Profile: Ma Ying-jeou
Ma Ying-jeou has survived a lengthy corruption trial to emerge as the winner in Taiwan’s presidential elections.
The US-educated lawyer, standing for the Kuomintang (KMT), served as minister for justice and minister without portfolio during the 1990s.
Analysts say he built himself a squeaky-clean reputation during that time.
He first showed potential to run for the top job by beating Chen Shui-ban, the island’s current president, in the elections for Taipei mayor in 1998.
And in 2005, his place among the island’s elite politicians was consolidated when he was chosen as chairman of the KMT.
But in late 2006 his political career – and his incorruptible image – appeared to have fallen apart.
Allegations emerged that he had misappropriated 11.2 million Taiwanese dollars ($339,000) of funds while mayor of Taipei.
Mr Ma quit as mayor, and then as party chairman, to fight the charges.
He spent much of early 2007 in court – but despite this, the KMT confirmed him as their presidential candidate.
Eventually the 57-year-old was cleared of all charges and launched his campaign for the presidency promising to restore the rapid economic growth Taiwan enjoyed during the 1980s and 90s.
He also wants closer ties with Beijing, and said he would open direct air and shipping links with China.
Father-of-two Mr Ma was born in Hong Kong and went to law school in Taiwan and the US.
He is said to be a fitness enthusiast and lists music, jogging and swimming as his hobbies.
A chronology of key events:
2000 March – Chen Shui-bian wins presidential elections, ending the Nationalist (Kuomintang) Party’s 50-year monopoly of power.
Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949
2000 May – Chen Shui-bian says in his inaugural speech that he will not declare independence as long as China does not attack. He says he won’t call for a referendum on independence, nor abolish Taipei’s official blueprint for an eventual reunion with mainland China.
China responds by accusing him of insincerity, and by saying he had evaded the key question of whether he considered Taiwan part of China.
2000 August – President Chen Shui-bian stops over briefly in the United States before starting a two-week tour of Central America and Africa. He gets no official welcome.
2000 October – Government halts work on the construction of a nuclear power plant, sparking a major political row. It argues that the facility – approved and started under the previous government – would not be a safe source of energy.
Madame Chiang Kai-shek became a powerful figure
Born in 1898
Fled to Taiwan in 1949
Moved to US in 1975
2000 October – Chang Chun-hsiung sworn in as prime minister. He replaces Tang Fei, from the main opposition Nationalist Party, who stepped down amid disputes with President Chen, over issues including the scrapping of the nuclear plant.
2001 April – The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, meets President Chen during a visit which draws strong opposition from China.
2001 April – US says it will go ahead with sales of submarines, warships and anti-submarine aircraft, but not the requested naval combat radar system Aegis. China protests and President George W Bush pledges to help Taiwan should China invade.
2001 June – Taiwan test-fires Patriot anti-missile defence system bought from US, as China carries out military exercises simulating invasion of island.
2001 November – Taipei lifts a 50-year ban on direct trade and investment with China.
National Palace Museum houses priceless Chinese relics
2001 December – Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) party loses its parliamentary majority for the first time.
2002 January – Taiwan officially enters the World Trade Organisation, only a few weeks after China.
2003 May – Dramatic rise in cases of the pneumonia-like Sars virus.
2003 July – Taiwan is the final country to be removed from the WHO’s list of countries which were badly affected by the Sars virus.
2003 November – Taiwan unveils the 508-metre Taipei 101 building, which it says is the world’s tallest.
2003 November – Parliament approves bill to allow referendum on declaring independence should China attack. Referendums on sovereignty and changing country’s name are not sanctioned.
Second term for Chen
2004 March – President Chen Shui-bian wins a second term by a slender margin. His win follows an apparent assassination attempt against him on the eve of elections.
2004 November – Court rejects opposition challenge that President Chen Shui-bian won March’s presidential election unfairly.
Lien Chan: First Nationalist leader to visit mainland since 1949
2005 January – Aircraft chartered for the Lunar New Year holiday make the first direct flights between Taiwan and China since 1949.
2005 March – Taiwan condemns a new Chinese law giving Beijing the legal right to use force should Taipei declare formal independence.
2005 April – National Party (KMT) leader Lien Chan visits China for the first meeting between Nationalist and Communist Party leaders since 1949.
2005 June – Reform requiring future constitutional amendments to be put to a referendum arouses China’s concern that it will be easier for activists to promote moves towards independence.
2005 July – National Party (KMT) elects mayor of Taipei Ma Ying Jeou as its new leader.
President under pressure
2005 December – Opposition KMT triumphs in municipal elections. The result is interpreted as a mid-term vote of no confidence in President Chen Shui-bian.
Taiwan has tried to match rival China’s military modernisation
2006 February – Taiwan scraps the National Unification Council, a body set up to deal with reunification with the mainland. China says the decision could bring "disaster".
2006 June – Under pressure over corruption allegations against a family member, President Chen cedes some of his powers to the prime minister.
2006 October – President Chen survives an attempt by parliament to force a referendum on his rule – the second in four months. His opponents and supporters take to the streets.
2006 December – An earthquake off Taiwan cuts undersea cables, cutting off or limiting telecommunications across the region.
China highlights Taiwan as security threat in plans to upgrade military.
2007 January – Taiwan defends school history textbooks which refer to China. Beijing accuses Taipei of introducing independence ideologies into the classroom.
2007 March – Newspaper reports that Taiwan has test-fired cruise missile capable of hitting Shanghai or Hong Kong.
2007 March – Taiwanese government begins removing statue of Chiang Kai-shek from Kaohsiung, sparking protests.
2007 April – China and Taiwan clash over route of Olympic torch relay ahead of 2008 Beijing games.
2007 August – The country attempts to join the UN for the first time under the name Taiwan, rather than the official title of Republic of China. The application is rejected.
2008 January – Opposition KMT wins landslide victory in parliamentary elections, beating President Chen Shui-bian’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Mr Chen steps down from post of DPP chairman.
2008 March – Presidential elections. Ma Ying-jeou of the opposition Kuomintang Party is elected president.