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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Chronology for Taiwanese in Taiwan

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Date(s) Item
Jan 1990 An election was held last month in the Legislative Yuan (lower house) in which the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won 23 seats. The DPP and its allies are expected to be able to initiate legislation for the first time. The fact that 32% of the delegates to KMT conventions are appointed by the armed forces makes Taiwan even more subject to formal military control than the government of South Korea. As for the question of independence, some DPP members press for an independent "Republic of Taiwan", at least for electoral consumption. However, the ruling KMT with its one-China policy goal still won 60% of the votes.
Feb 1991 On February 28, the Taiwanese staged prayer meetings and protests across the island to mark the anniversary of a 1947 massacre by government troops, one of Taiwan's most painful and divisive political issues. Government officials repeated promises to investigate the massacre, which still symbolizes tension between the island's native Taiwanese majority and the Nationalists who fled the mainland and set up their government in Taipei. Thousands of people are believed to have died in 1947 when Nationalist troops, then in control of all of China, crushed political protests by native Taiwanese. Now the latter have rapidly expanded their political power in recent years. In 1988 President Lee Teng-hui, a KMT member, became the first native-born President.
May 1991 Debate has begun on a revamped constitution and the KMT formally ended its 42-year state of emergency to counter the "communist rebellion."
Sep 1991 Authorities have arrested Li Ying-yuan, an American professor who advocates independence for Taiwan (UPI, 9/3/91). Li, a professor at the University of South Dakota, was arrested on sedition charges. He is the Vice Chairman of the North American chapter of the World United Formosans for Independence, which advocates an independent Taiwan. Officials at the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto US Consulate in Taipei, have requested permission to visit Li, who is a permanent resident of the US. The request was denied by Taiwanese officials as the AIT failed to supply them with Li's alien registration number.
Oct 1991 The DPP inserted a clause in its constitution identifying independence for Taiwan as its chief goal, and party leaders say the issue of independence will be its main plank in December's National Assembly elections.
Dec 1991 The government's Central Election Commission ruled that independence calls may not be included in campaign platforms for the December elections. The DPP says it does not recognize the ruling. The government is in a dilemma -- attacking the movement for independence will likely consolidate it further. Few believe a direct vote would produce a majority for separation. Estimates of support for independence range between 12% to 30%. However, the government is worried about the emotional appeal of the movement. In the elections, voters handed the Nationalists 254 of the 325 National Assembly seats. The DPP won just 66 seats. The DPP's Chairman vowed to continue the independence campaign, even though the government has said it may dissolve the party for committing sedition. With the independence movement soundly defeated in what many saw as an unofficial referendum on the issue, the Nationalists have won a clear mandate to continue their slow and cautious rapprochement with China.
Mar 1992 The government released a report on the 1947 massacre that fuels criticism of the government. The official attempt to explain the February report has received widespread approval. But many scholars, including several who compiled the report, state that blame should go higher -- even to the late strongman Chiang Kai-shek.
Jun 1992 The National Assembly closed on May 30, after meeting for a special 70-day session to amend the 1946 Constitution of the Republic. This was the first meeting of a democratically elected legislative body in Taiwan's history. Since 1969, the two Chambers -- the National Assembly and Legislative Yuan -- have had a handful of opposition members. Eight constitutional amendments were passed, but the big issues were sidetracked. However, the sedition law has been amended, so that dissidents can no longer be prosecuted merely for advocating independence, unless they champion violence.
Jan 1993 The cabinet approved regulations governing the settlement of Mainland Chinese in Taiwan. Under the regulations, a maximum of 350 mainlanders will be allowed to settle in Taiwan in 1993. The regulations were drafted by the Mainland Affairs Council in accordance with the Statute on Relations Between the People on Taiwan and the Mainland. Of the immigration quota, 300 will be granted to mainlanders with Taiwanese spouses. The remaining 50 will be reserved for Mainland Chinese who need to settle in Taiwan to undertake economic, educational, technological and cultural studies or for political reasons (Central News Agency, 01/16/93). February; Taiwan's business community welcomed the nomination of provincial governor Lien Chan, a ninth-generation Taiwanese, as premier, saying he was likely to protect business interests and provide political stability. Now the top ranks of government are "all native". A scholar and diplomat who taught at American universities and was Foreign Minister during 1988-90, Lien hails from one of Taiwan's wealthiest families (The Reuter Asia-Pacific Business Report, 02/11/93).
Jul 1993 "Taiwanese culture has been discriminated against for the past 40 years. Now things are changing" said a DPP legislator (Reuters, 7/13/93). Under pressure from Lin and other deputies, the education minister has told parliament he hopes to include Taiwanese in the education system's official curriculum. Some top politicians of Mainland Chinese descent as well as the grandson of Chiang Kai-shek are taking Taiwanese lessons. "Taiwanization is an inevitable trend... how can they not learn to speak Taiwanese?" said Hsu Shueh-chi, a researcher at the Institute of Modern History of Taiwan's Academia Sinica.
Sep 1993 The head of the Taiwanese government's judicial branch has announced that he will run for president, becoming the first candidate to declare his bid for the 1996 polls. Lin Yang-kang, 66, a charismatic figure with close ties to both the liberal and conservative factions in the ruling KMT, said he wished to become the first Taiwanese president elected by a popular vote. Currently, the president is chosen by members of the National Assembly, a branch of parliament. President Lee has indicated he does not plan to run for another term (Reuters, 09/21/93).
Oct 1993 Parliamentary opposition leader Huang Hsin-chieh urged President Lee to run for re-election, Lee's office said (Reuters, 10/1/93). The DPP wants to prevent Lin from winning the presidency, who unlike Lee, has ties with both liberals and conservatives of the KMT.
Dec 1993 Two Taiwanese opposition parties will merge next year to become the island's third largest political force, the founder of one of the parties said. The New Party, founded in August by legislators who broke away from the ruling Nationalist Party, will merge with the Chinese Social Democratic Party (CSDP) next March, CSDP's founder Ju Gau-jeng told reporters (Reuters, 12/7/93). Ju, known as the "Taiwan's Rambo" for physically attacking rival legislators in parliament founded the CSDP two years ago after he broke away from the DPP. His party has fared poorly in the polls. Most of the leaders of the New Party were elected to parliament from greater Taipei and are children of mainland immigrants since 1949. Ju is a member of the native majority. The formation of the New Party marked the first formal split in KMT ranks in over four decades.
Nov 1994 A controversial remark on defense policy by the DPP leader has weakened voter support for the party's candidates in next month's elections for the mayors of Taipei and Kaohsiung and the governor of Taiwan province. Last month the DPP Chairman Shih Ming-teh casually commented to TV reporters that the government should demilitarize the islands of Jinmen (Quemoy) and Matsu. He stated that in an age of missiles and long-range attack fighters, the heavily fortified islands are no longer crucial to Taiwan's security, as they were 30-40 years ago. Shih also called on the government to bring home the troops and not sacrifice their lives merely to gain early warning of any invasion by China. His remarks triggered sharp reactions from the KMT and the New Party, a KMT splinter group. The DPP candidates for all the three positions have distanced themselves from Shih, insisting that his comments weren't the party's considered policy (Far Eastern Economic Review, 11/17/94).
Dec 1994 The opposition won a major victory when Chen Shui-pien of the Democratic Progressive Party became the first popularly elected Mayor of Taipei. The ruling KMT won elections for the Governor of Taiwan and the Mayor of Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second largest city (UPI, 12/03/94).
Feb 1995 A KMT member of the National Assembly has been expelled from the Nationalist party for supporting an independence proposal put forward by the DPP (Agence France Presse, 02/15/95).
Feb 28, 1995 President Lee Teng-hui issued the first official apology to the families of thousands who were killed in a massacre in 1947 and he promised that the truth over the massacre would be revealed. Lee, at a ceremony dedicating a memorial to the victims, called upon the people to forgive the government and to help heal the rift between the Mainland Chinese and the native Taiwanese. A government report indicates that 18-20,000 people were killed when Nationalist troops crushed a local uprising (Agence France Presse, 02/28/95).
Apr 1995 A rebel faction leader was expelled from the KMT and the membership of two of his deputies was suspended for two years in a reported attempt to end an internal party struggle. Sun An-ti formed the KMT Party Salvation and Reform Committee on April 11. The salvation faction is reported to consist of right-wing conservatives who believe that President Lee is too supportive of Taiwanese independence (Agence France Presse, 04/30/95).
May 1995 The Asian Wall Street Journal Weekly reports that while mainlanders still permeate Taiwan's culture and way of life, native Taiwanese now head four out of five government branches, along with the presidency 05/22/95).
Jul 1995 Regulations governing visits to mainland China by ROC citizens have been relaxed by the cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council. Mid-level civil servants will now be allowed to visit relatives; however, civil servants stationed abroad and security and intelligence officials are still prohibited from doing so (BBC, 07/01/95).
Jul 23, 1995 More than 6000 Taiwanese protested against China's missile tests just off Taiwan's coast and called on President Lee to resign for his alleged "independence" moves. During the past year, Lee has been attempting to raise Taiwan's international stature through campaigns such as lobbying for a United Nations seat. The march was organized by the right-wing New Party (Agence France Presse, 07/23/95).
Aug 1995 A major reshuffle in Taiwan's military has provided native Taiwanese with a larger share of the top posts. For the first time, the three top posts in the air force are now controlled by Taiwanese (The Straits Times, Singapore, 08/10/95).
Sep 1995 Taiwan has proposed a framework that could eventually lead to the reunification of the island with China stated Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui. Relations between the two have been strained as a result of Lee's June visit to his alma mater, Cornell University. China protested the move, stating that it violated US-China relations and the US's One China Policy which recognizes Beijing over Taipei. China has been conducting military exercises off Taiwan to protest against what it calls is Lee's secessionist stance. Lee is running in Taiwan's first popular presidential elections, scheduled for March, 1996 (UPI, 09/03/95).
Sep 23, 1995 The Nationalist party has been circulating a series of essays denouncing presidential hopefuls Chen Li-an and Lin Yang-kang. Lin, a KMT elder was attacked for reportedly creating a division between the mainlanders and the native Taiwanese. Chen, who left the KMT to run as an independent, is described as hiding his political ambitions behind a devout Buddhist facade (The Straits Times, Singapore, 09/23/95).
Nov 1995 Hundreds of supporters of the DPP and the New Party violently clashed in Kaohsiung in the run-up to legislative elections. A few people were injured and damage was reported to some vehicles (Reuters, 11/23/95).
Dec 1995 In an election marked by widespread, but unconfirmed reports of vote-buying, the ruling KMT has received a slim majority in the Legislative Yuan. The KMT won 85 seats in the 164-seat legislature, followed by the DPP with 54 seats, the New Party with 21, and four seats for independents (UPI, 12/02/95). The New Party, often perceived as a mainlander party, is viewed as the biggest winner in the elections as it is now the island's third largest political party and a potential threat to the ruling KMT. The debate over Taiwan's status was a major issue during the election with the DPP openly favoring the independence of the island (Reuter Textline Business Taiwan, 12/11/95).
Dec 20, 1995 A second round of reconciliation talks were held between the pro-independence DPP and the pro-unification New Party amid a protest by over 20 members of the Democratic Progressive Party. The two sides are seeking to end ethnic struggles between the Mainland Chinese and native Taiwanese and are attempting to establish a coalition in the legislature (Agence France Presse, 12/20/95).
Sep 3, 1996 Radical members of Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) planned to break away and form a party to strengthen the campaign for total independence from China. The radicals accuse the DPP of having abandoned its pro-independence goal. DPP officials rejected the accusations. The split between the moderate and radical members is growing over issues of DPP’s future.(Agence France Presse)
Aug 16, 1997 During a news conference 22 groups, including a few minor political parties, politicians and former KMT soldiers and aboriginal groups, asserted Taiwan independence, claiming the government should change the name of Taiwan to the Republic of Taiwan to identify Taiwan as an independent and sovereign nation.(China News)
Nov 8, 1997 Facing pressure to renew high-level talks with China, President Lee Teng-hui of Taiwan took a defiant stand, ruling out concessions to Beijing and stating bluntly that Taiwan "is an independent and sovereign country.” (The Washington Post)
May 26, 1998 China’s state intelligence service detained six Taiwanese businessmen suspected of spying. There are another 12 already held under house arrest. The businessmen were being held in Beijing, Changsha, Shijiazhuang and Shanghai after being intercepted at various airports. They were suspected of having obtained military secrets via the Internet. Police did not notify the men’s companies or family members within 24 hours of their detention, despite Chinese laws requiring them to do so. (China News)
Dec 14, 1998 General elections were held in Taiwan. Voters gave their preferences to the nationalist party. Nationalists pursue politics of reunification with China upon China’s democratization. The DPP opts for independence. China has indicated on different occasions that while she disagrees with the Taiwanese nationalists on a number of issues, such as democratization and human rights in China, she is willing to support the nationalists. China has also indicated that Taiwanese independence may have grave consequences for Taiwan. A commentary says, elections have shown that the Taiwanese voted for stability. (Newsweek)
Jul 11, 1999 In an interview for the Voice of Germany, Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui made a controversial declaration about the sovereign status of Taiwan saying that Taiwan has ceased to exist as part of China and there are two separate "countries" on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. The president’s comment represented a major departure from the official position of the ruling KMT, according to which Taiwan and China are “two equal political entities within the one-China framework”. President Lee explained his position noting that in the 1991 constitutional revisions he had already restricted the jurisdiction of the Taiwanese constitution to the present islands of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu. “We derive our legitimacy to rule from the people in Taiwan only, and there is nothing to do with people in China. The relation between China and Taiwan is one between countries, instead of one between a legitimate government and an illicit one, or a central government against a local one," the president said. He added. “since 1991 we have already defined clearly bilateral relations across the strait as relations between country and country, or at least a special relation between country and country.(The Straits Times (Singapore), 7/11/1999)
Jul 15, 1999 The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) promised to reform Taiwan's political system by setting up a unicameral parliament and dissolving the Control Yuan and the Examination Yuan provided it wins next year's presidential elections.(China News)
Mar 19 - 19, 2004 President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu were both shot and wounded during an attempted assassination while campaigning ahead of elections in Taiwan. It is unknown who shot them (Taipei Times. April 12, 2004. "Taipei Times - archives". November 12, 2007).


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Information current as of July 16, 2010