New nano treatment gives cancer patients fresh hope

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

New nano treatment gives cancer patients fresh hope

The world’s first surgery using NanoGun technology — jointly developed by Chinese and French scientists — was performed on a lung cancer patient in Shanghai yesterday.

The new minimally invasive treatment, which can be used on patients deemed no longer healthy enough for chemotherapy, injects the radioactive element rhenium-188 covered with nano-particles, including nitroimidazole — an organic matter.

While engulfing the nitroimidazole, the cancer cells also take in the rhenium, which eventually kills the tumor.

The patient, 71, was in the terminal stage of lung cancer and was too ill for further chemotherapy.

“It usually takes three days for the rhenium to kill the cancer cells,” said Gao Yong, the doctor in charge of the operation at Shanghai East Hospital. “There won’t be any side effects (from the rhenium) as the element will lose its radioactivity after three days.”

NanoGun is a Shanghai-based technology developed from scratch. It won China’s top innovation award in 2016.

Yang Guanghua, one of the scientists who helped develop the technology, said that although rhenium had long been ideal to treat cancer, there had been no ideal medium for delivery. It often diffused throughout the body and was hard to be absorbed by the irregular shaped cancer cells.

It took Yang and his colleges almost 10 years to find the right coating material, nitroimidazole, which matches perfectly with rhenium to make sure it directly reaches the nidus, or “nest”, of the cancer.

“Diffusion of the element (rhenium) hindered the effectiveness of the treatment in the past,” said Dr. Sadeg Nouredine, one of the French scientists working with Yang.

The surgery, approved by the hospital’s ethics committee as part of the treatment’s clinical trial, was free.

“We are working on the next stage of the technology in the lab,” said Yang. “So that it can hit multiple niduses simultaneously.”

If the trial succeeds the treatment will be available by 2020, by which time Shanghai will have built a pharmaceutical factory and hospital in Songjiang District to provide rhenium.

Spain: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of The Great Nation Of Spain

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Spain

Introduction Spain’s powerful world empire of the 16th and 17th centuries ultimately yielded command of the seas to England. Subsequent failure to embrace the mercantile and industrial revolutions caused the country to fall behind Britain, France, and Germany in economic and political power. Spain remained neutral in World Wars I and II but suffered through a devastating civil war (1936-39). A peaceful transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco FRANCO in 1975, and rapid economic modernization (Spain joined the EU in 1986) have given Spain one of the most dynamic economies in Europe and made it a global champion of freedom. Continuing challenges include Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorism, illegal immigration, and slowing economic growth.
History After a long and hard conquest, the Iberian Peninsula became a region of the Roman Empire known as Hispania. During the early Middle Ages it came under Germanic rule. Later it was conquered by Muslim invaders. Through a very long and fitful process, the Christian kingdoms in the north gradually rolled back Muslim rule, finally extinguishing its last remnant in Granada in 1492, the same year Columbus reached the Americas. A global empire began. Spain became the strongest kingdom in Europe and the leading world power during the 16th century and first half of the 17th century; but continued wars and other problems eventually led to a diminished status. The French invasion of Spain in the early 19th century led to chaos; triggering independence movements that tore apart most of the empire and left the country politically unstable. In the 20th century it suffered a devastating civil war and came under the rule of an authoritarian government, leading to years of stagnation, but finishing in an impressive economic surge. Democracy was restored in 1978 in the form of a parliamentry constitutional monarchy. In 1986, Spain joined the European Union; experiencing a cultural renaissance and steady economic growth.

Prehistory and pre-Roman peoples

Archeological research at Atapuerca indicates the Iberian Peninsula was peopled 1.2 million years ago. Modern humans in the form of Cro-Magnons began arriving in the Iberian Peninsula through the Pyrenees some 35,000 years ago. The best known artifacts of these prehistoric human settlements are the famous paintings in the Altamira cave of Cantabria in northern Spain, which were created about 15,000 BCE.

The two main historical peoples of the peninsula were the Iberians and the Celts, the former inhabiting the Mediterranean side from the northeast to the southwest, the latter inhabiting the Atlantic side, in the north and northwest part of the peninsula. In the inner part of the peninsula, where both groups were in contact, a mixed, distinctive culture—known as Celtiberian—was present. In addition, Basques occupied the western area of the Pyrenees mountains. Other ethnic groups existed along the southern coastal areas of present day Andalusia. Among these southern groups there grew the earliest urban culture in the Iberian Peninsula, that of the semi-mythical southern city of Tartessos (perhaps pre-1100 BC) near the location of present-day Cádiz. The flourishing trade in gold and silver between the people of Tartessos and Phoenicians and Greeks is documented in the history of Strabo and in the biblical book of king Solomon. Between about 500 BC and 300 BC, the seafaring Phoenicians and Greeks founded trading colonies all along the Spanish Mediterranean coast. Carthaginians briefly took control of much of the Mediterranean coast in the course of the Punic Wars, until they were eventually defeated and replaced by the Romans.

Roman Empire and Germanic invasions

During the Second Punic War, an expanding Roman Empire captured Carthaginian trading colonies along the Mediterranean coast from roughly 210 BC to 205 BC, leading to eventual Roman control of nearly the entire Iberian Peninsula; this lasted over 500 years, bound together by law, language, and the Roman road.

The base Celt and Iberian population remained in various stages of Romanisation, and local leaders were admitted into the Roman aristocratic class.[note 8][5] Hispania served as a granary for the Roman market, and its harbors exported gold, wool, olive oil, and wine. Agricultural production increased with the introduction of irrigation projects, some of which remain in use. Emperors Trajan, Theodosius I, and the philosopher Seneca were born in Hispania.Christianity was introduced into Hispania in the 1st century CE and it became popular in the cities in the 2nd century CE. Most of Spain’s present languages and religion, and the basis of its laws, originate from this period. Rome’s loss of jurisdiction in Hispania began in 409, when the Germanic Suevi and Vandals, together with the Sarmatian Alans crossed the Rhine and ravaged Gaul until the Visigoths drove them into Iberia that same year. The Suevi established a kingdom in what is today modern Galicia and northern Portugal. The Alans’ allies, the Hasdingi Vandals, established a kingdom in Gallaecia, too, occupying largely the same region but extending further south to the Duero river. The Silingi Vandals occupied the region that still bears a form of their name – Vandalusia, modern Andalusia, in Spain.

Muslim Iberia

In the 8th century, several areas of the Iberian Peninsula were conquered (711-718) by mainly Muslims (see Moors) from North Africa. These conquests were part of the expansion of the Umayyad Islamic Empire.[note 10] Only a number of areas in the north of the Iberian Peninsula managed to resist the initial invasion, occupying areas roughly corresponding to modern Asturias, Navarre and northern Aragon.

Under Islam, Christians and Jews were recognised as “peoples of the book”, and were free to practice their religion, but faced a number of mandatory discriminations and penalties as dhimmis. Conversion to Islam proceeded at a steadily increasing pace. Following the mass conversions in the 10th and 11th centuries it is believed that Muslims came to outnumber Christians in the remaining Muslim controlled areas.

The Muslim community in the Iberian peninsula was itself diverse and beset by social tensions. The Berber people of North Africa, who had provided the bulk of the invading armies, clashed with the Arab leadership from the Middle East. Over time, large Moorish populations became established, especially in the Guadalquivir River valley, the coastal plain of Valencia, and (towards the end of this period) in the mountainous region of Granada.

Córdoba, the capital of the caliphate, was the largest, richest and most sophisticated city of medieval western Europe. Mediterranean trade and cultural exchange flourished. Muslims imported a rich intellectual tradition from the Middle East and North Africa. Muslim and Jewish scholars played a great part in reviving and expanding classical Greek learning in Western Europe. The Romanized cultures of the Iberian peninsula interacted with Muslim and Jewish cultures in complex ways, thus giving the region a distinctive culture. Outside the cities, where the vast majority lived, the land ownership system from Roman times remained largely intact as Muslim leaders rarely dispossessed landowners, and the introduction of new crops and techniques led to a remarkable expansion of agriculture.

However, by the 11th century, Muslim holdings had fractured into rival Taifa kingdoms, allowing the small Christian states the opportunity to greatly enlarge their territories and consolidate their positions. The arrival of the North African Muslim ruling sects of the Almoravids and the Almohads restored unity upon Muslim holdings, with a stricter, less tolerant application of Islam, but ultimately, after some successes in invading the north, proved unable to resist the increasing military strength of the Christian states.

Fall of Muslim rule and unification

Given the honored title by the Pope, Catholic MonarchsFerdinand and Isabella, were probably one of the most powerful and accomplished couples in history; they reinforced the Reconquista, founded the Spanish Inquisition, and sponsered Christopher Columbus during the discovery of the New World.

The Reconquista (“Reconquest”) is the centuries-long period of expansion of Spain’s Christian kingdoms; Reconquista is viewed as beginning with the battle of Covadonga in 722 and being concurrent with the period of Muslim rule on the Iberian peninsula. The Christian army’s victory over the Muslim forces led to the creation of the Christian Kingdom of Asturias along the northern coastal mountains. Muslim armies had also moved north of the Pyrenees, but they were defeated at the Battle of Poitiers in France. Subsequently, they retreated to more secure positions south of the Pyrenees with a frontier marked by the Ebro and Duero rivers in Spain. As early as 739 Muslim forces were driven from Galicia, which was to host one of medieval Europe’s holiest sites, Santiago de Compostela. A little later Frankish forces established Christian counties south of the Pyrenees; these areas were to grow into kingdoms, in the north-east and the western part of the Pyrenees. These territories included Navarre, Aragon and Catalonia.

The breakup of Al-Andalus into the competing Taifa kingdoms helped the expanding Christian kingdoms. The capture of the central city of Toledo in 1085 largely completed the reconquest of the northern half of Spain. After a Muslim resurgence in the 12th century, the great Moorish strongholds in the south fell to Christian Spain in the 13th century—Córdoba in 1236 and Seville in 1248—leaving only the Muslim enclave of Granada as a tributary state in the south. Marinid invasions from north Africa in the 13th and 14th centuries failed to re-establish Muslim rule. Also in the 13th century, the kingdom of Aragon, formed by Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia expanded its reach across the Mediterranean to Sicily. Around this time the universities of Palencia (1212/1263) and Salamanca (1218/1254) were established; among the earliest in Europe. The Black Death of 1348 and 1349 devastated Spain.

In 1469, the crowns of the Christian kingdoms of Castile and Aragon were united by the marriage of Isabella and Ferdinand. In 1478 began the final stage of the conquest of Canary Islands and in 1492, these united kingdoms captured Granada, ending the last remnant of a 781-year presence of Islamic rule in Iberia. The Treaty of Granada guaranteed religious tolerance toward Muslims. The year 1492 also marked the arrival in the New World of Christopher Columbus, during a voyage funded by Isabella. That same year, Spain’s Jews were ordered to convert to Catholicism or face expulsion from Spanish territories during the Spanish Inquisition. Not long after, Muslims were also expelled under the same conditions.

As Renaissance New Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand centralized royal power at the expense of local nobility, and the word España – whose root is the ancient name Hispania – began to be used commonly to designate the whole of the two kingdoms. With their wide-ranging political, legal, religious and military reforms, Spain emerged as the first world power.

Spanish Empire

The unification of the kingdoms of Aragon, Castile, León, and Navarre laid the basis for modern Spain and the Spanish Empire. Spain was Europe’s leading power throughout the 16th century and most of the 17th century, a position reinforced by trade and wealth from colonial possessions. Spain reached its apogee during the reigns of the first two Spanish Habsburgs – Charles I (1516–1556) and Philip II (1556–1598). This period also saw the Italian Wars, the Protestant Reformation, the Dutch revolt, the Morisco revolt, clashes with the Ottomans, the Anglo-Spanish war and wars with France.

Philip II of Spain

The Spanish Empire expanded to include most parts of South and Central America, Mexico, southern and western portions of today’s United States, the Philippines, Guam and the Mariana Islands in Eastern Asia, parts of northern Italy, southern Italy, Sicily, cities in Northern Africa, as well as parts of France, modern Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. It was the first empire about which it was said that the sun never set. This was an age of discovery, with daring explorations by sea and by land, the opening-up of new trade routes across oceans, conquests and the beginnings of European colonialism. Along with the arrival of precious metals, spices, luxuries, and new agricultural plants, Spanish and other explorers brought back knowledge from the New World, playing a leading part in transforming Europeans understanding of the globe. The cultural efflorescence witnessed is now referred to as the Spanish Golden Age.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Spain was confronted by unrelenting challenges from all sides. Barbary pirates under the aegis of the rapidly growing Ottoman empire, disrupted life in many coastal areas through their slave raids and renewed the threat of an Islamic invasion.[note 15] This at a time when Spain was often at war with France in Italy and elsewhere. Later the Protestant Reformation schism from the Catholic Church dragged the kingdom ever more deeply into the mire of religiously charged wars. The result was a country forced into ever expanding military efforts across Europe and in the Mediterranean. The rise of humanism, the Protestant Reformation and new geographical discoveries raised issues addressed by an intellectual movement known as the School of Salamanca.

By the middle decades of a war and plague ridden 17th century Europe, the effects of the strain began to show. The Spanish Habsburgs had enmeshed the country in the continent wide religious-political conflicts. These conflicts drained it of resources and undermined the European economy generally. Spain managed to hold on to most of the scattered Habsburg empire, and help the imperial forces of the Holy Roman Empire reverse a large part of the advances made by Protestant forces, but it was finally forced to recognise the separation of Portugal (with whom it had been united in a personal union of the crowns from 1580 to 1640) and the Netherlands, and eventually suffered some serious military reverses to France in the latter stages of the immensely destructive, Europe-wide Thirty Years War.

In the latter half of the 17th century, Spain went into a gradual relative decline, during which it surrendered a number of small territories to France. However Spain maintained and enlarged its vast overseas empire, which remained intact until the beginning of the 19th century.

The decline culminated in a controversy over succession to the throne which consumed the first years of the 18th century. The War of Spanish Succession, a wide ranging international conflict combined with a civil war, cost Spain its European possessions and its position as one of the leading powers on the Continent.

During this war, a new dynasty—the French Bourbons—was installed. Long united only by the Crown, a true Spanish state was established when the first Bourbon king Philip V of Spain united Castile and Aragon into a single state, abolishing many of the regional privileges (fueros).

The 18th century saw a gradual recovery and an increase in prosperity through much of the empire. The new Bourbon monarchy drew on the French system of modernising the administration and the economy. Enlightenment ideas began to gain ground among some of the kingdom’s elite and monarchy. Towards the end of the century trade finally began growing strongly. Military assistance for the rebellious British colonies in the American War of Independence improved Spain’s international standing.

Napoleonic rule and its consequences

In 1793, Spain went to war against the new French Republic, which had overthrown and executed its Bourbon king, Louis XVI. The war polarised the country in an apparent reaction against the gallicised elites. Defeated in the field, Spain made peace with France in 1795 and effectively became a client state of that country; the following year, it declared war against Britain and Portugal. A disastrous economic situation, along with other factors, led to the abdication of the Spanish king in favour of Napoleon’s brother, Joseph Bonaparte.

This foreign puppet monarch was widely regarded with scorn. On 2 May 1808, the people of Madrid began a nationalist uprising against the French army, one of many across the country, marking the beginning of what is known to the Spanish as the War of Independence, and to the English as the Peninsular War. Napoleon was forced to intervene personally, defeating several badly coordinated Spanish armies and forcing a British Army to retreat to Corunna. However, further military action by Spanish guerrillas and Wellington’s Anglo-Portuguese army, combined with Napoleon’s disastrous invasion of Russia, led to the ousting of the French from Spain in 1814, and the return of King Ferdinand VII.

The French invasion proved disastrous for Spain’s economy, and left a deeply divided country that was prone to political instability for more than a century. The power struggles of the early 19th century led to the loss of all of Spain’s colonies in Latin America, with the exception of Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Spanish-American War

Amid the instability and economic crisis that afflicted Spain in the 19th century there arose nationalist movements in the Philippines and Cuba. Wars of independence ensued in those colonies and eventually the United States became involved. Despite the commitment and ability shown by some military units, they were so mismanaged by the highest levels of command that the Spanish-American war of 1898 was soon over. “El Desastre” (The Disaster), as the war became known in Spain, helped give impetus to the Generation of 98 who were already conducting much critical analysis concerning the country. It also weakened the stability that had been established during Alfonso XII’s reign.

20th century

The 20th century brought little peace; Spain played a minor part in the scramble for Africa, with the colonisation of Western Sahara, Spanish Morocco and Equatorial Guinea. The heavy losses suffered during the Rif war in Morocco helped to undermine the monarchy. A period of authoritarian rule under General Miguel Primo de Rivera (1923-1931) ended with the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic. The Republic offered political autonomy to the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia and gave voting rights to women.

The bitterly fought Spanish Civil War (1936-39) ensued. Three years later the Nationalist forces, led by General Francisco Franco, emerged victorious with the support of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The Republican side was supported by the Soviet Union and Mexico and international brigades , most famously the american ‘Abraham Lincon Brigade’, but it was not supported officially by the Western powers due to the British-led policy of Non-Intervention. The Spanish Civil War has been called the first battle of the Second World War; under Franco, Spain was neutral in the Second World War though sympathetic to the Axis.

The only legal party under Franco’s regime was the Falange española tradicionalista y de las JONS, formed in 1937; the party emphasised anti-Communism, Catholicism and nationalism. Nonetheless, since Franco’s anti-democratic ideology was opposed to the idea of political parties, the new party was renamed officially a National Movement (Movimiento Nacional) in 1949.

After World War II, Spain was politically and economically isolated, and was kept out of the United Nations until 1955, when due to the Cold War it became strategically important for the U.S. to create a military presence on the Iberian peninsula, next to the Mediterranean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar, in order to protect southern Europe. In the 1960s, Spain registered an unprecedented economic growth in what was called the Spanish miracle, which rapidly resumed the long interrupted transition towards a modern industrial economy with a thriving tourism sector and a high degree of human development.

Upon the death of General Franco in November 1975, Prince Juan Carlos assumed the position of king and head of state. With the approval of the new Spanish Constitution of 1978 and the arrival of democracy, the State devolved autonomy to the regions and created an internal organization based on autonomous communities. In the Basque Country, moderate Basque nationalism coexisted with a radical nationalism supportive of the separatist group ETA.

On 23 February 1981, rebel elements among the security forces seized the Cortes and tried to impose a military-backed government. However, the great majority of the military forces remained loyal to King Juan Carlos, who used his personal authority and addressed the usurpers via national TV as commander in chief to put down the bloodless coup attempt.

On 30 May 1982, NATO gained a new member when, following a referendum, the newly democratic Spain joined the alliance. Also in 1982, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) came to power, representing the return of a left-wing government after 43 years. In 1986, Spain joined the European Community – what has now become the European Union. The PSOE was replaced in government by the Partido Popular (PP) after the latter won the 1996 General Elections; at that point the PSOE had served almost 14 consecutive years in office.

The Government of Spain has been involved in a long-running campaign against the separatist and terrorist organization ETA (“Basque Homeland and Freedom”), founded in 1959 in opposition to Franco and dedicated to promoting Basque independence through violent means. They consider themselves a guerrilla organization while they are listed as a terrorist organization by both the European Union and the United States on their respective watchlists. The current nationalist-led Basque Autonomous government does not endorse ETA’s nationalist violence, which has caused over 800 deaths in the past 40 years.

21st century

On 1 January 2002, Spain terminated its peseta currency and replaced it with the euro, which it shares with 14 other countries in the Eurozone. Spain has also seen strong economic growth, well above the EU average, but concerns are growing that the extraordinary property boom and high foreign trade deficits of recent years may bring this to an end.

A series of bombs exploded in commuter trains in Madrid, Spain on 11 March 2004. After a five month trial in 2007 it was concluded the bombings were perpetrated by a local Islamist militant group inspired by al-Qaeda. The bombings killed 191 people and wounded more than 1800, and the intention of the perpetrators may have been to influence the outcome of the Spanish general election, held three days later. Though initial suspicions focused on the Basque group ETA, evidence soon emerged indicating possible Islamist involvement. Because of the proximity of the election, the issue of responsibility quickly became a political controversy, with the main competing parties PP and PSOE exchanging accusations over the handling of the aftermath. At the 14 March elections, PSOE, led by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, obtained a relative majority, enough to form a new cabinet with Rodríguez Zapatero as the new Presidente del Gobierno or prime minister of Spain, thus succeeding the former PP administration.

Geography Location: Southwestern Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay, Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, and Pyrenees Mountains, southwest of France
Geographic coordinates: 40 00 N, 4 00 W
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 504,782 sq km
land: 499,542 sq km
water: 5,240 sq km
note: there are two autonomous cities – Ceuta and Melilla – and 17 autonomous communities including Balearic Islands and Canary Islands, and three small Spanish possessions off the coast of Morocco – Islas Chafarinas, Penon de Alhucemas, and Penon de Velez de la Gomera
Area – comparative: slightly more than twice the size of Oregon
Land boundaries: total: 1,917.8 km
border countries: Andorra 63.7 km, France 623 km, Gibraltar 1.2 km, Portugal 1,214 km, Morocco (Ceuta) 6.3 km, Morocco (Melilla) 9.6 km
Coastline: 4,964 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm (applies only to the Atlantic Ocean)
Climate: temperate; clear, hot summers in interior, more moderate and cloudy along coast; cloudy, cold winters in interior, partly cloudy and cool along coast
Terrain: large, flat to dissected plateau surrounded by rugged hills; Pyrenees in north
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pico de Teide (Tenerife) on Canary Islands 3,718 m
Natural resources: coal, lignite, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, uranium, tungsten, mercury, pyrites, magnesite, fluorspar, gypsum, sepiolite, kaolin, potash, hydropower, arable land
Land use: arable land: 27.18%
permanent crops: 9.85%
other: 62.97% (2005)
Irrigated land: 37,800 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 111.1 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 37.22 cu km/yr (13%/19%/68%)
per capita: 864 cu m/yr (2002)
Natural hazards: periodic droughts
Environment – current issues: pollution of the Mediterranean Sea from raw sewage and effluents from the offshore production of oil and gas; water quality and quantity nationwide; air pollution; deforestation; desertification
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants
Geography – note: strategic location along approaches to Strait of Gibraltar
Politics Constitution

The Spanish Constitution of 1978 is the culmination of the Spanish transition to democracy.

The constitutional history of Spain dates back to the constitution of 1812. After the death of Francisco Franco in 1975, a general election in 1977 convened the Constituent Cortes (the Spanish Parliament, in its capacity as a constitutional assembly) for the purpose of drafting and approving the constitution of 1978.

As a result, Spain is now composed of 17 autonomous communities and two autonomous cities with varying degrees of autonomy thanks to its Constitution, which nevertheless explicitly states the indivisible unity of the Spanish nation as well as that Spain has today no official religion but all are free to practice and believe as they wish.

Government

Spain is a constitutional monarchy, with a hereditary monarch and a bicameral parliament, the Cortes Generales. The executive branch consists of a Council of Ministers presided over by the President of Government (comparable to a prime minister), proposed by the monarch and elected by the National Assembly following legislative elections.

The legislative branch is made up of the Congress of Deputies (Congreso de los Diputados) with 350 members, elected by popular vote on block lists by proportional representation to serve four-year terms, and a Senate (Senado) with 259 seats of which 208 are directly elected by popular vote and the other 51 appointed by the regional legislatures to also serve four-year terms.

The Spanish nation is organizationally composed in the form of called Estado de las Autonomías (“State of Autonomies”); it is one of the most decentralized countries in Europe, along with Switzerland, Germany and Belgium;[30] for example, all Autonomous Communities have their own elected parliaments, governments, public administrations, budgets, and resources; therefore, health and education systems among others are managed regionally, besides, the Basque Country and Navarre also manage their own public finances based on foral provisions. In Catalonia and the Basque Country, a full fledged autonomous police corps replaces some of the State police functions (see Mossos d’Esquadra and Ertzaintza).

People Population: 40,491,052 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 14.4% (male 3,011,815/female 2,832,788)
15-64 years: 67.6% (male 13,741,493/female 13,641,914)
65 years and over: 17.9% (male 3,031,597/female 4,231,444) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 40.7 years
male: 39.3 years
female: 42.1 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.096% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 9.87 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 9.9 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.99 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.26 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.65 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.85 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.92 years
male: 76.6 years
female: 83.45 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.3 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.7% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 140,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 1,000 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Spaniard(s)
adjective: Spanish
Ethnic groups: composite of Mediterranean and Nordic types
Religions: Roman Catholic 94%, other 6%
Languages: Castilian Spanish (official) 74%, Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, Basque 2%, are official regionally
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.9%
male: 98.7%
female: 97.2% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 16 years
male: 16 years
female: 17 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 4.2% of GDP (2005)

Spratly Islands: The Islands Nation That Isn’t A Nation, So Says China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Spratly Islands

Introduction The Spratly Islands consist of more than 100 small islands or reefs. They are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and potentially by gas and oil deposits. They are claimed in their entirety by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, while portions are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines. About 45 islands are occupied by relatively small numbers of military forces from China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Brunei has established a fishing zone that overlaps a southern reef but has not made any formal claim.
History The first possible recorded human interaction with the Spratly Islands dates back as far as 3 B.C. This is based on the discovery that the people of Nanyue (southern China and northern Vietnam) and Old Champa kingdom fishermen (modern-day central Vietnam) had been visiting the Spratly Islands and other South China Sea Islands for fishing.

Ancient Chinese maps record the Qianli Changsha (千里長沙) and Wanli Shitang (萬里石塘), which China today claims refer to these islands. These islands were labeled as Chinese territory since the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century, followed by the Ming Dynasty. When the Ming Dynasty collapsed, the Qing Dynasty continued to include the territory in maps complied in 1724, 1755, 1767, 1810, 1817 by the Qing Dynasty of China.

Ancient Vietnamese maps record Bãi Cát Vàng (Golden Sandbanks, as claimed today by Vietnam referring to both Paracel and Spratly Islands) which lies near the Coast of the central Vietnam as early as the 17th century. In Phủ Biên Tạp Lục (Frontier Chronicles) by the scholar Le Quy Don, Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa were defined as belonging to Quảng Ngãi District. He described it as where sea products and shipwrecked cargoes were available to be collected. Vietnamese text written in the 17th century referenced government-sponsored economic activities during the Le Dynasty, 200 years earlier. The Vietnamese government conducted several geographical surveys of the islands in the 18th century.

The islands were sporadically visited throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by mariners from different European powers (including either Richard Spratly or William Spratly, after whom the island group derives its most recognizable English name). However, these nations showed little interest in the islands. In 1883, German boats surveyed the Spratly and Paracel Islands but withdrew the survey eventually after receiving protests from the Nguyen Dynasty.

In 1933, France claimed the Spratly and Paracel Islands on behalf of its then-colony Vietnam. It occupied a number of the Spratly Islands, including Itu Aba, built weather stations on two, and administered them as part of French Indochina. This occupation was protested by the Republic of China government because France admitted finding Chinese fishermen there when French war ships visited the nine islands. In 1935, the Chinese government also announced a sovereignty claim on the Spratly Islands. Japan occupied some of the islands in 1939 during World War II, and used the islands as a submarine base for the occupation of Southeast Asia. During the occupation, these islands were called Shinnan Shoto (新南諸島), literally the New Southern Islands, and put under the governance of Taiwan together with the Paracel Islands (西沙群岛). Today, Itu Aba Island is still administrated by the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Following the defeat of Japan at the end of World War II, the Republic of China government (Nationalist) re-claimed the entirety of the Spratly Islands (including Itu Aba), accepting the Japanese surrender on the islands based on the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations. Several years later, the Nationalist Chinese government withdrew from most of the Spratly and Paracel Islands after they were defeated by the forces of the opposing Communist Party of China in 1949.

Japan renounced all claims to the islands in 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, together with the Paracels, Pratas & other islands captured from China, upon which China reasserted its claim to the islands.

The naval units of the Vietnamese government took over in Trường Sa after the defeat of the French at the end of the First Indochina War. In 1958, the People’s Republic of China issued a declaration defining its territorial waters, which encompassed the Spratly Islands. North Vietnam’s prime minister, Pham Van Dong, sent a formal note to Zhou Enlai, stating that “The Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam respects this decision.”. However, the Spratly Islands were under the jurisdiction of South Vietnam, not North Vietnam.

Geography Location: Southeastern Asia, group of reefs and islands in the South China Sea, about two-thirds of the way from southern Vietnam to the southern Philippines
Geographic coordinates: 8 38 N, 111 55 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: less than 5 sq km
land: less than 5 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes 100 or so islets, coral reefs, and sea mounts scattered over an area of nearly 410,000 sq km of the central South China Sea
Area – comparative: NA
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 926 km
Maritime claims: NA
Climate: tropical
Terrain: flat
Elevation extremes: lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Southwest Cay 4 m
Natural resources: fish, guano, undetermined oil and natural gas potential
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
Irrigated land: 0 sq km
Natural hazards: typhoons; numerous reefs and shoals pose a serious maritime hazard
Environment – current issues: NA
Geography – note: strategically located near several primary shipping lanes in the central South China Sea; includes numerous small islands, atolls, shoals, and coral reefs
Politics There are multiple reasons why the neighboring nations would be interested in the Spratly Islands. In 1968 oil was discovered in the region. The Geology and Mineral Resources Ministry of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has estimated that the Spratly area holds oil and natural gas reserves of 17.7 billion tons (1.60 × 1010 kg), as compared to the 13 billion tons (1.17 × 1010 kg) held by Kuwait, placing it as the fourth largest reserve bed in the world. Naturally, these large reserves assisted in intensifying the situation and propelled the territorial claims of the neighboring countries. On 11 March 1976, the first major Philippine oil discovery occurred off the coast of Palawan, within the Spratly Islands territory, and these oil fields now account for fifteen percent of all petroleum consumed in the Philippines. In 1992, the PRC and Vietnam granted oil exploration contracts to U.S. oil companies that covered overlapping areas in the Spratlys. In May 1992, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Crestone Energy (a U.S. company based in Denver, Colorado) signed a cooperation contract for the joint exploration of the Wan’an Bei-21 block, a 25,155 km² section of the southwestern South China Sea that includes Spratly Island areas. Part of the Crestone’s contract covered Vietnam’s blocks 133 and 134, where PetroVietnam and ConocoPhillips Vietnam Exploration & Production, a unit of ConocoPhillips, agreed to evaluate prospects in April 1992. This led to a confrontation between China and Vietnam, with each demanding that the other cancel its contract.

An additional motive is the region’s role as one of the world’s most productive areas for commercial fishing. In 1988, for example, the South China Sea accounted for eight percent of the total world catch, a figure which has certainly risen. The PRC has predicted that the South China Sea holds combined fishing and oil and gas resources worth one trillion dollars. There have already been numerous clashes between the Philippines and other nations — particularly the PRC — over foreign fishing vessels in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the media regularly report the arrest of Chinese fishermen. In 1984, Brunei established an exclusive fishing zone encompassing Louisa Reef in the southern Spratly Islands, but has not publicly claimed the island.

The region is also one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. During the 1980s, at least two hundred and seventy ships passed through the Spratly Islands region each day, and currently more than half of the world’s supertanker traffic, by tonnage, passes through the region’s waters every year. Tanker traffic through the South China Sea is over three times greater than through the Suez Canal and five times more than through the Panama Canal; twenty five percent of the world’s crude oil passes through the South China Sea.

There have been occasional naval clashes over the Spratly Islands. In 1988, China and Vietnam clashed at sea over possession of Johnson Reef in the Spratlys. Chinese gunboats sank Vietnamese transport ships supporting a landing party of Vietnamese soldiers.

In response to growing concerns by coastal states regarding encroachments by foreign vessels on their natural resources, the United Nations convened the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982 to determine the issue of international sea boundaries. In response to these concerns, it was resolved that a coastal state could claim two hundred nautical miles of jurisdiction beyond its land boundaries. However UNCLOS failed to address the issue of how to adjudicate on overlapping claims and so the future of the islands remains clouded.

Following a 1995 dispute between China and the Philippines an ASEAN-brokered agreement was reached between the PRC and ASEAN member nations whereby a nation would inform the others of any military movement within the disputed territory and that there would be no further construction. The agreement was promptly violated by China and Malaysia. Claiming storm damage, seven Chinese naval vessels entered the area to repair “fishing shelters” in Panganiban Reef. Malaysia erected a structure on Investigator Shoal and landed at Rizal Reef. In response the Philippines lodged formal protests, demanded the removal of the structures, increased naval patrols in Kalayaan and issued invitations to American politicians to inspect the PRC bases by plane.

In the early 21st century, the situation is improving. China recently held talks with ASEAN countries aimed at realizing a proposal for a free trade area between the ten countries involved. China and ASEAN also have been engaged in talks to create a code of conduct aimed at easing tensions in the disputed islands. On 5 March 2002, an agreement was reached, setting forth the desire of the claimant nations to resolve the problem of sovereignty “without further use of force”. In November 2002, a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea was signed, easing tensions but falling short of a legally-binding code of conduct.

People Population: no indigenous inhabitants
note: there are scattered garrisons occupied by personnel of several claimant states
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Spratly Islands
Economy Economy – overview: Economic activity is limited to commercial fishing. The proximity to nearby oil- and gas-producing sedimentary basins suggests the potential for oil and gas deposits, but the region is largely unexplored. There are no reliable estimates of potential reserves. Commercial exploitation has yet to be developed.
Transportation Airports: 3 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2007)
Heliports: 3 (2007)
Ports and terminals: none; offshore anchorage only
Military Military – note: Spratly Islands consist of more than 100 small islands or reefs of which about 45 are claimed and occupied by China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: all of the Spratly Islands are claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam; parts of them are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines; in 1984, Brunei established an exclusive fishing zone that encompasses Louisa Reef in the southern Spratly Islands but has not publicly claimed the reef; claimants in November 2002 signed the “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,” which has eased tensions but falls short of a legally binding “code of conduct”; in March 2005, the national oil companies of China, the Philippines, and Vietnam signed a joint accord to conduct marine seismic activities in the Spratly Islands

Taiwan: The Truth Knowledge And History Of This Great Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Taiwan

Introduction In 1895, military defeat forced China to cede Taiwan to Japan. Taiwan reverted to Chinese control after World War II. Following the Communist victory on the mainland in 1949, 2 million Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a government using the 1946 constitution drawn up for all of China. Over the next five decades, the ruling authorities gradually democratized and incorporated the local population within the governing structure. In 2000, Taiwan underwent its first peaceful transfer of power from the Nationalist to the Democratic Progressive Party. Throughout this period, the island prospered and became one of East Asia’s economic “Tigers.” The dominant political issues continue to be the relationship between Taiwan and China – specifically the question of eventual unification – as well as domestic political and economic reform.
History Prehistory and early settlements

Evidence of human settlement in Taiwan dates back thirty thousand years, although the first inhabitants of Taiwan may have been genetically distinct from any groups currently on the island. About four thousand years ago, ancestors of current Taiwanese aborigines settled in Taiwan. These aborigines are genetically related to Malay and Polynesians, and linguists classify their languages as Austronesian. Polynesians are suspected to have ancestry traceable back to Taiwan.

Han Chinese began settling in Penghu in the 1200s, but Taiwan’s hostile tribes and its lack of the trade resources valued in that era rendered it unattractive to all but “occasional adventurers or fishermen engaging in barter” until the sixteenth century.

Records from ancient China indicate that Han Chinese might have known of the existence of the main island of Taiwan since the Three Kingdoms period (third century, 230 A.D.), having assigned offshore islands in the vicinity names like Greater Liuqiu and Lesser Liuqiu (etymologically, but perhaps not semantically, identical to Ryūkyū in Japanese), though none of these names has been definitively matched to the main island of Taiwan. It has been claimed but not verified that the Ming Dynasty admiral Cheng Ho (Zheng He) visited Taiwan between 1403 and 1424.

European settlement

In 1544, a Portuguese ship sighted the main island of Taiwan and dubbed it “Ilha Formosa”, which means “Beautiful Island.” The Portuguese made no attempt to colonize Taiwan.

In 1624, the Dutch established a commercial base on Taiwan and began to import workers from Fujian and Penghu as laborers, many of whom settled. The Dutch made Taiwan a colony with its colonial capital at Tayoan City (present day Anping, Tainan). Both Tayoan and the island name Taiwan derive from a word in Sirayan, one of the Formosan languages.

The Dutch military presence was concentrated at a stronghold called Castle Zeelandia. The Dutch colonists also started to hunt the native Formosan Sika deer (Cervus nippon taioanus) that inhabited Taiwan, contributing to the eventual extinction of the subspecies on the island.

Koxinga and Imperial Chinese rule

Naval and troop forces of Southern Fujian defeated the Dutch in 1662, subsequently expelling the Dutch government and military from the island. They were led by Koxinga. Following the fall of the Ming Dynasty, Koxinga retreated to Taiwan as a self-styled Ming loyalist and established the Kingdom of Tungning (1662–83). Koxinga established his capital at Tainan and he and his heirs, Zheng Jing, who ruled from 1662–82, and Zheng Keshuang, who served less than a year, continued to launch raids on the south-east coast of mainland China well into the Qing Dynasty, attempting to recover the mainland.

In 1683, following the defeat of Koxinga’s grandson by an armada led by Admiral Shi Lang of Southern Fujian, the Qing Dynasty formally annexed Taiwan, placing it under the jurisdiction of Fujian province. The Qing Dynasty government tried to reduce piracy and vagrancy in the area, issuing a series of edicts to manage immigration and respect aboriginal land rights. Immigrants mostly from Southern Fujian continued to enter Taiwan. The border between taxpaying lands and “savage” lands shifted eastward, with some aborigines ‘Sinicizing’ while others retreated into the mountains. During this time, there were a number of conflicts between Chinese from different regions of Southern Fujian, and between Southern Fujian Chinese and aborigines.

Northern Taiwan and the Penghu Islands were the scene of an important subsidiary campaign in the Sino-French War (August 1884 to April 1885). The French occupied Keelung from 1 October 1884 to 22 June 1885 and the Penghu Islands from 31 March to 22 July 1885. A French attempt to capture Tamsui was defeated at the Battle of Tamsui (8 October 1884). Several battles were fought around Keelung between October 1884 and March 1885 between Liu Ming-ch’uan’s Army of Northern Taiwan and Colonel Jacques Duchesne’s Formosa Expeditionary Corps. The Keelung Campaign, despite some notable French tactical victories, ended in a stalemate. The Pescadores Campaign was a French victory, but had no long-term consequences. The French evacuated both Keelung and the Penghu archipelago at the end of the war.

In 1887, the Qing government upgraded Taiwan’s status from prefecture of Fujian to full province, the twentieth in the country, with its capital at Taipei. This was accompanied by a modernization drive that included building Taiwan’s first railroad and starting a postal service.

Japanese rule

Imperial Japan had sought to control Taiwan since 1592, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi began extending Japanese influence overseas. In 1609, the Tokugawa Shogunate sent Arima Harunobu on an exploratory mission. In 1616, Murayama Toan led an unsuccessful invasion of the island.

In 1871, an Okinawan vessel shipwrecked on the southern tip of Taiwan and the crew of fifty-four were beheaded by the Paiwan aborigines. When Japan sought compensation from Qing China, the court rejected the demand on the grounds that the “wild”/”unsubjugated” aboriginals (traditional Chinese: 台灣生番; simplified Chinese: 台湾生番; pinyin: Táiwān shēngfān) were outside its jurisdiction. This open renunciation of sovereignty led to a Japanese invasion of Taiwan. In 1874, an expeditionary force of three thousand troops was sent to the island. There were about thirty Taiwanese and 543 Japanese casualties (twelve in battle and 531 by endemic diseases).

Qing China was defeated in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–95), and ceded Taiwan and Penghu to Japan in perpetuity in the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Inhabitants wishing to remain Chinese subjects were given a two-year grace period to sell their property and remove to mainland China. Very few Taiwanese saw this as feasible.

On May 25, 1895, a group of pro-Qing high officials proclaimed the Republic of Formosa to resist impending Japanese rule. Japanese forces entered the capital at Tainan and quelled this resistance on October 21, 1895.

The Japanese were instrumental in the industrialization of the island; they extended the railroads and other transportation networks, built an extensive sanitation system and revised the public school system. During this period, both rice and sugarcane production greatly increased. At one point, Taiwan was the seventh greatest sugar producer in the world[citation needed]. Still, the ethnic Chinese and Taiwanese aborigines were classified as second- and third-class citizens. Large-scale violence continued in the first decade of rule. Japan launched over 160 battles to destroy Taiwan’s aboriginal tribes during its 51-year rule of the island …’ Around 1935, the Japanese began an island-wide assimilation project to bind the island more firmly to the Japanese Empire. The plan worked very well, to the point that tens of thousands of Taiwanese joined the Japanese army ranks, and fought loyally for them. For example, former ROC President Lee Teng-hui’s elder brother served in the Japanese navy and died while on duty in February 1945 in the Philippines.

Taiwan played a significant part in the system of Japanese prisoner of war camps that extended across South-East Asia between 1942 and 1945.’ Allied POW’s, as well as ‘women and children as young as seven or eight years old,’ were brutally enslaved at various locations like at the copper mine northwest of Keelung, sadistically supervised by Taiwanese and Japanese. ‘… it was found that, while the Japanese were invariably proud to give their name and rank, Taiwanese soldiers and ‘hanchos’ invariably concealed their names … some Taiwanese citizens … were willing participants in war crimes of various degrees of infamy … young males were to an extent highly nipponized; in fact a proportion in the 1930s are reported to have been actively hoping for a Japanese victory in China … One of the most tragic events of the whole Pacific war took place in Kaohsiung. This was the bombing of the prison ship Enoura Maru in Kaohsiung harbour on January 9, 1945.’

The Imperial Japanese Navy operated heavily out of Taiwan. The “South Strike Group” was based out of the Taihoku Imperial University in Taiwan. Many of the Japanese forces participating in the Aerial Battle of Taiwan-Okinawa were based in Taiwan. Important Japanese military bases and industrial centers throughout Taiwan, like Kaohsiung, were targets of heavy American bombing.

By 1945, just before Japan lost World War II, desperate plans were put in place to incorporate popular representation of Taiwan into the Japanese Diet to make Taiwan an integral part of Japan proper.

Japan’s rule of Taiwan ended when it lost World War II and signed the Instrument of Surrender of Japan on August 15, 1945. But the Japanese occupation had long lasting effects on Taiwan and Taiwanese culture. Taiwanese tend to have a more positive view of Japan than other Asians[citation needed]. Significant parts of Taiwanese infrastructure were started under the Japanese rule. The current Presidential Building was also built during that time. In 1938 there were 309,000 Japanese settlers in Taiwan. After World War II, most of the Japanese repatriated to Japan.

Kuomintang martial law period

On October 25, 1945, ROC troops representing the Allied Command accepted the formal surrender of Japanese military forces in Taihoku. The ROC Government, led by Chiang Kai-shek, announced that date as “Taiwan Retrocession Day”. They were greeted as liberators by some Taiwanese, however, most other Taiwanese who fought against China and the allies for the Japanese war machine greeted them reluctantly, this new generation of Chinese arrivals. The ROC under Chen Yi was very unstable and corrupt; it seized the people’s property and set up government monopolies of many industries. Many problems like this, compounded with hyperinflation, unrest due to the Chinese Civil War, and distrust due to political, cultural and linguistic differences between the Taiwanese and the Mainland Chinese, quickly led to the loss of popular support for the new government. This culminated in a series of severe clashes between the ROC government and Taiwanese, in turn leading to the bloody 228 incident and the reign of White Terror.

In 1949, during the Chinese Civil War, the Kuomintang (KMT), led by Chiang Kai-shek, retreated from Mainland China and moved the ROC government from Nanjing (then romanised as “Nanking”) to Taipei, Taiwan’s largest city, while continuing to claim sovereignty over all of China, which the ROC defines to include mainland China, Taiwan, Outer Mongolia as well as other areas. In mainland China, the victorious Communists established the PRC, claiming to be the sole representative of China including Taiwan and portraying the ROC government on Taiwan as an illegitimate entity.

Some 2 million refugees from Mainland China, consisting mainly of soldiers, KMT party members and most importantly the intellectual and business elites fled mainland China and arrived in Taiwan around that time. In addition, as part of its escape from Communists in mainland China, the ROC government relocated to Taiwan with many national treasures including gold reserves and foreign currency reserves. This was often used by the PRC government to explain its economic difficulties and Taiwan’s comparative prosperity. From this period through the 1980s, Taiwan was governed by a party-state dictatorship, with the KMT as the ruling party. Military rule continued and little to no distinction was made between the government and the party, with public property, government property, and party property being interchangeable. Government workers and party members were indistinguishable, with government workers, such as teachers, required to become KMT members, and party workers paid salaries and promised retirement benefits along the lines of government employees. In addition all other parties were outlawed, and political opponents were persecuted, incarcerated, and executed.

Taiwan remained under martial law and one-party rule, under the name of the “Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion”, from 1948 to 1987, when the ROC Presidents Chiang Ching-kuo and Lee Teng-hui gradually liberalized and democratized the system. With the advent of democratization, the issue of the political status of Taiwan has resurfaced as a controversial issue (previously, discussion of anything other than unification under the ROC was taboo).

As the Chinese Civil War continued without truce, the ROC built up military fortification works throughout Taiwan. Within this effort, former KMT soldiers built the now famous Central Cross-Island Highway through the Taroko Gorge in the 1950s. The two sides would remain in a heightened military state well into the 1960’s on the islands on the border with unknown number of night raids and clashes with details that are rarely made public. During the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis in September 1958, Taiwan’s landscape added Nike-Hercules missile batteries with the formation of the 1st Missile Battalion Chinese Army and would not be deactivated until 1997. Newer generations of missile batteries have since replaced the Nike Hercules systems throughout the island.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the ROC began to develop into a prosperous, industrialized developed country with a strong and dynamic economy, becoming one of the Four Asian Tigers while maintaining the authoritarian, single-party government. Because of the Cold War, most Western nations and the United Nations regarded the ROC as the sole legitimate government of China (while being merely the de-facto government on Taiwan) until the 1970s, when most nations began switching recognition to the PRC.

Modern democratic era

Chiang Kai-shek’s eventual successor, his son Chiang Ching-kuo, began to liberalize Taiwan’s political system. In 1984, the younger Chiang selected Lee Teng-hui, a Taiwan-born technocrat, to be his vice president. In 1986, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was formed and inaugurated as the first opposition party in Taiwan to counter the KMT. A year later Chiang Ching-kuo lifted martial law.

After the 1988 death of Chiang Ching-Kuo, his successor as President Lee Teng-hui continued to hand more government authority over to the Taiwan-born and democratize the government. Under Lee, Taiwan underwent a process of localization in which local culture and history was promoted over a pan-China viewpoint. Lee’s reforms included printing banknotes from the Central Bank rather than the Provincial Bank of Taiwan, and disbanding the Taiwan Provincial Government. Under Lee, the original members of the Legislative Yuan and National Assembly, elected in 1947 to represent mainland Chinese constituencies and having taken the seats without re-election for more than four decades, were forced to resign in 1991. Restrictions on the use of Taiwanese in the broadcast media and in schools were lifted as well. During later years of Lee’s administration, he was involved in corruption controversies relating to government release of land and weapons purchase, although no legal proceedings were commenced, as the investigations were interrupted.

In the 1990s, the ROC continued its democratic reforms, as President Lee Teng-hui was elected by the first popular vote held in Taiwan during the 1996 Presidential election. In 2000, Chen Shui-bian of the DPP, was elected as the first non-KMT President and was re-elected to serve his second and last term since 2004. Polarized politics has emerged in Taiwan with the formation of the Pan-Blue Coalition of parties led by the KMT, favoring eventual Chinese reunification, and the Pan-Green Coalition of parties led by the DPP, favoring an eventual and official declaration of Taiwan independence.

On September 30, 2007, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party approved a resolution asserting separate identity from China and called for the enactment of a new constitution for a “normal country”. It also called for general use of “Taiwan” as the island’s name, without abolishing its formal name, the Republic of China. The Chen administration also pushed for referendums on national defense and UN entry in the 2004 and 2008 elections, which failed due to voter turnout below the required legal threshold of 50% of all registered voters. The Chen administration was also dogged by public concern over reduced economic growth, legislative gridlock due to a pan-blue controlled Legislative Yuan, and alleged corruption controversies involving the First Family.

The KMT increased its majority in the Legislative Yuan in the January 2008 legislative elections, while its nominee Ma Ying-jeou went on to win the presidency in March of the same year, campaigning on a platform of increased economic growth, and better ties with Mainland China under a policy of “mutual nondenial”. Ma took office on May 20, 2008.

Geography Location: Eastern Asia, islands bordering the East China Sea, Philippine Sea, South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait, north of the Philippines, off the southeastern coast of China
Geographic coordinates: 23 30 N, 121 00 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 35,980 sq km
land: 32,260 sq km
water: 3,720 sq km
note: includes the Pescadores, Matsu, and Quemoy islands
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Maryland and Delaware combined
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 1,566.3 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; marine; rainy season during southwest monsoon (June to August); cloudiness is persistent and extensive all year
Terrain: eastern two-thirds mostly rugged mountains; flat to gently rolling plains in west
Elevation extremes: lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Yu Shan 3,952 m
Natural resources: small deposits of coal, natural gas, limestone, marble, and asbestos
Land use: arable land: 24%
permanent crops: 1%
other: 75% (2001)
Irrigated land: NA
Total renewable water resources: 67 cu km (2000)
Natural hazards: earthquakes and typhoons
Environment – current issues: air pollution; water pollution from industrial emissions, raw sewage; contamination of drinking water supplies; trade in endangered species; low-level radioactive waste disposal
Environment – international agreements: party to: none of the selected agreements because of Taiwan’s international status
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements because of Taiwan’s international status
Geography – note: strategic location adjacent to both the Taiwan Strait and the Luzon Strait
Politics The ROC is governed under the Constitution of the Republic of China which was drafted in 1947 before the fall of the Chinese mainland to communism and outlined a government for all of China. Significant amendments were made to the Constitution in 1991, and there have been a number of judicial interpretations made to take into account the fact that the Constitution covers a much smaller area than originally envisioned. Previously, the Kuomintang government in Taiwan governed as a one party state, and disallowed the formation of rival parties and many opponents.

Until 1991, the government in Taipei claimed to be the sole legitimate government of all of China, which it defined as including Taiwan, mainland China, and outer Mongolia. In keeping with that claim, when the Kuomintang (KMT) fled to Taipei in 1949, they re-established the full array of central political bodies, which had existed in mainland China in the de jure capital of Nanking. While much of this structure remains in place, the President Lee Teng-hui in 1991 unofficially abandoned the government’s claim of sovereignty over mainland China, stating that they do not “dispute the fact that the Communists control mainland China.” However, the National Assembly has not officially changed the national borders, as doing so may be seen as a prelude to formal Taiwan independence (the People’s Republic of China has threatened to start a war if the government of Taiwan formalizes independence). It should be noted that neither the National Assembly nor the Supreme Court has actually defined what “existing national boundaries,” as stated in the constitution, actually is. The latter refused to do so claiming that it is a “major political issue”.

People Population: 22,920,946 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 17.3% (male 2,057,458/female 1,900,449)
15-64 years: 72.3% (male 8,362,038/female 8,204,834)
65 years and over: 10.5% (male 1,167,476/female 1,228,691) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 36 years
male: 35.5 years
female: 36.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.238% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 8.99 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.65 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.09 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.95 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 5.45 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.75 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.11 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.76 years
male: 74.89 years
female: 80.89 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.13 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Taiwan (singular and plural)
note: example – he or she is from Taiwan; they are from Taiwan
adjective: Taiwan
Ethnic groups: Taiwanese (including Hakka) 84%, mainland Chinese 14%, indigenous 2%
Religions: mixture of Buddhist and Taoist 93%, Christian 4.5%, other 2.5%
Languages: Mandarin Chinese (official), Taiwanese (Min), Hakka dialects
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.1%
male: NA
female: NA (2003)
Education expenditures: NA
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Taiwan
local long form: none
local short form: T’ai-wan
former: Formosa
Government type: multiparty democracy
Capital: name: Taipei
geographic coordinates: 25 03 N, 121 30 E
time difference: UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: includes main island of Taiwan plus smaller islands nearby and off coast of China’s Fujian Province; Taiwan is divided into 18 counties (hsien, singular and plural), 5 municipalities (shih, singular and plural), and 2 special municipalities (chuan-shih, singular and plural)
note: Taiwan uses a variety of romanization systems; while a modified Wade-Giles system still dominates, the city of Taipei has adopted a Pinyin romanization for street and place names within its boundaries; other local authorities use different romanization systems; names for administrative divisions that follow are taken from the Taiwan Yearbook 2007 published by the Government Information Office in Taipei.
counties: Changhua, Chiayi [county], Hsinchu, Hualien, Kaohsiung [county], Kinmen, Lienchiang, Miaoli, Nantou, Penghu, Pingtung, Taichung, Tainan, Taipei [county], Taitung, Taoyuan, Yilan, and Yunlin
municipalities: Chiayi [city], Hsinchu, Keelung, Taichung, Tainan
special municipalities: Kaohsiung [city], Taipei [city]
National holiday: Republic Day (Anniversary of the Chinese Revolution), 10 October (1911)
Constitution: 25 December 1947; amended in 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2005
note: constitution adopted on 25 December 1946; went into effect on 25 December 1947
Legal system: based on civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 20 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President MA Ying-jeou (since 20 May 2008); Vice President Vincent SIEW (since 20 May 2008)
head of government: Premier (President of the Executive Yuan) LIO Chao-shiuan (since 20 May 2008); Vice Premier (Vice President of Executive Yuan) Paul CHIU (CHANG-hsiung) (since 20 May 2008)
cabinet: Executive Yuan – (ministers appointed by president on recommendation of premier)
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 22 March 2008 (next to be held in March 2012); premier appointed by the president; vice premiers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the premier
election results: MA Ying-jeou elected president on 22 March 2008; percent of vote – MA Ying-jeou 58.45%, Frank HSIEH 41.55%; MA Ying-jeou takes office on 20 May 2008
Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Yuan (113 seats – 73 district members elected by popular vote, 34 at-large members elected on basis of proportion of islandwide votes received by participating political parties, 6 elected by popular vote among aboriginal populations; to serve four-year terms); parties must receive 5% of vote to qualify for at-large seats
elections: Legislative Yuan – last held 12 January 2008 (next to be held in January 2012)
election results: Legislative Yuan – percent of vote by party – KMT 53.5%, DPP 38.2%, NPSU 2.4%, PFP 0.3%, others 1.6%, independents 4%; seats by party – KMT 81, DPP 27, NPSU 3, PFP 1, independent 1
Judicial branch: Judicial Yuan (justices appointed by the president with consent of the Legislative Yuan)
Political parties and leaders: Democratic Progressive Party or DPP [TSAI Ing-wen]; Kuomintang or KMT (Nationalist Party) [WU Po-hsiung]; Non-Partisan Solidarity Union or NPSU [CHANG Po-ya]; People First Party or PFP [James SOONG]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Organization for Taiwan Nation Building; World United Formosans for Independence
other: environmental groups; independence movement; various business groups
note: debate on Taiwan independence has become acceptable within the mainstream of domestic politics on Taiwan; political liberalization and the increased representation of opposition parties in Taiwan’s legislature have opened public debate on the island’s national identity; a broad popular consensus has developed that the island currently enjoys sovereign independence and – whatever the ultimate outcome regarding reunification or independence – that Taiwan’s people must have the deciding voice; public opinion polls consistently show a substantial majority of Taiwan people supports maintaining Taiwan’s status quo for the foreseeable future; advocates of Taiwan independence oppose the stand that the island will eventually unify with mainland China; goals of the Taiwan independence movement include establishing a sovereign nation on Taiwan and entering the UN
International organization participation: ADB, APEC, BCIE, ICC, IOC, ITUC, WCL, WFTU, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: none; unofficial commercial and cultural relations with the people of the US are maintained through an unofficial instrumentality, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), which has its headquarters in Taipei and in the US in Washington, DC; there are also branch offices called Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in 12 other US cities
Diplomatic representation from the US: none; unofficial commercial and cultural relations with the people on Taiwan are maintained through an unofficial instrumentality – the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) – which has offices in the US and Taiwan; US office at 1700 N. Moore St., Suite 1700, Arlington, VA 22209-1996, telephone: [1] (703) 525-8474, FAX: [1] (703) 841-1385); Taiwan offices at #7 Lane 134, Hsin Yi Road, Section 3, Taipei, Taiwan, telephone: [886] (2) 2162-2000, FAX: [886] (2) 2162-2251; #2 Chung Cheng 3rd Road, 5th Floor, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, telephone: [886] (7) 238-7744, FAX: [886] (7) 238-5237; and the American Trade Center, Room 3208 International Trade Building, Taipei World Trade Center, 333 Keelung Road Section 1, Taipei, Taiwan 10548, telephone: [886] (2) 2720-1550, FAX: [886] (2) 2757-7162
Flag description: red field with a dark blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a white sun with 12 triangular rays
Culture The cultures of Taiwan are a hybrid blend of Confucianist Han Chinese cultures, Japanese, European, American, global, local and indigenous influences which are both interlocked and divided between perceptions of tradition and modernity (Harrell/Huang 1994:1-5).

After the retreat to Taiwan, the Nationalists promoted an official interpretation of traditional Chinese culture over the local Taiwanese cultures. The government launched a program promoting Chinese calligraphy, traditional Chinese painting, folk art, and Chinese opera.

Since the Taiwan localization movement of the 1990s, Taiwan’s cultural identity has been allowed greater expression. Identity politics, along with the over one hundred years of political separation from mainland China has led to distinct traditions in many areas, including cuisine, opera, and music.

The status of Taiwanese culture is debated. It is disputed whether Taiwanese culture is part of Chinese culture or a distinct culture. Speaking Taiwanese as a symbol of the localization movement has become an emblem of Taiwanese identity.

One of Taiwan’s greatest attractions is the National Palace Museum, which houses more than 650,000 pieces of Chinese bronze, jade, calligraphy, painting and porcelain. The KMT moved this collection from the Forbidden City in Beijing in 1949 when it fled to Taiwan. The collection, estimated to be one-tenth of China’s cultural treasures, is so extensive that only 1% is on display at any time.

Popular sports in Taiwan include basketball and baseball. Cheerleading performances and billiards are quite fashionable. Badminton is also common.

Karaoke, drawn from contemporary Japanese culture, is extremely popular in Taiwan, where it is known as KTV.

Taiwan has a high density of 24-hour convenience stores, which in addition to the usual services, provide services on behalf of financial institutions or government agencies such as collection of parking fees, utility bills, traffic violation fines, and credit card payments.

Taiwanese culture has also influenced other cultures. Bubble tea and milk tea are available in Australia, Europe and North America. Taiwanese films have won various international awards at film festivals around the world. Ang Lee, a native of Taiwan, has directed critically acclaimed films such as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Eat Drink Man Woman, Sense and Sensibility, Brokeback Mountain, and Lust, Caution

Economy Economy – overview: Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy with gradually decreasing guidance of investment and foreign trade by the authorities. In keeping with this trend, some large, state-owned banks and industrial firms are being privatized. Exports have provided the primary impetus for industrialization. The island runs a large trade surplus, and its foreign reserves are among the world’s largest. Despite restrictions on cross-strait links, China has overtaken the US to become Taiwan’s largest export market and its second-largest source of imports after Japan. China is also the island’s number one destination for foreign direct investment. Strong trade performance in 2007 pushed Taiwan’s GDP growth rate above 5%, and unemployment is below 4%.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $698.6 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $383.3 billion (2007 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 5.7% (2007 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $30,100 (2007 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 1.4%
industry: 27.5%
services: 71.1% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 10.71 million (2007 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 5.3%
industry: 36.8%
services: 57.9% (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate: 3.9% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line: 0.95% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 6.7%
highest 10%: 41.1% (2002 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 21.2% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $76.2 billion
expenditures: $75.65 billion (2007 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 27.9% of GDP (2007 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.8% (2007 est.)
Central bank discount rate: NA
Commercial bank prime lending rate: NA
Stock of money: NA
Stock of quasi money: NA
Stock of domestic credit: NA
Agriculture – products: rice, corn, vegetables, fruit, tea; pigs, poultry, beef, milk; fish
Industries: electronics, petroleum refining, armaments, chemicals, textiles, iron and steel, machinery, cement, food processing, vehicles, consumer products, pharmaceuticals
Industrial production growth rate: 9.2% (2007 est.)
Electricity – production: 216.6 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 208.7 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 71.4%
hydro: 6%
nuclear: 22.6%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 10,600 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 950,500 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 289,200 bbl/day (2006)
Oil – imports: 1.208 million bbl/day (2006)
Oil – proved reserves: 2.38 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 400 million cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 11.3 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 10.9 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 6.229 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: $32.88 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $246.5 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports – commodities: electronic and electrical products, metals, textiles, plastics, chemicals, auto parts (2002)
Exports – partners: China 32.6%, US 12.9%, Hong Kong 8.6%, Japan 6.4%, Singapore 5% (2007)
Imports: $215.1 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports – commodities: electronic and electrical products, machinery, petroleum, precision instruments, organic chemicals, metals (2002)
Imports – partners: Japan 22.7%, US 13.3%, China 11.2%, South Korea 6.6%, Saudi Arabia 4.8%, Singapore 4.6% (2007)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $275 billion (31 December 2007)
Debt – external: $97.85 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $92.83 billion (2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $108.9 billion (2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $654 billion (28 December 2007)
Currency (code): New Taiwan dollar (TWD)
Currency code: TWD
Exchange rates: New Taiwan dollars (TWD) per US dollar – 32.84 (2007), 32.534 (2006), 31.71 (2005), 34.418 (2004), 34.575 (2003)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 14.313 million (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 24.302 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: provides telecommunications service for every business and private need
domestic: thoroughly modern; completely digitalized
international: country code – 886; numerous submarine cables provide links throughout Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe, and the US; satellite earth stations – 2
Radio broadcast stations: AM 140, FM 229, shortwave 49
Radios: 16 million (1994)
Television broadcast stations: 76 (46 digital and 30 analog) (2007)
Televisions: 8.8 million (1998)
Internet country code: .tw
Internet hosts: 5.225 million (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 8 (2000)
Internet users: 14.76 million (2007)
Transportation Airports: 41 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 38
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 3 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2007)
Heliports: 4 (2007)
Pipelines: condensate 25 km; gas 661 km (2007)
Railways: total: 1,588 km
standard gauge: 345 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 1,093 km 1.067-m gauge
note: 150 km .762-m gauge (belonging primarily to Taiwan Sugar Corporation and Taiwan Forestry Bureau; some to other entities) (2007)
Roadways: total: 40,262 km
paved: 38,171 km (includes 976 km of expressways)
unpaved: 2,091 km (2007)
Merchant marine: total: 102
by type: bulk carrier 32, cargo 19, chemical tanker 1, container 24, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 14, refrigerated cargo 7, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 3 (Canada 2, France 1)
registered in other countries: 536 (Bolivia 1, Cambodia 1, Honduras 2, Hong Kong 11, Indonesia 2, Italy 13, Kiribati 5, Liberia 91, Marshall Islands 1, Panama 320, Philippines 1, Sierra Leone 1, Singapore 72, Thailand 1, UK 11, unknown 3) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Chilung (Keelung), Kaohsiung, Taichung
Military Military branches: Army, Navy (includes Marine Corps), Air Force, Coast Guard Administration, Armed Forces Reserve Command, Combined Service Forces Command, Armed Forces Police Command
Military service age and obligation: 19-35 years of age for male compulsory military service; service obligation 14 months (reducing to 1 year in 2009) year; women may enlist; women in Air Force service are restricted to noncombat roles; reserve obligation to age 30 (Army); the Ministry of Defense has announced plans to implement an incremental voluntary enlistment system beginning 2010, with 10% fewer conscripts each year thereafter, although nonvolunteers will still be required to perform alternative service or go through 3-4 months of military training (2008)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 6,283,134
females age 16-49: 6,098,599 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 5,112,737
females age 16-49: 5,036,346 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 164,883
female: 152,085 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 2.2% of GDP (2006)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: involved in complex dispute with China, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei over the Spratly Islands; the 2002 “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea” has eased tensions but falls short of a legally binding “code of conduct” desired by several of the disputants; Paracel Islands are occupied by China, but claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam; in 2003, China and Taiwan became more vocal in rejecting both Japan’s claims to the uninhabited islands of the Senkaku-shoto (Diaoyu Tai) and Japan’s unilaterally declared exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea where all parties engage in hydrocarbon prospecting
Illicit drugs: regional transit point for heroin, methamphetamine, and precursor chemicals; transshipment point for drugs to Japan; major problem with domestic consumption of methamphetamine and heroin; rising problems with use of ketamine and club drugs

Shanghai action plan to promote local culture

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWSPAPER ‘SHINE’)

 

Shanghai action plan to promote local culture

Shanghai Select

Shanghai has put in place a three-year action plan to develop the city into an international cultural metropolis by shaping the city’s rich culture and promoting it worldwide.

The city will encourage more original Shanghai creations, and pave the way for more cultural products to be displayed and promoted nationwide and worldwide.

With its rich culture, Shanghai will dig deep into its past like the traditional culture that is rooted in the region, “red culture” as the birthplace of the Communist Party of China, and as a pioneering city for reform and opening-up that started in the late 1970s.

It will offer more support to artistic talent, companies promoting arts and culture, and developing innovative ideas in the city.

The city also hopes to become a platform to stage art premieres and cultural exchanges.

For example, along with the development of Free Trade Zone, Shanghai will open its market completely for performances, video games, entertainment venues and printing.

It will set up cooperation mechanisms and develop alliances with countries along the Belt and Road for art and film festivals, art galleries, museums, music creation and performances, and intangible cultural heritage protection.

In addition, reforms will be carried out in some time-honored cultural platforms, Hu Jinjun, an official with the city government.

For example, the Shanghai Spring Music Festival will get more support in promoting ethnic music in China, discover Chinese musical talent worldwide, and spearhead the growth of art performances overseas.

Shanghai Select

China: Technology adds eyes and ears to old building preservation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS PAPER ‘SHINE’)

 

Technology adds eyes and ears to old building preservation

Toward a people-friendly environment

Li Qian / SHINE

Local officials use a drone to check the condition of historical buildings in the Yuhua Xincun neighborhood in Jing’an District.

Li Qian / SHINE

Sensors have been installed on historical buildings to detect any illegal construction activity.

Officials in downtown Jing’an District are tapping into modern technology to save the old.

Jing’ansi, a subdistrict with many historical buildings, has installed sensors on old buildings to hear disruptions and uses surveillance drones as eyes to ensure that heritage is protected.

Stretching over 1.57 square kilometers — from Fumin and Changde roads in the east, Zhenning Road (west), Changle Road (south) and Xinzha Road (north), about 85 percent of the area features more than 370 landmark structures and is part of the city’s protected historic and cultural zone.

It’s not an easy task to preserve historical buildings when they are inhabited by people, according to Hong Xuegang, deputy director of the subdistrict.

“Owners often move out and rent their units,” he said. “When we need to have documents signed related to maintenance or renovation, or to gain access for inspections, we can’t always find the owners easily.”

One concern is illegal construction that damages the original heritage of a building. Officials can’t just barge their way into an apartment if they get a tip about possible violations but have no direct proof.

Now, historic buildings can speak for themselves.

Since last November, the subdistrict has installed nearly 300 sensors on the facades of 37 historic buildings. Each sensor is the size of two matchboxes and is connected to a big data analytics platform.

Alerts are triggered if vibrations in a building are detected.

“Officials will rush to check whether the alarms signal illegal construction or other violations,” said Hong.

So far, community officials have intervened in 23 valid alerts, arriving in time to prevent damage to buildings.

In addition to the sensors, there are two drones that fly over the historic buildings as part of routine patrols. They can capture and record violations.

“We often can’t just step into residents’ gardens or climb up to rooftops,” Hong said. “The drones do surveillance for us and can provide photographic evidence of violations.”

In one recent example, local officials learned of construction going on inside a protected building. When they went to check, the owner said he was just repairing a leaking roof.

Drones were flown overhead to take photos. By comparing the pictures with archived plans of the building, officials were able to ascertain that the owner wasn’t destroying a heritage roof.

Hong admitted that some people fear loss of privacy when drones are used in surveillance.

“Indeed, there are some concerns,” he said. “We don’t fly drones close to people’s windows. We always use drone operators who are trained and licensed.”

Sensors and drones may be high-tech “eyes” on old buildings, but local residents are still the gatekeepers. Neighborhood volunteers patrol around the buildings daily to ensure that violations like illegal construction don’t occur.

“Previously, many residents weren’t aware that they were living in a building of historical importance,” Hong said. “But now they know, and they clearly value their homes even more.”

Shi Xianghong, 61, is one of the more than 10 volunteers who keep an eye on illegal construction. The volunteer team was set up more than a year ago and has proved to be a success.

“I have lived in Yuhua Xincun neighborhood for more than 30 years, and love the historical buildings and the nostalgic ambience here,” she said.

“Some of my neighbors have rented out their units to others who don’t value the historical facades and the old interior decorations. They like modern decoration and replace the old with new.”

“Once we found iron rods in the lane and we reported it to the authorities. On investigation, they found that the tenant was preparing to build an attic without getting approval. We helped to prevent it,” she said.

Jing’an has three protected historical and cultural zones, and 265 immovable cultural heritage objects.

“At present, work to protect these relics isn’t perfected,” said district director Lu Xiaodong. “We have to pay more attention to preventive measures instead of just relying on rescue efforts in the aftermath.”

In March, Shanghai’s first district-level government body on cultural-relic protection was set up. The Jing’an Cultural Relics Protection Management Center is responsible for collecting and storing archives, making identification cards for historic buildings and repairing heritage structures.

This year, 170 historic buildings in Zhangyuan Garden will be given ID cards that provide information on their age, history and condition. Work on Jing’an Villa, Anlefang and Garden Apartment will start in coming months.

The district is also tapping the memories of older residents to record the history of old buildings and neighborhoods.

The Jiangning Road Subdistrict compiled a book based on interviews with local residents. It included 37 paintings of 24 missing or surviving iconic spots.

The Shimen Road No. 2 Sub-district collected family treasures from residents and displayed them in the city’s first museum of lane house heritage.

Taiwan’s law on language show China what it means to be a modern, inclusive country

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF QUARTZ INDIA)

 

Taiwan’s laws on language are showing China what it means to be a modern, inclusive country

OBSESSION

Language

May 09, 2018

Taiwan was once considered an economic miracle. Now economic progress there has slowed to a halt as China, Taiwan’s imposing neighbor, grows bigger by the day.

But in terms of social progress, Taiwan is decades ahead—showing people in China that a modern, multicultural, and tolerant Chinese society is possible.

Consider the difference between Taiwan and China’s language policies. Legislators in Taiwan are preparing to redefine what constitutes a “national language.” If the new definition is enacted, which is likely, Taiwanese—the local variant of the Minnan language of southern China—will receive equal treatment with Mandarin. That would be unthinkable in China, where Mandarin’s status as the sole standard language is absolute.

The Taiwanese language is everywhere in Taiwan. It is spoken at home by over 80% of the population. Would-be politicians feel the need to campaign in Taiwanese in order to win elections. Yet it has not been given the status of a national language. That is in part because the language has endured long periods of inequity relative to Mandarin, even in Taiwan. When the Kuomintang party arrived on the island in the 1940s, fleeing its losing battle with the Chinese communists, it banned the use of Taiwanese in schools and in the media, declaring that Mandarin should be the language of the island.

The new rule would change that, expanding on a separate act passed last year that gave several indigenous languages “national” status. Areas with large populations that speak Taiwanese will be allowed to use them in official documents and legal affairs. And the government will have an obligation to teach Taiwanese and the indigenous languages as part of the standard, 12-year curriculum, as well as to develop writing systems and dictionaries in those languages.

That level of commitment to minority languages would be impressive even for a Western country. In the United States, for example, it is hard to find national efforts to support any language other than English. But more than anything, the new rule reveals the growing cultural distance between Taiwan and China, and how much Taiwan has developed socially.

China doesn’t like the Minnan that can be heard in shops and food stalls across Taiwan. It considers Minnan, or Taiwanese, the language of the Taiwan independence movement. The prospect of possible retaliation from Beijing has long delayed Taiwan from giving the language a more official status.

China’s policies on minority languages, meanwhile, are stuck in the 20th century. Linguistically, China is extremely diverse. It is home to at least 100 distinct languages. Yet the Chinese government’s policy is based on the Stalinist assertion that a nation must have a single shared language, and that everyone in the nation must speak it. “A national community is inconceivable without a common language,” Stalin wrotein 1913. In 2000, China enacted a law to that effect, establishing putonghua—or “common speech,” as Mandarin is called in China—as the sole national language for the “unification of the country.” That means that Mandarin should come before all other languages.

The official rules in China don’t ban minority languages. And the same law that established Mandarin as the national language states that citizens “shall have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages.”

But in many cases, the Communist Party perceives minority languages as being in conflict with higher-priority concerns, such as the nationwide promotion of Mandarin, national sovereignty, and cultural unification of the kind that Stalin advocated.

“If you promote the use of those [minority] languages in public domains, then the government might have a different view,” says Minglang Zhou, a professor at the University of Maryland who studies minority language policy in China. “They think that threatens the use of putonghua, and citizens’ identification with the Chinese nation.”

The Tibetan language is a good example of how these priorities shake out in practice.

“If you look at Tibetan, you can see this gradual shift from using Tibetan for instruction in classrooms to using Chinese,” Zhou adds. This is mostly the result of the 2000 language law. China might allow minority groups to develop their own languages, but the national effort is focused on getting 80% of citizens speaking Mandarin.

The two goals can be mutually exclusive. Mandarin-speaking teachers are sent to areas where Chinese is not spoken as well, and where they might not be able to speak the local language. The result is that in Tibet, the local language is, at best, relegated to a language class, and not used as the medium of instruction.

In addition to challenging the primacy of Mandarin, the party views the Tibetan language as a threat to Chinese sovereignty and identification with the nation of China. It doesn’t want citizens seeing themselves as Tibetans first. A strong Tibetan language movement might bring that about. China may claim that minorities have the right to develop their languages, but it also put on trial an activist who wanted more Tibetan in schools, accusing him of “inciting separatism.”

Essentially, China is not concerned with making minority languages more frequently spoken. It wants them to be preserved as interesting bits of Chinese history, like artifacts in a museum.

Therein lies the difference with Taiwan. Giving Taiwanese equal status will allow the language to thrive in everyday life, whether in schools, official documents, or popular media. It is not meant to be a historical artifact. If Mandarin is preferred in some setting, it will be because it is a common language, not because it has been deemed so from on high.

Taiwan has had enough time being governed independently from China to develop its own identity. The renewed emphasis on the Taiwanese language is one symptom of that. At the same time, its language policies show how Taiwan has developed into a pluralistic democracy, even as China moves in the opposite direction, toward greater unification. Taiwan’s renewed promotion of indigenous languages tries to reckon with historical injustices, even as China arrests Tibetan language activists. Last year, Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage as China shut down a popular lesbian dating app.

In addition to being an act of pluralism, Taiwan’s proposed language law probably has political motivations. It sends a message to China that Taiwan does not need, or want, to abide by Beijing’s rules. But it also shows people in China that top-down unification is not the only way to govern an ethnically and linguistically diverse country where Mandarin is the lingua franca.

California Now Has a Bigger Economy Than the United Kingdom

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

By JONATHAN J. COOPER / AP

May 5, 2018

(SACRAMENTO) — California’s economy has surpassed that of the United Kingdom to become the world’s fifth largest, according to new federal data made public Friday.

California’s gross domestic product rose by $127 billion from 2016 to 2017, surpassing $2.7 trillion, the data said. Meanwhile, the UK’s economic output slightly shrunk over that time when measured in U.S. dollars, due in part to exchange rate fluctuations.

The data demonstrate the sheer immensity of California’s economy, home to nearly 40 million people, a thriving technology sector in Silicon Valley, the world’s entertainment capital in Hollywood and the nation’s salad bowl in the Central Valley agricultural heartland. It also reflects a substantial turnaround since the Great Recession.

“We have the entrepreneurial spirit in the state, and that attracts a lot of talent and money,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University Channel Islands. “And that’s why, despite high taxes and cumbersome government regulations, more people are coming into the state to join the parade.”

All economic sectors except agriculture contributed to California’s higher GDP, said Irena Asmundson, chief economist at the California Department of Finance. Financial services and real estate led the pack at $26 billion in growth, followed by the information sector, which includes many technology companies, at $20 billion. Manufacturing was up $10 billion.

California last had the world’s fifth largest economy in 2002 but fell as low as 10th in 2012 following the Great Recession. Since then, the largest U.S. state has added 2 million jobs and grown its GDP by $700 billion.

California’s economic output is now surpassed only by the total GDP of the United States, China, Japan and Germany. The state has 12 percent of the U.S. population but contributed 16 percent of the country’s job growth between 2012 and 2017. Its share of the national economy also grew from 12.8 percent to 14.2 percent over that five-year period, according to state economists.

California’s strong economic performance relative to other industrialized economies is driven by worker productivity, said Lee Ohanian, an economics professor at University of California, Los Angeles and director of UCLA’s Ettinger Family Program in Macroeconomic Research. The United Kingdom has 25 million more people than California but now has a smaller GDP, he said.

California’s economic juggernaut is concentrated in coastal metropolises around San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.

“The non-coastal areas of CA have not generated nearly as much economic growth as the coastal areas,” Ohanian said in an email.

The state calculates California’s economic ranking as if it were a country by comparing state-level GDP from the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the U.S. Department of Commerce with global data from the International Monetary Fund.

 

Tibetan Medical Technology Ancient And Current Genius

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News)

Technology boosts medical practice in Tibetan hospitals

SEED germinators and western medical equipment are no longer novelties in Tibetan hospitals, as researchers and doctors become increasingly technologically adept.

Tashi Tsering with the Biological Research Institute of Tibetan Medicine at Lhasa’s Men-Tsee-Khang — a traditional Tibetan hospital founded in 1916 — has been growing meconopsis aculeata under controlled conditions for six years.

A rare member of the poppy family, the flowering plant grows only at high altitude and is used in 257 traditional remedies, principally for liver complaints.

As global warming pushes the snow line upward, the plant’s habitat has shifted from 3,000-4,000 meters above sea level to 5,000. This, coupled with a growing demand, has resulted in even greater scarcity, Tsering said.

He and his team surveyed 37 counties in Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Tibet and Yunnan before their first attempt to cultivate the plant.

“We scored zero on our first try,” he said. No seeds sprouted in 2011 at the test site in Lhasa, despite the light, temperature, moisture and soil having been meticulously controlled to simulate the natural habitat.

In the second year, the germination rate rose to 17 percent. In 2015, the team harvested their own seeds for the first time and this year almost 90 percent of them sprouted. Despite the achievement, it is too early to begin celebrations until technical assessment and lab tests confirm the reliability of the home-grown product.

Traditionally, Tibetan medical practitioners spent years learning to gather herbs, with instructions so sophisticated that they had to memorize which part of each herb to pick under which weather and seasonal conditions and at which time.

The institute has grown 27 endangered herbs in artificial conditions over the past decade and a new laboratory now houses a variety of equipment including germinators, climate incubators, soil testers and imaging systems.

“To meet the rising demand for Tibetan medicine, artificial cultivation of medicinal herbs is a must,” Tsering said.

Tibetan medicine’s influence is expanding beyond the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

For example, An’erning granules, a remedy for the common cold in children and approved by the State Food and Drug Administration, is a leading pediatric patent medicine nationwide.

Considered incurable

Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, considered incurable in western medicine, is claimed to be 94 percent successful in the Arura Hospital in Xining where Tibetan doctors use a holistic approach including medicated bathing, special diets and psychology.

Konchok Gyaltsen, honorary president of the hospital, believes it is the combination of philosophy and herbalism that creates and maintains a healthy mind and body.

Dorje, director of the Qinghai Provincial Tibetan Medicine Research Institute, argues that Tibetan medicine was advanced even in ancient times, with Tibetan physicians performing brain and cataract surgery 1,000 years before their western counterparts. At the Qinghai Tibetan Culture Museum in Xining, dozens of surgical instruments used 1,300 years ago are on display.

Tibetan Medical Technology Ancient And Current Genius

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News)

Technology boosts medical practice in Tibetan hospitals

SEED germinators and western medical equipment are no longer novelties in Tibetan hospitals, as researchers and doctors become increasingly technologically adept.

Tashi Tsering with the Biological Research Institute of Tibetan Medicine at Lhasa’s Men-Tsee-Khang — a traditional Tibetan hospital founded in 1916 — has been growing meconopsis aculeata under controlled conditions for six years.

A rare member of the poppy family, the flowering plant grows only at high altitude and is used in 257 traditional remedies, principally for liver complaints.

As global warming pushes the snowline upward, the plant’s habitat has shifted from 3,000-4,000 meters above sea level to 5,000. This, coupled with a growing demand, has resulted in even greater scarcity, Tsering said.

He and his team surveyed 37 counties in Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Tibet and Yunnan before their first attempt to cultivate the plant.

“We scored zero on our first try,” he said. No seeds sprouted in 2011 at the test site in Lhasa, despite the light, temperature, moisture and soil having been meticulously controlled to simulate the natural habitat.

In the second year, the germination rate rose to 17 percent. In 2015, the team harvested their own seeds for the first time and this year almost 90 percent of them sprouted. Despite the achievement, it is too early to begin celebrations until technical assessment and lab tests confirm the reliability of the home-grown product.

Traditionally, Tibetan medical practitioners spent years learning to gather herbs, with instructions so sophisticated that they had to memorize which part of each herb to pick under which weather and seasonal conditions and at which time.

The institute has grown 27 endangered herbs in artificial conditions over the past decade and a new laboratory now houses a variety of equipment including germinators, climate incubators, soil testers and imaging systems.

“To meet the rising demand for Tibetan medicine, artificial cultivation of medicinal herbs is a must,” Tsering said.

Tibetan medicine’s influence is expanding beyond the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

For example, An’erning granules, a remedy for the common cold in children and approved by the State Food and Drug Administration, is a leading pediatric patent medicine nationwide.

Considered incurable

Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, considered incurable in western medicine, is claimed to be 94 percent successful in the Arura Hospital in Xining where Tibetan doctors use a holistic approach including medicated bathing, special diets and psychology.

Konchok Gyaltsen, honorary president of the hospital, believes it is the combination of philosophy and herbalism that creates and maintains a healthy mind and body.

Dorje, director of the Qinghai Provincial Tibetan Medicine Research Institute, argues that Tibetan medicine was advanced even in ancient times, with Tibetan physicians performing brain and cataract surgery 1,000 years before their western counterparts. At the Qinghai Tibetan Culture Museum in Xining, dozens of surgical instruments used 1,300 years ago are on display.