Taiwan. In early 2002, after many years of efforts, the
country became a formal member of the World Trade
Organization despite protests from China, which regards
Taiwan as a Chinese breakaway republic. Just a few weeks
earlier, China itself had joined the WTO.
In January, the country was given a new government after
the parliamentary elections were held at the end of December
2001. According to
Countryaah website, President Chen Shuibian's independence-advocating
Democratic Progressive Party had won in that election over
nationalist Guomindang. The government's main task was to
gain momentum on the Taiwanese economy.
On May 25, the country suffered a major accident when a
Taiwanese aircraft on its way to Hong Kong crashed into the
sea off Taibei shortly after takeoff from the capital's
airport. All 225 passengers on board died, as did the entire
Relations with China remained tense and in the summer,
Taiwan warned that China was increasing its military
spending and had expressed dissatisfaction that the
reunification between countries was going too slowly.
Country President Chen Shuibian supported the idea of
holding a referendum on the island's future status -
independence or reunification with China - "when the time is
In July, the small Nauru kingdom in the Pacific formed
diplomatic relations with China. Through the agreement, the
country recognized Taiwan as part of China. Nauru was one of
the countries that had previously had diplomatic contacts
with Taiwan, but these were canceled by the agreement with
China. Thus, 27 countries in the world had diplomatic
contacts with Taiwan.
At year-end 2002/2003, bans on disposable plates and
disposable cutlery were introduced at all Taiwan's
restaurants. The year before, plastic bags were banned from
all government stores. Environmental considerations were
behind the bans.