1949: The Chinese Communists gain complete control of the mainland. The Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek and the remnants of his army take refuge on the island, making Taipei their capital. All legislators elected in the 1947-48 period hold their seats ``indefinitely,'' because of the impossibility of holding new general elections for assembly members from mainland constituencies.

1955: America enters into a mutual security treaty with the Nationalists in which the United States promises to defend Taiwan from outside attack.

1971: The United Nations General Assembly votes to recognize the delegation from the mainland, the People's Republic of China (PRC), as comprising ``the only legitimate representatives of China'' to the world body.

1972: US President Richard Nixon visits the PRC and issues a joint communiqu'e acknowledging that ``all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain that Taiwan is part of China.'' Further, the communiqu'e asserts that the US ``does not challenge that position.''

1978: Washington agrees to sever diplomatic relations with Taipei and formally recognize the PRC, effective in 1979.

1987: Taiwan's Kuomintang (KMT or ruling Nationalist Party) lifts martial law.

1988: The KMT approves a plan to refill vacated seats in the National Assembly with Taiwanese.

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