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  • This is island Taiwan, its political situation is bit... complicated. A slightly oversimplified

  • way of looking at it, would be that Taiwan is either its own independent country...

  • or part of China.

  • But the reason that’s oversimplified is because Taiwan isn’t a separatist movement.

  • Taiwan doesn’t want to secede from Chinabecause from Taiwan’s perspective...

  • they ARE China. Well, at least constitutionally anyway.

  • Taiwan’s official name is: the Republic of China. Whereas the country that’s generally

  • referred to as China is: the PEOPLE’S Republic of China.

  • To fully understand the situation we need to go back to the end of the 19th century

  • when the last imperial dynasty governed China - the Qing Dynasty.

  • The Qing Dynasty encompassed all of what is modern-day China, Taiwan, and Mongolia, as

  • well as parts of several other bordering nations.

  • In 1894 began the First Sino-Japanese War between the Qing Dynasty and the Japanese

  • Empire, which primarily took place in Korea and Taiwan.

  • At the time, Korea was governed by the Joseon Dynasty, which was a client state of the Qing Dynasty.

  • The war ended just one year later with a decisive Japanese victory which resulted in the island

  • of Taiwan being annexed to the Japanese empire. The war also brought an end to the Joseon

  • Dynasty in Korea and guaranteed their complete independence from China. Japan officially

  • annexed the Korean peninsula in 1910.

  • In 1912, after millennia of imperial rule in China, the monarchy was overthrown and

  • the first Chinese republic was established: the Republic of China. Sun Yat-sen was made

  • provisional president in Nanjing, but Yuan Shikai had already assumed power in Beijing

  • because he was in command of the Beiyang Army, the largest military in the nation. So to

  • avoid conflict, Sun agreed to accept Yuan as president. As president however, he abused

  • his power which led to a failed revolution in which Sun fled to Japan.

  • As president, Yuan dissolved the Chinese Nationalist Party, and in 1915,

  • declared himself as Emperor of China, as he attempted to restore the monarchy.

  • His death one year later began what became known as the Warlord Era in Chinese history

  • as the country became fragmented into different factions.

  • In 1917, Sun Yat-sen, generally considered the founder of the Republic of China, returned

  • from exile to re-establish the republic. He revived his nationalist party, under the name

  • of Kuomintang. The government was established in the south of the country, as the north

  • was dominated by warlords and the imperial Beiyang Army.

  • Sun Yat-sen wanted to unite the country under one government. However, he lacked the military

  • power to take on the warlords. After help from the West was refused, assistance came

  • from the Soviet Union. In exchange for their military assistance, they asked that the Kuomintang

  • cooperate and ally with the much smaller Chinese Communist Party.

  • The Warlord Era came to an end with a two-year military campaign called the Northern Expedition.

  • However, before this military campaign was complete, the alliance between the nationalists

  • and the communists began to fall apart after the death of Sun Yat-sen in 1925.

  • The Kuomintang party split into two separate right- and left-leaning factions. With the

  • left-leaning faction moved its capital to Wuhan. The original, right-leaning Kuomintang

  • party, now led by Chiang Kai-shek, took control of Nanjing, and declared it their capital.

  • The Chiang nationalists, sought to purge the communists among their ranks, and in April

  • of 1927, in what became known as the Shanghai Massacre, thousands of communists were executed

  • by nationalist forces.

  • The left-leaning Kuomintang faction which broke away, also began executing communists,

  • and the party ultimately collapsed, leaving the original party as the sole legitimate

  • government of China.

  • The execution of communists ended their alliance with the Soviet Union and led to the start

  • of the Chinese Civil War between the Nationalists and the Communists.

  • The war began in August of 1927, with the Nanchang Uprising, and founding of the

  • "Red Army”, the army of the Communist Party, with Mao Zedong as commander-in-chief.

  • 4 years later, in 1931, with the civil war still ongoing, the Empire of Japan sought

  • to use the war as an opportunity to expand their sphere of influence by invading China.

  • The Japanese Imperial Army invaded the east coast of China and occupied Manchuria, as

  • well as other nearby lands. Japan installed their own puppet government and fighting continued,

  • although didn’t escalate into all-out war between the two nations...

  • until 1937, when it did.

  • Now, since the initial invasion back in 1931, the civil war in China had continued. Many nationalists

  • had called for a temporary truce with the communists to defend China against the Japanese.

  • However, Chiang Kai-shek, the Kuomintang leader, refused,

  • and he wanted to continue the war against the communists.

  • This changed in 1936 when he was kidnapped by one of his own commanders, who forced him

  • to agree to a military alliance with the communists as they fought Japan, their common enemy.

  • The Second Sino-Japanese War escalated as Japan pushed into the Chinese capital of Nanjing,

  • and massacred tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers.

  • In 1941, with World War II ongoing, Japan carried out a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

  • At this point, the United States were not at war with anyone, but the Japanese launched

  • the strike to try and prevent the US from interfering with their wars in the Pacific.

  • The attack caused immediate declaration of war by the United States. American involvement

  • in the war would ultimately lead to what ended World War II in the Pacific Theatre.

  • In July of 1945, in the Potsdam Declaration, the Allied forces called for Japan’s “unconditional surrender”.

  • In August of 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of

  • Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  • Just days later, the Japanese accepted the terms of the surrender.

  • Part of the surrender agreement included that Japan return sovereignty of all lands that

  • they had gained through warfare. However, this didn’t just include territory they

  • had gained during World War II, this included their annexations of Korea and Taiwan several

  • decades earlier.

  • So the island of Taiwan, taken from the Qing Dynasty by Japan in 1895, was to be returned

  • to China.

  • After the war with Japan was over, the Chinese Civil War started up again in 1946. The nationalists

  • and communists only ever had a very loose alliance against the Japanese, and the fighting

  • never completely stopped. The Soviet Union backed the communists while

  • the United States backed the nationalists, in what were the early years of the Cold War.

  • Despite having a superior number of soldiers and equipment, the Chinese Civil War was decisively

  • won by the communists as they captured more and more land, pushing the nationalists further

  • and further back until 1949 when the Kuomintang government retreated to the island of Taiwan.

  • This effectively ended the civil war, although no official peace treaty was ever signed.

  • Later that year, the Communist Party proclaimed the People’s Republic of China. Meanwhile,

  • the Kuomintang government, the Republic of China, and the still internationally recognised

  • government of China, was exiled to the island of Taiwan.

  • Over the course of the next few decades, international recognition began to shift from the Republic of China

  • to the People’s Republic of China, and in 1971,

  • with UN General Assembly Resolution 2758

  • the People’s Republic of China were recognised as the legitimate government of China.

  • Although the United States had voted against the resolution, the US broke off diplomatic

  • ties with the ROC in 1979. The same year, the PRC attempted to open up comminution with

  • the ROC, with a proposal known as theThree Links”. This however, was completely rejected

  • by the ROC, who responded by adopting theThree Noespolicy: no contact, no compromise

  • and no negotiation.

  • This policy however, had to be revised in 1986, when a China Airlines 747 aircraft was

  • hijacked by an ROC pilot, when he changed its course to Guangdong, and defected to the

  • PRC. This forced the ROC and the PRC to communicate with each other.

  • In 1992, the two governments met, coming to an agreement that was known as the “1992

  • Consensus”. The consensus being that both sides adhere to the One China Policy. The

  • One China Policy is the belief that there is only one China, and that Taiwan is part

  • of China. However, both sides see themselves as the legitimate government of China. Both

  • sides of the Taiwan strait agreed that Chinese Unification was the eventual goal and that

  • the current situation was only temporary.

  • Before the 1990s, Taiwan had been a one-party state, with the Kuomintang party as the government.

  • In 1996, Taiwan had its first presidential election,

  • although the Kuomintang stayed in power.

  • However, in the year 2000, the Democratic Progressive Party were elected into government,

  • and today are the more dominant party, having won the 2016 election. The DPP do NOT agree

  • with the One China Policy and reject the 1992 Consensus. They also not do support Chinese

  • Unification and strongly support the idea of a Taiwanese identity. The DPP believe that

  • Taiwan already is its own independent country.

  • The Republic of China has a very ambiguous political status. It’s not a member of the

  • United Nations, and very few countries officially recognise them as a country. That being said,

  • many countries do have unofficial, de facto embassies in Taipei, and vice versa.

  • So officially at least, Taiwan is not a country, but in every practical sense of the word,

  • it is. They have their own government, with their own president, which has jurisdiction

  • over the whole island of Taiwan. They have their own military, issue their own passports,

  • and they even also take part in sporting events such the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup

  • however, they participate under the deliberately ambiguous pseudonym ofChinese Taipei”.

  • Now you might be thinking, well Taiwan quite clearly is a country, so why not just make

  • it official? Why not just declare independence and change their name to the Republic of Taiwan

  • or something like that? Well, there is support for Taiwanese independence, but it’s not

  • something that has a huge amount of support, and this is because of China. While many people

  • may support the idea in principle, in practice it’s something that can be quite dangerous

  • because China is hostile towards the idea of Taiwan becoming an independent nation because

  • according to the PRC, Taiwan isan inseparable part of China’s territory since antiquity

  • and have threatened to unify China and Taiwan by force if necessary, should Taiwan try to

  • pursue independence.

  • So unfortunately, resolving Taiwan’s political status is something that could be incredibly

  • difficult, or even impossible for the foreseeable future. The two ways to resolve the dispute

  • both seem unlikely to happen any time soon.

  • The first, unification. Taiwan unifies with China. This is unlikely because neither side

  • would be willing to give up their claim as the legitimate government of China, and after

  • being separating for several decades, their populations are very different people.

  • Second, independence. This may seem like the most practical approach to solve the dispute,

  • but with China being hostile to Taiwanese independence, it’s just too dangerous as

  • something that could be realistically considered at the moment.

  • So the third and most likely scenario: the status quo. In today’s geopolitical climate,

  • this seems like the only realistic option.

  • So hopefully now it’s clear why I said at the start of the video that saying Taiwan

  • is either its own country, or part of China, is oversimplified. It’s a much more complicated

  • issue than that. So obviously there’s not yes or no answer to the question

  • is Taiwan a country?” because it depends on who you ask, and how you define a country etc. etc.

  • Taiwan has a long and complicated history that has brought about this ambiguous political

  • status that it has today. A political status that challenges the very meaning of the word

  • country”. However, everyday life in Taiwan is generally unaffected and it operates like

  • any other country in the world. The people of Taiwan live their lives just like any other

  • people, the majority of whom consider themselves Taiwanense, and the ambiguous political status

  • has very little impact of their day-to-day lives.

  • Nevertheless, it is unfortunate that almost every other country in the world must play

  • along with this façade that Taiwan doesn’t exist and that the issue is generally swept

  • under the rug rather than being discussed or debated, simply because it’s a controversial

  • topic and can be uncomfortable to talk about.

  • Thanks for watching.

This is island Taiwan, its political situation is bit... complicated. A slightly oversimplified

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Is Taiwan a country... or part of China?

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    Ruitang Lee posted on 2017/01/16
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