Political status of Taiwan

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The controversy regarding the political status of Taiwan hinges on whether Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu should remain effectively independent as territory of the Republic of China (ROC, a distinct yet related political entity to the People's Republic of China), become unified with the territories now governed by the People's Republic of China (PRC), or formally declare independence and become the Republic of Taiwan. The controversy over the political status of the Republic of China hinges on whether its existence as a state is legitimate and recognized by the international community.

Currently, Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu, and some other minor islands effectively make up the jurisdiction of the state with the official name of Republic of China, widely known in the West as "Taiwan". The ROC, which took control of Taiwan (including Penghu and other nearby islands) in 1945, ruled mainland China and claimed sovereignty over Outer Mongolia (now Mongolia) and Tannu Uriankhai (part of which is present day Tuva, Russia) before losing the Chinese Civil War and relocating its government to Taipei, Taiwan in December 1949.

Since the ROC lost its United Nations seat as "China" in 1971 (replaced by the PRC), most sovereign states have switched their diplomatic recognition to the PRC, recognizing or acknowledging the PRC to be the sole legitimate representative of all China, though many deliberately avoid stating clearly what territories they believe China includes. As of January 2008, the ROC maintains official diplomatic relations with 23 sovereign states,[1] although de facto relations are maintained with nearly all others. Agencies such as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office and American Institute in Taiwan operate as de facto embassies without official diplomatic status.

The ROC government has in the past actively pursued the claim as the sole legitimate government over mainland China and Taiwan. This position started to be largely adjusted in the early 1990s as democracy was introduced and new Taiwanese leaders were elected, changing to one that does not actively challenge the legitimacy of PRC rule over mainland China. However, with the election of the Kuomintang (KMT, "Chinese Nationalist Party") back into executive power in 2008, the ROC government has changed its position back to that "mainland China is also part of the territory of the ROC."[2] Both the PRC and the ROC carry out cross-strait relations through specialized agencies (such as the Mainland Affairs Council of the ROC), rather than through foreign ministries. Different groups have different concepts of what the current formal political situation of Taiwan is. (See also: Chinese reunification, Taiwan independence, and Cross-Strait relations)

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