It is believed that
in the 12th century groups of Japanese occupied parts of
Taiwan, and they eventually claimed possession of the eastern
portion of Taiwan from the 15th century on. The Portuguese
went to Taiwan in 1590, thus becoming the first set of Europeans to
arrive. They were so impressed with the island, they called it
Formosa, which means beautiful. In 1692, the Dutch
frustrated Spanish attempts at developing settlements by taking
possession of the P'enghu Islands. Within three years, the
Dutch were on Taiwan's southeastern coast.
While the Manchus
were defeating the Ming Dynasty in 1644, Cheng Ch'eng-kung (also
known as Koxinga), led some Ming followers to Taiwan where they
drove the Dutch out of the southwestern portion of the island.
Taiwan was ruled by a formal Chinese government set up by Cheng
until the Quing Dynasty took over in 1683. Mainland Chinese
took advantage of the opportunity to leave the mainland by
immigrating to Taiwan. By 1860, foreign ships were allowed
to use two ports on the western side of Taiwan. Shortly
thereafter, both Roman Catholic and Protestant missions were
Japan was to be
given Taiwan and it's surrounding islands as part of the Treaty of
Shimonoseki in 1895, but it resulted in rebellion from Taiwan's
Chinese inhabitants. The rebellion was brought to an end by
the Japanese, who ended up ruling Taiwan for the next 50 years.
During that time, the Japanese endeavored to expel Chinese
traditions and culture with that of their own.
Taiwan and it's
islands was given back to China with the Japanese defeat in 1945,
but there was unrest due to corrupt authorities in the Chinese
government. In February 1947, there was an uprising that
resulted in many deaths due to suppression by the Chinese
government. Taiwan became a Chinese province two months
On the mainland,
Chiang Kai-shek and MaoZedong were involved in a civil war.
The KMT (Kuomintang), led by Chiang Kai-shek, took their
government to Tai'pei as the Communists, led by Mao Zedong, were
taking over the mainland. The Communists attempted to take
over the island as well but were thwarted by the United States who
sent naval forces in 1950 to help defend Taiwan.
Until the mid-60's,
the US gave over $4 billion to Taiwan in economic and military aid
which enabled Taiwan to continue to invest in the military while
building its economy. Its foreign trade flourishing,
Taiwan's industries were booming and the country had worldwide
shifting from Taiwan to the Chinese mainland, with countries going
to China regarding foreign relations. The biggest blow to
Taiwan came when the US government decided to make contact with
China. The Communist government was given a seat in the
United Nations after Taiwan was excluded in 1971. As a
result, many other nations transferred their recognition to the
Communist mainland as well. The final diplomatic blow to
Taiwan was when the US started formal diplomatic relations with
the Communist mainland and severed its diplomatic ties with
Taiwan. Although the diplomatic ties were broken,
economically Taiwan didn't suffer as international trade remained
strong. The economy continued to grow during the late 70s
and 80's, as did trade contacts, particularly with Western Europe.
*After almost 40
years of martial law, it was finally lifted in July of 1987.
*The first native
Taiwanese president was elected to office in 1988, after Chiang
Ching-kuo (Chiang Kai-shek's son) died.
*Singapore was the
meeting place for representatives from both sides to come together
and talk, the first such meeting (contact) since 1949.
*In 1995 and early
1996, military maneuvers performed by China near Taiwan
caused the tenuous relationship between the two to unravel.
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