Elections in Taiwan

Elections were held in Taiwan, and the current President, Ma Ying-jeou, won another term. His main opponent was a woman. It was the first time that a woman stood for the presidential elections in Taiwan.

The status of Taiwan is a controversy. Taiwan is an island at a distance of about 100 miles (160 km) from mainland China. In the 1940s, there were two main political parties in China – the Nationalists and the Communists. Most of the country was controlled by the Nationalist Party, but the Communists were growing stronger. Soon after World War II, there was a civil war in China and the Nationalists were pushed out. They fled to Taiwan and created a government there, calling themselves the Republic of China (ROC). The Communists, in the meantime, took control of mainland China and called it the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Thus, two different parties claimed to be the official government of China! For over 20 years, the United Nations recognized the ROC as the government of China, but switched to the PRC in 1971. Today, Taiwan has its own government, runs its own economy, and even issues its own passports to its citizens. China considers Taiwan to be a part of itself. Many countries agree with thisĀ but still do business with Taiwan as if it was a separate nation. A few countries consider the government of Taiwan to be the official government of China. Some Taiwanese want Taiwan to be a separate nation. Taiwan participates in some international events such as the Olympics under the name “Chinese Taipei”.

Both lands have done very well economically, but their governments are very different. Taiwan is a democracy and China is a communist country. The two governments did not get along. Infact, there still are over a thousand missiles onĀ mainland China pointed towards Taiwan. However, in the last few years, both governments have made an effort to improve relationships between them. In 2008, direct flights between Taiwan and China were started. Just a couple of years ago, Taiwan and China opened offices in each other’s lands for the first time in over 60 years. China is Taiwan’s number one trading partner.

There is certainly one interesting thing that’s common between Taiwan and China – the tallest building in each has exactly the same number of floors – 101! In the image, the Shanghai World Financial Center is on the left, and Taipei-101 is on the right. Another thing in common between the two is that people in both lands celebrate the Lunar New Year. In China, so many people travel to be with their families at this time that it is considered to be the largest annual movement of humanity anywhere in the world. January 23 was the start of the Year of the Dragon.

Did you know? Each year in the Chinese calendar is assigned an animal name according to a repeating cycle of 12 animals: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar.

Image credits: Baycrest for Shanghai-Taiwan buildings; Angelus for dragon graphic.