Taiwan is one of Asia's most prosperous countries with
high standards of living, relatively small differences
between poor and rich and well-developed healthcare. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of TWN and acronym for Taiwan. The
proportion of old people in the population increases every
year, which means that the problems increase in terms of
care for the elderly and the provision of pensions.
Health care is well developed and accessibility is high,
which can partly be explained by the high population
density. The number of hospitals has decreased over the
years in favor of larger hospitals run by a number of
business conglomerates. About a third of hospitals and
clinics focus on traditional Chinese (herbal) medicine. In
recent years, lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular
disease have become increasingly common in Taiwan, as well
as in the western world.
During the period 1965-2000, unemployment never exceeded
3 percent, but thereafter it has varied between 4 and 6
percent. The proportion of employed women is high and in
principle equal pay for equal work. At childbirth, all women
are entitled to eight weeks of unpaid parental leave.
General health insurance was introduced in 1995 and it
covers 96 percent of the population. Occupational injury
insurance exists since 1979 and unemployment insurance since
1999. Gradually, various unions were formed, but only in
2000 a central trade union was recognized. Recently,
demonstrations have been held with a view to highlighting
weaknesses in workers' social protection, which have however
improved in recent years.
KMT candidate Lee Teng won the first direct presidential
election in the country's history with 54% of the vote. Peng
Ming-min from PDP got 21%. Lee declared that he would work
for increased international presence of Taiwan through an
energetic diplomatic offensive.
In July 1997, Beijing conducted a military demonstration
of power off the coast of Taiwan, at the same time as the
Hong Kong crown colony was incorporated into China.
In August, the government decided to close its embassy in
St. Petersburg. Lucia, after the Caribbean government
decided to increase relations with the People's Republic.
The breach brought down the number of countries in the world
with diplomatic relations with Taiwan to 30. That same
month, Prime Minister Lien Chan resigned. He was replaced
September 1 by Vincent Siew.
The victory of the independence movements in 12
municipalities in the municipal elections in October 1997
was a clear defeat for the ruling KMT. Except for one of the
municipalities, everyone had been under KMT management since
In April 1998, China and Taiwan decided to resume the
direct dialogue that had otherwise been interrupted since
KMT's victory in the December parliamentary and municipal
elections seemed to hinder the possibility of dialogue with
Beijing, since the opposition party PDP had a more open
nationalist stance. KMT's stronger position in parliament
finally enabled the party to adopt reductions in the
In the weeks leading up to the 2000 presidential
election, Beijing repeatedly said it might be necessary to
seize power if Taipei opposed reunification. The statement
was a response to election statements from the PDP, which
through its candidate Chen Shui-bian had assured that if he
won, a referendum would be printed that could determine the
island's future status.
However, the interference from mainland China did not
benefit KMT, who lost the power over the island for the
first time in history on March 18. The victor was PDP (39%
of the vote) followed by independent candidate James Soong
(37% of the vote) - a former member of KMT who had broken
out to form his own party. KMT first came in third, had to
settle for 23% and immediately excluded over 50 of its
members who were accused of supporting Soong, rather than
the party's own candidate Lien Chan.
During the period leading up to the election, Governor
Chen had moderated his views, and in one of his first
statements after the victory, he now declared that Taiwan
was not immediately necessary to declare independently and
that he was willing to discuss all issues with Baijing. At
the same time, he announced that Tsai Ying-wen would become
the person responsible for the negotiations with Beijing.
Nevertheless, both Chen and Tsai stated that they were
unwilling to negotiate on the basis that Beijing had
submitted "a single China".