The following is a basic guide to terms, people, and places used in this site and throughout cross-Strait literature.
Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) – The People's Republic of China's quasi-governmental organization through which the PRC has formally engaged in cross-Strait contact with its Taiwan counterpart, the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF). Founded on December 16, 1991.
Beijing – Capital of the People's Republic of China. First established as a capital city by King Wu in 1057 B.C., and subsequently known as Ji, Zhongdu, and Dadu. Finally named Beijing in 1421 by Ming Dynasty Emperor Cheng Zu; known by the Western world as Peking prior to 1949.
Chen Shui-bian – Former president of the Republic of China on Taiwan, representing the Democratic Progressive Party. His election in 2000 marked the first peaceful transfer of power to another political party in the history of ethnic Chinese communities. He was reelected amid controversy in 2004.
Chiang Ching-kuo – Son of Chiang Kai-Shek and president of the Republic of China on Taiwan from 1975 to his death in 1988.
Chiang Kai-Shek – Generalissimo and leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) following the death of Sun Yat-sen. Sent to study in the Soviet Union by Sun-Yatsen and leader of the Whampoa Military Academy after his return. After leading the Northern Expedition, a military campaign that battled against the local warlords, he established the Nationalist government in 1928 and fought for control of China for the next twenty years against warlords, the Japanese, and the Communists. President of the Republic of China on Taiwan from 1948 until his death in 1975.
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – The ruling party of the People's Republic of China. Established July 21, 1921 in Shanghai.
Chinese Taipei – The official name used by Taiwan and accepted by Beijing when the island participates in non-official international activities, including the Olympics, the Asian Development Bank, and the World Trade Organization.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) – The current ruling party in Taiwan. Founded on September 28, 1996, mainly by family members and defense lawyers of political prisoners. First party in Taiwan to challenge the Kuomintang (KMT).
Deng Xiaoping – Paramount leader of China from 1978 until his death in 1997. Ushered in dramatic economic reforms and was the originator of the "One Country, Two Systems" model for reunification with Taiwan and Hong Kong. Last leader of the "Second Generation" (i.e., after Mao Zedong).
Formosa – Name given by Portuguese colonists to the island of Taiwan. Derived from the Portuguese phrase "Ilha Formosa" or "Beautiful Island."
"Four No's, One Without" (Taiwan) – President Chen Shui-bian's pledge in his first inauguration speech on May 20, 2000, concerning his administration's policy on the issue of Taiwan sovereignty. President Chen vowed he would not declare Taiwan independence; not change the national title from the "Republic of China" to the "Republic of Taiwan;" not include the doctrine of "special state-to-state relations" in the constitution of ROC; and not promote a referendum on unification or independence. In addition, he vowed not to abolish the National Unification Council.
Hu Jintao – Current leader of China. Serves as general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, president of the PRC, and chairman of the Central Military Commission.
Jiang Zemin – Leader of China as CCP general secretary and president from 1989 to 2002. Chairman of China's Central Military Commission until 2004.
KMT (Kuomintang) – Chinese Nationalist Party" founded in 1895. Established the Republic of China on August 25, 1912, under party leaders Sung Chiao-jen and Dr. Sun Yat-sen based in Guangdong Province. Under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, maintained dominant rule on the mainland from 1928 until defeat by Communists in 1949. Governed Taiwan from Taipei under the rubric of the ROC from 1949 to 2000. Currently Taiwan's main opposition party.
Lee Teng-hui – Taiwan-born successor to Chiang Ching-kuo and president of the Republic of China on Taiwan from 1988 to 2000. Now leads the Taiwan Solidarity Union party.
Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) – A formal administrative agency of Taiwan's Executive Yuan, responsible for the overall planning, coordination, evaluation, and implementation of the Republic of China's policy toward the Chinese mainland.
Mao Zedong – Became a member of the CCP while working for Li Dazhao at the Peking University library. Rose to party leadership in the 1930s by advocating that China's Marxist revolution would be won by the peasants. Led the CCP on the Long March and later established the People's Republic of China in 1949. Served as chairman, leader and primary ideologist of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) until his death in 1976.
National Unification Council (NUC) – Taiwan-based multiparty presidential advisory board that attempts to reach a consensus on the reunification of China.
"One China" Principle – The idea that "There is only one China, and Taiwan is part of China." The acceptance of the One China Principle was and continues to be a prerequisite for countries wishing to establish diplomatic relations with China.
"One Country, Two Systems" – The PRC's model for national unification whereby an entity retains "autonomy" but recognizes Chinese sovereignty. The system under which Hong Kong was reunified with China.
People's Republic of China (PRC) – Official name of China under the Chinese Communist Party. Established in 1949 when the CCP overran Kuomintang forces on the mainland, causing most to flee to Taiwan. The capital is Beijing.
Quemoy (Kinmen) and Matsu – Two islands off the coast of China retained by the ROC on Taiwan and which China contested in 1954 and 1958 in what was considered the first cross-Strait crisis, and a key test of wills during the dangerous and early stages of the Cold War.
Republic of China (ROC) – The official name of China promulgated in 1911 after the fall of the Qing dynasty. During the Chinese civil war, the ROC government retreated to Taiwan in 1949 and established itself "in exile." With Taipei as its capital, the Taiwanese leadership still formally considers itself, under its constitution, an ROC government.
Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) – The only private organization authorized by the government on Taiwan to handle relations with the Chinese mainland. The SEF is not authorized to discuss political issues but rather only matters of a technical or business nature. Dialogue occurs with their People's Republic of China counterpart, the Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS).
Sun Yat-sun – Considered by both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China to be the "Father of Modern China," Dr. Sun was associated with the 1911 overthrow of the Qing Dynasty, China's last imperial dynasty. He led the Chinese Nationalist Party until his death in 1925.
"Three Links" – The term given to the establishment of direct mail, trade, and transportation connectivity between Taiwan and China. Mail and trade links have been established, while transportation remains controversial because of security concerns on Taiwan.
"Three Mini-Links" – Intermediate step to the Three Links, initiated in 2001, whereby China and Taiwan's outlying islands, including Quemoy (Kinmen) and Matsu, exchange mail, trade, and transportation directly with the mainland.
"Three No's" (Taiwan) – Taiwan's policy of "No Contact, No Negotiation, and No Compromise" with China, promulgated by President Chiang Ching-kuo in 1979.
"Three No's" (U.S.) – Commitment of no support for Taiwanese independence; no "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan"; and no support for Taiwan's membership in any international organization for which statehood is a requirement. This was the United States' unstated policy under President Nixon and thereafter, and was first articulated publicly by President Bill Clinton in Shanghai in 1998.