The Republic of China (ROC), commonly known as Taiwan, is a state in East Asia located about 180 km (111.85 miles) off the east coast of mainland China. Subject to an ongoing dispute with the People's Republic of China (PRC) that has left it with limited formal diplomatic relations, the government of the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan, which makes up 99.4% of its territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor islands. Neighbouring states include the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south.
The Republic of China was formally established on 1 January 1912 following the Xinhai Revolution which itself began with the Wuchang Uprising on 10 October 1911. From its founding until 1949 it encompassed mainland China, including Outer Mongolia. Central authority waxed and waned in response to warlordism (1915–28), Japanese invasion (1937–45), and the Chinese Civil War (1927–49), with central authority strongest during the Nanjing Decade (1927–37) when most of China came under the control of the Kuomintang (KMT). At the end of World War II the Empire of Japan retroceded Taiwan and its island groups under the Cairo Declaration, which the Republic of China took control afterwards.
The Communist takeover of continental China in the Chinese Civil War in 1949 and later Hainan, Tachen and other outlying islands in the 1950s left the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) with control over only Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu, and other minor islands. The KMT declared Taipei the provisional capital. The Communist Party of China took over all of mainland China and founded the People's Republic of China in Beijing, leading to two rival governments claiming to be the sole legitimate government of China. However, until the 1970s the ROC was still recognized by many countries and the United Nations as the sole legitimate government of both mainland China and Taiwan. The ROC had been a founding member of the United Nations and one of the five permanent members of the Security Council until 1971, when China's representation was replaced by the PRC via UN General Assembly Resolution 2758.
The PRC does not recognize the legitimacy of the ROC and claims Taiwan as a part of the PRC's territory, despite never having controlled it. It seeks to "unify" Taiwan under the formula of one country, two systems and reserves the authority to use military force (see Anti-Secession Law). The Republic of China rejects the PRC's claim and continues to view itself as a sovereign state. This tension between the two states colors most of the political life in Taiwan, and any attempt at declaring a Republic of Taiwan in place of the Republic of China is met with threats from the PRC. The PRC government also refuses to have diplomatic relations with countries which recognize the Republic of China and opposes the ROC taking part in organizations where statehood is required; thus, as of 2010, only 23 sovereign states have formal diplomatic relations with the ROC, though most others retain unofficial exchanges with the ROC (e.g. the American Institute in Taiwan) that are diplomatic in all but name.
Taiwan's political environment is separated into two major camps in terms of cross-strait relations; the Pan-Blue Coalition (majority Kuomintang) supports the One China principle under the terms of the 1992 consensus, under the view that the ROC still regards itself as the sole legitimate government of China. The opposition Pan-Green Coalition (majority Democratic Progressive Party or DPP) regards Taiwan to be an independent, sovereign state synonymous with the ROC, opposes the notion that Taiwan is part of China, and seeks an eventual declaration of Taiwan independence.
A single-party state under the KMT since 1928, the Republic of China evolved into a multi-party democracy in the 1980s and 1990s. It has a semi-presidential system and universal suffrage. The president serves as the head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The Legislative Yuan is the ROC's unicameral legislature. The ROC is a member of the WTO and APEC. It is one of the Four Asian Tigers, and has an industrialized advanced economy. The 25th-largest economy in the world, its advanced technology industry plays a key role in the global economy. The ROC is ranked high in terms of freedom of the press, health care, public education and economic freedom.
The official name of the state is "Republic of China"; it has also been known under various names throughout its existence. Shortly after the ROC's establishment in 1912, while it was still located on the Asian mainland, the government used the abbreviation "China" ("Zhongguó") to refer to itself, for instance during the Olympic Games or at the United Nations. During the 1950s and 1960s, it was common to refer to it as "Nationalist China" to differentiate it from "Communist China" (or "Red China"). The ROC also called itself "Free China" in an attempt to portray the PRC as an illegitimate government. At the UN, it was present under the name "China" until it lost its seat to the People's Republic of China. Since then, the name "China" has been commonly used to refer only to the People's Republic of China.
Over subsequent decades, the Republic of China has been commonly known as "Taiwan", due to the fact that Taiwan, the island, composes most of its territory. It is also often informally referred to as the "State of Taiwan", in particular in countries where the ROC is not officially recognized. The Republic of China participates in international forums and organizations under the politically neutral name "Chinese Taipei" due to diplomatic pressure from the PRC; for instance it is the name under which it has competed at the Olympic Games since 1979, and its name as an observer at the World Health Organization.
The Republic of China was established in 1911, replacing the Qing Dynasty and ending over two thousand years of imperial rule in China. It is the oldest surviving republic in East Asia. The Republic of China on mainland China went through periods of warlordism, Japanese invasion, and civil war between the Kuomintang led Central Government and the Communists. With the loss of mainland China in the civil war the ROC government resettled to Taiwan, an island that had been under the administrative control of the republic since the end of World War II four years earlier. During the latter half of the twenty century, the Republic of China on Taiwan has experienced rapid economic growth, industrialization, and democratization[dubious ].
Starting in 1928, the Republic of China was ruled by the Kuomintang as an authoritarian single-party state. In the 1950s and 1960s, the KMT went through wide restructuring and decreased corruption and implemented land reform. There followed a period of great economic growth, the Republic of China became one of the Four Asian Tigers, despite the constant threat of war and civil unrest. In the 1980s and 1990s the government peacefully transitioned to a democratic system, with the first direct presidential election in 1996 and the 2000 election of Chen Shui-bian, the first non-KMT after 1949 to become President of the Republic of China. The KMT regained presidency and increased its majority in the legislature in the 2008 presidential and legislative elections.
In 1911, after over two thousand years of imperial rule, a republic was established in China and the monarchy overthrown by a group of revolutionaries. The Qing Dynasty, having just experienced a century of instability, suffered from both internal rebellion and foreign imperialism. The Neo-Confucian principles that had, to that time, sustained the dynastic system were now called into question. Its support of the Boxers, who claimed to have magical powers, against the world's major powers was its final mistake. The Qing forces were defeated and China was forced to give a huge indemnity to the foreign powers; an equivalent to £67 million to be paid over 39 years. Disconnected from the population and unable to face the challenges of modern China, the Qing government was in its final throes. Only the lack of an alternative regime in sight was prolonging its existence until 1912.
The establishment of Republican China developed out of the Wuchang Uprising against the Qing on 10 October 1911. That date is now celebrated annually as the ROC's national day, also known as the "Double Ten Day". On 29 December 1911, Sun Yat-Sen was elected president by the Nanjing assembly representing seventeen provinces. On 1 January 1912, he was officially inaugurated and pledged "to overthrow the despotic Manchu government, consolidate the Republic of China and plan for the welfare of the people".
Sun however lacked the military support to overthrow the Qing Dynasty. Realizing this, he handed over the presidency to Yuan Shikai, the imperial general, who then forced the last emperor Puyi to abdicate. Yuan Shikai was officially elected president in 1913. Yuan ruled by military power and ignored the republican institutions established by his predecessor, threatening to execute Senate members that would disagree with his decisions. He soon dissolved the ruling Kuomintang party and banned "secret organizations" (which implicitly included the KMT), and ignored the provisional constitution. An attempt at a democratic election in 1911 ended up with the assassination of the elected candidate by a man recruited by Yuan. Ultimately, Yuan Shikai declared himself Emperor of China in 1915. The new ruler of China tried to increase centralization by abolishing the provincial system; however this move angered the gentry along with the province governors, usually military men. Many provinces declared independence and became warlord states. Increasingly unpopular and deserted by his supporters, Yuan Shikai gave up on becoming Emperor in 1916 and died of natural causes shortly after.
Thus devoid of a strong, unified government, China thrust into another period of warlordism. Sun Yat-sen, forced into exile, returned to Guangdong province in the south with the help of warlords in 1917 and 1922, and set up successive rival governments; he re-established the KMT in October 1919. Sun's dream was to unify China by launching an expedition to the north. He however lacked military support and funding to make it a reality.
The Beiyang government in Beijing struggled to hold on to power. An open and wide-ranging debate evolved regarding how China should confront the West. In 1919, a student protest against the weak response of China to the Treaty of Versailles, considered unfair by Chinese intellectuals, led to mass hysteria known as the May Fourth movement. These demonstrations were aimed at spreading western influence to replace Chinese culture. It is also in this intellectual climate that the influence of Marxism spread and became more popular. It eventually led to the founding of the Communist Party of China in 1920.