Taiwan is an archetypal example of continental accretionary wedges. Yet the generally poor knowledge of three-dimensional strain distribution over time and role of architecture of the rifted margin shed doubt on the cylindrical two-dimensional kinematic models of Taiwan collision. Here we provide new field-based constraints on strain distribution, new Raman Spectroscopy on Carbonaceous Materials temperatures and apply mica-chlorite multiequilibrium approach to determine pressure-temperature in the Central Range of Taiwan. We identify three distinct structural domains that define zones of orthogonal shortening in the western Backbone Range and left-lateral ductile shearing overprinted by left-lateral transtensional brittle deformation in eastern Central Range. Field surveys show the lack of nappe stacking in the Backbone Range. Combining new temperature estimates with existing thermochronological constraints we emphasize that western Taiwan mostly inherited preorogenic thermal history. We show that metamorphic peak conditions of 5–6 kbar and 330–400 °C in the eastern Backbone Range and HP rocks of the Yuli Belt exhumed along the P-T paths related to transcurrent deformation. We propose a three-dimensional kinematic model of Taiwan accounting for the oblique motion of the Philippine Sea Plate relative to the plate boundary and the reactivation of a NS striking transform fault in the South China Sea rifted margin. Recent and ongoing strain partitioning in the Taiwan accretionary wedge is reflected by the coexistence of brittle left-lateral shear, oblique extension, and contraction. Our results have impact on orogen-based plate kinematic reconstructions that consider two-dimensional kinematic evolution of orogens.