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Taiwan - History

Taiwan

Taiwan was joined to the Asian mainland in the Late Pleistocene, until sea levels rose about 10,000 years ago. Fragmentary human remains have been found on the island, dated 20,000 to 30,000 years ago, as well as later artifacts of a Paleolithic culture.

More than 8,000 years ago, Austronesians first settled on Taiwan. The languages of their descendants, who are known as the Taiwanese aborigines nowadays, belong to the Austronesian language family, which also includes the Malayo-Polynesian languages spanning a huge area, including the entire Maritime Southeast Asia (i.e., Tagalog of the Philippines, Malay and Indonesian of Malaysia and Indonesia, or the Javanese of Java), the Pacific and Indian Ocean: westernmost to the Malagasies of Madagascar and easternmost to the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island. The aboriginal languages on Taiwan show much greater diversity than the rest of Austronesian put together, leading linguists to propose Taiwan as the Urheimat of the family, from which seafaring peoples dispersed across Southeast Asia and the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

On 25 October 1945, the U.S. Navy ferried ROC troops to Taiwan in order to accept the formal surrender of Japanese military forces in Taipei (then part of Taihoku Prefecture), as part of General Order No. 1 for temporary military occupation. General Rikichi Andō, governor-general of Taiwan and commander-in-chief of all Japanese forces on the island, signed the instrument of surrender and handed it over to General Chen Yi of the ROC military to complete the official turnover. Chen Yi proclaimed that day to be "Taiwan Retrocession Day", but the Allies considered Taiwan and the Penghu Islands to be under military occupation and still under Japanese sovereignty until 1952, when the Treaty of San Francisco took effect.

The ROC administration of Taiwan under Chen Yi was strained by increasing tensions between Taiwan-born people and newly arrived mainlanders, which were compounded by economic woes, such as hyperinflation. Furthermore, cultural and linguistic conflicts between the two groups quickly led to the loss of popular support for the new government. The shooting of a civilian on 28 February 1947 triggered island-wide unrest, which was suppressed with military force in what is now called the 228 Incident. Mainstream estimates of the number killed range from 18,000 to 30,000. Those killed were mainly members of the Taiwanese elite.

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