The leaders of China and Taiwan met recently for the first time since 1949. Chinese President Xi Jinping (image right) and Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou (image below) held talks in Singapore. Taiwan is an island at a distance of about 100 miles (160 km) from mainland China. Well, if they live so close to each other, why didn’t the leaders meet for the last 66 years?
The status of Taiwan is a controversy. 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. In 1949, 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 and runs its own economy. China considers Taiwan to be a part of itself. Many countries agree with this but still do business with Taiwan as if it is a separate nation. A few countries consider the government of Taiwan to be the official government of China. Many Taiwanese want Taiwan to be a separate nation. Taiwan participates in some international events such as the Olympics under the name “Chinese Taipei”. The capital of Taiwan is Taipei. The capital of China is Beijing.
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. However, in the last few years, both governments have made an effort to improve relationships between them. Direct flights between Taiwan and China have started. Taiwan and China opened offices in each other’s lands for the first time. China is Taiwan’s number one trading partner.
Did you know?
China’s region of Hong Kong was under the control of the British for about 150 years, and was returned to China in 1997.
Image Credits: Antilong for Jinping’s image, jamiweb for Ma Ying-jeou’s image
Sources: https://history.state.gov, BBC, Al Jazeera, http://www.olympic.org, https://guidetotaipei.com, http://taiwain.weebly.com, http://www.brookings.edu