In pictures: Taiwan-China relations since 1949

 | Updated: Jan 03, 2019, 05:55 PM IST

China's President Xi Jinping warned Wednesday that the unification of China and Taiwan was 'inevitable', with the use of military force remaining an option. Here's a quick look at key dates in relations between the island nation and China.

File photo of former China's Chairman Mao Zedong.

Mao Zedong's communists take power in Beijing in October 1949 after defeating Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang (KMT) nationalists in a civil war.

The KMT flee to the island of Taiwan and form their own government in Taipei in December, cutting off contacts with mainland China.

In 1950 Taiwan becomes an ally of the United States, which is at war with Communist China in Korea. It deploys a fleet in the Taiwan Strait between the two to protect its ally from possible attack from the mainland. 


US-China Trade war

In October 1971 Beijing takes over China's seat at the United Nations, previously held by Taipei. 

In 1979 the United States establishes diplomatic relations with China but also commits to assist the defence of Taiwan. It backs the policy of "one China", with Beijing as the legitimate government, but establishes trade and military ties with Taipei.


Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou talks to Chinese President Xi Jinping (not pictured) during their meeting at the Shangri-la Hotel in Singapore.

In late 1987 Taiwan residents are for the first time permitted to visit China, allowing families to reunite and leading to a boom in trade.

In 1991 Taiwan lifts emergency rule, unilaterally ending a state of war with China. The first direct talks between the two sides are held in Singapore two years later.

But in 1995 Beijing suspends talks in protest at a visit by Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui to the United States.

In 1996 China tests missiles off Taiwan to deter voters in the island's first democratic presidential election.

In 2000 elections the KMT loses power in Taiwan for the first time and over the next five years trade links between the two sides improve, first by sea and then via air.

In March 2005 Beijing adopts a law which makes secession by Taiwan illegal at the risk of military action. In April there is the first meeting since 1949 of the leaders of the KMT and Communist Party of China. 

In 2008 Taiwan and China resume high-level talks after the KMT's Ma Ying-jeou is elected president on a Beijing-friendly platform.

In 2010 they sign a sweeping Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement; in 2014 they hold the first government-to-government talks since separation.

In 2015 the leaders of both sides meet in Singapore, shaking hands and waving enthusiastically to a huge press throng but refraining from any joint statement.


Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (R). (Courtesy: Reuters, AFP)

In January 2016 opposition candidate Tsai Ing-wen, from the traditionally pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, wins presidential elections. The day of her inauguration in May, China cautions that peace would be "impossible" if she makes any moves to formally break away. 

In June China suspends all communications with Taiwan after the island's new government fails to acknowledge the concept that there is only "one China".

In December 2016 president-elect Donald Trump breaks with decades of US diplomatic policy by speaking directly, by telephone, with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. In 2017 Trump's administration approves $1.3 billion worth of arms sales to Taiwan.

In March 2018 the United States adopts a law reinforcing ties with Taiwan, again infuriating China.