The Republic of China (ROC) is a state in East Asia that has evolved from a single-party state with full global recognition and jurisdiction over China into a democratic state with limited international recognition and jurisdiction only over Taiwan and minor islands, though it enjoys de facto relations with many other states. It was a founding member of the United Nations and one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, until being replaced by the People’s Republic of China in 1971.
Established in 1912, the Republic of China encompassed much of mainland China and Mongolia. At the end of World War II, with the surrender of Japan, the Republic of China added the island groups of Taiwan and Penghu to its jurisdiction. When the Kuomintang (KMT), the Chinese Nationalist Party, lost the civil war to the Communist Party in 1949, it relocated to Taiwan and established Taipei as the ROC’s provisional capital; while the Communists founded the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in mainland China. Taiwan, together with Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor islands then became the extent of the Republic of China’s authority. Although its jurisdiction only covers this area, during the early Cold War the ROC was recognized by many Western nations and the United Nations as the sole legitimate government of China.
Constitutionally, the ROC has not relinquished its claim as the legitimate government of all China although in practice it does not actively pursue these claims. The political parties of the ROC often have radically different views regarding the sovereignty of Taiwan. Both former Presidents Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian have held the view that it is a sovereign and independent country separate from mainland China and there is no need for a formal declaration of independence. President Ma Ying-jeou has expressed the view that the ROC is a sovereign and independent country that includes both Taiwan and mainland China.
The ROC is a democracy with a semi-presidential system and universal suffrage. The president serves as the head of state and the Legislative Yuan serves as legislative body. One of the Four Asian Tigers, Taiwan is the 26th largest economy in the world. Its technology industry plays a key role in the global economy. The ROC is ranked high in terms of freedom of press, health care, public education and economic freedom, among others.