Rukai Chief visiting the Department of Anthropology at Tokyo Imperial University during Japanese rule

First human inhabitants of Taiwan

6000 BCE Jan 1
, Taiwan

Chipped-pebble tools dating from perhaps as early as 15,000 years ago suggest that the initial human inhabitants of Taiwan were Paleolithic cultures of the Pleistocene era. These people survived by eating marine life. Archeological evidence points to an abrupt change to the Neolithic era around 6,000 years ago, with the advent of agriculture, domestic animals, polished stone adzes and pottery. The stone adzes were mass-produced on Penghu and nearby islands, from the volcanic rock found there. This suggests heavy sea traffic took place between these islands and Taiwan at this time.

Tang dynasty portrait of Sun Quan by Yan Liben

Eastern Wu Expedition

230 Jan 1
, Taiwan

In 230, the island of Taiwan was reached by the Chinese during the Three Kingdoms period under the reign of Sun Quan. Contact with the native population and the dispatch of officials to an island named "Yizhou" (夷州) by the Wu navy might have been to Taiwan, but the location of Yizhou is open to dispute; some historians believe it was Taiwan, while others believe it was the Ryukyu Islands.

Yizhou is the name of an island, commonly identified as Taiwan, described in the account of an expedition undertaken by the Eastern Wu dynasty of China in AD 230. 90 percent of the sailors died on the voyage but the survivors still managed to kidnap "several thousand" natives, probably Taiwanese aborigines.

A portrait of Emperor Gaozong of Song (r. 1127–1162)

Chinese fishermen settle on the Penghu Islands

1171 Jan 1
, Penghu

Han Chinese from southern Fujian began to establish fishing communities on the islands in the 9th and 10th centuries, and representatives were intermittently stationed there by the Southern Song and Yuan governments from around 1170. In 1170, the Song dynasty stationed officers at the Penghu Islands. In 1171, Chinese fishermen settled on the Penghu Islands.

First Europeans on Taiwan

First Europeans on Taiwan

1582 Jan 1
, Tainan

Portuguese sailors, passing Taiwan in 1544, first jotted in a ship's log the name of the island Ilha Formosa, meaning "Beautiful Island". In 1582, the survivors of a Portuguese shipwreck spent ten weeks (45 days) battling malaria and aborigines before returning to Macau on a raft.

A Japanese Red seal ship

Tokugawa Shogunate Invasion

1616 Jan 1
, Nagasaki

In 1616, Murayama Tōan was directed by the Tokugawa Shogunate to invade Taiwan. This followed a first exploratory mission by Arima Harunobu in 1609. The objective was to establish a base for the direct supply of silk from China, instead of having to supply it from Portuguese-controlled Macao or Spanish-controlled Manila.

Murayama had a fleet of 13 ships and around 4,000 men, under the command of one of his sons. They left Nagasaki on 15 May 1616. The invasion attempt ended in failure however. A typhoon dispersed the fleet and put an early end to the invasion effort. The king of Ryukyu Sho Nei had warned Ming China of the Japanese intentions to capture the island and to use it as a trading base with China, but in any case only one ship managed to reach the island and it was repelled by local forces. The single ship was ambushed in a Formosan creek, and all her crew committed suicide ("seppuku") to avoid capture. Several ships diverted themselves to plunder the Chinese coast and are reported "to have killed above 1,200 Chinese, and taken all the barkes or junks they met withal, throwing the people overboard".

Dutch Formosa

Dutch Formosa

1624 Jan 2 - 1662
, Tainan

The island of Taiwan, also commonly known as Formosa, was partly under colonial rule by the Dutch Republic from 1624 to 1662 and from 1664 to 1668. In the context of the Age of Discovery, the Dutch East India Company established its presence on Formosa to trade with the Ming Empire in neighbouring China and Tokugawa shogunate in Japan, and also to interdict Portuguese and Spanish trade and colonial activities in East Asia.

At this time, the Dutch East India Company was trying to force China to open a port in Fujian to Dutch trade and expel the Portuguese from Macau. When the Dutch were defeated by the Portuguese at the Battle of Macau in 1622, they seized Penghu, built a fort there, and threatened raids on Chinese ports and shipping unless the Chinese allowed trading with them on Penghu and that China not trade with Manila. In response, the Chinese governor of Fujian demanded that the Dutch withdraw from Penghu to Taiwan, where the Chinese would permit them to engage in trade. The Dutch continued to raid the Fujian coast between October 1622 and January 1624 to force their demands, but were unsuccessful. In 1624, the new governor of Fujian sent a fleet of 40–50 warships with 5,000 troops to Penghu and expelled the Dutch, who moved to Fort Zeelandia on Taiwan.

Spanish Formosa

Spanish Formosa

1626 Jan 1 - 1642
, Keelung

Spanish Formosa was a small colony of the Spanish Empire established in the northern tip of the island known to Europeans at the time as Formosa (now Taiwan) from 1626 to 1642. It was ceded to the Dutch Republic during the Eighty Years' War. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to reach the island off the southern coast of China in 1544, and named it Formosa (Portuguese for "beautiful") due to the beautiful landscape as seen from the sea.

Northern Taiwan became a Spanish colony in 1626 and part of the Manila-based Spanish East Indies. As a Spanish colony, it was meant to protect the regional trade with the Philippines from interference by the Dutch base in the south of the island. The colony was short-lived due to the loss of its strategic importance and unwillingness by Spanish authorities in Manila to commit more resources to its defence. After seventeen years, the last fortress of the Spanish was besieged by Dutch forces and eventually fell, giving the Dutch control over much of the island.

Hakka woman in Taiwan

Hakkas in Taiwan

1630 Jan 1
, Taoyuan

The Hakkas were living in Honan and Shantung provinces of north central China about the third century B.C. Then they were compelled to move south of the Yangtze river to escape invading hordes of nomads from the north. They finally settled down in Kiangsi, Fukien, Kwangtung, Kwangsi, and Hainan. They were called "strangers" by the native peoples.

The first exodus of Hakkas to Taiwan took place around 1630 when a severe famine afflicted the mainland.

By the time of the Hakkas' arrival, the best land had been taken by the Hoklos and the cities were already established. Additionally, the two peoples spoke different dialects. The "strangers" found it difficult to find a place in the Hoklo communities. Most Hakkas were relegated to rural areas, where they farmed marginal land. The majority of Hakkas still live in such agricultural counties as Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, and Pingtung. Those in Chiayi, Hualien, and Taitung migrated there from other areas during the Japanese occupation.

The second immigration of Hakkas to Taiwan was in the years just after 1662, when Cheng Cheng-kung, a general of the Ming court and known as Koxinga in the West, expelled the Dutch from the island. Some historians assert that Cheng, a native of Amoy, was a Hakka. Thus the Hakkas once more became "strangers", because most of those who migrated to Taiwan came after the 16th century.

Battle of Liaoluo Bay

Battle of Liaoluo Bay

1633 Jul 7 - Oct 19
, Fujian

The Battle of Liaoluo Bay took place in 1633 off the coast of Fujian, China; involving the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and the Chinese Ming dynasty's navies. The battle was fought at the crescent-shaped Liaoluo Bay that forms the southern coast of the island of Kinmen. A Dutch fleet under Admiral Hans Putmans was attempting to control shipping in the Taiwan Strait, while the southern Fujian sea traffic and trade was protected by a fleet under Brigadier General Zheng Zhilong. This was the largest naval encounter between Chinese and European forces before the Opium Wars two hundred years later.

Robert Junius, one of the leaders of the Mattau expedition

Dutch pacification campaign

1635 Jan 1 - 1636
, Tainan

The Dutch pacification campaign on Formosa was a series of military actions and diplomatic moves undertaken in 1635 and 1636 by Dutch East India Company (VOC) in Dutch-era Taiwan (Formosa) aimed at subduing hostile aboriginal villages in the southwestern region of the island. Prior to the campaign the Dutch had been in Formosa for eleven years, but did not control much of the island beyond their principal fortress at Tayouan (present-day Anping, Tainan), and an alliance with the town of Sinkan. The other aboriginal villages in the area conducted numerous attacks on the Dutch and their allies, with the chief belligerents being the village of Mattau, who in 1629 ambushed and slaughtered a group of sixty Dutch soldiers.

Fort Zeelandia

End of Dutch influence: Siege of Fort Zeelandia

1661 Mar 30 - 1662 Feb 1
, Fort Zeelandia

The siege of Fort Zeelandia of 1661–1662 ended the Dutch East India Company's rule over Taiwan and began the Kingdom of Tungning's rule over the island.

Koxinga receiving the Dutch surrender on 1 February 1662

Kingdom of Tungning

1661 Jun 14 - 1683
, Tainan

The Kingdom of Tungning was a dynastic maritime state that ruled part of southwestern Formosa (Taiwan) and the Penghu islands between 1661 and 1683. It is the first predominantly Han Chinese state in Taiwanese history. At its zenith, the kingdom's maritime power dominated varying extents of coastal regions of southeastern China and controlled the major sea lanes across both China Seas, and its vast trade network stretched from Japan to Southeast Asia.

The kingdom was founded by Koxinga (Zheng Chenggong) after seizing control of Taiwan, a foreign land at the time outside China's boundaries, from Dutch rule. Zheng hoped to restore the Ming dynasty in Mainland China, when the Ming remnants' rump state in southern China was progressively conquered by the Manchu-led Qing dynasty. The Zheng dynasty used the island of Taiwan as a military base for their Ming loyalist movement which aimed to reclaim mainland China from the Qing. Under Zheng rule, Taiwan underwent a process of sinicization in an effort to consolidate the last stronghold of Han Chinese resistance against the invading Manchus. Until its annexation by the Qing dynasty in 1683, the kingdom was ruled by Koxinga's heirs, the House of Koxinga, and the period of rule is sometimes referred to as the Koxinga dynasty or the Zheng dynasty.

Qing dynasty Navy

Start of Qing Rule

1683 Jul 1
, Penghu

The Battle of Penghu was a naval battle fought in 1683 between the Qing dynasty and the Kingdom of Tungning. The Qing admiral Shi Lang led a fleet to attack the Tungning forces in Penghu. Each side possessed more than 200 warships. The Tungning admiral Liu Guoxuan was outmaneuvered by Shi Lang, whose forces outnumbered him three to one. Liu surrendered when his flagship ran out of ammunition and fled to Taiwan. The loss of Penghu resulted in the surrender of Zheng Keshuang, the last king of Tungning, to the Qing dynasty.

The Qing fleet returning from Taiwan

Lin Shuangwen rebellion

1786 Jan 1 - 1785
, Taiwan

The Lin Shuangwen rebellion occurred in 1787–1788 in Taiwan under the rule of the Qing dynasty. The rebellion was started by the rebel Lin Shuangwen and was pacified by the Qianlong Emperor. Lin Shuangwen was then executed.

It started when the Qing Taiwan governor Sun Jingsui outlawed the anti-Qing Tiandihui society and arrested Lin Shuangwen's uncles. Lin then formed an army to resist. Lin's forces attacked several Taiwan sites, including the homes of the Quanzhou and Hakka people. The Qing sent troops to quell the rebellion and execute Lin and the rebels.

Attack of United States Marines and Sailors on the pirates of the island of Formosa, East Indies, Harper's Weekly

Formosa Expedition

1867 Jun 1
, Hengchun

The Formosa Expedition was a punitive expedition launched by the United States against the Paiwan, an indigenous Taiwanese tribe. The expedition was undertaken in retaliation for the Rover incident, in which the Rover, an American bark, was wrecked and its crew massacred by Paiwan warriors in March 1867. A United States Navy and Marine company landed in southern Taiwan and attempted to advance into the Paiwan village. The Paiwan responded with guerrilla warfare, repeatedly ambushing, skirmishing, disengaging and retreating. Eventually, the Marines' commander was killed and they retreated to their ship due to fatigue and heat exhaustion, and the Paiwan dispersed and retreated into the jungle. The action is regarded as an American failure.

La Galissonnière bombards the Chinese defences at Keelung, 5 August 1884

Keelung campaign

1884 Aug 1 - 1885 Mar
, Taiwan

The Keelung campaign (August 1884–April 1885) was a controversial military campaign undertaken by the French in northern Formosa (Taiwan) during the Sino-French War. After making a botched attack on Keelung in August 1884, the French landed an expeditionary corps of 2,000 men and captured the port in October 1884. Unable to advance beyond their bridgehead, they were invested inside Keelung by superior Chinese forces under the command of the imperial commissioner Liu Mingchuan. In November and December 1884 cholera and typhoid drained the strength of the French expeditionary corps, while reinforcements for the Chinese army flowed into Formosa via the Pescadores Islands, raising its strength to 35,000 men by the end of the war. Reinforced in January 1885 to a strength of 4,500 men, the French won two impressive tactical victories against the besieging Chinese in late January and early March 1885, but were not strong enough to exploit these victories. The Keelung campaign ended in April 1885 in a strategic and tactical stalemate. The campaign was criticised at the time by Admiral Amédée Courbet, the commander of the French Far East Squadron, as strategically irrelevant and a wasteful diversion of the French navy.

French warships bombard Tamsui, 2 October 1884

Battle of Tamsui

1884 Aug 2 - Aug 8
, Tamsui

The Battle of Tamsui, Danshui, or Hobe (2–8 October 1884) was a significant French defeat by the Qing dynasty at Tamsui on Taiwan during the Keelung Campaign of the Sino-French War.

Taiwan Province

Taiwan Province

1887 Jan 1
, Taiwan

In 1683, Zheng Keshuang (third ruler of the Kingdom of Tungning and a grandson of Koxinga), surrendered to the Qing Empire following a naval engagement with Admiral Shi Lang. The Qing then ruled the Taiwanese archipelago (including Penghu) as Taiwan Prefecture of Fujian Province. In 1875, Taipeh Prefecture was separated from Taiwan Prefecture. In 1885, work commenced under the auspices of Liu Ming-chuan to develop Taiwan into a province. In 1887, the island was designated as a province, with Liu as the first governor. The province was also reorganized into four prefectures, eleven districts, and three sub-prefectures. The provincial capital, or "Taiwan-fu", was intended to be moved from the south (modern-day Tainan) to the more central area of Toatun (modern-day Taichung) in the revamped Taiwan Prefecture. As the new central Taiwan-fu was still under construction, the capital was temporarily moved north to Taipeh (modern-day Taipei), which eventually was designated the provincial capital.

Woodblock Print of Treaty of Shimonoseki negotiations | ©Courtesy of Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Qing Dynasty cedes Taiwan to Japan

1895 Apr 17
, Shimonoseki

The Treaty of Shimonoseki was an treaty signed at the Shunpanrō hotel, Shimonoseki, Japan on April 17, 1895, between the Empire of Japan and Qing China, ending the First Sino-Japanese War. Among the treaty terms,

Articles 2 & 3: China cedes to Japan in perpetuity and full sovereignty of the Pescadores group, Formosa (Taiwan) and the eastern portion of the bay of Liaodong Peninsula (Dalian) together with all fortifications, arsenals, and public property.

During the summit between Japanese and Qing representatives in March and April 1895, Prime Minister Hirobumi Ito and Foreign Minister Munemitsu Mutsu wanted to reduce the power of Qing Dynasty on not only the Korean Peninsula but also the Taiwan islands. Moreover, Mutsu had already noticed its importance in order to expand Japanese military power towards South China and Southeast Asia. It was also the age of imperialism, so Japan wished to mimic what the Western nations were doing. Imperial Japan was seeking colonies and resources in the Korean Peninsula and Mainland China to compete with the presence of Western powers at that time. This was the way the Japanese leadership chose to illustrate how fast Imperial Japan had advanced compared to the West since the 1867 Meiji Restoration, and the extent it wanted to amend the unequal treaties that were held in the Far East by the Western powers.

At the peace conference between Imperial Japan and Qing Dynasty, Li Hongzhang and Li Jingfang, the ambassadors at the negotiation desk of Qing Dynasty, originally did not plan to cede Taiwan because they also realized Taiwan's great location for trading with the West. Therefore, even though the Qing had lost wars against Britain and France in the 19th century, the Qing Emperor was serious about keeping Taiwan under its rule, which began in 1683.

At the first half of the conference, Ito and Mutsu claimed that yielding the full sovereignty of Taiwan was an absolute condition and requested Li to hand over full sovereignty of Penghu Islands and the eastern portion of the bay of Liaotung (Dalian). Li Hongzhang refused on the grounds that Taiwan had never been a battlefield during the first Sino-Japanese War between 1894 and 1895. By the final stage of the conference, while Li Hongzhang agreed to the transfer of full sovereignty of the Penghu islands and the eastern portion of the bay of Liaotung Peninsula to Imperial Japan, he still refused to hand over Taiwan. As Taiwan had been a province since 1885, Li stated, "Taiwan is already a province, and therefore not to be given away."

However, as Imperial Japan had the militaristic advantage, and eventually Li gave Taiwan up. On April 17, 1895, the peace treaty between Imperial Japan and the Qing dynasty had been signed and was followed by the successful Japanese invasion of Taiwan. This had a huge and lasting impact on Taiwan, the turning over of the island to Imperial Japan marking the end of 200 years of Qing rule despite local Chinese resistance against the annexation, which was quashed swiftly by the Japanese.

An elementary school during the Japanese period

Taiwan under Japanese rule

1895 Apr 17 - 1945
, Taiwan

The island of Taiwan, together with the Penghu Islands, became a dependency of Japan in 1895, when the Qing dynasty ceded Taiwan Prefecture in the Treaty of Shimonoseki after the Japanese victory in the First Sino-Japanese War. The short-lived Republic of Formosa resistance movement was suppressed by Japanese troops and quickly defeated in the Capitulation of Tainan, ending organized resistance to Japanese occupation and inaugurating five decades of Japanese rule over Taiwan. Its administrative capital was in Taihoku (Taipei) led by the Governor-General of Taiwan.

Taiwan was Japan's first colony and can be viewed as the first step in implementing their "Southern Expansion Doctrine" of the late 19th century. Japanese intentions were to turn Taiwan into a showpiece "model colony" with much effort made to improve the island's economy, public works, industry, cultural Japanization, and to support the necessities of Japanese military aggression in the Asia-Pacific.

Japanese administrative rule of Taiwan ended after the end of hostilities with Japan in August 1945 during the World War II period, and the territory was placed under the control of the Republic of China (ROC) with the issuing of General Order No. 1. Japan formally renounced its sovereignty over Taiwan in the Treaty of San Francisco effective April 28, 1952. The experience of Japanese rule, ROC rule, and the February 28 massacre of 1947 continue to affect issues such as Taiwan Retrocession Day, national identity, ethnic identity, and the formal Taiwan independence movement.

Japanese troops occupy Taipei, 7 June 1895

Japanese invasion of Taiwan

1895 May 29 - Oct 18
, Tainan

The Japanese invasion of Taiwan was a conflict between the Empire of Japan and the armed forces of the short-lived Republic of Formosa following the Qing dynasty's cession of Taiwan to Japan in April 1895 at the end of the First Sino-Japanese War. The Japanese sought to take control of their new possession, while the Republican forces fought to resist Japanese occupation. The Japanese landed near Keelung on the northern coast of Taiwan on 29 May 1895, and in a five-month campaign swept southwards to Tainan. Although their advance was slowed by guerrilla activity, the Japanese defeated the Formosan forces (a mixture of regular Chinese units and local Hakka militias) whenever they attempted to make a stand. The Japanese victory at Baguashan on 27 August, the largest battle ever fought on Taiwanese soil, doomed the Formosan resistance to an early defeat. The fall of Tainan on 21 October ended organised resistance to Japanese occupation, and inaugurated five decades of Japanese rule in Taiwan.

Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong met in Chongqing in 1945.

Chinese Civil War

1927 Aug 1 - 1949 Dec 7
, China

The Chinese Civil War was fought between the Kuomintang (KMT)-led government of the Republic of China (ROC) and forces of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), lasting intermittently after 1927.

The war is generally divided into two phases with an interlude: from August 1927 to 1937, the KMT-CCP Alliance collapsed during the Northern Expedition, and the Nationalists controlled most of China. From 1937 to 1945, hostilities were mostly put on hold as the Second United Front fought the Japanese invasion of China with eventual help from the Allies of World War II, but even then co-operation between the KMT and CCP was minimal and armed clashes between them were common. Exacerbating the divisions within China further was that a puppet government, sponsored by Japan and nominally led by Wang Jingwei, was set up to nominally govern the parts of China under Japanese occupation.

The civil war resumed as soon as it became apparent that the Japanese defeat was imminent, and the CCP gained the upper hand in the second phase of the war from 1945 to 1949, generally referred to as the Chinese Communist Revolution.

The Communists gained control of mainland China and established the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, forcing the leadership of the Republic of China to retreat to the island of Taiwan. Starting in the 1950s, a lasting political and military standoff between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait has ensued, with the ROC in Taiwan and the PRC in mainland China both officially claiming to be the legitimate government of all China. After the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, both tacitly ceased fire in 1979; however, no armistice or peace treaty has ever been signed.

Grocery store in Taiwan 1950s

Economic Development

1946 Jan 1
, Taiwan

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, post-war economic conditions compounded with the then-ongoing Chinese Civil War caused severe inflation across mainland China and in Taiwan, made worse by disastrous currency reforms and corruption. This gave way to the reconstruction process and new reforms.

The KMT took control of Taiwan's monopolies that had been owned by the Japanese prior to World War II. They nationalized approximately 17% of Taiwan's GNP and voided Japanese bond certificates held by Taiwanese investors. These real estate holdings as well as American aid such as the China Aid Act and the Sino-American Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction helped to ensure that Taiwan would recover quickly from war. The Kuomintang government also moved the entire gold reserve from the Chinese mainland to Taiwan, and used this reserve to back the newly issued New Taiwan dollar to stabilize the new currency and put a stop to hyperinflation.

The KMT authorities implemented a far-reaching and highly successful land reform program on Taiwan during the 1950s. The 375 Rent Reduction Act alleviated tax burden on peasants and another act redistributed land among small farmers and compensated large landowners with commodities certificates and stock in state-owned industries. Although this left some large landowners impoverished, others turned their compensation into capital and started commercial and industrial enterprises. These entrepreneurs were to become Taiwan's first industrial capitalists. Together with businessmen who fled from mainland China, they once again revived Taiwan's prosperity previously ceased along with Japanese withdrawal and managed Taiwan's transition from an agricultural to a commercial, industrial economy.

On February 28, 1947, the masses went to the Monopoly Bureau Taipei Branch to protest, and the inventories of matches, cigarettes and other items in the Monopoly Bureau Taipei Branch were piled up and burned.

February 28 incident

1947 Feb 28 - May 16
, Taiwan

The February 28 incident was an anti-government uprising in Taiwan that was violently suppressed by the Kuomintang (KMT)–led nationalist government of the Republic of China (ROC). Directed by provincial governor Chen Yi and president Chiang Kai-shek, thousands of civilians were killed beginning on February 28, 1947. The number of deaths from the incident and massacre was estimated to be between 18,000 and 28,000. The incident is one of the most important events in Taiwan's modern history and was a critical impetus for the Taiwan independence movement.

During the White Terror, the KMT persecuted perceived political dissidents, and the incident was considered too taboo to be discussed. President Lee Teng-hui became the first president to discuss the incident publicly on its anniversary in 1995. The event is now openly discussed and details of the event have become the subject of government and academic investigation. February 28 is now an official public holiday called Peace Memorial Day, on which the president of Taiwan gathers with other officials to ring a commemorative bell in memory of the victims.

The Horrifying Inspection by Taiwanese printmaker Li Jun. It describes the hostile environment in Taiwan shortly after the February 28 incident, which marked the start of the White Terror period

White Terror

1949 May 19 - 1990
, Taiwan

In Taiwan, the White Terror is used to describe the political repression on civilians living on the island and the surrounding areas under its control by the government under the rule of the Kuomintang (KMT, i.e. Chinese Nationalist Party). The period of White Terror is generally considered to have begun when martial law was declared in Taiwan on 19 May 1949, which were enabled by the 1948 Temporary Provisions against the Communist Rebellion, and ended on 21 September 1992 with the repeal of Article 100 of the Criminal Code, which allowed for the prosecution of people for "anti-state" activities; the Temporary Provisions were repealed a year earlier on 22 April 1991 and martial law was lifted on 15 July 1987.

Lifting Martial Law and Opening-up Taiwan

Martial law in Taiwan

1949 May 20 - 1987 Jul 15
, Taiwan

Martial law in Taiwan refers to the periods in the history of Taiwan after World War II during control by the Republic of China Armed Forces of the Kuomintang-led Government of the Republic of China regime. The term is specifically used to refer to the over 38-year-long consecutive martial law period between 20 May 1949 and 14 July 1987, which was qualified as "the longest imposition of martial law by a regime anywhere in the world" at that time (having since been surpassed by Syria.).

With the outbreak of Chinese Civil War, the Declaration of Martial Law in Taiwan Province was enacted by Chen Cheng, who served as the chairman of Taiwan Provincial Government and commander of Taiwan Garrison Command, on 19 May 1949. This order was effective within the territory of Taiwan Province (including Island of Taiwan and Penghu). The provincial martial law order was then superseded by an amendment of the Declaration of Nationwide Martial Law which was enacted by the central Government of the Republic of China after the amendment received a retroactive consent by the Legislative Yuan on 14 March 1950. Martial law in Taiwan Area (including Island of Taiwan, Penghu) was lifted by a Presidential order promulgated by President Chiang Ching-kuo on 15 July 1987.

Chinese Nationalist army digging in for the Battle of Guningtou, Defense of Quemoy, Chinese Civil War

Battle of Guningtou

1949 Oct 25 - Oct 27
, Jinning

The Battle of Kuningtou or Battle of Guningtou, also known as the Battle of Kinmen, was a battle fought over Kinmen in the Taiwan Strait during the Chinese Civil War in 1949. The failure of the Communists to take the island left it in the hands of the Kuomintang (Nationalists) and crushed their chances of taking Taiwan to destroy the Nationalists completely in the war.

Chiang Kai-shek, The Man who Lost China (1952)

Kuomintang's retreat to Taiwan

1949 Dec 7
, Taiwan

The retreat of the government of the Republic of China to Taiwan, also known as the Kuomintang's retreat to Taiwan or the Great Retreat in Taiwan, refers to the exodus of the remnants of the internationally recognized Kuomintang-ruled government of the Republic of China (ROC) to the island of Taiwan (Formosa) on 7 December 1949 after losing the Chinese Civil War in the mainland. The Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party), its officers, and approximately 2 million ROC troops took part in the retreat, in addition to many civilians and refugees, fleeing the advance of the People's Liberation Army of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

After the retreat, the leadership of the ROC, particularly Generalissimo and President Chiang Kai-shek, planned to make the retreat only temporary, hoping to regroup, fortify, and reconquer the mainland. This plan, which never came into fruition, was known as "Project National Glory", and made the national priority of the ROC on Taiwan. Once it became apparent that such a plan could not be realized, the ROC's national focus shifted to the modernization and economic development of Taiwan. The ROC, however, continues to officially claim exclusive sovereignty over the now-CCP governed mainland China.

Land reform in Taiwan

Land reform in Taiwan

1950 Jan 1
, Taiwan

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, land reform in Taiwan capped farm rents and redistributed farmland to Taiwanese tenant farmers. The reforms occurred in three main stages. First, in 1949, farm rents were capped at 37.5% of yields. Second, starting in 1951, public land was sold to tenant farmers. Finally, starting in 1953, large landholdings were broken up and redistributed to tenant farmers--a "land-to-the-tiller" reform.In the 1950s, after the Nationalist government fled to Taiwan, land reform and community development were carried out by the Sino-American Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction. The course of action was made attractive, in part, by the fact that many of the large landowners were Japanese who had fled, and the other large landowners were compensated with Japanese commercial and industrial properties seized after Taiwan had reverted from Japanese rule in 1945. The land program succeeded also because the Kuomintang were mostly from Mainland China and so had few ties to the remaining indigenous landowners.

Beside President Chiang Kai-shek, the U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower waved to crowds during his visit to Taipei in June 1960.

American Aid

1950 Jan 1 - 1962
, United States

From 1950 to 1965, Taiwan received a total of $1.5 billion in economic aid and $2.4 billion in military aid from the United States. In 1965 all American aid ceased when Taiwan had established a solid financial base.

Risk of Nuclear War Over Taiwan

First Taiwan Strait Crisis

1954 Sep 3 - 1955 May 1
, Penghu County

The First Taiwan Strait Crisis was a brief armed conflict between the Communist People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Nationalist Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan. The conflict focused on several groups of islands in the Taiwan Strait that were held by the ROC but were located only a few miles from mainland China. The crisis began when the PRC shelled the ROC-held island of Kinmen (Quemoy). Later, the PRC seized the Yijiangshan Islands from the ROC. Under pressure by the PRC, the ROC then abandoned the Tachen Islands (Dachen Islands), which were evacuated by the navies of the ROC and the US.

In 1949, the Chinese Civil War ended with the victory of the Communist People's Republic of China (PRC). The government of the Republic of China (ROC), controlled by Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang (KMT), and 1.3 million anti-Communist Chinese supporters fled from mainland China. The ROC government relocated to the island of Taiwan. The territory under ROC control was reduced to Taiwan, Hainan, the Pescadores Islands (Penghu), and several island groups along the south-east coast of China. In April 1950, the PRC captured Hainan. ROC forces there evacuated to Taiwan in May 1950.

PLA troops assaulting Nationalist positions

Battle of Yijiangshan Islands

1955 Jan 18 - Jan 16
, Yi Jiang Shan Dao

The Battle of Yijiangshan Islands was a conflict between forces of the National Revolutionary Army (NRA) of the Republic of China and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of the People's Republic of China, over one of the last strongholds of Nationalist (ROC) forces near mainland China on the Yijiangshan Islands. The conflict occurred from January 18 to January 20, 1955, during the First Taiwan Strait Crisis, and resulted in a PLA victory and the complete destruction of the ROC garrison.

The U.S. carrier USS Lexington (top) with a supply ship and USS Marshall (bottom) off Taiwan during the crisis.

Second Taiwan Strait Crisis

1958 Aug 23 - Dec 1
, Penghu

The Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, also called the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis, was a conflict that took place between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC). In this conflict, the PRC shelled the islands of Kinmen (Quemoy) and the Matsu Islands along the east coast of mainland China (in the Taiwan Strait) to "liberate" Taiwan from the Chinese Nationalist Party, also known as the Kuomintang (KMT); and to probe the extent of the United States defense of Taiwan's territory. A naval battle also took place around Dongding Island when the ROC Navy repelled an attempted amphibious landing by the PRC Navy. U.S. Secretary of State Christian Herter (1959-1961) is said to have later referred to the conflict as "the first serious nuclear crisis."

Port of Taichung, one of the Ten Major Construction Projects

Ten Major Construction Projects

1974 Jan 1
, Taiwan

The Ten Major Construction Projects were the national infrastructure projects during the 1970s in Taiwan. The government of Republic of China believed that the country lacked key utilities such as highways, seaports, airports and power plants. Moreover, Taiwan was experiencing significant effects from the 1973 oil crisis. Therefore, to upgrade the industry and the development of the country, the government planned to take on ten massive building projects. They were proposed by the Premier Chiang Ching-kuo, beginning in 1974, with a planned completion by 1979. There were six transportation projects, three industrial projects, and one power-plant construction project, which ultimately cost over NT$300 billion in total.

The Ten Projects:

  1. North-South Freeway (National Highway No. 1)
  2. Electrification of West Coast Line railway
  3. North-Link Line railway
  4. Chiang Kai-shek International Airport (later renamed Taoyuan International Airport)
  5. Taichung Port
  6. Su-ao Port
  7. Large Shipyard (Kaohsiung Shipyard of China Shipbuilding Corporation)
  8. Integrated steel mill (China Steel Corporation)
  9. Oil refinery and industrial park (Kaohsiung refinery of CPC Corporation )
  10. Nuclear power plant (Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant)
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Limited is a Taiwanese multinational semiconductor contract manufacturing and design company.

Taiwan's rise in the key semiconductor industry

1987 Feb 1
, Hsinchu

Founded in Taiwan in 1987 by Morris Chang, TSMC was the world's first dedicated semiconductor foundry and has long been the leading company in its field. It is the world's most valuable semiconductor company, the world's largest dedicated independent (pure-play) semiconductor foundry, and one of Taiwan's largest companies, with its headquarters and main operations located in the Hsinchu Science Park in Hsinchu.

Wild Lily Movement protest at Memorial Hall Plaza, 18 March 1990

Wild Lily Student Movement

1990 Mar 16 - Mar 22
, Liberty Square

Taiwan's Wild Lily student movement or March student movement was a six-day student demonstration in 1990 for democracy. The sit-in at Memorial Square in Taipei (since rededicated as Liberty Square in commemoration of the movement) was initiated by students from National Taiwan University. Participation quickly grew to 22,000 demonstrators. The Wild Lily demonstrators sought direct elections of Taiwan's president and vice president and new popular elections for all representatives in the National Assembly. The demonstration lasted from 16 to 22 March 1990, coinciding with the inauguration of Lee Teng-hui on 21 March to a six-year term as president. The election Lee won was one in which only the 671 members of the National Assembly voted, only one party was recognized, and one candidate ran. This process had been characteristic of one-party rule under the Kuomintang and Chiang Kai-shek. Protesters wore white Formosa lilies and created giant replicas of the flower as a symbol of democracy. Their adoption of the flower as an icon of freedom evoked a long native tradition. Yang Yung-ming, a professor of political science at the National Taiwan University, described it to the Taiwan Review in 2003: For years, Taiwanese poets have employed this flower as a symbol of grace and resilience.

1996 Taiwanese Presidential Election

1996 Taiwanese Presidential Election

1996 Mar 23
, Taiwan

The Presidential elections held in Taiwan on 23 March 1996 was the first direct presidential election in Taiwan, officially the Republic of China. In the previous eight elections the president and vice president had been chosen in a ballot of the deputies of the National Assembly, in accordance with the 1947 constitution. These were the first free and direct elections in the History of Taiwan.

The outcome of the 1996 election was that Lee Teng-hui was elected as President and Lien Chan as Vice President. Lee stood as the incumbent, and as the candidate of the ruling Kuomintang. He won a majority of 54% of the votes cast. His election followed missile tests by the People's Republic of China (PRC). These were an attempt to intimidate the Taiwanese electorate and discourage them from supporting Lee, however the tactic backfired. Voter turnout was 76.0%.

Chen Shui-bian, President 2000 to 2008

End of the Kuomintang (KMT) rule

2000 Jan 1
, Taiwan

The 2000 presidential election marked the end of the Kuomintang (KMT) rule. DPP candidate Chen Shui-bian won a three-way race that saw the Pan-Blue vote split by independent James Soong (formerly of the Kuomintang) and Kuomintang candidate Lien Chan. Chen garnered 39% of the vote.

Sunflower Student Movement

Sunflower Student Movement

2014 Mar 18 - Apr 10
, Legislative Yuan

The Sunflower Student Movement is associated with a protest movement driven by a coalition of students and civic groups that came to a head between March 18 and April 10, 2014, in the Legislative Yuan and, later, also the Executive Yuan of Taiwan. The activists protested the passing of the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA) by the then ruling party Kuomintang (KMT) at the legislature without clause-by-clause review.

The Sunflower protesters perceived the trade pact with the People's Republic of China (China; PRC) would hurt Taiwan's economy and leave it vulnerable to political pressure from Beijing, while advocates of the treaty argued that increased Chinese investment would provide a necessary boost to Taiwan's economy, that the still-unspecified details of the treaty's implementation could be worked out favorably for Taiwan, and that to "pull out" of the treaty by not ratifying it would damage Taiwan's international credibility. The protesters initially demanded the clause-by-clause review of the agreement be reinstated, later changing their demands toward the rejection of the trade pact, the passing of legislation allowing close monitoring of future agreements with China, and citizen conferences discussing constitutional amendment. While the Kuomintang was open to a line-by-line review at a second reading of the agreement, the party rejected the possibility that the pact be returned for a committee review. The KMT backed down later, saying that a joint review committee could be formed if the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) agreed to participate in the proceedings. This offer was rejected by the DPP, who asked for a review committee on all cross-strait pacts, citing "mainstream public opinion." In turn, the DPP proposal was turned down by the KMT.

The movement marked the first time that the Legislative Yuan had been occupied by citizens.


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