The history of Taiwan–8. Exodus to Taiwan

Posted: 2013 年 11 月 11 日 in The history of Taiwan

Exodus to Taiwan

Chiang had resigned leadership positions several times beofre. Each time he bounced back to power by virtue of the sheer vacuum his departure left. This time proved no different. Soon he emerged from solitude to lead the best two divisions of his army and a rambling entourage of scholars, merchants, monks and masters of classical arts across the Taiwan Strait to the island bastion. On Dec. 7, 1949, the Republic’s government moved its headquarters to Taipei. The Nationalists defeated pursuing Communists in a devastating “last-stand” battle on the island of Quemoy and have held that island ever since.

Chastened by defeat on the mainland, Chiang was determined to reform Nationalist policies on Taiwan. One of his first acts was to execute the rapacious governor-general responsible for the looting of Taiwan’s wealth and the bullying of its people since 1945. Next, Chiang initiated a land-reform policy as sweeping as the one instituted by the Communists but with one vital difference. Instead of vilifying and killing landlords, the Nationalist government paid them well for their land, then offered them matching funds and tax breaks. That move helped launch the industrial revolution that was the catalyst for the island’s phenomenal economic growth. Overnight, Taiwan found itself with an entrepreneurial elite of former landlords who had the money and the motivation to invest in Taiwan’s future. Other reforms followed. The educational system was overhauled and thousands of students were sent abroad to absorb new technology and scientific training. Although national affairs remained firmly in the hands of the Nationalist, democratic institutions were established at local levels.

Chiang governed the island according to Sun Yat-sen’s “Three principles of the People.” Known as the San Min Chu-I (三民主義) in Chinese. Dr. Sun built his framework for sensible government on min tsu (民族主義), nationalism, or the liberation of China from foreigners; min chuan (民權主義), democracy, or government by the people and for the people; and min sheng (民生主義), livelihood, or economic security for all the people. Of the three principles, Dr. Sun considered nationalism the primary goal and that the fastest way to that goal was through a democratic system that provided for the livelihood of the people. Chiang amplified on his interpretations of Dr. Sun’s Three Principles in his book China’s Destiny, published in 1943. Chiang faced turbulence and difficulties that Dr. Sun had not encountered and had to adapt the philosophy to cope with problems on the mainland, then in Taiwan, in order to reach his mentor’s goals.

In Taiwan Chiang maintained strict political discipline and social order, but gave the island’s industrious populace free reign in the economic sphere. The Chinese enthusiasm for capitalism propelled the private sector from 44 percent of Taiwan’s economy in 1953 to 75 percent in 1974, at the expense of state monopolies. At the same time, the island’s population more than doubled from 8 million to more than 18 million. The year 1965 proved a particularly criticial test of strength for Taiwan and its leadership. Financial aid from the United States that had provided a cushion for Taiwan’s economic leaps was terminated. Yet industrialization, modernization and economic progress accelerated.

Chiang’s last testament written on March 29, 1975, one week before his death, reveals his concern: Just at the time when we are getting stronger, my colleagues and countrymen, you should not forget our sorrow and our hope because of my death. My spirit will always be with my colleagues and countrymen to fulfill the Three People’s Principles, to recover the mainland and to restore our national culture. Chiang passed away shortly after midnight, on April 5. A sudden cloudburst rained on Taipei and cleared just as abruptly, prompting speculation that even “heaven wept” at Chiang’s passing. In May 1978, there was an orderly transfer of power to Chiang Kai-shek’s son, Chiang Ching-kuo.

  1. patty0821 說道:

    The video of “Crash course world history" is hilarious. People tend to fast-forward issues of politics. The ending is even funnier, “No one in China will legally be able to watch this video because the government blocks YouTube." I am glad I am in Republic of China.


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