The DPP maintains that Taiwan is an entity separate from mainland China and supports an independent "Republic of Taiwan" as part of its platform. The recent downplaying of Taiwan independence by the DPP as a party, however, led to the formation by hard-line advocates of a new political party called the Taiwan Independence Party in December Until , Taiwan's political system was effectively controlled by one party, the KMT, the leader of which also was the President.
Many top political officials were members of the party. A new opposition party was formed in the wake of the March presidential election by the runner up, a KMT maverick candidate. The PFP currently had 17 members in the LY before the election, but increased its representation to over 40 in that election.
The New Party was formed in August by a group made up largely of second-generation mainlander KMT members who were unhappy both with corruption in the KMT and with what they saw as the " Taiwanization " of KMT ideology and leadership. NP influence remains modest and seems on the wane; it won 21 of the LY seats in the elections but only 11 of seats in The New Party was almost annihilated in the election as its members defected to the Peoples First Party. Even though Lee did not join this party, he is named its spiritual leader and most believe he endorsed it.
The TSU was formed primarily because, as it took power, the DPP had to moderate its standing as regards to Taiwan independence, leaving a hole in the Taiwanese political spectrum. The TSU had often expressed that it wanted to be the "decisive minority". Although some friction between Chinese immigrants and native Taiwanese still exists, it has abated with time, and there has been a gradual melding of the two communities.
In , then-Premier Chiang Ching-kuo began a concentrated effort to bring Taiwanese into more senior position in the central administration and the KMT. Upon his accession to the presidency in January , Lee Teng-hui , who is a native Taiwanese, continued this process. Steps by the government to redress past wrongs such as setting up a memorial to the victims of the February 28 Incident have contributed to this process. Changes in the political process were the result of the liberalizing trend that began in the s under President Chiang Ching-kuo.
In , he lifted the emergency decree, which had been in place since and which had granted virtually unlimited powers to the president for use in the anti-communist campaign. This decree provided the basis for nearly four decades of martial law under which individuals and groups expressing dissenting views were dealt with harshly. Expressing views contrary to the authorities' claim to represent all of China or supporting independent Taiwan independence was treated as sedition. Lee was elected by the National Assembly to a 6-year term in , marking the final time a president was elected by the National Assembly.
Since ending martial law, the Republic of China has taken dramatic steps to improve respect for human rights and create a democratic political system. Most restrictions on the press have ended, restrictions on personal freedoms have been relaxed, and the prohibition against organizing new political parties has been lifted. As the National Assembly took action in to allow for the popular election of the president, the LY in passed legislation to allow for the direct election of the governor of Taiwan Province and the mayors of Taipei and Kaohsiung Municipalities.
In March , Lee Teng-hui was elected president and Lien Chan vice president in the first direct election by Taiwan's voters. The position of elected governor and many other elements of the Taiwan Provincial Government were eliminated at the end of The stated purpose of this was to streamline administrative efficiency, but some commentators have argued that this was also intended to weaken the power base of Governor James Soong. In March , Democratic Progressive Party candidate Chen Shui-bian became the first opposition party candidate to win the presidency.
His victory resulted in the first-ever transition of the presidential office from one political party to another in the ROC. The election also had the effect of splitting the KMT's support base. James Soong launched an independent bid for the presidency after failing to be nominated by the party. In response the KMT expelled Soong and his supporters.
In the months following the presidential election, Lee Teng-hui's supporters established the Taiwan Solidarity Union , which advocated a more radical brand of Taiwan independence than the DPP. This also gave independents in the legislature more power, some of whom founded the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union in In a hotly contested election on 20 March , President Chen Shui-bian was re-elected by The election was marred by a shooting incident the day before the election during which President Chen and his running mate Vice President Annette Lu were slightly wounded.
While the opposition contested the results and suggested the shooting was staged to win sympathy as President Chen had previously been slated to lose narrowly , it was the first time that the DPP has won an outright majority in an island-wide election. The March election also included a " peace referendum ". Historically, the issue of referendums has been closely tied to the question of Taiwan independence , and thus has been a sensitive issue in cross Strait relations.
There were two referendums before the voters on 20 March The second asked whether Taiwan should adopt a "peace framework" for addressing cross Strait differences with the PRC. The Pan-Blue Coalition campaigned against the referendum as unnecessary and urged voters to boycott it. President Chen Shui-bian has called for major constitutional reforms by aimed at further reducing layers of government, and making other structural changes aimed at improving governance.
The People's Republic of China has accused Chen of using the constitution issue to move Taiwan towards independence.
He expressed opposition, however, in his 20 May inaugural address to using constitutional reform to alter the constitution's definition of Taiwan sovereignty. The Legislative Yuan passed a set of constitutional amendments on 23 August that halve the number of LY seats and create single-member districts.
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The revisions also eliminate the role of the National Assembly and permit the public to confirm or reject future revisions passed by the LY. These constitutional amendments were ratified by the National Assembly in Polls projected a huge pan-green victory, and the DPP's election tactics were based on them.
This over-reliance on polls resulted in a huge setback.
The pan-blue opposition managed to maintain their majority status within the Legislative Yuan, winning seats out of the seats. The Pan-Green only managed to win seats.
The remaining 10 seats were won by the independent candidates. Although the Pan-Green coalition increased their seats by one and the DPP remained the largest party, because of raised hopes the election was viewed as a disaster, and President Chen resigned his post as Chairman of DPP as a result. On 3 December , the KMT made major gains in municipal elections, taking 14 of 23 mayor or county magistrate seats, while the DPP retained only six seats of their previous The pan-green TSU was completely shut out.
DPP chairman Su Tseng-chang had promised to resign to take responsibility for the defeat.
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This dramatic setback for the DPP and pan-greens was seen as a reaction to recent corruption scandals, and public disapproval of Chen Shui-Bian's apparent refusal to improve cross-strait relations. Rosenthal , former executive editor of The New York Times accused China of fostering an "apartheid" policy toward Taiwan. Despite the differences between Taiwan and mainland China , contact between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait has grown significantly over the past decade.
Since , when the ban on travel to mainland China was lifted, Taiwan residents have made more than 10 million trips to mainland China. This indirect trade runs heavily in Taiwan's favor, providing another outlet for the island's booming economy.
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In an attempt to facilitate trade, in the Executive Yuan approved the construction of an offshore transshipment center at the port of Kaohsiung through which direct shipping with the mainland China would be permitted. In April the first sanctioned direct cross-Strait shipping began between selected mainland China ports and Kaohsiung for cargo being transshipped through Taiwan.
Beijing has expressed a mixed view of these developments. PRC leaders are pleased at the development of economic ties and exchanges, which they believe helps their cause of reunification. However, the increase in contacts, combined with domestic political liberalization on Taiwan, also has resulted in more open discussion in Taiwan of the future of Taiwan, including the option of independence, to which Beijing is strongly opposed.
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The trend in cross-Strait interaction is one of steady growth with, so far, only temporary setbacks due to political factors such as the PRC's reaction Lee Teng-hui's private visit to the U. President Chen has yet to revise the previous administration's "no haste, be patient" policy regarding Taiwan-mainland China investment to prevent over-dependence on the PRC. As a result of this policy the ROC has placed restrictions on large-scale infrastructure investments on mainland China in Despite this, billions of dollars have been invested in mainland China by smaller firms.
The development of semiofficial cross-Strait relations has been incremental. Lower-level talks continued on a fairly regular basis until they were suspended by Beijing in after President Lee's U. Unofficial exchanges resumed in through informal meetings between personnel of the two sides' unofficial representative organizations.
A planned visit by ARATS Chairman Wang Daohan to Taiwan in the fall, however, was postponed following statements made by then-President Lee Teng-hui that relations between mainland China and Taiwan should be conducted as "state-to-state" or at least as "special state-to-state relations. President Chen has stated that such talks should be conducted on the basis of the "spirit of ," a reference to the agreement to hold the Singapore talks.
source site The whole country is divided into two streamlined provinces Taiwan and Fukien and five special municipalities. Since the provinces are streamlined, the cities and counties are directly governed by the central government , namely Executive Yuan. The central governed administrative divisions are listed below.