On Friday, 19 July 1997, Taiwan's National Assembly voted by an overwhelming
majority of 261-8 votes to virtually eliminate the provincial government and
freeze any further elections for the position of Governor and Provincial
The Provincial government was a left-over from the 1940s, when Chiang
Kai-shek's Nationalists still ruled China. After the 1945 defeat of Japan by
the Allied Forces, Chiang occupied Taiwan, severely repressed the Taiwanese, and
designated the island "a province" of China.
The new move wil boost Taiwan's de facto independent status, and dismantles
one of the remaining links with the repressive past. The development is part of
a new consensus between the ruling Kuomintang of President Lee Teng-hui and the
pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party. The DPP hailed the step as "...opening
a chapter for a new Taiwanese history."
The National Assembly's decision was part of a series of amendments to the
Constitution, which included a controversial expansion of presidential powers.
The Assembly itself is expected to gradually fade away, as it is also a
relatively useless relic of the past. The legislative function is being
performed by the increasingly influential Legislative Yuan.
The phase-out of the provincial government was strongly opposed by
Provincial Governor James Soong, who rode president Lee's coattails a couple of
years ago, and became the first elected governor. However, he is a mainlander
who is increasingly associated with the pro-unification extremist New Party, and
his political career seems to have come to an end.
The New Party boycotted the vote, and -- according to a South China Morning
Post report -- even help up banners saying "Taiwanese uprising, Jiang
Zemin, Help!" Because of such extremist views, the New Party has been
marginalized in Taiwan, and is not expected to play any role in Taiwan politics.