Taiwan Political Timeline

January 1, 1996

1949 – The Nationalist Government of Chiang Kai-shek flees the mainland and establishes the seat of government of the Republic of China in Taipei.

1954 – Chinese Communists attempt to regain control over the islands of Quemoy and Matsu following the Korean War. Taiwan and the U.S. sign a mutual-defense treaty by which the U.S. pledges to take action against the communists if they attack Taiwan or the Penghu Islands.

1958 – Chinese communists resume artillery bombardment of Quemoy and issue and ultimatum on surrendering its Nationalist garrison. The ultimatum was not met, but the threat was not carried out due to U.S. naval power in the area and a withdrawal of Soviet support.

1964 – Mainland China explodes its first nuclear device. The timing shocks Taiwanese people and officials who thought they were years from successfully building an atomic device.

1971 – Taiwan is expelled from the IAEA and the UN. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is recognized as the legitimate government of China.

1972 – U.S. President Richard Nixon travels to Beijing. This visit signals a changing in the U.S. policy towards mainland China. As a result of this visit, the Shanghai Communique is issued, recognizing the `one China’ policy and a warming of relations between the U.S. and Beijing. The U.S. opens an official liaison office in Beijing. The U.S.-Taiwan relationship is thrown into doubt, but weapons sales and political support continue in parallel to U.S. efforts to reach out to the PRC.

1974 – Last of U.S. nuclear weapons are withdrawn from Taiwan’s territory.

1975 – Chiang Kai-shek dies and is succeeded by his vice-president Yen Chia-kan. Chiang Kai- shek’s son, Chiang Ching-kuo, remains in the office of Premier and assumes leadership of the Kuomingtang Party.

1978 – Chiang Ching-kuo is elected to the Presidency.

1979 – U.S. officially shifts diplomatic recognition to the PRC.

1982 – The U.S. and the PRC sign a document promising reduced arms sales to Taiwan with the eventual goal of eliminating arms sales altogether.

1988 – Chiang Ching-kuo dies. Lee Teng-hui assumes the Presidency as the first native of Taiwan to do so.

1996 – PRC conducts live fire missile tests into the waters off Taiwan, effectively blockading shipping and severely disrupting air traffic.

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