Taiwan. According to
Countryaah, Taiwan's stubborn relationship with China, as
before, had its mark on the country's international
relations. Politically, the two arch enemies were on a
collision course, but economically one was approaching.
The year began with Taiwanese pilgrims and civil servants
making the first official and direct boat trip to China
since the civil war of 1949. This happened since Taiwan
partially lifted the ban on direct travel to China at the
turn of the year following pressures from business. Chinese
tourists were allowed to visit Taiwan during the year, but
with several restrictions. Some shipping was established.
The tendency for thawing weather between the countries was
based on the fact that both wanted to meet the WTO's
requirements to become members. And on November 11, Taiwan
became a WTO member since China the day before it was
accepted by the organization. WTO entry was expected to
accelerate economic integration between the two. Shortly
thereafter, Taiwan lifted the 50-year-old ban on direct
investment in and direct trade with China. But others,
sharper noises were also heard. The United States promised
for the first time to directly assist Taiwan in the event of
a Chinese invasion. And in May, President Chen Shuibian
visited the United States, which provoked anger in China.
Great irritation within the Chinese leadership also aroused
Tibet's spiritual leader Dalai Lama's visit to Taiwan in the
A historic shift in power was the result of the December
1 parliamentary elections. For the first time, the
nationalist party Guomindang (GMD) lost the majority. Big
success was reaped by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)
which unlike GMD wants to declare Taiwan independently.
However, DPP did not win its own majority, but won 87 of the
225 seats. KMT received 68 seats, compared with 115 before
the election. The electoral movement was dominated by
relations with China, the economic downturn and accusations
of voting. China warned the DPP of proclaiming independence
and the exit was believed to make it more difficult to
approach China. In the fall, President Lee Denghui was
excluded from GMD, which he previously led for twelve years.
The reason was that he worked for a breakaway faction during
the election movement and accused the GMD of being too
compliant with Beijing.
Taiwan boycotted the APEC meeting in Shanghai in October
after China refused to accept the Taiwanese delegate for
being "too political". Earlier, China had rejected President
Chen Shuibian's participation.
The economy was strongly affected by the international
decline in demand for electronics, computers and information
technology. Exports fell sharply. Unemployment rose to the
highest level ever recorded: 4.5%. In November, Taiwan was
officially in a recession. The great dependence on the US
market was clearly felt by the downturn after September 11.
Several typhoons swept across Taiwan, causing great
damage and killing many lives. At least 200 people were
killed in floods and landslides in connection with the
typhoon Toraji in July, and in September Nari claimed at
least 94 lives.