The year 1996 was probably a big turning point for the Taiwanese people. China conducted a series of missile tests in the Taiwan Strait and Taiwan held the first direct presidential election in the same year. It has been already a half century since the Kuomintang [Chinese Nationalist Party] (國民黨) led by Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) occupied Taiwan to establish the government in exile of the Republic of China. The Communist China insists stating the One China Policy (一個中國). Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), the first president elected by the people advocates the principle of 'One China, One Taiwan.' The most important point of view to judge for this dispute is whether to regard Taiwan as a historically sovereign state of China or not.
The first time Taiwan appears in the history records of China is in the time of the Sui Dynasty (隋) (581-618). The record says that the Sui Empire subjugated Liuch`iu [Liuqiu] (流求國) in 610, which has been 'interpreted' as Taiwan. After this, Taiwan never appears in the history records of China. Over 900 years later, Taiwan appears again in the world's history in 1544 at the time of the Age of Discovery. The Portuguese fleet that conquered Goa of India, subjugated the Malacca Strait and occupied Macao eventually found Taiwan. Portuguese sailors were impressed by the island's beautiful scenery that call it "Ilha Formosa," which means a Beautiful Island. The name "Formosa" had been used for a long time in western countries. The Portuguese discovery of Taiwan was the beginning of foreign rules of Taiwan. The name "Taiwan" itself is indeed the symbol of its tragic fate. The Siraya aborigines who dwelled in the vicinity of current Tainan called outsiders and visitors Taian [visitors] (客人) that foreign 'visitors' have ruled Taiwan until now.
The Western rules of Taiwan began in 1624 when a Dutch fleet landed at Anping (安平) (near Tainan) in the south of Taiwan Island, and a Spanish fleet came to the Santiaochiao [San Diego Cape] (三貂角) and Chilong (基隆 or 鶏籠) in the north in 1626. Taiwan was divided into two by the Dutch in the south and the Spanish in the north. At that time, indigenous people in Taiwan were mostly Malay-Polynesian and there were some Han Chinese (漢族) immigrants (such as criminals escaped from China). Since there were many ethnic tribes in Taiwan that had different languages and cultures forming independent societies, there was no political power that rules whole Taiwan. This situation allowed Westerners to easily subjugate Taiwan.
A few decades before, Regent TOYOTOMI Hideyoshi (豐臣秀吉), who unified Japan after the 100-year war period (戰國時代) (1493-1573), sent a messenger HARADA Magoshichirô (原田孫七郎) to the King of Kaoshan [Gaoshan] (高山國) in 1593 to urge Taiwan to become a subject of Japan. But it was not realized since there was no King or such a country in Taiwan that was just fragmented into small tribes and ethnic groups.
The Spanish was driven out in 1642 and the Dutch became the sole ruler of whole Taiwan. Under the colonization, the Taiwanese people were suffered from severe exploitation. Under such a situation, the new ruler came to the history of Taiwan who seized the chance in a series of unexpected events of the history.
The Chinese Ming Dynasty (明) (1368-1644) was under the pressure of the Manchu Ch`ing Dynasty (淸) (1644-1912) that was advancing to China from the north. In 1628, the Ming provided military forces and funds to Chinese pirate Cheng Chi-lung (鄭芝龍) (1604-61) to repel the Manchus. Cheng had a son named Fukumatsu (福松) who was born in Nagasaki Hirado (長崎平戸) in Japan between Cheng and his Japanese wife. This boy later became the new ruler of Taiwan, Cheng Ch`eng-kung [Japanese: Tei Seikô] (鄭成功) (1624-62).
NB: Cheng Ch`eng-kung is known as Koxinga/Coxinga (國姓爺) that is a Cheng's nickname in the Fujian dialect spelled by the Europeans.
In 1644, the Emperor Ch`ung-chen (崇禎帝), the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty hanged himself putting the end to the Ming Dynasty. After the fall of the Ming, several princes related the Ming Royalty proclaimed themselves as Emperors one after another for 17 years called the Southern Ming (南明; 1644-1661). Ch`eng-kung supported the Southern Ming as a military leader. But the Southern Ming was ruined by the Ch`ing Army in 1661 that already captured many strategic points in China. Ch`eng-kung retreated from China and fled to Taiwan with a dream of restoring the Ming Dynasty to power.
In 1661, Ch`eng-kung led his troops to a landing at Taiwan. The Dutch Governor of Taiwan asked the East India Company in Batavia for help but the Taiwanese people suffered by the Dutch colonization rather supported the Chinese troops. In 1662, the Dutch Army surrendered putting the period to the European rule. Since that time, Taiwan was ruled by the Cheng family for three generations but eventually surrendered to the Ch`ing Dynasty in 1683.
The historical fact is that Taiwan was not ruled by the Chinese Ming Dynasty, and then was subjugated by the Manchu Ch`ing Dynasty. However, the Manchus practically neglected Taiwan for 200 years, so that it did not receive any development assistance until the end of the 19th century. The first time Taiwan was intensively developed and modernized was during the Japanese rule.
After the Japano-Ch`ing War [First Sino-Japanese War] (日淸戰爭), Taiwan was "ceded" from Ch`ing to Japan in 1895. The Japanese Government immediately established the Governor-General of Taiwan (台湾總督府) to start its rule. Currently, the building of the Governor-General of Taiwan is still used as the Presidential Building (總統府) as the center of the administration of Taiwan. This is quite contrasting with the future of the Governor-General of Korea in Seoul that building was destroyed thereafter.
Taiwan under the Japanese rule was dictatorially administrated by the successive Japanese Governors-General called the Tho Hongte [Local Emperors] (土皇帝). During the period, the social system of Taiwan was intensively developed and Taiwan was considered the second-most developed region of East Asia. Although most of major cities in Japan were destroyed by the U.S. air raids during the wartime, Taiwan remained unharmed. Under the Japanese rule, the Taiwanese people received an education in Japanese language that was the only common language among Taiwanese tribes speaking different languages. It made all the Taiwanese people form their Taiwan consciousness of the unified Taiwan. That is, the foundation of current Taiwan as one of the most developed countries in Asia was, in fact, prepared under Japan.
In 1945, Japan surrendered and ended its rule in Taiwan. It was a good chance for Taiwan to become an independent and sovereign country. At that time, the staff officers of the Taiwanese Army (formerly belonged to the Japanese Army) and Taiwanese business circles designed the "Taiwan Independence Plan" but it was not realized because the Kuomintang [Chinese Nationalist Party] led by Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan as the strategic position against the Communist China. History repeats itself — Taiwan became under the rule of the Chinese refugee government again since 1661 when Cheng Ch`eng-kung of the Ming Dynasty fled to Taiwan.
It has been a half century since the Chinese Nationalist Party's dictatorship started. After two presidential generations of its military rule, Taiwan's first Taiwan-born president, Lee Teng-hui started his presidency.
"Taiwan independence," President Lee does not officially say this but it is clear that he aims at shifting the national identity from the Republic of China in Taiwan (中華民國台灣) to the Republic of Taiwan (台灣共和國). It is obvious that China was provoked by his activities that made it conduct a series of missile tests in the Taiwan Strait last year.
I guess that now you are already clear about this matter. The Chinese Ming Dynasty did not rule Taiwan. The next Manchu Ch`ing Dynasty ruled Taiwan but is a country that the Manchus subjugated China, so that Taiwan was not ruled by China. The Ch`ing Dynasty ceded Taiwan to Japan in 1895 after the Japano-Ch`ing War before the Chinese revolution in 1912, so that China has never ruled Taiwan in the history at all. Therefore, China's claim on the sovereignty over Taiwan does not make sense. It is completely illegitimate.
Terms and related information (Wikipedia Links)
- Kuomin-tang (國民黨, The Chinese National Party, KMT)
- Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石)/Chiang Chung-cheng (蔣中正), 1887-1975.
- One China Policy (一個中國)
- Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), *1923.
- Sui Dynasty (隋), 581-618.
- Siraya (西拉雅族), the native Taiwanese.
- Han Chinese (漢族)
- TOYOTOMI Hideyoshi (豐臣秀吉), 1536-98.
- Ming Dynasty (明), 1368-1644.
- Ch`ing Dynasty (淸), 1644-1912.
- Cheng Chi-lung [Zheng Zhi-Long] (鄭芝龍), 1604-1661.
- Cheng Ch`eng-kung [Zheng Cheng-gong]/Tei Seikô (鄭成功), 1624-62.
- Ch`ungchen Emperor [Chongzhen] (崇禎帝), 1611-44, r. 1627-44.
- Japano-Ch`ing War (日淸戰爭; English: First Sino-Japanese War; Chinese: Sino-Japanese 1894 War 中日甲午戰爭), 1894-95.
- Governor-General of Taiwan (台湾總督府).