Small country of North-East Asia, Taiwan has experienced numerous developments throughout its history, founding over the centuries its own political identity, from the beginnings as a Ch'ing prefecture and province, to the half-century of Japanese possession and to the last fifty years as the home of the Republic of China. Taiwan has made incredible progress over this half past century, both politically and economically. If its Growth National Product went from two hundred dollars per capita in the end of World War II up to more than thirteen thousand dollar in the end of the century, Taiwan also managed to go from an authoritarian dictatorship to a democratic, multiparty regime.
However, those spectacular improvements don't hide its tricky political situation, both domestically and internationally, regarding its special history. Actually, its official name, Republic of China, makes plain the remnants of its intricate heritage over its current situation. Caught between its giant neighbours, the Unites-States and People's Republic of China, Taiwan had to assert its will during the Cold War, and still has to, in the new global order. The situation still represents a potential cause for an armed conflict and repeatedly comes to make the headlines of our newspapers. Taiwan's economic success and geo-political position in Asia give it a weight far more important than its size (240 miles long and 85 miles wide) or the number of its population (over 22 millions) might suggest.
[...] Taiwan had had heavily suffered during China's civil war on the mainland, going trough harsh requisitions, numerous arrests, and tight control of the civil population. Wei's efforts to soften those measures and to work out more understanding policies hadn't lasted long, being replaced in December 1948 by Chiang Kai-shek eldest son, and the local population was still under a tight and often enough violent scrutiny. To those already existing problems for the local population, was added in 1949 an inflation due to the important amount of money suddenly brought from the mainland, and a high number of refugees weighting heavily on the resources for their every day life (between 1.5 and 2 millions fled to Taiwan, which represents about 15% of the local population). [...]
[...] The government tackled the issue of hyperinflation in June 1949, introducing a new currency, the Taiwanese dollar, which was worth forty thousand old Taiwan dollars. It decreased the inflation rate from 3000% in 1949 to in 1952. The party became almost as emphatic about boosting the economic growth as it was on defeating the PRC. The KMT took steps to stimulate private enterprise, helping entrepreneurs facilitating fund rising and cheaper access to raw materials. A vast plan to modernize the agriculture was also undertaken with large-scale land redistribution. [...]
[...] Resources like food and other supplies stopped being massively sent to the mainland, and flux progressively reversed, bringing refugees, money large part of the national treasury), artworks (among which numerous items are now exposed in Taiwan national Palace Museum) and every valuable property Nationalists could transport. In December 1949, the government itself arrived. Yet the final downfall still appeared forthcoming, especially without the acting President Li Tsung-Jen, who had fled to New York, looking for medical care. There was no real army left, the majority of it either lost in the war or surrendered to China and the last defeats brought no hope of an advantageous end to the conflict. [...]
[...] The refugees from China were generally high educated and efficient, they quickly replaced the jobs left behind by the Japanese in the top of the hierarchy. So, if the local people obtained a better standard of life, the mainlanders were still in charge of the island. And it influenced the relations between the two communities. Taiwanese-Mainlander relations The inequalities in the standards of living and in social status were well-marked between Taiwanese and Mainlanders and led to complaints from the locals. [...]
[...] Actually, it also sanctioned criticism of the regime, of Chiang Kai-shek's family, of main leaders, or criticism of the KMT doctrine: that Taiwan was just a province of China and that the ultimate goal was to recapture the mainland. Ultimately, it was possible to arrest virtually anyone cumbersome for the regime. Sentenced by military courts, it is estimated that around ten thousand civilians went to such trials under the martial law. It has been called the “white terror”. Economic performances In the case of Taiwan, the economy is a crucial point for politics. [...]
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