China and Taiwan: Best enemies?

Politics

Recapturing vs. liberation

After the end of WWII, the Communist Party of China (CPC) under Mao Zedong pursued a fierce battle against his archrival Chiang Kai-shek, chief of the Kuomintang (KMT) party. Chiang lost and took refuge in the island of Taiwan. For some time after that, Taiwan was the center of propaganda from both sides. The CPC wanted to "liberate" Taiwan, while Kuomintang wanted to "recapture the mainland."

Politics

Letters to 'compatriots'

In the 1950s, the CPC published four "Messages to Chinese compatriots" in Taiwan, which are considered the basis of Beijing's Taiwan policy. In these texts, Beijing warned Taiwan of collaborating with US "imperialists." Military confrontation, particularly artillery attacks, also continued during this time.

Politics

Beijing replaces Taipei in UN bodies

In 1971, the United Nations General Assembly declared that the People's Republic of China was the sole lawful representative of the country. With this decision, the Republic of China (ROC)/Taiwan was removed from all UN bodies. The frustration of ROC's foreign minister, Chow Shu-kai (right), and his ambassador Liu Chieh is easy to see in this picture.

Politics

New Taiwan policy

The fifth and last "message" from Beijing to Taiwan was published on January 1, 1979. The mainland, under the leadership of the reformist Deng Xiaoping ended military operations, announced the development of bilateral ties and promised peaceful reunification. However, Beijing's right to represent China internationally was not to be questioned.

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'One China' policy

The new orientation of China's Taiwan policy took place as Washington and Beijing got closer. On January 1, 1979, the US and China resumed diplomatic relations, with Washington under President Jimmy Carter recognizing Beijing as the sole legitimate government of the whole of China. The US embassy in Taiwan was remodeled into an institute for culture.

Politics

'One China, two systems'

Even before meeting US President Carter, Deng Xiaoping had introduced the principle of "one country, two systems," which allowed Taiwan to maintain its social systems even after reunification. However, Taiwan's President Chiang Ching-Kuo did not immediately fall for it. On the contrary, in 1987 he formulated the principle of "one China for the better system."

Politics

The independence movement

In 1986, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Taiwan's first opposition party, was founded. At a meeting in 1991, the DPP declared a clause for Taiwan's independence, which stipulated that Taiwan was sovereign and not a part of China.

Politics

'Consensus of 1992'

In unofficial Hong Kong talks in 1992, representatives of Taipei and Beijing reached a political agreement on the nature of their relationship. Both parties agreed that there was only one China. However, they had different views on what "One China" meant. A year later, the chief negotiators Wang (left) and Koo met in Singapore.

Politics

Bilateral relations

In an interview with DW in 1995, the first democratically elected President of Taiwan and the KMT leader Lee Teng-hui said that all relations beyond the straits of Taiwan would be "defined as relations between states; at the very least, as a relationship of a special kind between states." His formulation was very close to being a declaration of independence.

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'A state on every side'

The DPP won the presidential election for the first time in 2000, with Chen Shui-bian, the Taiwanese-born who had no connections to mainland China, calling for "a state on each side." It meant that Taiwan should have nothing to do with China anymore. In 2005, Beijing reacted with the Anti-Secession Law, which allowed the use of military force in the event that Taiwan declared independence.

Politics

'One China, different interpretations'

After losing the elections in 2000, the KMT adopted a changed formulation of the "Consensus of 1992" in the party's statute, which called for "one China, different interpretations." That is why the 1992 Consensus is still debated in Taiwan. The reason: the negotiators of 1992 did not have an official position.

Politics

CPC meets KMT

The mainland adopted the "Consensus of 1992" as a political basis for creating a relationship with Taiwan. In the first summit between the two sides since the communists came to power in China, Hu Jintao (right) and Lian Zhan endorsed the "Consensus of 1992" and the "One China" principle.

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'The direction is correct'

After KMT's Ma Ying-Jeou won the 2008 presidential elections, both sides continued to come closer. In an interview with DW in 2009, Ma said: "The straits of Taiwan should be a place of peace and security. We have come a lot closer to this goal. Basically our direction is correct."

Politics

Quo vadis?

After the elections in 2016, when President Tsai Ing-wen came to power, the independence movement gained a lot of wind. Tsai disputed the existence of the 1992 consensus and described the "attempt of China to interfere in the political and social development of Taiwan" as the "biggest challenge."

Chinese President Xi recently called for a "peaceful reunification" with Taiwan, prompting criticism from Taipei. What is the "Taiwan issue" all about? DW explores the history of the conflict through these photographs.