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With the end of World War II Taiwan was handed over to the control of mainland China, under the Kuomintang (nationalist) government of General Chiang Kai-shek. The move brought to an end more than 50 years of Japanese control.
Chiang moved quickly to formalise the island's status as a province of China. On Taiwan itself liberation from Japanese rule was initially welcomed, but many quickly came to resent the corruption of the new government and what was seen as the exploitation of Taiwanese resources for mainland post-war reconstruction. Taiwanese industry, which had been closely tied to Japan, was redirected to supply the needs of the mainland and the island's economy slid into crisis. Unemployment soared and, as protests grew, a brutal crackdown took place in 1947.
In what became known as "the White Terror" an estimated 18,000 - 30,000 members of the island's native-born political and academic elite were executed as Chiang's government asserted its control. For decades afterwards the government insisted the action was a crackdown on communists and gangsters.
As the war with the Japanese came to an end, on the mainland the civil war with Mao Zedong's communist forces resumed more fiercely than ever with the communists increasingly gaining the upper hand. As defeat loomed hundreds of thousands of Chiang's soldiers defected to the communist side.
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