Technically, the Taiwan Republic was the first independent republic in Asia. The Republic of Formosa was established on May 25th, 1895. However, on May 29th, 1895, a Japanese military force of over 12,000 soldiers landed in Northern Taiwan and turned Taiwan into a Japanese colony.
In the aftermath of the First Sino-Japanese War and the Treaty of Shimonoseki, Japan had been given control over Taiwan by the Chinese. Without asking the Taiwanese. They were understandably not happy with being handed over to a foreign country. So, in May 1895, Taiwan declared its independence from Japan, calling their new country the Republic of Formosa. Japan wanted their first colony, and they were prepared to fight for it. Plus, Japan had been modernizing and had this modern, big army with modern, big weapons. And they knew little Formosa had neither. The invasion was on!
Little Formosa was in trouble. Messages were sent out, pleading for international recognition and support. (France did send a battleship and some officers to talk with the republic’s leaders.) However, the international support never came and the Formosans were soundly defeated by the Japanese military in a matter of months, most of it by June the same year. The Republic of Formosa lasted from May 23, 1895 to October 21, 1895. Taiwan remained a Japanese colony until 1945.
In 1956, local press coverage of random attacks by an unknown person with a razor created two weeks of widespread fear. At least twenty-one victims were reported. The media’s reporting of the victims and their suffering caused a panic to grip the city. Parents were afraid for their children to school, families were afraid for their loved ones to go to work.
Then the police announced: there was no slasher. Of the twenty-one reported injuries, “five were innocent false reports, seven were self-inflicted cuts, eight were due to cuts other than razors, and one was a complete fantasy.” This had just been a case of mass hysteria, inflamed by the press coverage. The Taipei Slasher was dead.
“By the time Lin [Taiwanese Captain Lin Zhengyi] arrived in 1978, the war was more psychological than physical. The armies still shelled each other, but only on schedule: the mainland fired on odd-numbered days; Taiwan returned fire the rest of the week.”
Taiwan and China had a system for how to deal with their next-door neighbor that they hated and thought was not legitimate. Whatever works, right?
Quote is from Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China, by Evan Osnos.