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President of the
Republic of China
Commander-in-Chief Flag of the Republic of China.svg
Presidential Standard
Tsai Ing-wen

since 20 May 2016
Style President
Her Excellency (international)
Member of National Security Council
Residence Yonghe Residence
Seat Presidential Office Building, Taipei, Taiwan
Appointer Direct election
Term length Four years, renewable once
Constituting instrument Constitution of the Republic of China and its Additional Articles
Formation January 1, 1912 (1912-01-01) (as the Provisional President)
First holder Sun Yat-sen (as Provisional President)
Chiang Kai-shek (under 1947 Constitution)
Lee Teng-hui (directly elected under the Additional Articles)
Deputy Vice President
Salary NT$ 6,428,000 ($ 204,712 USD) (annually)
President of the
Republic of China
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 中華民國總統
Simplified Chinese 中华民国总统
Dunganese name
Dungan җунхуа мингуй зунтун
Romanization Ⱬunhua minguj zuntun
Mongolian name
Mongolian Cyrillic Бүгд Найрамдах Хятад Улсын Ерөнхийлөгч
Mongolian script ᠪᠦᠭᠦᠳᠡ ᠨᠠᠶᠢᠷᠠᠮᠳᠠᠬᠤ ᠬᠢᠲᠠᠳ ᠤᠯᠤᠰ ᠤᠨ ᠶᠡᠷᠦᠩᠬᠡᠶᠢᠯᠡᠭᠴᠢ
Uyghur name
جۇڭخۇا مىنگو پرېزىدېنت

The President of the Republic of China is the head of state of the Republic of China. Since 1996, the President is directly elected by plurality voting to a four-year term, with at most one re-election. The incumbent, Tsai Ing-wen, succeeded Ma Ying-jeou on 20 May 2016 as the first female president in the state's history. Originally established in Nanking in 1912, the government and its president relocated to Taipei in 1949 after losing the Chinese Civil War.


Presidential Building, Taiwan (0747)
The Presidential Building in Zhongzheng District, Taipei houses the office of the ROC President currently.
Fongshan Administration Center
The Presidential Southern Office in Fengshan District, Kaohsiung opened on 10 March 2017.
The Presidential Central Office in Fengyuan District, Taichung opened on 18 March 2017.

The president is currently elected by a plurality voting direct election of the areas administered by the Republic of China for a term of four years. Before 1991, the president was selected by the National Assembly of the Republic of China for a term of six years.

The Constitution names the president as head of state and commander-in-chief of the Republic of China Armed Forces (formerly known as the National Revolutionary Army). The president is responsible for conducting foreign relations, such as concluding treaties, declaring war, and making peace. The president must promulgate all laws and has no right to veto. Other powers of the president include granting amnesty, pardon or clemency, declaring martial law, and conferring honors and decorations.

The President can appoint Senior Advisors (資政), National Policy Advisors (國策顧問) and Strategy Advisors (戰略顧問), but they do not form a council.

The Constitution does not clearly define whether the president is more powerful than the premier, as it names the Executive Yuan (headed by the premier) as the "highest administrative authority" with oversight over domestic matters while giving the president powers as commander-in-chief of the military and authority over foreign affairs. Prior to his election as president in 1948, Chiang Kai-shek had insisted that he be premier under the new Constitution, while allowing the president (to which Chiang nominated Hu Shih) be a mere figurehead. However, the National Assembly overwhelmingly supported Chiang as president and once in this position, Chiang continued to exercise vast prerogatives as leader and the premiership served to execute policy, not make it. Thus, until the 1980s power in the Republic of China was personalized rather than institutionalized which meant that the power of the president depended largely on who occupied the office. For example, during the tenure of Yen Chia-kan, the office was largely ceremonial with real power in the hands of Premier Chiang Ching-Kuo, and power switched back to the presidency when Chiang became president. After President Lee Teng-hui succeeded Chiang as president in 1988, the power struggle within the KMT extended to the constitutional debate over the relationship between the president and the premier. The first three premiers under Lee, Yu Kuo-hwa, Lee Huan, and Hau Pei-tsun were mainlanders who had initially opposed Lee's ascension to power. The appointment of Lee and Hau were compromises by President Lee to placate conservatives in the KMT. The subsequent appointment of the first native Taiwanese premier Lien Chan was taken as a sign of Lee's consolidation of power. Moreover, during this time, the power of the premier to approve the president's appointments and the power of the Legislative Yuan to confirm the president's choice of premier was removed establishing the president as the more powerful position of the two.

After the 2000 election of Chen Shui-bian as president, the presidency and the Legislative Yuan were controlled by different parties which brought forth a number of latent constitutional issues such as the role of the legislature in appointing and dismissing a premier, the right of the president to call a special session of the legislature, and who has the power to call a referendum. Most of these issues have been resolved through inter-party negotiations.


Chiang Kai-shek 1947
Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and Army General Li Tsung-jen were elected by the National Assembly to be the first-term president and vice president on 20 May 1948.

The Constitution of the Republic of China gives a short list of persons who will succeed to the presidency if the office were to fall vacant. According to the Additional Articles of the Constitution, Article 2:

Should the office of the vice president become vacant, the president shall nominate a candidate(s) within three months, and the Legislative Yuan shall elect a new vice president, who shall serve the remainder of the original term until its expiration.

Should the offices of both the president and the vice president become vacant, the president of the Executive Yuan shall exercise the official powers of the president and the vice president. A new president and a new vice president shall be elected in accordance with Paragraph 1 of this article and shall serve out each respective original term until its expiration. The pertinent provisions of Article 49 of the Constitution shall not apply.

As no president of the Executive Yuan (also known as the Premier) has ever succeeded to the presidency under these provisions (or their predecessors, under Article 49), it is untested whether, should the office of the premier be vacant as well, whether, pursuant to the Additional Articles, Article 3, the vice president of the Executive Yuan (vice premier), who would be acting premier, would act as president. There is currently no constitutional provision for a succession list beyond the possibility that the vice president of the Executive Yuan might succeed to the presidency.

Assuming that the vice president of the Executive Yuan would be third in line for the presidency, the current line of succession is:

  1. Chen Chien-jen, Vice President of the Republic of China
  2. Su Tseng-chang, President of the Executive Yuan
  3. Chen Chi-mai, Vice President of the Executive Yuan

Presidential succession has occurred three times under the 1947 Constitution:

  1. President Chiang Kai-shek declared incapacity on 21 January 1949 amid several Communist victories in the Chinese Civil War and was replaced by Vice President Li Tsung-jen as the Acting President. However, Chiang continued to wield authority as the Director-General of the Kuomintang and Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of China Armed Forces. Li Tsung-jen lost the ensuing power struggle and fled to the United States in November 1949. Chiang evacuated with the government to Taiwan on 10 December 1949 and resumed his duties as the President on 1 March 1950.
  2. President Chiang Kai-shek died on 5 April 1975 and was replaced by Vice President Yen Chia-kan who served out the remainder of the term.
  3. President Chiang Ching-kuo died on 13 January 1988 and was replaced by Vice President Lee Teng-hui who served out the remainder of the term and won two more terms on his own right.

Diplomatic protocol

Pope johnpaul funeral politics
At the funeral of Pope John Paul II, President Chen Shui-bian (far left), whom the Holy See recognized as the head of state of China, was seated in the front row (in French alphabetical order) beside the first lady and president of Brazil.
ROCAF Boeing 737-800 3701 on Final Approaching at Songshan Air Force Base 20151222a
Air Force 3701, the presidential aircraft of the Republic of China.

The diplomatic protocol regarding the President of the ROC is rather complex because of the political status of Taiwan. In the 16 nations which recognize the ROC as the legitimate government of China, she is accorded the standard treatment that is given to a head of state. In other nations, she is formally a private citizen, although even in these cases, travel usually meets with strong objections from the People's Republic of China.

The President of ROC has traveled several times to the United States, formally in transit to and from Central America, where a number of countries do recognize the ROC. This system allows the President to visit the United States without the U.S. State Department having to issue a visa. During these trips, the President is not formally treated as a head of state, does not meet U.S. government officials in their official capacities and does not visit Washington, D.C. However, in these visits, the ROC President invariably meets with staff members from the US government, although these visits are with lower-ranking officials in non-governmental surroundings.

In the area of Southeast Asia, the ROC President was able to arrange visits in the early 1990s which were formally private tourist visits, however these have become increasingly infrequent as a result of PRC pressure.

At the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' summit, the ROC President is forbidden from attending personally and must send a special envoy to represent him or her at the event.

However, on December 2, 2016, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump accepted a congratulatory telephone call from the ROC President, a clear break from prior protocol.

The Government of the People's Republic of China uses the terms Leader of the Taiwan Area, Leader of the Taiwan Region (traditional Chinese: 台灣地區領導人; simplified Chinese: 台湾地区领导人; pinyin: Táiwān dìqū lǐngdǎorén) and Leader of the Taiwanese Authorities (traditional Chinese: 台灣當局領導人; simplified Chinese: 台湾当局领导人; pinyin: Táiwān dāngjú lǐngdǎo rén) to describe the head of state of the Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan. These terms are used by PRC media to reflect the PRC's official stance of not recognizing the ROC as an independent state.

The PRC media does not use the terms "President of Taiwan" nor "President of the Republic of China", which could be inferred as implying recognition of Taiwan as a country, or of Two Chinas. Hence, the term "Leader of the Taiwan Area" is used- with "Area" to show that Taiwan is not a country; while "Leader" does not equal "President". According to criteria set by the authorities in Beijing, media in mainland China generally are not allowed to use terms related to the Republic of China to describe the Taiwan authorities. But if the official title cannot be avoided in a news article, quotation marks would be used around terms for all official ROC positions and organisations, e.g. "President of the Republic of China"; "Presidential Office Building" to imply non-recognition.

Living former Presidents

As of August 2019, there are three living former Presidents:

Name Term of office Date of birth
Lee Teng-hui 1988–2000 15 January 1923 (1923-01-15) (age 98)
Chen Shui-bian 2000–2008 12 October 1950 (1950-10-12) (age 70)
Ma Ying-jeou 2008–2016 13 July 1950 (1950-07-13) (age 71)
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