Taiwan. According to Countryaah.com, Republic of China/Taiwan Independence Day is October 10. The relationship with China, which regards Taiwan as a breakaway republic, remained tense even though the ties were made between the countries. In January, China Airlines made its first flight from Taiwan to China since 1949, when the Communist Party took power in China. On board the plane, which flew via Hong Kong because direct flights between China and Taiwan are not allowed, there were Taiwanese who would work in China during the Chinese New Year in February.
In March, President Chen Shuibian renounced an invitation to speak in the European Parliament in Brussels after EU foreign ministers and the European Commission ruled that Chen would not be granted a visa because it would run counter to the Union’s “China” policy.
In the spring, the two major opposition parties Nationalist Party (Guomindang, GMD) and People First Party (PFP) announced that they would stand with a joint candidate in the 2004 presidential election. The opposition thus hoped to increase the chances of winning over the incumbent president. The candidate was appointed GMD’s Lien Chan.
In April, Taiwan was affected by the SARS infectious disease. Flight bans were introduced to several neighboring countries. However, the following month, however, the government and the World Health Organization announced that the epidemic had been lifted thanks to far-reaching precautions, such as isolation of the sick. The flight bans were lifted in June. By the time the danger was relieved, 678 Taiwanese had fallen ill with the disease, which mainly attacked the airways, and 84 deaths had been reported. The country’s health minister, who had to bear the official responsibility for the epidemic, resigned in mid-May.
At the end of the year came a new law that allows a referendum on independence to be held if China attacks Taiwan. President Chen also wanted to hold a referendum in March 2004 to demand that China remove the robots aimed at the island. China reacted strongly to the new law, which Beijing fears over the long term will be used to declare the island independent.