Taipei History, Taiwan
Amidst Taipei’s towering commercial and modern structures lies a colorful and remarkable past. The rich history of Taipei City is what makes it one of Asia’s thriving cities.
A quick view at Taipei’s endearing past can give us a picture of how this metropolitan city stood to become one of the world’s economic and commercial giants.
The Taipei City History
Ancient Taipei basin was originally inhabited by the native plains-dwelling Ketagalan tribes. In 1709, the Han Chinese from Fujian province of China settled in the Taipei Basin. During the late 19th century, the Han settlement grew in number. By late 19th century, the Taipei region in northern Taiwan became a main Han settlement and along with the Tamsui, a selected foreign trade port developed into an important economic district significantly for tea and camphor trade. The Tamsui River played a key role in Taipei as it brought commerce and wealth for migrant mainland Chinese and became a major waterway.
In 1875, the new Taipei Prefecture was instituted. Along with the booming Bangkah and Twatutia townships, the region’s new capital was known as Cheng-nei which means “inside the city walls.” This prefecture capital was the seat of the government’s administrative and financial structures. From the rule of the Qing Dynasty until the beginning of Japanese regime in 1895, Taipei was part of the Danshui County of the Taipei Prefecture. In 1886 it was named as the provincial capital when Taiwan was hailed as a province of China.
The Japanese took possession of Taiwan in 1895 after the Sino-Japanese war and made Taipei, which was called “Taihoku” in Japanese, the central administrative headquarters. The city continued to develop and evolve even as the city walls were demolished. Taipei continued to be the core of Japanese colonial administrative and economic system. At that time, Japanese influences were evidently seen in sectors of education, politics, architecture and infrastructure. Even with these positive developments came dissatisfaction from the Taiwanese natives because of harsh Japanese rule.
Taiwan after World War II
Japan’s defeat in World War II brought the end of their colonial rule over Taiwan in August 1945. The Chinese Nationalist troops took over and Taipei City became a provisional capital of the Kuomintang or KMT government under Chiang Kai-shek after they fled from mainland China in December 1949. The promising reign of a new administration seemed short-lived as corruption spread rapidly resulting in anti-Chinese riot protests. With the involvement of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) with the Korean War, the predictable overtake of the Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan didn’t materialize. Although having lesser popularity among the native Taiwanese, the ROC was noted for their achievement in rebuilding programs. This resulted in massive industrialization that made Taiwan one of Asia’s richest nations.
The ROC was denied the United Nations seat to mainland China in 1971; and in 1979, most countries including the US recalled their acknowledgement of the ROC government. But most of these countries backed up an independent self-governing Taiwan. Taipei City continued to thrive and the economy continued to escalate in spite the challenges that the Taiwanese people came across including the declaration of martial law. In 1986, the hope for a political reform was almost within reach as opposition parties took seats in the legislature. And the lifting of the martial law in 1987 became the door for the advent of democracy in Taiwan.
To this day Taipei has overcome the setbacks of its past.
At present Taiwan emerges has a highly industrialized and rapidly developing economy. Amidst the region’s financial crisis, it continues to be one of Southeast Asia’s wealthiest and global hi-tech cities.
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