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President of the Republic of China
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President of the Republic of China

The President of the Republic of China (中華民國總統) is the head of state of the Republic of China, the government which administered Mainland China from 1912 to 1949 and has administered Taiwan and several outlying islands from 1945 until the present.

Outside of Taiwan, the President of the ROC is commonly referred to as the "President of Taiwan" (台灣總統). This usage is actually rather uncommon on Taiwan itself, as members of the pan-blue coalition dislike the term because it implies separation from the concept of China, while members of the pan-green coalition, even those who support Taiwan independence, generally regard calling the office President of Taiwan needlessly provocative. For its part, the People's Republic of China refuses to formally recognize the office as president at all, and in official statements the PRC either places the term president in quotess or more commonly refers to the office holder as leader of the Taiwan authorities.

The President is currently selected by a first past the post direct election of the areas administered by the Republic of China for a term of four years. Before 1991, the President was selected by the National Assembly of the Republic of China for a term of six years.

Until the 1980s power in the Republic of China was personalized rather than institutionalized which meant that the power of the President depended largely on who occupied the office. For example, during the tenure of Yen Chia-kan, the office was largely ceremonial with real power in the hands of the Premier of the Republic of China, Chiang Ching-Kuo, and power switched back to the presidency when Chiang became President.

After 2000, and the election of Chen Shui-bian to the Presidency, the Presidency and the Legislative Yuan were controlled by different parties which brought forth a number of latent constitutional issues such as the role of the legislature in appointing and dismissing a Premier, the right of the President to call a special session of the legislature, and who has the power to call a referendum. Most of these issues have been resolved through inter-party negotiations.

List of Presidents

President Begin End Party Terms
Chiang Kai-Shek May 20, 1948 January 21, 1949 KMT Elected 1-5
Li Tsung-jen January 21, 1949 March 1, 1950 KMT Acting
Chiang Kai-Shek March 1, 1950 April 5, 1975 KMT see above
Yen Chia-kan April 5, 1975 May 20, 1978 KMT Finished 5
Chiang Ching-kuo May 20, 1978 January 13, 1988 KMT Elected 6-7
Lee Teng-hui January 13, 1988 May 20, 2000 KMT Finished 7; Elected 8-9
Chen Shui-bian May 20, 2000 incumbent DPP Elected 10-11

For Presidents before the enactment of the 1947 Constitution, see list of leaders of the Republic of China


Diplomatic Protocol

The diplomatic protocol regarding the ROC President is rather complex because of the anomalous
political status of Taiwan. In the two dozen or so nations which recognize the ROC as a legitimate government, he is accorded the standard treatment that is given to a head of state. In other nations, he is formally a private citizen, although even in these cases, travel usually meets with strong objections from the People's Republic of China.

In the case of the United States, the ROC President has travelled several times, formally in transit to and from Central America, which contains a number of nations which do recognize the ROC. This system allows the ROC President to visit the United States without the State Department having to issue a visa. During these trips, the ROC President is not formally treated as a head of state, does not meet officially with U.S. government officials, and does not visit Washington D.C.

In the case of southeast Asia, the ROC President was able to arrange visits in the early 1990's which were formally private tourist visits, however these have become increasingly infrequent as a result of PRC pressure.

See also

External links