History: Originally Taiwan and adjoining areas were Chinese territory. In 1950, Chiang Kai shek made Taiwan the headquarters of the Nationalist Republic of China. Although Taiwan still claims to be the legal government of China it lost its membership in the UN and its permanent seat in the Security Council to Communist China in 1971. In 1987, martial law was lifted after 38 years and in 1991, the 43-year period of emergency rule ended. In May, ’96 Lee Teng-Hui stormed to a  resounding victory in the island’s first direct presidential election.

Taiwan has one of the world’s strongest economies and is among the 10 leading capital exporters. Taiwan has foreign exchange reserves worth over$ 175 b.

According to an official source, Taipei wants to be reunited with China, but not at present. Taiwan is interested in joining international organizations. In Aug. ’99, China accused Taiwanese President Lee Teng-Hui of taking a ‘dangerous’ step towards splitting the country. Teng-Hui said ‘one China’ was possible but only under a democratic union with China’s mainland. China threatened to invade Taiwan if the President’s statehood call was made the official stand.

Economy: The main agricultural products are rice, tea, sugar, sweet potatoes, bananas, jute and turmeric. Camphor secured from forests is a government monopoly. Industries comprise iron works, glass, soap, textiles, clothing, electronics, chemicals, plastics and processed foods. Coal, marble, petroleum and natural gas are the principal minerals. Taiwan had made big progress in agriculture and industry and the living standards have gone high, as a result of land reform, government planning, free universal education and U.S. aid and investment.

More than half a century of nationalist party rule ended when Opposition leader Chen Shui-Bian (Democratic progressive party) was elected in March, 2000).

Recent Events: Tension between China and Taiwan intensified when China passed an anti-secession law that said the country could use force if Taiwan moved towards achieving independence. Lie Chan, who heads the opposition nationalist Party, travelled to China and met with president Hu Jintao in April.

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