Following Japan’s surrender during WW2, the Nationalist Government retook control of Taiwan and used an initial refugee base for leaders of the Nationalist Government. Before the Nationalist movement to Taiwan, the U.S. had been assessing Taiwan through documented studies recorded by the CIA. The CIA aimed to research the political, geological, and military advantages of Taiwan to incite U.S. aid and funding incentives for Nationalists to move back to Taiwan. With a refugee base for Nationalist Government leaders being established on Taiwan, any support or chance of Nationalists remaining on the mainland dwindled as the new Nationalist Government refuge supplemented the ineffectiveness and defeatist attitude they displayed. By 1949, the Nationalist military had also gradually moved to Taiwan and established a military base there. To the CIA and U.S. Government, Taiwan did not offer strategic supplies, yet could be used as an essential political, military, economic, and agricultural asset. A significant problem for the Nationalist Government developed from disagreements and conflicts within the party. The Nationalist Government had to be more centralized and concentrated. While Chiang Kai-shek remained as president, he appointed K. C. Wu as the Provincial Governor of Taiwan and Chen Chong as leader of the Nationalist military. Wu’s loyalty to Chiang and experience as mayor of Shanghai led to Chiang’s trust for Wu in acting independently to reform the civil administration. Still, Wu’s administrative power in Taiwan remained strictly limited to civilian control, as the Nationalist Government seemed to overrule Wu in all other issues. Due to its geographical location, Taiwan could provide air and naval bases to prevent communists from disrupting supplies running from the Philippines to Japan, while being equally supplied by Japan. The CIA also documented the Nationalist military strength in Taiwan to analyze its capabilities and limitations in preparation for a possible communist invasion of the island.
Kuomintang Party in Xinjiang 1942
The Nationalist Government not only made economic and land reforms, it had to make political reforms due to corruption during the Japanese war, which caused their mainland downfall during the Chinese Civil War. On January 5, 1949, Chen Cheng became the governor of Taiwan. By December, the Nationalist Government would become fully established in Taiwan and shift the governorship position to K. C. Wu. Nationalists assumed total control of the National Government of Taiwan upon their establishment, meaning they also controlled local political parties. The Nationalist Party analyzed the policies of the National Government to understand appropriate reform plans that would be efficient and effective. The main branch of the National Government was the National Congress. The National Congress held meetings with the Central Executive Committee and Central Supervisory Committee, where policies were proposed and administered. Under the Reform Plan, the two committees were replaced by the Central Reform Committee, which had 16 members, and the Advisory Committee, which had 25 members. The Reform Committee consisted of men with an average age of 48 who regulated the plan. On the other hand, the Advisor Committee, consisting of men averaging age of 66, who supervised the government. The goal of the new Reform Plan was to centralize the government, abolish corruption, and recruit highly patriotic political members, who were mostly agricultural and industrial workers, the younger generation, and intellectuals. With the U.S. close allies with the Republic of China (“ROC”)—the official name for the Nationalist Government in Taiwan under President Chiang Kai-shek—President Truman and his administration hoped to make sure that Taiwan and the ROC would remain independent from the People’s Republic of China, the communist government of China.
Treatment of Taiwanese under Kuomintang
While the ROC may have strengthened their position on Taiwan economically and politically, their treatment of the native Taiwanese population is synonymous with the treatment of many other Asian native populations under Western colonizers. It is important to understand the relationship between the Taiwanese and Nationalists, particularly the Taiwanese population in China, to understand the cruel and exploitative treatment of Taiwanese by the Nationalist Government upon their establishment of the new Republic of China. The Taiwanese population in China before 1945 numbered around 100,000. The study of the Taiwanese population is important because it shows an understanding of how the Nationalists treated native Taiwanese following the takeover of Taiwan, as well as Taiwan’s political involvement in Taiwan under the Nationalist Government. In China, between 1921 and 1937, many Taiwanese residents formed organizations — primarily anti-Japanese organizations. Following the start of the war with Japan, the Nationalist Party supported many Taiwanese anti-Japanese wartime organizations. The Taiwan Revolutionary League, while formed by mostly Taiwanese citizens, was closely associated with, and financially supported by, the KMT. The Taiwan Revolutionary League conducted intelligence gathering, military actions, and propaganda. It was followed by other revolutionary organizations such as the Taiwan Volunteers, a political-military group, and the Taiwan Party Headquarters, a section of the Taiwan Party in China. The Taiwan Revolutionary League, along with the other Taiwanese revolutionary organizations, decided to unite under the Alliance of Taiwanese Revolutionary Organization. Several reasons and outcomes explain why the Taiwanese groups wanted to come from this unification. First, the unification amalgamated the Taiwanese revolutionary organizations and strengthened their presence in China. Second, their increased presence amplified the awareness and concerns that the Chinese Government and population had towards the Taiwanese population. Third, the unification connected the political stance of the Taiwanese revolutionaries.
KMT flag displayed in Lhasa, Tibet in 1938
While the formation of the Alliance of Taiwanese Revolutionary Organization reinforced and supplemented the presence and stance of the Taiwanese revolutionaries, it did not have much support from the non-revolutionary Taiwanese population in China. Also, the effectiveness and efficiency of their work left much to be desired. The goal of the Alliance of Taiwanese Revolution Organization, with the help of Chinese Nationalists, was to unite all Taiwanese revolutionaries in overthrowing the Japanese in China and Taiwan, reclaim Taiwan, and aid China in instituting a new government under certain principles and policies. The Taiwan Revolutionary League emphasized utilizing propaganda to attract more Taiwanese on both the mainland and Taiwan to support their cause. The League wanted to convince foreigners that Taiwan belonged to China, as these Taiwanese had grown accustomed and connected with the mainland after residing there for years. Despite this, the League wanted to educate Chinese authorities on future treatment of postwar Taiwan and to convince the Chinese to view Taiwan as its province, as opposed to an occupied colony. The League committed to holding regular meetings and press conferences, publishing journals, broadcasting their ideas, promoting their cause to the public, and influencing future Chinese policies on postwar Taiwan. The Nationalist Party prohibited Japanese-language publications and records. They also confiscated Japanese uniforms, flags, and other memorabilia under the Japanese colonial period. The Nationalists conducted a decolonization movement from the belief that the Taiwanese natives were distorted and defected from Japanese influence, causing the uprisings and aggressive actions. The end of the decade would lead to the Taiwanese failing to gain more autonomy and, instead, Nationalist centralizing their government in Taiwan to the point of taking over the local governments. The importance of the Nationalists’ treatment of the Taiwanese and their inability to effectively manage the native population and the political, social, and economic situation in Taiwan would lead to their loss of political power both in Taiwan and internationally.
Taiwan, the Israel of the East: How China, Japan, the United States Influenced the Forming of a New Nation
On October 25, 1947, the United States government helped the Chinese Nationalist Party, Kuomingtang (KMT) President Chiang Kai-Shek, flee the overwhelming communist forces. President Chiang established the new democratic government known as the Republic of China on an island later to be known as Taiwan, previously a major trading center called the “the beautiful isle” or Formosa. Parallel to the formation of the Republic of China on Taiwan, Israel was being established from Palestine as a result of creating a nation for Jewish refugees and displaced people following the Holocaust during the Second World War. While there have been a lot known about the conflicts between the Palestinians and Israelites over land and discussions on the plights that the people faced, little is known about the natives of Taiwan who were forced to give up their land and under constant occupation from the Dutch to the Japanese to the Chinese.
This book will not only uncover the history of Taiwan and its ethnographic changes under the occupations of multiple foreign nations utilizing a variety of old books written by European explorers and missionaries who were stationed on Taiwan, both European and Asian, over the course of 300 years, as well as using declassified CIA documents to reveal the impact of the United States’ role, particularly the involvement of the CIA, in helping assist the Kuomintang (KMT) in establishing their new democratic government. During the multiple occupations, the native population faced catastrophic repercussions from these foreign nations. From Japanese to the KMT, the massacres of thousands of Taiwanese were recorded, but are not widely known or understood. The 2-28 incident by the KMT led to the death of tens of thousands of Taiwanese to the forced subjugation and exploitation by the Japanese which also led to the deaths of thousands of Taiwanese due to forced labor or other acts of slaughter towards them. This book will not only account for the transformation of Taiwan in the eyes of the colonizers but understand the detrimental impact that the reshaping caused.
The controversy of Taiwan follows its history into modern-day politics as well as its identity. Given the role of the United States in its founding years, it is unclear to many whether the nation of Taiwan was declared as an official nation or if it is a colony belonging to China or the United States. This book examines the role of Taiwan and its history and identity of its people.