Visual Timeline of Taiwan

As part of the Visual Timeline series, this is a continually updated page capturing key events related on Taiwan.

1683: Qing dynasty annexes Taiwan; formerly settled by aborignal kingdoms, Chinese settlers, and Dutch

1895: Japan annexes Taiwan follwoing First Sino-Japanese War

1945: Allies place Taiwan under Chinese Kuomintang government control after WW2 Japanese surrender

1949: Kuomintang flees mainland China along with 2 million refugees, establishing Republic of China

1954: First Taiwan Strait Crisis as mainland China artillery barrage on Taiwanese islands

1955: Taiwan-US alliance official

1958: Second Taiwan Strait Crisis as mainland China shells Taiwnese-held Quemoy Island

1964: Mainland China tests first atomic weapon

1969: US chip firm Texas Instruments’s Taiwan plant assembles its first devices

1971: Mainland China joins UN while Taiwan is expelled

1975: Chiang Kai Shek dies, and is succeeded by his son Chiang Ching-kuo

1977: First opposition breakthrough at parliamentary elections by the Tangwai (Outside the Party) group

1979: Kaohsiung Incident – police kill pro-democracy protesters. Opposition leaders prisoned to long sentences for incident.

– Chip foundry TSMC founded by Morris Chang (49% Taiwanese govt funded, 28% by Philips, and rest by wealthy Taiwanese “asked” by government to invest)
Martial law from 1949 finally lifted; allowing travel to mainland for the first time

1996: Third Taiwan Strait Crisis to discourage Taiwan from holding referendum; US sends carrier group and forces Beijing to stand down.

1999: Major earthquake

(Mar) Chen Shui-bian wins presidential election, ending the Kuomintang party’s 50-year regime

2001: Mainland China joins WTO; Taiwan lifts 50 year ban on direct trade and investment with mainland

2002: Taiwan joins WTO few weeks after mainland China

– SARS virus in Asia
– Taipei 101 unveiled; tallest building in world at time at 508m

2005: First direct flight between Taiwan and mainland since 1949

2008: Nationalists (Kuomintang) back in power as pro-China Ma Ying-jeou elected president

2010: Taiwan and China sign landmark free trade pact seen as most significant agreement in 60 years of separation.

2016: President Tsai Ing-wen elected president; Pro-independent Democratic Progressive Party

2020: Taiwan successfully isolates and keeps COVID out

Additional reference:

Economic snapshot:

  • First agricultural (60% exports in mid60s agricultural, <20% by mid 1970s) and processing of foodstuffs – sugar, asparagus, mushrooms, tropical fruit etc
  • Then textiles, then electronics, now most advanced technology components (chips)
  • Exports 9% GDP in 1951, 50% by 1979
  • Taiwan fails to impose rigorous export discipline on big state firms (SMEs with <300 employees make up 65% exports in 1985)

See also:

Visual Timeline Series