. Lucia officially resumed diplomatic relations with the Republic of China after an interruption of ten years. In contrast, Costa Rica broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan on June 7, 2007. This step was justified with economic necessities that require closer contacts with the People's Republic of China. The Costa Rican government later had to admit that the People's Republic of China had bought up Costa Rican government bonds worth US $ 300 million in exchange for this.

In 2008, Malawi broke off diplomatic relations with the Republic of China.

After 18 years, the Gambia ended diplomatic relations with Taiwan in November 2013.

Sao Tome and Principe ended its 1997 diplomatic relations with Taiwan in December 2016.

Panama broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan on June 13, 2017, after the newly elected President Tsai Ing-wen visited the country in June of the previous year . The Taiwan government expressed "anger and regret" at the "very unfriendly" act and that Panama ignored many years of friendship between the two countries because of Beijing's economic interests. The breach occurred a week after the construction of a port for shipping natural gas in Panama began under Chinese direction.

On September 17, 2019, the Solomon Islands ended their recognition of Taiwan. Five days later, the Chinese state-owned company Sam Group leased part of the island of Tulagi by contract with the government of the Central Province of the Solomon Islands . According to the New York Times , China had prepared for this expansion of its influence in the Pacific region by giving Solomon Islands politicians expensive gifts for years.

The Holy See, on the other hand, has resisted several attempts by the government of the People's Republic of China since the 1980s to torpedo diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Officially, the Holy See recognizes the Republic of China as the only legitimate Chinese state.

Since Kosovo's declaration of independence , there has been speculation about the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of China and the Republic of Kosovo. The Republic of China recognizes Kosovo and also offered it financial support. Another reason for Kosovo's establishment of diplomatic contacts with the Republic of China could be that the People's Republic of China refuses to recognize it.

Taiwan is trying to break diplomatic isolation. The Republic of China is de facto a sovereign state, but recently failed due to a renewed attempt to join the World Health Organization (WHO) as an observer due to the resistance of the People's Republic. Taiwan had applied under the name Health Entity in order to shake off political discussions from the start .

Gun purchases

Another example of the ROC's international isolation is its problem of procuring submarines . Two of the four submarines in the Republic of China are from the Second World War . The other two are Hai Lung class boats that were manufactured in the Netherlands in the 1980s . The Republic of China was interested in buying more submarines of this type, but after the People's Republic of China had put pressure on the Netherlands, they refused to agree to any further deliveries. As a result, the Republic of China tried to acquire German class 209 submarines . The Federal Security Council , which had already spoken out against the delivery of frigates and corvettes to Taiwan, rejected this in January 1992. After these two refusals, the Republic of China also asked other countries such as France, which had already delivered frigates of the Kang-Ding class , but only met with further refusals. In June 2001 there were unsuccessful negotiations with Russian businessmen about the licensed production of Kilo-class submarines directly in Taiwan.

Because of this location, the idea arose to acquire used submarines, for example from South Africa, or to handle the purchase of new submarines through middlemen. However, these ideas were not implemented.

One China Policy and Two State Theory

For a long time, both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China claimed sole representation of one, the whole of China. For this reason, in the early 1950s , the People's Republic of China was concerned that the US and other states or organizations were promoting the creation of "two Chinas". For example, Beijing issued a protest letter dated August 19, 1950 to the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Avery Brundage , in which China's leading sports organization declared that it had broken off relations with the IOC because it was next to the Olympic Committee of the People's Republic of China also recognized by the Chinese National Olympic Committee. For the same reason, the People's Republic of China announced its withdrawal from the International Conference of the Red Cross and the International Football Association . After Taiwan has only been represented in the International Olympic Committee under the name Chinese Taipei since 1960 , the People's Republic of China rejoined the IOC in 1979.

The People's Republic of China hoped that the severance of diplomatic relations with Taiwan by Japan (1972) and the United States (1978, commencement of relations with the People's Republic on January 1, 1979) would discourage the Kuomintang and make them willing to compromise and surrender Reunification based on the assumption that the People's Republic was the legal successor to the Republic of China and the "one-country-two-systems theory".

“One country - two systems” did not mean that both systems would coexist on the same level in a unified China, but that the communist system of the People's Republic should take precedence over the Taiwanese system. Beijing rejected Taiwan's self-determination. The People's Republic of China also opposed any attempt by Taiwan to join the UN or any other international organization. Since the proposals contained the complete political self-abandonment of the Republic of China and thus the Kuomintang, they pursued the policy of the triple no , which meant: no official contacts, talks or compromises.

On September 26, 2014, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou (Kuomintang) declared that the Hong Kong-style formula “one country, two systems” was unacceptable to both the government and the people of Taiwan.

In 1996 there was this draft for a flag of an independent "Republic of Taiwan"

In the course of democratization, the Council of Supreme Judges passed a judgment that dissolved the Long Parliament , which was still established for all of China in 1947 . The parliament, whose members were on average 82 years old at the time, held office for almost 40 years without new elections in order not to lose the right to represent the whole of China. The dissolution thus meant the creation of a purely Taiwanese basis of legitimation for the Republic of China. In this context, it began a more active mainland policy, which should normalize relations further. In February 1991, the Taiwanese government passed the guidelines for national reunification , stating that the goal of mainland Taiwanese policy was to jointly build a democratic, all-China state, social and economic order. In contrast to the one-China policy , which continues to be represented by the People's Republic, the two-China theory developed in Taiwan , which provides that mainland China and national China establish normal bilateral relations among sovereign states. The relationship between the Federal Republic of Germany and the GDR , two sovereign states that together formed one Germany, served as a model for this theory . The People's Republic of China responded to this idea by threatening a military strike and announcing that it had a neutron bomb .

The fact that the Republic of China has its own territory , national emblem , anthem , currency and state authority in Taiwan shows its own identity , which is fundamentally different from the identity of the People's Republic of China. In addition, the areas controlled by the Republic of China today never came under the territorial sovereignty of the People's Republic of China.

The policy of the five no

Republic of China passport

In order not to let the relationship with the People's Republic of China escalate, the former President of the Republic of China, Chen Shui-bian , proclaimed the policy of five no (aka 四 不一 沒有: four no and one not). As long as Taiwan is not under acute military threat from the People's Republic of China, the following principles applied to Taiwan:

  • Taiwan will not declare formal independence.
  • Taiwan will not change the official state name ("Republic of China").
  • Taiwan will not include an article in its constitution that describes relations with the People's Republic of China as "interstate relations" (so-called two-state theory ).
  • Taiwan will not hold a referendum on Taiwan's future political status.
  • Taiwan will not abolish the "National Reunification" guidelines.

Striving for Taiwan independence

Special cover of the passport of the Republic of China to Taiwan

From 2007 the former President of Taiwan, Chen Shui-bian, sought independence more actively and campaigned for a referendum not to apply to the UN as “Republic of China”, as in the 14 years before, but as “Taiwan”. This was a controversial step, as he, in accordance with the interests of his party, the DPP and the pan-green coalition, indirectly sought a name change for the republic. Official statements are, however, that this did not violate the "policy of the five no's", but should only improve the chances of acceptance, which, based on resolution 2758 , was always rejected. With the words "Taiwan must strive for independence, it must change its name, it must get a new constitution and strive for development." () Taiwan's President emphasized his policy in Taipei. Independence should be sought because Taiwan has long been a sovereign state and independent of China.

The process of normalizing relationships

Taiwan allowed its residents to travel to the People's Republic of China in the late 1980s, but these had to be done via Hong Kong or Macau . In 1992, a meeting of senior officials (semi-official contact bodies ) from both sides took place in Singapore for the first time in 44 years . Four “unofficial” agreements regulating practical areas of contact were signed on it. The resolutions of the time on mutual relations were later known as the " 1992 consensus ".

The conflict in the mid-1990s

In 1995 this gradual convergence came to a standstill. There were several reasons for this: on the one hand, Taiwan's president was allowed to travel to the United States after a successful vote in Congress and Senate and accept an honorary doctorate, then there were sales of French and American fighter jets to the Republic of China, and Taiwan again campaigned for admission to the UN.

There were not only protests from Beijing, but also threatening maneuvers by the Chinese navy and air force. In 1995 and 1996, restricted zones were established in front of the main Taiwanese ports. During the first free presidential election in Taiwan in March 1996, the People's Republic of China deliberately violated Taiwanese territorial waters , which should also deter foreign powers from intervening. Nevertheless, the US sent aircraft carriers accompanied by combat units near the island of Taiwan, thereby moving China to end the crisis.

Economic opening

However, the politically conflicting positions and the renewed conflict had no impact on the economic relations between the two sides. For example, between 1991 and 1997 - also during the conflict - the Taiwanese government approved investments in the People's Republic of China totaling 11.21 billion US dollars. This made Taiwan the third largest investor in the People's Republic of China after Hong Kong and Japan. The share of exports to the People's Republic grew to 20.3 percent of Taiwan's total export volume.

In spring 2005 there were direct flights from mainland China to Taiwan for the first time in 56 years for the Spring Festival for three weeks . Instead of the other landings in Hong Kong or Macau, the planes could now simply fly over these places, which practically form a lock for air traffic. Previously, these direct flights were not possible because the Chinese national government feared bomb attacks. Chinese bombers could have been camouflaged as passenger planes or so behind them that they would not have appeared on the radar screen . In order not to upset the Taiwanese, the state airline of the People's Republic of China even painted over the national emblems . However, this process cannot be seen as a sign of relaxation because it was not diplomats but the airlines themselves who negotiated the non-stop flights. In 2006 there were direct flights for three weeks for the Spring Festival and in 2007 for the Chinese New Year and the Moon Festival .

In response to pressure from business circles, the then national Chinese government pursued a more active policy of opening up to the People's Republic of China than the Kuomintang had before. But this also caused the internal political conflict as to whether this opening was not going too far. In some cases, the government was accused of extraditing Taiwan to the People's Republic of China.

In the 2008 presidential election , the Kuomintang came back to power for the first time in eight years.

It was expected that relations with Beijing should relax a little under Ma Ying-jeou . While his predecessor, the DPP politician Chen Shui Bian, wanted a formal declaration of independence, the newly elected president pleaded for an expansion of trade relations with the mainland and for the ban on air and ship connections to be lifted. Since July 2008 there have been direct charter flights between Taiwan and the mainland on weekends. Since the summer of 2009 there have been scheduled flights between several cities in Taiwan and various cities on the Chinese mainland, sometimes several times a day.

The Impact of the Taiwan Democratization Process on the Taiwan Conflict

In 1987 the 40-year state of war in Taiwan was lifted. This was accompanied by the end of press censorship and the ban on demonstrations and associations. This gave the Taiwanese more freedom.

With the free and democratic parliamentary elections in 1995 and 1998 , a three-party democracy consisting of the Democratic Progressive Party , the Xindang ("New Party") and the Kuomintang developed . The Kuomintang won these parliamentary elections with a simple majority. The first free presidential election in Taiwan was also won by a Kuomintang politician, Lee Teng-hui . It kept its focus on reunification with China. The opposition Democratic Progressive Party, on the other hand, called for the complete abandonment of the one-China policy, a constitution tailored to Taiwan and the admission of Taiwan as an independent member state to the United Nations. The first political promotion of a Taiwanese identity began with Lee Teng-hui.

In March 2000, in the second free presidential election, Chen Shui-bian became the first politician to become President of the Republic of China who was not a member of the Kuomintang and who campaigned for Taiwan's independence. In 2000, there was another clear change in sentiment: Only 12 percent of Taiwanese defined themselves as Chinese, while six years earlier 48 percent did. The history of China is not identical to that of Taiwan, since Taiwan had only been part of the Chinese Empire since the 17th century and this only ever controlled part of the island. Taiwan was also under Japanese colonial rule from 1895 to 1945 .

The gradual shift from all-China to Taiwanese interests caused problems for the Kuomintang, which practically had to give up its main political goal, which it had pursued since its foundation - the (re) unification of all of China.

The process of democratization in Taiwan, but also the strong détente between the two Chinas, ensured that the Republic of China reduced its arms spending from 33 percent of the state budget to 15 percent. This was less because the ruling DPP wanted to make fewer arms purchases than the fact that the Kuomintang had not had a majority in parliament since 2000 , but still blocked most of the seats and these arms purchases.

Due to the “landslide victory” in the elections for the legislative yuan in 2008 , the Kuomintang had an absolute majority with 82 seats out of 113. This means that it again had a constitutional majority as it had during the one-party rule. She was able to defend her majority in the next elections in 2012 . The rapprochement with the People's Republic of China, which was forced between 2008 and 2016 under President Ma Ying-jeou , was viewed increasingly critically by the population, especially in the second term of office (2012-2016). After strong protests (including during the sunflower movement ) and the defeat in the regional elections in 2014, the Kuomintang lost both the presidential and parliamentary elections in January 2016 and the majority of the seats in parliament to the DPP. The election winner and current President Tsai Ing-wen announced that she would like to maintain the status quo in relations with the People's Republic of China and avoid surprises. Nevertheless, a stronger emphasis on the Taiwanese identity is expected from it.

Current development

On December 7, 2007, the old inscription was removed from the " Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall", which has been renamed the "National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall".
New establishment of the "National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall" on January 4th, 2008
Development of the self-designation of citizens of the Republic of China over time

The official position of the People's Republic of China is that they “[understand] and care for their compatriots in Taiwan,” but this is not felt in Taiwan.

When the anti-secession law was passed in the People's Republic of China in 2005 , the conflict intensified again. It is intended to prevent secession from the People's Republic of China and threatens in the case with military means. The law is specifically directed against Taiwan and its “ separatism ”. China said that under the new Taiwanese president, the drive for independence had escalated. A new constitution for the Republic of China and a referendum on it are planned for 2006 . Taiwan is just waiting to stage an incident for it. Beijing meanwhile increased the number of missiles on the coast of Taiwan to 600, which was seen as a clear threat. There are now more than 1,328 missiles aimed at the Republic of China. It is estimated that the number of missiles increases by eighty to one hundred per year. Politically and militarily, the two Chinese states are moving towards a confrontation again, while barriers for citizens and the economy are being dismantled. Even before the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the People's Republic feared a serious crisis with Taiwan, although political observers did not assume that acts of war before the Olympic Games could possibly have been detrimental to the People's Republic.

On February 27, 2006 , Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian suspended the work of the National Unification Council against the will of the People's Republic of China . The council was established in 1990 as a concession to the People's Republic to demonstrate Taiwan's will to reunite. The dissolution is seen as a step towards independence and therefore condemned by China and the USA. So far, Chen has argued that Taiwan does not need to declare itself independent, as it is de facto a sovereign state. He sought a constitutional amendment and the renaming of the Republic of China in Taiwan .

Now the goal of the People's Republic of China shifted from reunification to preventing Taiwan's independence. With this relocation, the People's Republic announced that it would maintain its current status for a longer period of time. Above all, it relied on a victory for the Kuomintang in the Taiwanese elections for the legislative yuan in 2008, as they seek negotiations with the People's Republic and advocate stronger direct economic relations.

A civil lawsuit filed by Taiwan in 2007 against the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) was finally dismissed in September 2010 by the Swiss federal court due to lack of jurisdiction. The Federal Supreme Court confirmed a decision of the Cantonal Court of Geneva from March 2009. With the lawsuit, Taiwan wanted to oblige ISO to use the name “Republic of China (Taiwan)” instead of “Taiwan, Province of China” in its standards.

Regardless of these conflicts, the economies of the two countries are drawing closer together. In 2007, “Taiwan's investment in China […] reached over US $ 7.66 billion. [What a] new record [is]. "

A new problem is a planned route for a Chinese airline: “This route could not only pose a safety problem for existing routes that cross them. Taiwan also fears that China could use this route for other purposes, such as military reconnaissance flights. "

The first weekend charter flights with 700 tourists from China to Taiwan began on July 4th, 2008. These are followed by the relaxation of the law on the Taiwanese side, which allows up to 3000 tourists daily in tour groups.

On April 26, 2009, a political meeting between Chen Yunlin (Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits) and Chiang Pin-kung (Strait Exchange Foundation) took place in Beijing, at which the possible start of cooperation between the police forces of both sides in 2010 was discussed.

In May 2009, the Taiwan Ministry of the Interior published a study asking adults (over the age of 20), among other things, whether they would describe themselves as Taiwanese or Chinese. 64.6% of respondents said they were Taiwanese, 11.5% said they were Chinese, and 18.1% said they were both. Later research confirms the trend. The Center for Electoral Studies at Chengchi National University found in a study that in June 2014 only 3.4% of those questioned described themselves exclusively as “Chinese”.

In 2016, the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO did not send an invitation to the Republic of China (Taiwan) country . In previous years, Taiwan was able to participate as an observer. According to the online magazine The Diplomat , this is due to pressure from the People's Republic of China , which is trying to isolate Taiwan internationally. "Chinese pressure persuades the ICAO to act against international principles and the best interests of aviation safety," writes article author David Sutton. Taiwan manages the Taipei FIR, which covers 180,000 nautical square miles and handles around 1.53 million flight movements, a volume of 58 million travelers.

In January 2019, Beijing once again threatened to reintegrate Taiwan with military force if necessary, if Taipei refuses peaceful reunification. At the beginning of 2021, political pressure and the military presence on the part of the People's Republic increased again.

In August 2021, the People's Republic of China withdrew its ambassador from Lithuania and at the same time asked the Lithuanian ambassador to the People's Republic to leave the country. The background to this is that Taiwan shortly before opened its own foreign representation under the name "Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania" in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius .

Censorship in the People's Republic of China

In the Taiwan conflict, censorship on the Internet plays a role especially today . The Internet in the People's Republic of China is subject to strict Internet control , so the government of the People's Republic put on the digital "Great Firewall of China" ( Chinese 防火 長城 / 防火 长城, Pinyin fanghuo changcheng ).

A lexicon similar to Wikipedia , the Baidu Baike , is being censored, among other things. It is forbidden to “initiate disputes in connection with minorities, with racism, with regions and with religion”. This also applies in particular to the " Taiwan Province " and the " separatism " associated with it . Some Taiwanese websites, especially news, are also blocked by the People's Republic.

The online search engine Yahoo! has adapted to the policy of the PRC. Results on keywords such as independence , opposition , Tibet , Dalai Lama and Taiwan are blocked. Weblogs that are popular in Taiwan - for example wretch.cc or yahoo.com, which are also used by Hong Kongers and the Chinese - are also blocked.

Speeches about Taiwan on television or in newspapers are also often censored; for example, in Ang Lee's Oscar speeches in 2001 and 2006, the passages where he thanked Taiwan in Chinese were censored.

In addition, any emblems of the Republic of China are prohibited; except historical representations. In mainland China, for example, the national anthem of the Republic of China is banned and public performance is strongly discouraged in Hong Kong , although it is not officially banned there. When President Chen Shui-bian took office in 2000, the well-known singer A-Mei sang the anthem. This led to her being banned from performing on the mainland for several months .

The role of the USA in the Taiwan conflict

At the beginning of the conflict

After the end of World War II, the United States also had a strong interest in Taiwan. The reason was the strategically favorable position of the island in the cross strait . The trade routes from Manchuria and Japan to Indochina and vice versa led past Taiwan . The US was in a bind because it did not want communist rule in Taiwan, but it also had concerns about the Kuomintang, as they had ruled mainland China with corruption. This situation led the US administration to consider military occupation of the island. However, these plans were rejected because it would have been too time-consuming to implement. Overall, the prevailing view in the United States was that the Chinese Communists would conquer Taiwan relatively quickly, which would have meant the fall of the Republic of China.

The attitude of the USA towards Taiwan only changed with the beginning of the Korean War (1950-1953). The US President Truman expressed the assumption that the war in Korea would start from Beijing and Moscow, and sent the Seventh Fleet to protect Taiwan because an occupation of Taiwan by the communists in these circumstances a direct threat to US interests and forces in the Pacific . The US ordered the republic to cease fighting against the People's Republic of China, founded in 1949, and promised to settle the status of Taiwan if security were restored. Accordingly, the political status of Taiwan depends on whether it comes to a peace treaty with Japan or a statement by the United Nations . US behavior aroused criticism in both the People's Republic of China and Taiwan, even though US intervention in the Korean War enabled the Chinese national government in Taiwan to survive by protecting the island from an invasion of the People's Republic.

The US supported the Republic of China with military equipment, especially for the Navy . In the 1950s, for example, the Navy of the Republic of China received American landing craft , frigates and destroyers , which were of particular importance against the background of the battle for the coastal islands and the plan to recapture the mainland.

In the 1970s

The US made a radical change in its China policy in the 1970s. After two decades of conflict with the People's Republic of China, an era of détente followed. At this time there was an important change in the constellation of weight relations in world politics.

Richard Nixon assessed the situation in 1967 in such a way that the USA could not fulfill the role of a "world policeman". The US administration wanted to use a new tactic in relations with the People's Republic of China that aimed to end the isolation of the People's Republic and a China that should be a responsible member of the international community.

The high points of this policy were the visit of US President Richard Nixon to Beijing in 1972 and the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the USA on January 1, 1979. This development was the acceptance of the People's Republic of China as the sole representative of China in the United Nations This preceded 1971, which, however, had still been rejected by the USA.

Because the starting point for establishing relations was the 31st Table Tennis Championships in Nagoya (Japan) in 1971 and US President Nixon was accompanied by a table tennis team on his visit to China, American policy on China at that time became ping-pong Called diplomacy .

Despite the recognition of the People's Republic of China, the US continued to station troops in Taiwan during the Vietnam War .

Taiwan Relations Act

The Taiwan Relations Act is a US law passed by Congress on April 10, 1979 that redefined relations with the Republic of China following diplomatic recognition of the People's Republic of China . The island of Taiwan and the Pescadoren Islands were recognized as the territory of the Republic of China, but not the coastal islands of Kinmen and Matsu , since, unlike Taiwan and the Pescadors, they historically belonged to mainland China . Furthermore, the Republic of China was guaranteed protection from military attacks.

During the 1990s

During the renewed crisis in 1995/1996, the USA sent two aircraft carrier combat groups (with the aircraft carriers USS Independence and USS Nimitz ) into international waters around Taiwan. The USS Nimitz was ordered from the Persian Gulf to Taiwan on March 11, 1996 after the People's Republic of China carried out missile tests in response to the deployment of the USS Independence on March 8 . The USS Independence was the first US warship to cross the Taiwan Strait since 1976 .

In front the USS Nimitz , in the middle the USS Independence , in the background a Ticonderoga- class cruiser , Sea of ​​Japan 1997

The Independence combat group included:

The Nimitz was escorted by:

Area of ​​use of the US Pacific Fleet

Under US President Bill Clinton , the Taiwan Relations Act was established to regulate US relations with Taiwan. Thus it had a greater significance in relation to China policy than the communiqués with the People's Republic of China.


The USA criticized the dissolution of the National Reunification Council on February 27, 2006 because they feared an intensification of the Taiwan conflict.

As part of the restructuring of the US armed forces, which are stationed abroad, six attack submarines are to be stationed on Guam and two aircraft carriers on Japanese bases. If there were to be a new military conflict in the cross-strait, US forces could intervene more quickly on the ground.

On January 29, 2010, Taiwan and the United States closed a $ 6.4 billion arms deal that had been in the pipeline since the George W. Bush administration . The People's Republic of China described this as a serious interference in "internal affairs"; she called for the transaction to be canceled, ended her military contacts with the US government and appointed the US ambassador.

In October 2013, Kin Moy, a member of the US Department of State's East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau, affirmed the good state of US-Taiwan relations, based on "their shared commitment to freedom and democracy," and assured the US would further expand their cooperation with Taipei and continue to contribute to the security of Taiwan in the future.

Problems for uninvolved third countries caused by the Taiwan conflict

The problematic relations between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan also lead to complications internationally. The Federal Republic of Germany had to pass a law that excludes the return of claimed works of art to one country if they are in the possession of another country. This became necessary when the exhibition Treasures of the Heavenly Sons with art objects from the Palace Museum in Taipei was a guest in Berlin and Bonn and demands from the People's Republic of China for the return of the exhibits were feared. This exhibition caused a sensation because the exhibits were brought from the Forbidden City , the palace complex in Beijing , to Taiwan for their protection during the Chinese Civil War and are still claimed by the People's Republic of China today.

See also


Web links


Individual evidence

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