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Taiwan

Yearbook 1997

Taiwan. The archival rivals Taiwan and China recorded their first direct maritime traffic in April since the end of the war in 1949. A Chinese cargo ship made its first voyage from China to Taiwan. According to Countryaah, a week later, the first Taiwanese cargo ship arrived on the mainland. About ten shipping companies were entitled to the new route across the Taiwan Strait. However, only transit transport was allowed, no direct trade.

1997 Taiwan

But the political contradictions of the two regimes intensified in March after Taiwan allowed Tibet's spiritual leader Dalai lama to visit a Buddhist monastery in Kaohsiung. In Beijing, where the Tibetan Peace Prize winner is seen as a threat to China's supremacy over Tibet, the visit was stamped as a provocation "to divide the mother country". The Dalai lama himself emphasized the visit's private, religious character, but also met the host country's president Li Denghui and Prime Minister Lien Chan.

After Hong Kong's incorporation with China on July 1, Beijing once again called on Taiwan to accept a Chinese reunification. "The principle of 'one country, two systems' will work in Hong Kong and also for Taiwan," said Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng. In Taibei, President Li responded that democracy is not compatible with communism. A severe foreign policy setback came for Taiwan when its last major ally South Africa at the end of the year took up full diplomatic relations with China and broke with the Taibei government.

Taiwan's National Assembly, which, unlike Parliament, is solely responsible for constitutional issues, adopted a series of constitutional amendments in July that strengthened the president's power and virtually abolished Taiwan's provincial government alongside the national one.

At the ruling party's GMD (Guomindang) congress in August, Prime Minister Lien resigned, criticized for falling prey to growing corruption and crime. He was succeeded by former Finance Minister Vincent Siew, Taiwan's first indigenous head of government. Lien remained as Vice President.

In the November general elections, GMD suffered a heavy defeat as the largest opposition party DFP (Democratic Progress Party), which opposes a reunification with China, won in 12 of 23 constituencies.

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