The history of Taiwan–9. Growth despite setbacks

Posted: 2013 年 11 月 15 日 in The history of Taiwan
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Growth Despite Setbacks

Despite well-publicized political setbacks—such as its expulsion from the United Nations in 1971 and severance of diplomatic ties by the United States in 1979, Taiwan continues to thrive and survive. Its Gross National Product (GNP) has steadily grown and foreign trade has flourished through cultural contacts and trade associations, a remarkable achievement in the wake of political adversity.

Officially, the Nationalist government describes Taiwan as “the island province of the Republic of China,” and Taipei as the nation’s provisional capital. Peking (“northern capital”), the seat of the Communist’s People’s Republic of China, is called Peiping (“northern peace”) by the people of Taiwan, inferring that it is not, in fact, a capital.

The Nationalist government of Taiwan regards the mainland Communists as interlopers who have no business in China. In early times, textbooks and government posters—even the national anthem trailers that precede the showing of movies in theaters—still use maps that depict Taiwan together with the mainland as indivisible as parts of the Republic of China. On the other hand, the Communists consider Taiwan a “renegade province.”

Taiwan’s insistence on maintaining the Republic of China label lies at the heart of many of its diplomatic problems today. There are strong indications that the island’s athletes would be permitted to participate in the Olympic Games and other major international sporting events, and that many Western capitals would reopen diplomatic relations, if the Nationalist government would simply substitute the Taiwan label for that of the Republic of China.

But neither the Nationalists nor the Communists would accept such a change. Both governments agree that Taiwan is part and parcel of China proper, and an integral province of China. Both consider reunification a must—on their own terms. Taipei’s prerequisite for opening formal negotiations with the mainland is that Peking abandon communism and accept the Three Principles of the People as the foundation of a modern Chinese state.

With the exception of matters affecting national politics and internal security, the leaders in Taiwan continue to operate the island as one of the least restrictive, most laissez-faire societies in the world. They believe mainland China could also enjoy economic success if freed from the restraints of communism. The leaders in Taiwan believe it is the government’s responsibility to maintain secure borders, law and order, and a generous dose of ren-ching-wei, “the flavor of human feeling.” The people of Taiwan have done the rest.

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