Republic of Taiwan

From Academic Kids

Republic of Taiwan can refer to either a historical, no-longer-existent republic or a proposed state.


Historical: Republic of Formosa

Missing image
The flag for the Republic of Formosa, 1895, depicting a tiger

The Republic of Formosa (Chinese: 臺灣民主國, lit. "Taiwan Democratic State"; official English name: Formosan Republic, Taiwan Republic) was a short lived republic that existed on Taiwan in 1895, between the removal of Qing forces and the establishment of Japanese control of the island following the Treaty of Shimonoseki. It is sometimes mentioned as the first Asian republic to have been proclaimed, at least nominally.

The republic was proclaimed by a group of pro-Qing high officials and members of the local gentry, many of whom fled the island upon Japan's invasion. On May 24, 1895 an English translation of its declaration of independence was sent to all the embassies on the island, followed by a ceremony the next day. It managed to issue stamps under the auspices of the republic.

In spite of the similarity in name, modern-day proponents of a "Republic of Taiwan" tend to disavow a connection between the two, thus neither claiming a revival of that entity nor regarding themselves as political offspring of that movement. The reason for this is that the first Republic of Taiwan was created as an act of loyalty to a government on mainland China while modern supporters of the Republic of Taiwan tend to wish to distance themselves from mainland China.

See also: History of Taiwan

Presidents of the Republic of Taiwan

Proposed state: Republic of Taiwan

Proposed flag, widely accepted in the independence movement, for the proposed Republic of Taiwan
Proposed flag, widely accepted in the independence movement, for the proposed Republic of Taiwan

The Republic of Taiwan (臺灣共和國; Taiwanese: Tâi-oân Kiōng-hô-kok) is a goal of some supporters of Taiwan independence in creating a Taiwanese state unambiguously separate from China, covering (at most) the areas currently controlled by the Republic of China (i.e., Taiwan, Penghu, Quemoy and Matsu Islands). In this sense, sometimes the State of Taiwan (臺灣國; Taiwanese: Ti-on Kok) is used to avoid prejudging a republican polity.

Historically the creation of a state by this name from Japan-ruled Taiwan was also a goal of the Taiwanese Communist Party of the late 1920s. Unlike current formulations and in line with the thinking of Comintern, such a state would be a proletarian one.

In the 1950s a Republic of Taiwan Provisional Government was set up in Japan. Liao Wen-yih was nominally the President. At one time it held quasi-official relations with the newly independent Indonesia. This was possible mainly through the connections between Sukarno and the Provisional Government's Southeast Asian liason, Chen Chih-hsiung, who had assisted in that colony's independence movement.

Since then several scholars have drafted various versions of a constitution, as both political statement or vision and as intellectual exercise. Most of these drafts favor a bicameral parliamentary rather than presidential system. In at least one such draft, seats in the upper house would be divided equally among Taiwan's established ethnicities. In the 1980s the Chinese Nationalist government considered publication of these ideas criminal. In the most dramatic case, it decided to arrest the pro-independence publisher Cheng Nan-jung for publishing a version in his Tang-wai magazine, Liberty Era Weekly (自由時代週刊). Rather than giving himself up, Cheng self-immolated in protest.

Other campaigns and tactics toward such a State have included soliciting designs from the public for a new national flag (see image) and anthem. More recently the Taiwan Name Rectification Campaign (台灣正名運動) has played an active role. More traditional independentists, however, have criticized name rectification as merely a superficial tactic devoid of the larger vision inherent in the Republic of Taiwan agenda.

Initially, the Taiwanese Independence movement began as an attempt to overthrow the Republic of China government and replace it with a native Republic of Taiwan government. This was because the ruling party of ROC, the Kuomintang, was at first consisted essentially of mainland Chinese who fled to Taiwan at the end of the civil war in 1949. However, as economic successes overshadowed political concerns, and with the mainland Chinese gradually dying out, the general population became more and more tolerant towards the "alien" government. Following the impressively rapid process of democratization in the late 1980s and early 1990s, this movement by and large ended as the Taiwanese localization movement.

While democracy developed within Taiwan, abroad the situation had turned against the Republic of China government. Following its repulsion from the United Nations and severing of diplomatic relationships with the United States, Taiwan became increasingly isolated. In response to this situation, a modern movement for a Republic of Taiwan evolved from the original independence movement. The new movement claims that the current situation of Taiwan being ruled by a government officially named the Republic of China creates confusion internationally with China, and is the principle obstacle in preventing Taiwan from becoming a normal nation, in the sense of participating in international organizations such as the United Nations. Taiwan had been forced to participate in international affairs under such obscure names as "Chinese Taipei" and the "Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kimmen, and Matsu".

Opponents of a Republic of Taiwan claim that rejecting the name Republic of China would almost certainly trigger a war with the People's Republic of China and that the both the Republic of China and the concept of China have a grand history and culture from which Taiwan should not separate itself. Furthermore, they argue that confused foreigners is hardly a good reason to change national identity, and that Taiwan's security lies with economic and cultural integration with mainland China rather than in drawing clear national identity distinctions between mainland China and Taiwan. Independence advocates counter this in saying that unless international support is achieved Taiwan can never be truly safe from an increasingly militant mainland China, and that foreign powers are hardly likely to pledge support if Taiwan itself do not demonstrate a resolve.

The creation of a Republic of Taiwan is formally the goal of the Taiwan Solidarity Union and former President Lee Teng-hui. Although the ruling Democratic Progressive Party was originally also an advocate for both the idea of the Republic of Taiwan and Taiwan independence, as it took power the DPP has tried taking a middle line in which a sovereign, independent Taiwan is identified with the Republic of China and its symbols. The pan-blue coalition tends to oppose the idea of a Republic of Taiwan and Taiwan independence, but most support a sovereign Republic of China which is currently separate from the People's Republic of China.

While many believe the formal declaration of a Republic of Taiwan would likely trigger a military response from the People's Republic of China, some among the independentists believe such a response would be ineffective with or without subsequent involvement by the United States.

See also: political status of Taiwan

ja:台湾民主国 zh:臺灣共和國


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