Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Democracy" in China, Part II

Today I'll be talking about Chiang Kai-shek (referred to as Jiang Jieshi from time to time by Beijing). While several American administrations and elements of the American public portrayed him as a Chinese George Washington, he was more like Benito Mussolini.

Chiang Kai-shek was born to a merchant family but like most people from his class studied in Japan, in his case at a military academy for two years. Upon his return to China (which was under the administration of Yuan Shikai), Chiang became involved with various crime organizations and eventually the Nationalist Party (led by Sun Yatsen).

Eventually Chiang would assume leadership of the Republic of China after the government moved to the south. His style of government really can be compared to fascism, as he utilized secret police and believed that the people and state should be of one mission. Far from promoting democracy, he hunted down political opponents (even the Chinese Communist Party prior to the Nationalist "defeat"in 1949).

Once in Taiwan, Chiang never released his grip. He imposed martial law on the island, which remained in place until the late 1980s when his son would lift it. One of my teachers remembers studying in Taiwan during the 1970s and clearly recalls the "political commissar" stationed in the dorm.

Tune in over the weekend for Mao's thoughts on democracy.

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