Taiwan. Relations with China were marked by both progress
and war threats. A delegation from Taiwan's semi-official
liaison agency SEF (Straits Exchange Foundation) visited
China in June, together with its Chinese counterpart ARATS
(Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait), to
prepare a visit to Taiwan by ARATS Chairman Wang Daohan.
In an interview for German media this summer, President
Li Denghui said Taiwan's relations with China would be
"intergovernmental." That statement led to very sharp
reactions from China. In Chinese press it was called that
Li's attempt to separate China and Taiwan would lead to
disaster for the 22 million people in Taiwan. In addition,
it became clear that China's army was in readiness on the
mainland side of the Formosa Strait.
Countryaah official website, Macedonia became the second European country (after the
Vatican City) and the 28th in the world (most small states
in Africa, Central America and the Pacific) establishing
diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Prime Minister Siew later
denied in an interview that Taiwan would have bought the
diplomatic recognition of promises of aid. However, both aid
agencies and business delegations from Taiwan visited
Macedonia during the year.
The new government, which was presented on February 1,
did not contain many new faces, but looked almost like the
former. In August, the ruling party appointed GMD
(Guomindang) Vice President Lien Chan as presidential
candidate for the March 2000 elections.
However, the presidential campaign was abruptly
interrupted by the severe earthquake that hit Taiwan in
September. Over 2,000 people lost their lives and 100,000
are estimated to have become homeless. The earthquake was
measured at 7.6 on the Richter scale and had its center in
the Nantu Province on the western most densely populated
part of the island. A government spokesman admittedly
declared after the disaster that "money is not the problem",
but the earthquake will undoubtedly have consequences for
the growth of Taiwan's economy, which has already shown
signs of slowing down. In 1998, the growth rate of the
economy was 4.83%, a high figure in Europe, but the lowest
in sixteen years in Taiwan. A number of measures to
stimulate the economy were therefore introduced in February.
some restrictions were removed for the banks, as well as
some obstacles to foreign ownership were removed.