Taiwan. The Taiwanese started the year with elections in January. The opposition party Guomindang won a big victory with 72 percent of the vote over the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which gained 24 percent. Guomindang’s success was thought to be partly due to the new electoral system that had just been introduced, but also to the fact that the DPP had been surrounded by a host of corruption scandals at the highest political level in 2007. Likely, popular skepticism about President Chen Shui-bian’s aggressive policy against the arch-enemy China also contributed to the victory.
As a result, the DPP’s loss of power resulted in President Chen choosing to leave the post of DPP chairman. He was replaced by Frank Hsieh, former prime minister.
In March, it was again time for the Taiwanese to go to the polls, this time to elect the president. Winning was Guomindang’s candidate Ma Yingjeou, who won over DPP’s Frank Hsieh with 58 percent versus 42 percent. Ma is a lawyer and was born in Hong Kong. He previously served as mayor of Taibei in 1998-2006.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Click to see the meanings of 2-letter acronym and abbreviation of TW in general and in geography as Taiwan in particular.
In his victory, Ma promised improved relations with China, and a month later a meeting was held between Chinese President Hu Jintao and Taiwan’s future Vice President Vincent Siew.
In November, former President Chen Shui-bian was arrested, who lost his prosecution immunity after leaving office. He was suspected of neglecting state assets. Chen was formally prosecuted in December and was arrested later that month pending trial.
In November, Chen Yunlin, China’s highest negotiator on relations with Taiwan, traveled to Taibei. Not in half a century had such a high-ranking Chinese representative visited the island. Chen’s visit was met by demonstrations for Taiwan’s independence.
In January 2014, Taiwan closed its military courts (and prisons) in peacetime. It happened after a convicted corporal the year before had died in his cell. Civil courts then took over the handling of military cases.
The January 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections were a devastating defeat for the Kuomintang government. DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen won the presidential election with 56.1% of the vote, while KMT’s Eric Chu had to settle for 31%. The DPP got 68 out of Parliament’s 113 seats and thus absolute majority. KMT was almost halved and had to settle for 35 seats. It was the first time in the country’s history it was not the largest party in parliament. DPP’s In February, Chang San-cheng was inducted into the post of prime minister. The cause of KMT’s obvious defeat was to be sought in the country’s weak economic growth. For several years it had remained at just a few percent, while growth in neighboring countries in the region was 5-10%. KMT’s solution to the problem had been to connect closely with China, but it did not immediately solve the problem. In turn, it triggered an enhanced Taiwanese nationalism that the DPP picked up. The party does not want closer contact with China. It considers Taiwan to be a de-facto independent state and, for many years, China had a very cool relationship with the DPP, which did not diminish after the party’s takeover of power. Instead, the DPP wanted to strengthen economic ties with the United States, Australia and the EU.
In February, the country was hit by a minor earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale. Despite the limited strength of the quake, it caused a 17-story building to collapse. Many other buildings were severely damaged.
According to Countryaah reports, the population of Taiwan in 2008 was 23,187,440, ranking number 51 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.420% yearly, and the population density was 654.8306 people per km2.