Taiwan Volume 1 – History

Taiwan has had an eventful and varied history. Over the years it has been claimed by powers from China and Japan to France and the Netherlands, before achieving de facto independence in 1949.

The modern country of Taiwan was founded by fleeing members of the Kuomintang after the Chinese civil war, and since then, parties on both sides have dreamed of reuniting the two Chinese ‘halves’. Both have very different ideas of what that reunification would look like.

In 1990 there were mass student protests in Memorial Square in Taipei over the recent election, which had featured just one candidate from one party. The protests lasted six days, after which the president, Lee Teng-hui, invited protesters for talks which laid out a timetable for electoral and social reforms.

The politics of Taiwan is easiest understood through the lens of its relationship to China. Taiwanese politics can be roughly divided into the Greens, who favour independence, and the Blues, who favour closer ties with China, and a Chinese national identity.

Taiwanese national identity is complicated, and some would argue, a misnomer. It certainly used to be the case that the Taiwanese thought of themselves as Chinese in exile, but in recent years a separate and distinct Taiwanese national identity has emerged.