In response to another thread and several requests for dates, I made the following timeline.
FWIW, martial law in and of itself doesn't mean that there is no freedom whatsoever, just as it doesn't guarantee peace or stability. There are other factors. But I'm trying to keep this relatively short.
<UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>1894-95 China and Japan at war with each other. No fighting on Taiwan proper, but Japan easily captures Penghu. Despite having a much larger military, China gets its ass kicked and is forced to cede Taiwan to Japan “in perpetuity.”
<LI>1895 Not everyone in Taiwan is happy about being handed over to Japan. A “Republic of Taiwan” is proclaimed. This doesn’t last long, because the Japanese have more guns, soldiers, etc. Also, a lot of businessmen hope the Japanese will bring greater stability. Guerrilla war in Taiwan disappears after a few years. The Japanese, however, don’t manage to gain any real control over the aborigines in the mountains for several decades.
<LI>1934 Martial law proclaimed in mainland China.
<LI>1943 The US and UK promise Chiang Kai-shek that after the war China will regain territories “stolen by Japan.”
<LI>Oct. 1945 Taiwan becomes part of the Republic of China. The mainland powers-that-be are given a huge welcome but soon prove to be so greedy, corrupt, wrong-headed, disdainful of the locals, etc., that they become hated by the locals. The government takes over most economic enterprises.
<LI>Feb. 1947 The 2-28 incident (really the beginning of a period, not something limited to one day). Somewhere around 20,000 Taiwanese are killed. A high percentage of the island’s intellectuals are among this number.
<LI>May 1948 Passage of the Provisional Amendments for the Period of Mobilization for the Suppression of Communist Rebellion (a.k.a. the Temporary Provisions). Under these, the president is no longer limited to two terms, to hell with individual rights, etc., etc., ad nauseum.
<LI>Oct. 1949 Mao declares the establishment of the PRC
<LI>Dec. 1949 KMT gov’t hightails it to Taipei. Martial law applied to Taiwan; of course, this didn’t really make a big difference, since that’s essentially what Taiwan already had.
<LI>March 1954 National Assembly approves the indefinite extension of the Temporary Provisions.
<LI>July 1987 The Emergency Decree (martial law) is terminated. (It hadn’t had its old strength for years, anyway.)
<LI>May 1991 The Temporary Provisions terminated (after 43 years).
<LI>May 1992 Sedition law revised. No longer illegal to espouse communism or Taiwan independence.