The Republic of China was founded in 1912 when the Qing Dynasty lost control of China. Yuan Shikai, its first President, declared himself emperor in 1915. In reaction, many provinces declared independence and became warlord states. He abdicated the title of Emperor early in 1916 and reclaimed that of President but died months later. Over the following years a number of rival governments competed over control.
By 1927, military leader Chiang Kai-shek had managed to nominally unite all of China under a Nationalist Government, ruling from Nanking. While several of the warlords had been defeated, this government was actually involved in conflict with the Communist Party of China and armed forces loyal to it. The initial phase of the Chinese Civil War would last from 1927 to c. 1936. Both sides agreed to a truce to focus on a common enemy, the Empire of Japan.
Japan had taken advantage of the unstable conditions in China during the 1930s. It had captured Manchuria early on, then attempted to extend its influence over North China. It had met little resistance due to Chinese disorganization. The truce left Japan facing a united front. It answered by a full-scale invasion. The Second Sino-Japanese War (1937 - 1935) was at first a regional conflict but evolved into a major theater of World War II.
The Japanese surrender left China nominally united and with territorial gains in the Pacific, including the island of Taiwan. But the elimination of the common enemy also ended the truce. In 1946, the Civil War entered its second phase. By 1949, the Communist Party controlled the entire continental China, declaring it a People's Republic. Chiang Kai-shek and the remnants of his government and troops were forced to retreat towards Taiwan.
The Republic of China has been informally known as "Taiwan", its main island. It also controls Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and various minor islands. The Republic and the People's Republic have refused to recognize each other as independent states, maintaining a "One China" policy. Not only they have territorial claims over each other, foreign states are forced to maintain relations with only one of the two at a time. While the Republic enjoyed wide international recognition from the 1940s to the 1970s, the trend has been reversed since. Today only 23 states still recognize it.
The Republic also has minor territorial disputes with Mongolia, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Taiwanese comic characters:
Ma Saihung (DC)
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