This chapter will introduce how Taiwan was governed during its four-decade-long martial law period. First, I will briefly discuss the political legacy of the 50-year Japanese colonial period. This will be followed by an examination of why Taiwan’s return to the Republic of China (ROC) after 1945 went wrong so quickly and the legacy of those first few years of Chinese rule. Next, the chapter will concentrate on how the KMT was able to recover and deliver over three decades of political stability. There will be sections on the ROC’s political system at the national and local levels, in addition to detailing their nation-building projects, levels of democracy, economic policy and external relations. Afterwards, the gradual shift from hard to soft authoritarianism will be introduced. Last, the chapter will consider the legacies of the authoritarian era for contemporary Taiwan.