A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Chinas
My good man (@AlJanusi on Twitter) asked for a quick rundown on the slightly messy and quite bloody history of the Chinas. The recount can hardly fit in a single textbook, but I promised a one-pager and a one-pager it shall be.
One might hear The Republic of China and The People’s Republic of China and think they refer to the same country. Well, one would be wrong.
The People’s Republic of China (PROC) is the China China. Yes, that one you’re thinking about. The one that gave us this 2020 blockbuster.
The Republic of China refers to Taiwan, the tiny group of islands right beside the humongous China. A trick to help remember the difference is that the popular China is largely communist, which led to the inclusion of “People” in its name, yuno, because communism and its lord and savior Karl Marx are people-oriented (hint: not so much). Other communism hotbeds such as the Soviet Union, North Korea and Vietnam all incorporate “People” into their official names.
400 years ago, the group of islands that now comprise Taiwan was a bunch of islands, indigenously occupied by the Malayo-Polynesian people. It was named Ilha Formosa — “Beautiful Island” by European sailors sailing merrily past (on their way to plunder other indigenous people).
In the 17th Century, the Dutch East India Company (sounds familiar? Well, they used to own the area now known as Nigeria) established a couple of bases.
In 1662, some guys fleeing from the Qing conquest in China japa’d to Taiwan, chased off them Dutchies, and established their own little commune. They lived happily ever after…not. The Quing authorities came down to Taiwan, beat the shit out of everyone, and, 200 years later, declared Taiwan a province of China under the authority of the Qing dynasty.
Ten years later (1895), Japan beats China blue-black and China signs over Taiwan to Japan just so they can breathe a little(A country ceding territory was common practice when they lost a war).
1912 — Some badass Chinese revolutionaries, the Kuomitangs, overthrow the Qing dynasty and established the Republic of China (both on mainland China and in Taiwan) Taiwan remains under the sovereign of Japan though.
Japan held on to Taiwan until the Second World War when the USA thought it was a good idea to nuke a country twice in 1945. (Hentai is what you get for nuking a country twice). Japan surrenders, dropping Taiwan as well. This time, the ROC government, under the Kuomitangs (KMT), take control. Free at last…not.
Not long after, the Chinese civil war breaks out. See trouble. Communists in China who were sick of the widespread owu and poverty in de land defeat the KMT(by none other than Chairman Mao Zedong, who subsequently showed China new levels of owu they didn't think was possible — shoutout to president Bubu). The KMT sharply took the first molue out of Chinatown.
They ran back to Taiwan and established a repressive authoritarian government, often at odds with the mainland Chinese government. More poverty, more oppression, more inflation, a couple of massacres too.
Despite all these, the US and other western governments recognized the government of the KMT as the official government of Taiwan, rejecting the government of The Peoples Republic of China (main China gan gan) because of the Cold War of the 60s-70s (long story). On the low, KMT kept dreaming and plotting about going back to Beijing and retaking China (pipe dreams).
Democratic reforms finally occurred in the 80s. Economic prosperity soon followed, thanks to capitalism, leading to Taiwan we all know and love today. That is the story of the Republic of China.
Ethnically, most modern-day Taiwanese are descended from Chinese people who fled mainland China.
Diplomatically, it is unclear what the status of Taiwan is. Many countries and the UN have over the years originally recognized Taiwan’s sovereignty, but this has changed due to politics politicking. Presently, it has its own constitution, democratically-elected leaders, and about 300,000 active troops in its armed forces.
In real-life terms, mainland China wants the unification of both Chinas under a single rule. China sees Taiwan much like a runaway prodigal province who will return someday, either by peace or by force. China maintains that the government of Taiwan is illegitimate. Generally, the relationship between the two remains tense, as Taiwan seeks to maintain its independence.