Chiang Kai-shek – Dictator, Idealist, Criminal?


Chiang Kai-shek’s portrait hung on the rostrum of Tiananmen Square. After the Communists overthrew Chiang’s government in 1949, they replaced his portrait with that of Mao Zedong (photo by unknown author via Wikimedia Commons, public domain work) 

Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the Republic of China (ROC) and of the Guomindang from 1927 to 1975, is a controversial figure whose legacy is still debated both in China and in Taiwan. In this post we shall let Chiang himself speak and quote several passages from his speeches and works which highlight the complexity of his character, his contradictory relationship with Sun Yat-sen‘s ‘Three Principles of the People‘, and his constant oscillating between the role of a humanistic world leader, of a ruthless general, of an anti-Communist hero, and of a brutal, narrow-minded oppressor.


Patriotism is not enough

A message to the eleventh annual New York Herald Tribune Forum on Current Problems delivered on November 17, 1942.
The political testament of the Father of our Republic, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, began with the reminder to his followers, “The Revolution is not yet achieved.” Even after the National Revolution succeeded in overthrowing the war lords and unified China in 1927, we have continued to characterize our Government as a Revolutionary Government. Critics asked, now that you have established a Government of all China, why do you persist in calling yourselves a Revolutionary Government? What do you mean by Revolution?
The answer is that what we mean by Revolution is the attainment of all three of Dr. Sun’s basic principles of national revolution: national independence, progressive realization of democracy, and a rising level of living conditions for the masses. When victory comes at the end of this war, we shall have fully achieved national independence but will have far to go to attain our other two objectives. Hence our claim that ours is still a Revolutionary Government which means no more or less than it is a government dedicated to attaining these other two objectives.
Insisting on national independence for all peoples, Dr. Sun’s vision transcends the problem of China, and seeks equality for all peoples, East and West alike. China not only fights for her own independence, but also for the liberation of every oppressed nation. For us the Atlantic Charter and President Roosevelt’s proclamation of the Four Freedoms for all peoples are cornerstones of our fighting faith.
For many centuries Chinese society has been free of class distinctions such as are found even in advanced democracies. At the core of our political thought is our traditional maxim, “The people form the foundation of the country”. We Chinese are instinctively democratic, and Dr. Sun’s objective of universal suffrage evokes from all Chinese a ready and unhesitating response. But the processes and forms by which the will of the people is made manifest, and the complex machinery of modern democratic government cannot, I know to my cost, be created overnight, especially under the constant menace and attack of Japanese militarism.

During the last years of his life Dr. Sun devoted much of his forward thinking to the economic reconstruction of China, and nothing, I believe, so marked his greatness as his insistence that the coming tremendous economic reconstruction of China should benefit not the privileged few but the entire nation.
The absence of a strong central government capable of directing economic development, the bondage of unequal treaties trying to keep China as a semi-colony for others, and above all the jealous machinations of Japan, all these greatly retarded the economic reconstruction to which the National Revolution of China is dedicated.
But the end of the present war will find China freed of her bondage, with a vigorous government and a people ardent with desire to rebuild their country. I feel the force of this desire as a tidal wave which will not only absorb the energies of our people for a century but will also bring lasting benefits to the entire world. But the bright promise of the future, which has done much to sustain us during our grim struggle with Japan, will cruelly vanish if after paying the price this second time we do not achieve the reality of world cooperation.
I hear that my American friends have confidence in the experience of men who have “come up the hard way”. My long struggles as a soldier of the Chinese Revolution have forced me to realize the necessity of facing hard facts. There will be neither peace, nor hope, nor future for any of us unless we honestly aim at political, social and economic justice for all peoples of the world, great and small. But I feel confident that we of the United Nations can achieve that aim only by starting at once to organize an international order embracing all peoples to enforce peace and justice among them. To make that start we must begin today and not tomorrow to apply these principles among ourselves even at some sacrifice to the absolute powers of our individual countries. We should bear in mind one of the most inspiring utterances of the last World War, that of Edith Cavell:
“Standing at the brink of the grave, I feel that Patriotism alone is not enough.”
We Chinese are not so blind as to believe that the new international order will usher in the millennium. But we do not look upon it as visionary. The idea of universal brotherhood is innate in the catholic nature of Chinese thought; it was the dominant concept of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, whom events have proved time and again to be not a visionary but one of the world’s greatest realists.
Among our friends there has been recently some talk of China emerging as the leader of Asia, as if China wished the mantle of an unworthy Japan to fall on her shoulders. Having herself been a victim of exploitation, China has infinite sympathy for the submerged nations of Asia, and towards them China feels she has only responsibilities- not rights. We repudiate the idea of leadership of Asia because the “Fuehrer principle” has been synonymous for domination and exploitation, precisely as the “East Asia co-prosperity sphere” has stood for a race of mythical supermen lording over grovelling subject races.
China has no desire to replace Western imperialism in Asia with an Oriental imperialism or isolationism of its own or of any one else. We hold that we must advance from the narrow idea of exclusive alliances and regional blocs which in the end make for bigger and more terrible wars, to effective organization of world unity. Unless real world cooperation replaces both isolationism and imperialism of whatever form in the new inter-dependent world of free nations, there will be no lasting security for you or for us (Chiang Kai-shek: All We are and All We Have. Speeches and Messages Since Pearl Harbor, 1948, pp. 60-61, my emphasis).

A Wartime May of Life

A radio message to the nation on the eighth anniversary of the founding of the New Life Movement, February 18, 1942.
I have frequently pointed out that in promoting the New Life Movement my aim has been to have the people lead a life adapted to the demands of war time. A way of life compatible with wartime conditions is necessary to the existence of a nation in present times. Complete national mobilization requires such a way of life. It requires of every citizen a change of attitude and a reform of habits. People of either sex and of all ages, at the front or in the rear, must act as members of one compact and unified fighting body.
Though our nation has been engaged for nearly five years in this war of resistance complete national mobilization has not yet been achieved. There is still almost as much laxity and negligence to be observed as in normal times. Our society is not yet a wartime society, nor our economy a wartime economy, nor our education wartime education. This is undeniably a great shortcoming in the record of resistance and in that of the New Life Movement. Our war effort will have to be much enlarged in scope and assume a far more vehement character. We must devote ourselves with greater energy to the cause if victory is to be won, our nation rehabilitated and the world liberated.
You must all be aware that modern war is not a mere matter of military operations. It involves the whole strength and all the resources of the nation. Not only soldiers, but also all citizens without exception, take part. The latter must conceive the national peril as affecting them personally, must consent to the endurance of all necessary hardships, and must abandon private freedom and satisfaction when discipline and the public interest demand it. Vigor of mind and body must be put at the service of the state. Wealth and resources must be conserved to meet the needs of warfare. An atmosphere of urgency and vigilance should pervade society. Those in a position to indulge themselves should forego indulgence and those not in such a position should regard indulgence as disreputable.
In a society where this is so, life will conform to the exigencies of war time. That is, the nation’s interest will be held supreme and victory will be held the proper goal of all citizens’ efforts. The state will exercise its rights of controlling the people’s life and restricting their consumption of resources, and the people will fulfill their duty of compliance with this control. In this respect China has formerly been backward. I trust that there will be now a thorough realization of the needs of war time and that citizens will watch over one another in such a way that those whose sense of patriotism is weak may be admonished and guided into better courses.
In December of last year the Ninth Plenary Session of the Central Executive and Supervisory Committee of the Party (Kuomintang) approved an “Outline of Provisions for National Mobilization.” On the basis of this the Government is soon to issue ordinances with the main object of controlling and developing those human and material resources that have not yet been exploited, of restricting consumption and adjusting production and supply of commodities, and of defining every citizen’s war duties. These ordinances must be obeyed by all without attempts at evasion.
I believe that to this end the methods and organization of the New Life Movement may best serve as a basis for informing and guiding the public mind. In this way the Government’s enactments can be more effectively put into force, and points which those enactments do not cover will not go unnoticed.
The execution of the scheme of national mobilization will in part be undertaken by the New Life Movement Headquarters, by the responsible heads of Government organizations, teachers in schools and local administrative personnel. The Headquarters has already decided to concentrate in its work this year upon the promotion of national service. This will mean the cultivation of a spirit of mutual helpfulness and encouragement in the task of adjusting national ways of life to the demands of war time. It must not be forgotten that this can only be done by insistence on the moral values of propriety, justice, honesty and integrity. We must endeavor to foster a spirit of hardiness, earnestness and trustworthiness. The weak-minded and frivolous, those impatient of trial and trouble, those who lay blame and responsibility upon others, those who are reckless of the success of the national policies and of military exigencies are unfitted to be citizens of a nation at war and are ripe for utilization as tools of the enemy.
Sense of responsibility, respect for discipline, and clarity of moral judgment form the basis of worthy conduct in war time. The struggle must never be absent from our minds. We must be constantly prepared for sacrifices. We must go about all we do with seriousness and alertness. Victory then may be confidently expected and the success of reconstruction may be held assured (ibid., pp. 6-8).

Introduction to “Soviet Russia In China” (1957)

From the American Declaration of Independence of 1776 to the emergence of a number of former European colonies and protectorates in Asia and Africa as independent states in the years following the end of World War II, there had been two major revolutionary trends of far-reaching importance. One was marked by a steadily growing demand of the individual for greater freedom and equality. The other was a gradual awakening of national consciousness culminating in the surge of nationalism, particularly in Asian countries.
The ideas and emotions fostered by the French Revolution of 1789 were in themselves mainly concerned with the assertions and claims of the individual in his relationship to the state, though their influence on contemporary and subsequent events was by no means confined to the struggle for personal rights and liberties alone. It was the success of the American Revolution, however, which set a forceful precedent for subject peoples to aspire to self-government and political independence.
In 1885, one hundred and ten years after the American Declaration of Independence, a young Chinese medical doctor named Sun Yat-sen began preaching his revolutionary principles. Ten years later, in 1895, he founded in Honolulu the first Chinese revolutionary party with what then must have seemed an unbelievably ambitious aim of overthrowing the monarchical system of government which had been in continuous existence in China for forty centuries. Although his immediate target was to bring about the downfall of the Manchu dynasty, his ultimate objective was to free China from foreign domination and to set the country on the road to political and social democracy.
Dr. Sun had received a Western education which enabled him to reappraise the cultural assets of his own people in the light of modern political thinking. He found in China’s traditional institutions of government such useful features as those of the civil service examinations and of the independent power of impeachment, which he later incorporated in his theory of Five-Power Constitution. But his basic political philosophy undoubtedly came from the ideals of the American and French Revolutions. In fact, his Three People’s Principles could be best paraphrased in Abraham Lincoln’s famous saying: “. . . government of the people, by the people, for the people.
It was in 1911 that Dr. Sun and his followers finally succeeded in establishing a republican form of government for the Chinese people. But before the gains of the Revolution could be consolidated, Yuan Shih-kai, a remnant of the Manchu dynasty who was then in control of the armed forces in the North, conspired with the Imperialists. He overthrew the young republic and restored the monarchy with himself as the founder of what he had hoped to be a new dynasty. This was the Republic of China’s first setback. Although the new monarchy was a short-lived one, the government subsequently fell into the hands of war lords who set up regional regimes and fought among themselves. Finally the country was plunged into chaos. Dr. Sun and his followers had to continue their work in their original base of Canton where in 1917 a revolutionary government was founded. His plan was to rally all revolutionary elements and to make preparations for a punitive expedition against the war lords in the North.
In the ensuing years he repeatedly sought external aid but all his efforts were in vain. Not only did the Western Powers turn a deaf ear to his appeals, some of them were actually in collusion with the war lords for selfish ends. Japanese militarists were particularly active in scheming with one war lord after another, seeking all the time to further their own aggressive designs. As conditions throughout the country worsened, the Republic, founded by Dr. Sun and his followers, for all practical intents and purposes ceased to exist.
The successful coup d’état led by Lenin in 1917 not only ushered in a new regime in Russia but was destined to become the most powerful challenge to humanistic civilization in Asia as well as in Europe.
The most appealing argument of Russian Communism was its promise of a short cut to Utopia by a world revolution of the masses. This revolution was to justify all means of violence and subversion on the assumption that, once realized, it would lead to the creation of a permanent ideal state for all mankind. The appeal had an electrifying effect on progressive elements in all Asian countries where a century of Western colonial rule had already sown deep-seated resentment and accumulated discontent. Thus, the Russian Communists were able to capitalize on this state of mind to launch the initial phase in their program of World Revolution in Asia.
In China, where a subcolonial state had resulted from a series of unequal treaties imposed upon her, the Russian Communists found fertile soil for the reception of their ideas, and thus prepared the way for their subversive infiltration. The Chicherin Statement of 1918 and the Karakhan Declaration of 1919, announcing Russia’s readiness to relinquish her special rights in China, immediately captured the imagination and unprecedentedly won the good will of the Chinese people. While initiating steps for negotiations with the government at Peking on this subject on the one hand, Russian emissaries approached Dr. Sun with offers of military and technical assistance on the other. At the same time, be it noted carefully they proceeded to organize the Chinese Communist Party, and provided it with financial help as well as political directives.
In January 1923 Dr. Sun and Adolf Joffe reached an agreement by which the Russian Communists were to extend to Dr. Sun’s political party (Kuomintang, literally the National People’s Party) all the necessary assistance to achieve national unification in accordance with the revolutionary programs Dr. Sun had laid down. The Russian Communists were also to instruct Chinese Communists to join Kuomintang and follow Dr. Sun’s leadership in China’s National Revolution. This marked the beginning of a period of cooperation and “peaceful coexistence” between Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party as well as between China and Russia. It soon proved itself a failure.
In spite of the failure of the first trial run of “peaceful coexistence,” Kuomintang, and later the Chinese Government under my leadership, went through two more periods of “peaceful coexistence,” resulting in the total loss of the Chinese mainland. Under Russian Communists’ instigation, the Chinese Communists tried to sabotage the National Revolution and overthrow the Republic of China by resort to violence. Since they seized the mainland, they have imposed on the Chinese people there a totalitarian dictatorship. This is tantamount to a repetition of what Yuan Shih-kai did to the National Revolution early in the Republic. The methods used by the Chinese Communists in betraying the country and oppressing the people, however, are far more shameless and vicious than those of the northern war lords.
This is an important reason for the Republic’s second setback. I feel that I owe it to my own people and to the world at large to give a truthful account of the circumstances in which my party and my government were compelled to give “peaceful coexistence” two more trials even though the first had ended in failure …
In presenting this record to the world, I am filled with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am fully aware that my country has been a victim of circumstances which drove her to temporary alignment with Soviet Russia on more than one occasion in spite of the known treacherous character and the aggressive aim of international Communism; on the other, I can lay claim to the proud fact that I have incessantly fought Communist aggression and Communist ideas for the last thirty-odd years. Like Dr. Sun himself, who on signing the agreement with Joffe declared that Communism was totally unsuitable to the needs of the Chinese people and, therefore, could not be endorsed by Kuomintang, I remain firmly convinced that the only road open to the Chinese people is that marked out by Dr. Sun’s Three People’s Principles … (Chiang Kai-shek: Soviet Russia In China, 1957, pp. 3-  7).

China’s March Towards Democracy

An address to the Third Session of the People’s Political Council held in Chungking on its closing day, February 21, 1939.
THE Third Session of the People’s Political Council and its proceedings have attracted wide attention both in China and abroad. During these ten days we have deliberated together with eager enthusiasm on important policies of the State. I am grateful for the approval you have given to the hopes which I expressed at the opening meeting. My own faith in our ultimate victory and in the future of our nation has been greatly strengthened by the remarkable spirit of unity and co-operation manifested in these meetings …
This Council will occupy, in the future history of Chinese political institutions, an illustrious place. As I said at the first session the mission of the Council is to pave the way for a constitutional form of government, and to lay the foundations for a genuine democracy. When Dr. Sun Yat-sen advocated the San Min Chu I he made democracy the final aim of his Min Chuan Chu I (Principle of the People’s Sovereignty). If a people cannot look after their own interests, manage their own public affairs, and take an active part in the government, they cannot build up a strong nation. The most powerful and at the same time most stable nations in the world are founded on the will of the people, and the interests and policies of the government are identical with those of the people. The object of Dr. Sun’s Principle of the People’s Sovereignty is to create a nation in which the government is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
We are now prosecuting the war and at the same time carrying on reconstruction. To be successful in both, we cannot rely on military strength alone. We must mobilize the spirit of the whole nation and organize the spiritual forces that are awakened. We must transform the will of our people into a powerful weapon for our men at the front, and into a dynamic force for the development of our great hinterland. Besides strengthening our military forces, we must mobilize the spirit of our people and unify their will.
The Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) convoked the People’s Council last year with the hope that the Council would facilitate the expression of genuine public opinion and give the Government guidance in its policy by making known to it the sufferings and aspirations of the people. There was also the hope that the members of the Council would truly represent the people and would contribute their abilities and their experience to the service of the Government. If this is done, the Government will be able to satisfy the people and the words and actions of the people will strengthen the Government. Government and people will share the glory that comes with success or the humiliation that comes with failure. When the Government and the people become one in spirit and purpose, new strength will be added to our resistance and greater achievement will reward our efforts at reconstruction.
True, it is our duty as members of the Council to fight for national independence and freedom, but upon us also depends whether China can during this difficult time of war complete the pattern of a genuine democracy and lay a foundation for lasting peace and order. How are we to discharge our responsibility in this connection? As a member of this Council, I wish to consider with you the nature of the genuine democracy which we desire for China, and the steps we must take to achieve it.
Dr. Sun Yat-sen was well acquainted with both Chinese and Western scholarship. He had a thorough knowledge of world movements and of conditions in China. Out of his forty years’ experience as a revolutionary leader he formulated the Three Principles of the People, believing that the application of these principles would make a prosperous, powerful, peaceful, and happy country. Dr. Sun’s hope was to bring about a democracy which would be more thoroughgoing and more practical than other democracies. In his lectures on the Principle of the People’s Sovereignty, he criticized the theory of natural rights and started a revolutionary school of thought concerning people’s rights. Furthermore, he wanted the Chinese people to exercise fully the direct political rights of election, recall, initiative, and referendum. But he was more than an idealist; he was also a practical revolutionist. The higher his ideals soared, the surer became his steps. He maintained that the people must practice revolutionary principles and fulfill their revolutionary responsibilities before they could be given elementary political rights. He also held the view that the people must be trained before they could exercise the more advanced rights of election, recall, initiative, and referendum.
Dr. Sun wished to establish a true democracy without any make-believe or artificiality. Unfortunately the Chinese people had inherited all kinds of evil practices from many dynasties of autocratic rule, and were at a low ebb of intelligence and vitality. The people were habitually disorganized and selfish. Serious obstacles to internal progress existed. To bridge the chasm between such a historical background and the ideal of democracy meant strenuous toil in the face of great difficulties. Certainly the goal could not be reached at a single stride. Consequently, Dr. Sun declared that China’s revolution must pass through the stages of military rule, political tutelage, and constitutional government before it would be complete.
Accordingly, the National Government proceeded first to unify the country. Then followed the period of political tutelage. It was originally hoped that this would hasten the realization of constitutional government and the completion of the national revolution. Unfortunately, soon after internal unity had been achieved, new difficulties arose. For five or six years the Government had to devote a large part of the manpower and financial resources of the nation to operations which should have fallen within the period of military rule. Scarcely had we gained our second wind before Japan began her long-premeditated attack upon us, every day striking deeper into the heart of our country. To protect our sovereign rights and to preserve our national existence we were forced to resist. For nineteen months now we have engaged in bitter war. Our losses in territory occupied by the enemy and in lives and property sacrificed by our people cannot possibly be measured by numbers alone.
Judging by present conditions, not only has our program for the period of political tutelage received a serious setback, but much of the work of the period of military rule has to be done all over again. We must first of all crush the aggressor’s military force, destroy all traitors and puppets, and eradicate all influences harmful to our nation and antagonistic to our revolutionary cause. We must recover our lost territories and clear up our internal situation before we can really talk about political tutelage and constitutional government. Strictly speaking, we are still in the period of military government. According to Article Six in the Outlines of National Reconstruction the main tasks of this period are as follows: “All organizations must be under military control. The Government should on the one hand employ military force to clear the country of all internal obstacles, and on the other it should propagate its principles (i.e., the Three Principles of the People) for the enlightenment of the masses.
As I have frequently said, the most urgent task before us now is the defense and rebuilding of our nation. We must unify the thinking of the people and call forth all their powers for the completion of this twofold task. During the war we should strengthen the people’s sense of responsibility toward the State and their understanding of the Three Principles. Although we are in another period of military government when obstacles to our national independence are being removed, yet political tutelage should still be carried on.
The training of the people in government is essential to the early completion of our national task; only we must not let it interfere with our military activities during the war. On the contrary, we should use the program of political training as an aid in prosecuting the war. Until the war is over military affairs must receive first consideration and military victory must be our primary objective. Political training is important but secondary. For the present, the winning of the war must be central in all our thinking and planning. Since we aim to build a strong and genuine democracy, we must not neglect the procedures and steps necessary for its realization. Before the coming of real democracy our people, who for thousands of years have been accustomed to autocracy, must be given the right psychological preparation and must be thoroughly trained in the process of self-government.
Besides dividing the process of revolution into three stages, Dr. Sun Yat-sen also gave us this grave warning. “Within a few months after the outbreak of the Revolution of 1911 there came about the downfall of an autocratic form of government more than four thousand years old, and simultaneously the overthrow of the Manchus who had been the rulers of China for over two hundred and sixty years. No one can deny the tremendous destructive power of the revolution. Yet up to the present the realization of the San Min Chu I has been as uncertain and remote as ever. Why? Because after the destruction we failed to rebuild in accordance with the program that previously had been decided upon.”
At that time people made the mistake of neglecting the steps necessary for achieving democracy; instead, they simply vied with one another in talking about democracy. That is why the provisional constitution then adopted degenerated into a mere scrap of paper. Disorders and disasters followed one another in a vicious circle. The supreme laws of the State were manipulated by the politicians and warlords so as to cover up their own evil doings. In the name of democracy numerous barriers to democracy were set up and untold sins against democracy were committed. The resulting situation could best be described in the famous words of Mme. Roland during the French Revolution, “O Liberty! Liberty! how many crimes are committed in thy name!”
In order not to repeat this mistake, we must start from the very beginning, and seek genuine liberty for our nation and people. Since the formation of this Council, its members have willingly sacrificed their individual freedom and personal preferences in order to lay a foundation for democratic government. This is the most gratifying thing that has happened during the war and, for that matter, since China became a republic in 1911. I feel confident that in the future we shall follow more closely the teachings which Dr. Sun Yat-sen bequeathed to us and shall earnestly promote the program of political training. We must set an example for the people by displaying a high sense of responsibility and by actual accomplishments, and avoid the pitfall of irresponsible and unrealistic thinking and behavior. We must make it clear to our people that democracy is not a synonym for lack of law, nor order a synonym for anarchy.
Democracy must be based on a sound and collective public opinion which truly represents the will of the majority. The freedom with which democracy endows the people must not be in conflict with public welfare, nor must it go beyond the limits marked by the laws of the State. With our nation facing the most severe crisis in its history, we must teach the people to respect the power and authority of the State. The State is the enforcer of laws, and the guardian of the nation’s welfare. In order to protect the interests of the people and the welfare of the nation, the State must punish those who violate its laws and destroy its political institutions. Sanctions applied in accordance with the law should not be mistaken for oppression. In all democratic countries there are governments, political institutions, and laws. The latter two especially must be respected by the people and their destruction by a few must never be tolerated.
In order to lay a foundation for democracy during this war we must inform the people of the real meaning of democracy. We members of the Council are the leaders of the people. It is our duty to train the people and to protect their interests. We must fully exercise the authority of just public opinion against all those who in the name of freedom or democracy violate the laws and institutions of the State and weaken our power of resistance. Hypocrites and obstructionists have no place among us. Our people must realize that military government is essential to the prosecution of our war and that political tutelage is a prerequisite to national rebuilding. A lasting foundation for genuine democracy can be laid only if we follow the plan outlined for us by our late leader, Dr. Sun Yat-sen.
The entire aim of Dr. Sun’s life and struggle was to carry out the Three Principles and to restore the government to the people. But a people without training in government cannot govern. Therefore Dr. Sun called upon the intellectuals of the nation and his comrades of the revolution to become guardians of the people, and as public servants to teach and guide the people. This is the road we must take in rebuilding our nation.
In Chinese history there are two good examples of political tutelage: Premier Yi Yin and King Tai Chia of the Shang Dynasty, and Duke Chow and King Cheng of the Chow Dynasty. King Tai Chia was a minor when he came to the throne; so Premier Yi Yin took upon himself the task of teaching and guiding the youthful monarch. His counsels were later compiled in an essay named after himself. It happened that King Tai Chia at first did not heed his advice but became addicted to evil habits. Premier Yi Yin thereupon sent the King to the Tung Palace and had him kept there. In spite of suspicion and slander Premier Yi Yin ruled the Kingdom as regent and at the same time used all possible means to teach and guide the wayward monarch. The three chapters about Yi Yin in the History of the Shang Dynasty form a lasting testimony to his love for the nation and his loyalty to the throne. Later, when King Tai Chia repented of his wrongdoings and learned the meaning of responsibility and acquired the necessary abilities for administration, Premier Yi Yin turned over to him the reins of government and himself retired from political life. When he left he presented the King with an essay embodying his views on public administration.
In the other case, Duke Chow was entrusted by Emperor Yu with the responsibility of helping the Crown Prince. At the time of his father’s death, King Cheng was young and his power of moral judgment was still undeveloped. Duke Chow had to take measures against Wu Keng’s revolt and at the same time bear with the mischievous rumors circulated against him by Kuan and Tsai, two uncles of King Cheng. Duke Chow’s position was extremely difficult, but he carried on in spite of untold hardships and humiliations. Not a moment did he shirk his heavy responsibility for establishing peace and order in the Kingdom and for helping and teaching King Cheng until he himself could rule. The four verses in the Book of Odes which describe in metaphorical language Duke Chow’s love for the nation and his loyalty to the King still inspire all who read them:
Owl, O owl, hear my request,
And do not, owl, destroy my nest.
You have taken my young,
Though I over them hung,
With the nursing of love and of care.
Pity me, pity me! Hear my prayer.
Ere the clouds the sky had obscured,
The mulberry roots I secured.
Door and window around,
Them so firmly I bound,
That I said, casting downward my eyes,
“Dare any of you my house despise?”
I tugged with my claws and I tore,
And my mouth and my claws were sore.
So the rushes I sought,
And all other things brought;
For to perfect the house I was bent,
And I grudged no toil with this intent.
My wings are deplorably torn,
And my tail is much injured and worn.
Tossed about by the wind,
While the rain beats unkind,
Oh! my house is in peril of harm,
And this note I scream out in alarm.
Later, when all uprisings in the Kingdom had been quelled and when King Cheng had come of age, Duke Chow like Premier Yi Yin restored to his master the reins of government. Then as if still not fully satisfied Duke Chow recorded his precepts in an essay entitled No Leisure, to remind King Cheng of the hardships which his ancestors had experienced in founding the Kingdom and of the need for constant vigilance in the performance of duty.
We are passing through an unprecedented national crisis. We are far from completing our task of national reconstruction. How can we fail to share the deep feelings which moved Duke Chow?
Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the great pioneer of our national revolution, often likened himself to Premier Li Yin and Duke Chow. He advocated the division of our revolution into three periods–military rule, political tutelage, and constitutional government–because he wanted to train the people before giving them the right of self- government. In the light of history how great was our late Leader’s wisdom and sense of responsibility! …
To carry out our mission we members of the Council must bear ourselves in an exemplary manner both inside and out of the conference room. We must obey laws and orders, observe strict discipline, and perform all our duties faithfully. The ancients said, “If a man is upright he will be obeyed without orders.” And again, “One who teaches others by his own example has many followers.” If we are to be examples to the people, we must practice what we preach, and observe strict discipline. We must be responsible to the nation and the people in all we say, and all of our actions must conform to law and order. Then the people will naturally accept our guidance, and with training and inspiration will be prepared to build up a real democracy.
Whether democracy can be established in China depends entirely upon us in this Council. The ultimate aim of the San Min Chu I –universal brotherhood and the ideal world described in the Book of Rites–cannot be achieved without earnest and united effort.
The three things which the Fifth Plenary Session of the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang asked of the nation– the strengthening of our national unity, the intensification of our struggle against Japan, and the speeding up of our reconstruction program–have been crystallized in the resolutions adopted by this session. Now the members of the Council should publicize these resolutions and lead the way in putting them into effect.
This Council is not an ordinary peacetime legislative assembly but a body of men and women who have struggled and suffered together and who have gathered for conference here under extraordinary circumstances to give guidance to the nation. This Council is not only a place where public opinion can be expressed but also a place where the power of public opinion can be centralized.
After returning to our various places of work let us all, in accordance with the resolutions of this session, help to raise the national morale and to revive the traditional virtues of our people. Let each one work hard at his post and help put into execution the resolutions adopted by this session: the revision of the conscription system, the enforcement of spiritual mobilization, the expediting of economic reconstruction, and the reform of the pao chia (registration and mutual guarantee) system.
If we strive hard we cannot fail to have results, and our Government, our nation, and our people will all be richly benefited (quoted in: The Collected Wartime Messages of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek 1937-45, Volume One: 1937-1940 , Compiled By the Chinese Ministry of Information, 1946, pp. 196- 205).

Chiang Kai-shek’s Response to Taiwan’s 228 Incident



The reasons for the unfortunate incident in Taiwan have been reported in the newspapers, and I need not repeat them in detail. Since our recovery of Taiwan last year, the central government regarded the state of the harmony and order in Taiwan as very satisfactory, and we did not send troops to be stationed there. Moreover, the military and civil police were sufficient to maintain local order and law. Last year, people in commerce, industry, and agriculture were law-abiding and sincere in their loyalty to the government. This spirit of patriotism and self- respect is no different from that of the Chinese people in other provinces.
Recently, however, some people formerly mobilized by the Japanese and sent to the Southeast Asian theater to fight–and some Communists among them–took advantage of the Monopoly Bureau’s smuggling case to promote their own ends and create a disturbance. They also demanded political reforms. The central government considers that the Constitution will be upheld and, moreover, it will be applied to Taiwan so that normalcy can quickly return.
Because our Constitution limits the central government’s powers, the central government has only limited power over local administrations. Governor-General Ch’en has followed the instructions of the central government and has decided to change the structure of government in Taiwan, replacing the Executive Office of the Taiwan provincial government. Within a defined period of time, he will implement local elections for district officials, and the people of Taiwan can express their hopes and desires. Therefore, this unfortunate incident could have ended.
However, last Friday, March 7, the so-called February 28th Incident Resolution Committee unexpectedly made some irrational demands. That committee demanded that the government abolish the Taiwan Garrison Command Headquarters, that the Nationalist forces surrender their weapons, and that all security organs and the army and navy be staffed only with Taiwanese. These demands go beyond the jurisdiction of the local administration, and the central government cannot accept them. Moreover, yesterday many people illegally attacked government administrative organs.
Because these incidents have repeatedly happened, the central government has decided to dispatch a military force to Taiwan to maintain security. It has been reported that a military force already has safely landed in Keelung and that harmony has been restored. We believe that normalcy everywhere will soon be established. We are also going to send a top-ranking official to Taiwan to help resolve the troubles. I have already telegraphed to military and political leaders and other staff personnel, ordering them to maintain discipline. Do not be taken in by evil persons, and do not be deceived by Japanese-style deceit. If that happens, great harm will come to our country (Tse-han Lai / Ramon H. Myers / Wou Wei: A Tragic Beginning: The Taiwan Uprising of February 28, 1947, pp. 147- 148).

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