The dangerous rehabilitation of Chiang Kai-shek

May 7, 2009

Of all the historical figures for the Chinese Communist Party to exploit, the most unlikely would be Chiang Kai-hsek, the man who led the fight against it for over nearly fifty years. However, the CCP – while being brutal, cruel, corrupt, and devious – is also the shrewdest tyrannical regime on earth. Thus, anti-Communists are in the highly unusual position of being wary over the historical rehabilitation of the CCP’s most well-known enemy.

Chiang’s memory is riding the latest revisionist wave of history. Jay Taylor’s The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China (reviewed in the Washington Post) is leading the way on this side of the Pacific, but as John Pomfret notes, “Mainland scholars of the Nationalist period have also written essays intimating that China would probably have been better off if Chiang had stayed in charge.”

On some level, this is a dramatic admission from the Communist regime, impossible at any point before 1976. However, this is 2009, meaning the newfound appreciation for the Nationalist leader is much less than meets the eye.

For starters, Chiang is almost always compared to Mao Zedong, rather than Hu Jintao or Jiang Zemin. For historical purposes, this makes a lot of sense. However, when attempting to use the past to explain the present, it falls woefully short for four reasons.

First, neither Chiang nor Mao were genuine democrats in any way, shape, or form. Both men were tyrannical rulers who merely different on the nature of the tyranny. Because Chiang sided with the anti-Communists during the first Cold War, too many assume that Hu and Jiang, by hewing closer to Chiang’s tyrant model, have surrendered the argument. This is far from true. Chiang’s brutality, his insistence on the Nationalists dominating the state and the economy, and his tolerance for corruption would make him quite comfortable in today’s CCP. In fact, Chiang himself managed to convince Joe Stalin that he was a dedicated Communist – to the point that the Soviets actually designated the Nationalists as their allies for much of the 1920s.

Secondly, Chiang and Mao shared an absolute refusal to accept Taiwanese self-determination. During their time, given the deep disagreement over who should control the mainland, that seemed a secondary issue. Today, with the Nationalist/Kuomintang Party having accepted Communist domination of the mainland, Taiwanese self-determination (which is not to say formal independence per se, but could include it) is the only protection the island democracy has left now.

Which bring us to the third reason Chiang’s newfound acceptance is problematic: Taiwan (or, for those who prefer it, the Republic of China) is now a vibrant democracy, something Chiang would never accept. What has inspired mainlanders was not Chiang’s rule over Formosa, but its transition away from Chiang’s rule.

If Taiwan is to have any hero, it should be Lee Tenghui, but the cadres can’t stand him, so instead they encourage a Chiang boomlet. This has the added bonus of aiding the current Nationalist Party on the island, so as to block the return to popularity of Lee’s anti-Communist allies, the Democratic Progressive Party.

Finally, the Chiang boomlet does nothing to alleviate concern over the CCP’s continuing adventurism abroad. That Hu Jintao may be closer to the Chiang model doesn’t make the military he now commands any less dangerous (The Australian and the BBC). Nor does it lighten the dark shadow the regime casts around the globe (Brisbane Times and The Malaysian Insider). It certainly doesn’t mean improvement in the areas where Chiang and Mao were equally terrible, be it corruption (Agence France Presse via Yahoo and the Los Angeles Times) or cruelty to dissidents (AFP via Yahoo and Deutsche PresseAgentur via Hispanic Business).

The CCP, contrary to what they would like us to believe, is still in serious trouble. American investors, fed up with tales of profits that never materialize (Forbes), are finally beginning to look to India as a profitable alternative (New York Times). The tainted export meme has shifted to drywall found in tens of thousands of American homes (CNN). Finally, the rural interior continues to be impoverished and plundered by the regime itself (BBC). In this context, it’s easy to see why the regime would want the world (and the Chinese people) to believe the Mao-Chiang conflict was all about semantics – and for those two men, it may very well have been just that.

For the rest of us, however, it is about freedom and tyranny – and which will prevail. The more we focus on how close Mao’s heirs have moved to Chiang, the less we notice that the people of the mainland and the island democracy have moved beyond both of them to demand (and in the case of the island, achieve) genuine freedom. Therein lies the danger of Chiang’s rehabilitation.

Cross-posted to the China e-Lobby

A troubling espionage case

April 2, 2008

A former Defense Department Analyst pled guilty to helping Communist China get its hands on Taiwanese defense technology in what could have – and should have – been a crippling blow to the island democracy.  Those who may wonder why Taiwanese anti-Communists seem so determine to push the international envelope need only look at this case to understand why they can feel entirely alone.

Is Taiwan paying attention to Tibet?

March 18, 2008

From one perspective, the Communist crackdown on Tibet couldn’t come at a better time.  The Olympics is still five months away – more than enough time, sadly, for people to forget what has happened this month.  Furthermore, this could take a lot of steam out of the reaction to the 50th anniversary of the bloody March 1959 crackdown.  From another angle, however, it couldn’t have come at a worse time, because Taiwan will elect a new President on Saturday.

Up until last week, it was fairly certain who the President would be – former Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou.  Ma is the nominee of the Kuomintang (Nationalist – KMT for short) party; the party which under Chiang Kai-Shek ran all of China, then retreated to Taiwan in 1949 and ruled until losing power in the election of 2000.

Older readers might remember the KMT as the leading anti-Communist force in East Asia, but that was a long time ago.  During the 1990’s, under President Lee Teng-hui, Taiwan transitioned to a democracy, and the Taiwanese people became more confident in themselves, their elected government (Lee stood for election in 1996 and won overwhelmingly), and their right to be treated as an independent nation.

Meanwhile, Communist China, sensing an opportunity in the increasingly homesick leadership of the KMT, began making overtures toward winning them over.  The “one country, two systems” model for Hong Kong (which looked a lot better before it was implemented than it does eleven years on) was touted as a possible future for Taiwan – and many in the KMT started abandoning anti-Communism and supported reunification even under Communist rule.

Lee, however, did not, which set off a factional split in the KMT that allowed the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to win in 2000 under Chen Shui-bian.  The split within the KMT was so bad that Lee quit the party and formed his own (the Taiwan Solidarity Union), which endorsed Chen for re-election (he won).  Now, however, after eight years, Taiwanese voters seemed to be tired of the DPP, while the KMT nominated Ma – who has taken care to adopt anti-Communist rhetoric his entire career.

The DPP nominee (former Premier Frank Hsieh) had been unable to gain any traction, even as Ma proposed a “peace treaty” with the Communists.  All the signs pointed to a KMT blowout – until Tibet started bleeding.

How worried was Ma?  He uttered these words when asked about the possibility of the Communists doing the same to Taiwan: “Taiwan is not Tibet … we are a sovereign country” (CNS News).  To KMT supporters, those words are the sine qua non of political incorrectness.  To top it off, Ma even talked about boycotting the Olympics this morning (Agence France Presse).

Will it be enough?  It’s hard to say.  As I mentioned earlier, these aren’t Ma’s first anti-Communist statements.  The concern was always whether or not the rest of the KMT would push him towards “reconciliation” – and that concern won’t go away no matter what Ma says.  Still, if Ma wins, he will not be able to run away from his anti-Communist rhetoric without suffering horrendous political consequences, if Taiwan still has the opportunity to deliver them.

Why do I say that?  Three years ago an inside CCP source leaked that the Communist regime intends to conquer Taiwan by no later than 2012.  This timeline is not dependent on Taiwanese policy, but rather the Communists’ schedule for neutralizing dissidents.  Of course, the Communists have repeatedly tired to cover their true face with their “peaceful rise” nonsense – nonsense has been literally shot away in Tibet.

What Tibet has revealed is the true nature of the Communist regime, which Taiwan’s voters should not take lightly.  I would humbly submit (since I’m American and not Taiwanese, it can be nothing but humbly), that the island democracy cannot risk Ma succumbing to the Communist-sympathizing elements of the KMT.  It is far better to stick with the true anti-Communist coalition (DPP-TSU), and elect Frank Hsieh – which as Tibet continues to bleed – might just happen now.

On Communist China, Sudan, and the Olympics

February 20, 2008

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been over here in this corner of the blogosphere. I’ve been away too long.

What brought me back was the surprise decision (to me, at least) of Stephen Spielberg to withdraw from advising the 2008 Communist Olympiad because the Beijing regime was “not doing enough to press for peace in the troubled Sudanese region” of Darfur (AP via Free Lance Star). For starters, Spielberg is to be commended for his decision. More telling, and worrisome, was the Communist reaction to all of this.

Traditionally, when the Communist regime is faced with a public relations problem like this, they take what looks like mitigating steps. They’ll release a prisoner or two, make a pledge to stop selling arms to terrorists, talk of “peaceful intentions,” etc.

This time, however, all we have seen and heard is a hail of denial and scorn. In other words, Communist China has decided its ties to the Sudanese regime are far more important than even the Olympic bonanza itself.


Well, we have to look at Sudan itself to answer that question. Yes, Sudan is a major source of oil for the ChiComs, but if it was all about energy, the Communists could have looked to Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, or even Westinghouse. No, there’s something else here – the Sudanese regime.

Sudan has one of the very few regimes with ties to both al Qaeda and Tehran (Communist China happens to be another). In fact, Sudan was instrumental in bringing al Qaeda and Khomeinists together in the first place. A regime like that would be immensely helpful to Communist China’s plans against the United States.

Lest anyone forget to what plans I refer, remember that the Communists have scheduled the conquest of Taiwan for 2012 at the latest. They assume the United States would come to Taiwan’s defense – unless we are distracted by something or someone else – say, a Middle Eastern regime aiding al Qaeda commit a major terrorist attack against the U.S.

The fact is, no matter which enemy we consider in the Wahhabist-Ba’athist-Khomeinist War, they all have the same benefactor: Communist China. This is no accident.

Once again, geopolitics trumps PR. The bad news is that the Communists remain deadly serious about their geopolitical aims. The good news is that the Olympics won’t be nearly as beneficial to them as we initially feared.

Cross-posted to the China e-Lobby

STD seems to have forgotten what limited government means

January 14, 2008

In Spank That Donkey’s latest post describing the state of the Senate race (from his point of view), he drops this clanger on his readers:

During a time of surplus, Governor Gilmore didn’t waste our tax dollars, no indeed, he truly invested them back into the citizenry . . .

I’m sorry, but limited government politicians do not “invest” taxpayer money “back into the citizenry.”  They return it to the people; they reduce taxes and either reduce or hold the line on spending.

Now, Gilmore most certainly cut taxes, but he most certainly did not hold the line on spending, and as much as I like STD, when he uses terms like “invested them back into the citizenry,” he isn’t spanking the donkeys, he’s speaking like them.

Meanwhile, in Taiwan, Bush gets it all wrong

December 12, 2007

What with all the time I spend on the WBK War, I haven’t had much time to examine East Asia, where I consider President Bush’s policies to be mind-bogglingly weak.

Sadly, the Administration forced me to pay attention.

In short, the Taiwanese people have bravely built and maintained a free society in the teeth of neighboring Communist China.  Yet for the entire decade-plus of republican government, they have had to stand up to Beijing and Washington.

Of all the things on which the Clintons and the Bushes could agree, did it have to be this?

Well, like then, I have no choice to but to hope the Taiwanese people have more courage and common sense than my own President.  Trust me, it’s not a good feeling.

James Atticus Bowden for Congress

November 2, 2007

Well, it’s been just over a week since I explained my criteria for endorsing a candidate to replace Jo Ann Davis. We’ve been blessed with several good candidates in the 1st District, but one has placed himself above all others as the best choice: James Atticus Bowden.

I did not expect the choice to be as easy as it was. It helped that only a few candidates even bothered to provide a detailed response to my inquiry. Most either didn’t respond at all or referred me to their press releases and/or websites, none of which mentioned my primary focus: Communist China. As such, the first cut wiped out all but two candidates.

As it happened, both candidates who were left expressed good views on Communist China, the WahhabistBa’athistKhomeinist War, taxes, and life issues. However, only one candidate volunteered this:

If the PRC attacks Taiwan- then our defense agreement should be honored. The defense of Taiwan from armed attack is worth a war with China.

That statement is as bold as it is necessary. Taiwan has been the red-headed stepchild of international diplomacy for decades. The Communist regime has spent much treasure (and is more than ready to shed blood when the time is right) to swallow up the island democracy and snuff out the light of liberty that Taiwan has become. Yet hardly anyone in American officialdom is willing to come to grips with that fact.

James Atticus Bowden is, and that is why he has earned my support.

I should mention, of course, that he was one of the leaders against the Hampton Roads sales tax referendum in 2002, and was one of the very few who called out the transportation tax hike of 2007 for what it really was.

All of the Republican candidates are head and shoulders above the would-be Democrat nominees, but when it comes to the best person for the job, the choice is clear.

I support James Atticus Bowden, and come next Saturday – barring an unforeseen event that prevents my appearance – I will work and vote for him at the 1st District Convention (at Caroline County High School).


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