Chiang Kai-shek and retrocession
Joe hung, The China Post
November 5, 2012, 2:24 pm TWN
Chiang could have surrendered.
His China wasn't a match for the militaristic Japan. But he didn't and China fought a total war with Japan for eight long years, during the first three years of which no substantial aid of any kind came from abroad except a token succor from Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. Remember Chiang had been almost idolized by the Soviets as “Red General” all but on a par with Stalin and Vladamir Lenin before he started the Red Purge in China? But for Chiang's persistence, Japan could have easily conquered China.
What about Chiang's contributions to Taiwan? By the Cairo Declaration, he kept Taiwan for the Republic of China, which was written of by President Harry S. Truman after the failed U.S. mediation in the Chinese civil war. But Chiang came to Taiwan with his defeated army, without which Mao Zedong could have “washed Taiwan with blood.” Of course, Taiwan has survived as the Republic of China with the about-face decision of President Truman on the outbreak of the Korean War to keep the island as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in the Cold War, but without Chiang's retreat from the Chinese mainland with his 600,000 troops, the Republic of China would have perished in early 1950.
Communist China hated Chiang for killing at least 300,000 communists and communist sympathizers — estimated at a few millions by some communist historians — in the Red Purge and the subsequent “suppression of communist rebellion.”
It's only natural for communist Chinese leaders to denounce Chiang just as President Chen did, but the trend has been reversed. They now, perhaps for the purpose of wooing Chiang's followers, rate the generalissimo as a nationalist who kept China together in World War II and Taiwan as part of China after the war. Whatever the motive, their affirmation of Chiang Kai-shek is fair. Such affirmation is lacking in Taiwan, however.
Historiography of China has a unique feature. Official history is told in a dynastic cycle. Known as dynastic histories, or duandaishi (斷代史), the history of a dynasty is written by historians of the succeeding dynasty. The Republic of China has written the History of the Qing Dynasty or Qingshi (清史), and it behooves the People's Republic of China to write the History of the Republic of China, if Beijing leaders think they have ended the Republic of China. But no official history of the Republic of China has been published over the past six decades. One more feature in Chinese historiography is “biographies” or liezhuan (列傳), which tell of the lives of prominent persons of a dynasty. Chiang Kai-shek's life has to be written in the biographies of the Republic of China either in Taipei or Beijing and he must be described as a man who enabled the Republic of China to survive.