Stage theory

Four-Stage Theory of the Republic of China

The Four-Stage Theory of the Republic of China (Taiwan) or the Theory of the Four Stages of the Republic of China (Taiwan) is a controversial viewpoint proposed by Chen Shui-bian, the previous (10th and 11th terms) President of the Republic of China. It is a controversial viewpoint regarding the political status of the Republic of China, which retreated to Taiwan after the Chinese Civil War in 1949. The main idea of the theory is that the time line for the development of the Republic of China can be classified into four stages, which are:

  1. The Republic of China on the mainland. (Chinese: 中華民國在大陸) (1912 - 1949)
  2. The Republic of China arrival to Taiwan. (Chinese: 中華民國來臺灣) (1945-1949)
  3. The Republic of China on Taiwan. (Chinese: 中華民國在臺灣) (1949 onwards)
  4. The Republic of China is Taiwan. (Chinese: 中華民國是臺灣) (under dispute)

By this theory, Chen pointed out that the Republic of China is now at the 4th stage. That is, Taiwan is an already independent state separated from mainland China, and is called the "Republic of China". This theory is welcomed by the mainstream of the Pan-green coalition (Democratic Progressive Party) in Taiwan, which supports eventual de jure Taiwan independence; but is not welcomed by most members of the Pan-blue coalition (Kuomintang), which supports eventual reunifying Taiwan with mainland China as part of a single Chinese nation. Some members of the more strongly pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union also opposes this view since they deem the ROC to be an illegitimate foreign regime that should be replaced by the proposed 'Republic of Taiwan'. The Pan-Blue Coalition agrees with the first three stages, but disagrees with the fourth stage, and prefers to maintain the distinction between the "Republic of China" (the polity) and "Taiwan" (part of the territory the polity governs). The government of the People's Republic of China has also voiced opposition against fourth stage on the grounds that such an interpretation is a step closer to de jure Taiwan independence. (Officially, the PRC only recognizes the existence of the ROC until 1949.)

During the Kuomintang (KMT) administration under Lee Teng-hui, the government frequently referred to the polity as the "Republic of China on Taiwan." The previous President Chen Shui-bian directed that all government publications and websites to use the form "Republic of China (Taiwan)." These two variations have been used under their respective administrations for the ROC petition to join the United Nations. Unlike the Cold War era when the ROC competed with the PRC as the legitimate representative of China (including Taiwan), during Chen Shui-bian's presidency, the ROC did not seek to be the representative of China (i.e. it does not seek the PRC's seat on the Security Council or its ouster) and stresses in its petitions that it was only seeking to represent the people of the land under its effective control.

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