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Government of Taiwan

Information About the Government of Taiwan

Taiwan's government is a fairly complicated topic, not only because most countries refuse to openly admit its existence as a sovereign country.

Democratic Taiwan
First of all, Taiwan is a democracy, and a loud one at that. It holds presidential elections every four years, lining up with those of the United States or, if you prefer, the Summer Olympics.

There is a diverse set of interesting parties, but the two that are by far most dominant are the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Democratic People's Party (DPP). These are referred to as the "blue" and "green" parties, respectively. Taiwan's political capital is Taipei, built around the President's House in Zhongzheng District, which is in fact a relic of Japanese rule.

Some Facts About Taiwan's Government

The system of government in Taiwan is ruled by a series of yuan, or courts. The most vital yuan are the Judicial, Executive and Legislative. Two more also exist: the Control Yuan, which monitors all of the other branches of government, and the Examination Yuan, which is in control of civil servant qualification. Taiwan's system is semi-presidential, where the premier is the head of the Executive Yuan.

Sun Yat-sen
Taiwan's unique governmental set-up is mostly an invention of Sun Yat-Sen, (as seen in this picture) often referred to in Chinese as the "Father of the Country". Dr. Sun did his best to develop an arrangement that took what he saw as the essential parts of western democracy, but adapt it to Chinese culture and tendencies.

Taiwan or ROC?

You might be confused about the distinction between Taiwan and the acronym ROC (Republic of China). Basically, they refer to the same geographical area. Taiwan's official name is ROC, which it got in 1947 when the nationalist KMT leaders fled mainland China during the Civil War and established itself as the primary government of the entire landmass.

Eventually, that swath of land fell to the Communist Party, but the sliver of land we call Taiwan maintained its republican government and kept the name ROC. The original ROC was set up in 1911 on mainland China, by Sun Yat-Sen. For that reason, Taiwan celebrated its 100th year on January 1, 2011.

How many Chinas are there, really?

This "two Chinas" situation has been a highly complicating factor with regard to Taiwan's diplomacy and for the Taiwanese government.

The force of China's 1.3 billion people has forced most countries (and definitely all of the important ones) to recognize the Chinese Communist Party and not the ROC as the real China. Because Taiwan is relatively rich, it gives vast sums of aid to poorer countries in exchange for international recognition, but the gravity of China's economy and ever increasing military buildup is making that less and less effective and Taiwan's government seems to not really know how to deal with its big neighbor.

The North - South Division

People's attitudes toward the government in Taiwan vary greatly from person to person and from place to place. In the business-oriented north, most people (KMT) either vote based on economic interests or are completely indifferent. In the poorer south, voters (DPP) protest frequently and are much more active about making their voices heard.

Corruption that involves the government of Taiwan is a common complaint and scandals are frequently exposed, discussed and derided in the media.

Government of Taiwan - In Conclusion...

As a final point, I'll mention that Taiwan's government is quite "small" relative to other powers in Asia. Taxes are very low, and the administration keeps a considerable distance from economic affairs. It focuses on infrastructure, catching corrupt officials and running the occasional populist event (like last year's International Flora Expo).

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