Republic of China
Chunghwa Minkuo
"National Anthem of the Republic of China"
Flag anthem:
"National Flag Anthem of the Republic of China"
  •       Area controlled by China
  •       Area claimed but uncontrolled
Largest city Shanghai
Official languages Standard Chinese
Demonym Chinese
Government Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic
 -  President Tsai Ing-wen
 -  Premier Lin Chuan
Legislature Legislative Yuan
 -  First Pre-imperial Dynasty c. 2070 BCE 
 -  First Imperial Unification 221 BCE 
 -  Republic established 1 January 1912 
 -  Constitution adopted 25 December 1947 
 -  Abolition of Temporary Provisions 1 May 1991 
Currency Yuan (元)
Time zone National Standard Time (UTC+8)
Date formats yyyy-mm-dd
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .cn
Calling code +86

History[edit | edit source]

Nationalist one-party rule[edit | edit source]

Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China (seated on right), and Chiang Kai-shek, later President of the Republic of China

Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong toasting together in 1946 following the end of the Pacific War

On 1 January 1912, the Republic of China was established, and Sun Yat-sen of the Kuomintang (the KMT or Nationalist Party) was proclaimed provisional president. However, the presidency was later given to Yuan Shikai, a former Qing general who in 1915 proclaimed himself Emperor of China. In the face of popular condemnation and opposition from his own Beiyang Army, he was forced to abdicate and re-establish the republic.

After Yuan Shikai's death in 1916, China was politically fragmented. Its Beijing-based government was internationally recognized but virtually powerless; regional warlords controlled most of its territory. In the late 1920s, the Kuomintang, under Chiang Kai-shek, the then Principal of the Republic of China Military Academy, was able to reunify the country under its own control with a series of deft military and political manoeuvrings, known collectively as the Northern Expedition. The Kuomintang moved the nation's capital to Nanjing and implemented "political tutelage", an intermediate stage of political development outlined in Sun Yat-sen's San-min program for transforming China into a modern democratic state. The political division in China made it difficult for Chiang to battle the Communist, People's Liberation Army (PLA) against whom the Kuomintang had been warring since 1927 in the Chinese Civil War. This war continued successfully for the Kuomintang, especially after the PLA retreated in the Long March, until Japanese aggression and the 1936 Xi'an Incident forced Chiang to confront Imperial Japan.

The Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) forced an uneasy alliance between the Kuomintang and the PLA. Japanese forces committed numerous war atrocities against the civilian population; in all, as many as 20 million Chinese civilians died. An estimated 200,000 Chinese were massacred in the city of Nanjing alone during the Japanese occupation. During the war, China, along with the UK, the US and Germany, were referred to as "trusteeship of the powerful" and were recognized as the "Big Four" in the Declaration by United Nations. Along with the other three great powers, China was one of the four major Allies of the Pacific War, and was later considered one of the primary victors in the war. After the surrender of Japan in 1945, Taiwan, including the Pescadores, was returned to Chinese control. China emerged victorious but war-ravaged and financially drained. The continued distrust between the Kuomintang and the Communists led to the resumption of civil war. Constitutional rule was established in 1947, but because of the ongoing unrest, many provisions of the ROC constitution were not implemented.

Chiang Kai-shek declaring an end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949

Major combat in the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949 with the Kuomintang in control of most of China, and the Communist Party retreating to the Soviet Union, establishing a government-in-exile. On 1 October 1949, President Chiang Kai-shek declared an end to the civil war with Kuomintang victory. later that month, the Soviet backed insurgency in western China ended incorporating the region. Only Mongolia and Tuva remained outside of China's control.

The government did not restore the constitution until 1987, and the Kuomintang used this as a way to suppress the political opposition in the intervening years. During the White Terror, as the period is known, 140,000 people were imprisoned or executed for being perceived as anti-KMT or pro-Communist. Many citizens were arrested, tortured, imprisoned and executed for their real or perceived link to the Communists. Since these people were mainly from the intellectual and social elite, an entire generation of political and social leaders was decimated. In 1998 law was passed to create the "Compensation Foundation for Improper Verdicts" which oversaw compensation to White Terror victims and families.

In the post-war years the Chinese population almost doubled from around 550 million to over 900 million. During the 1960s and 1970s, China maintained an authoritarian, single-party government while its economy became industrialized and technology oriented, even developing its own nuclear weapons. This rapid economic growth was the result of a fiscal regime backed up, among others, by the support of US funds and demand for Chinese products. In the 1970s, China was economically the second fastest growing state in Asia after Japan. China, along with Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore, became known as one of the Four Asian Tigers.

Up until the 1970s, the government was regarded by Western critics as undemocratic for upholding martial law, for severely repressing any political opposition and for controlling media. The KMT did not allow the creation of new parties and those that existed did not seriously compete with the KMT. Thus, competitive democratic elections did not exist. From the late 1970s to the 1990s, however, China went through reforms and social changes that transformed it from an authoritarian state to a democracy. In 1979, a pro-democracy protest known as the Shanghai Incident took place in Shanghai to celebrate Human Rights Day. Although the protest was rapidly crushed by the authorities, it is today considered as the main event that united China's opposition.

Democratization[edit | edit source]

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