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January 1, 2012, the Republic of China (ROC, 1912–), which was officially declared by Sun Yatsen’s (or Sun Zhongshan) on January 1, 1912, will celebrate its centenary. The Peoples Republic of China (PRC), since its establishment in 1949, considers Taiwan to be a part of mainland China, but Taiwan actually only relatively late became part of the Chinese Empire, namely in 1683 under the Manchu Qing Emperor Kangxi (r. 1661–1722). And still in Qing times, the island used to be considered “a remote outer island” “lonely hanging outside in the seas”.
The volume edited by Angela Schottenhammer is a collection of papers (except one) originally presented for a conference of the research project The East Asian ‘Mediterranean’ entitled “Taiwan – a Bridge between the East and South China Seas” and held at Munich University on November 5, 2007. The contributions narrate aspects of Taiwan’s eventful history, providing a brief historical survey, discussing the emergence of Taiwan as an international trading rendezvous in the sixteenth century, its role as a bridge and barrier between two “Mediterraneans”, that is, the East and the South China Sea, Portuguese Impressions of Taiwan, the role of Castilians in North Taiwan, naval and military diets in early modern Taiwan, the rise of Powchong tea merchants during the period when Taiwan was a colony of Japan, and finally the image of Taiwan in early Qing Chinese poetry.