Tsai Ing-wen’s speech at the opening of Taiwan’s former President Chiang Ching-kuo Memorial Park Raised Political Issues and Sparked Debate
February 5, 2022
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen recently attended the opening ceremony of the “Ching-kuo Seven Seas Cultural Park” in honor of former President Chiang Ching-kuo (1910-1988), and she delivered a speech in front of Taiwan’s former President Ma Ying-jeou and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je and other dignitaries. She stressed that Chiang Ching-kuo’s “anti-communist and protect Taiwan” line was what Taiwan needed now. She emphasized that Taiwan needs to think about Chiang Ching-kuo’s “anti-communist and protect Taiwan” line. She also said that history’s verdict about Chiang Ching-kuo was rendered by the people of Taiwan. Tsai’s speech promply sparked a heated debate in Taiwan’s public opinion about the merits and demerits of Chiang Ching-kuo’s authoritarian rule and Taiwan’s democratization.
The remarks also divided opinion within the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan localist faction. Some localists and party opinion support Tsai’s move, praising her for uniting Taiwan and bridging differences; however, some party insiders and human rights groups criticize Tsai’s speech for hurting the political victims of Chiang’s rule and for undermining the work of transitional justice.
The remarks also divided opinion within the DPP and the local faction. Some localists and party opinion support Tsai’s move, praising her for uniting Taiwan and bridging differences; however, some party insiders and human rights groups criticize Tsai’s speech for hurting the political victims of Chiang’s rule and for undermining the work of transitional justice.
Speaking to BBC Chinese, Chen Junkai, a professor of history at Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan, said Tsai’s speech on Chiang Ching-kuo’s historical positioning was an attempt to seize the right to speak about Chiang Ching-kuo and intended to pander to the Blue camp [KMT supporters] public. He criticized: “In terms of transitional justice, ‘the myth of Chiang Ching-kuo’ is both one of the many myths of strongman party-state authoritarian rule created by the KMT regime, and naturally must be deconstructed, Taiwan’s democracy, before it can truly deepen and President Tsai deviates from this principle …… “
Dr. Hsiao Yu-ho, a political scientist and member of Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology, told the BBC that Chiang Ching-kuo could not have been someone who “promoted democracy” judging from his aversion to democracy that can be seen in his diary. His untimely death also leaves no way for future generations to know his true attitude toward Taiwan’s democratization.
In addition, for the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), former President Chiang Ching-kuo has been an important political asset for the KMT in the past, but Tsai’s move has sparked discontent among the KMT and Taiwan’s unified media, the United Daily News, which criticized Tsai for “eroding the reputation” of Chiang Ching-kuo.
The BBC Chinese summarized the main arguments about Taiwan’s political history arguments that erupted after Tsai’s speech. Some some scholars believe that these arguments show that Taiwan society is still divided about its authoritarian history, the history of unification and independence and democratization, and along party ideology.
What did Tsai Ing-wen say?
On January 22, Tsai Ing-wen attended the inauguration ceremony of the Chiang Ching-kuo Library organized by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, a foundation supported by government and private donations in Taiwan, and delivered a speech. Among the attendees were former President Ma Ying-jeou, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je and KMT Chairman Chu Li-lun.
The main theme of her speech was that cross-strait relations has changed greatly, and that Taiwan is “facing waves of military and political pressure from Beijing. The firm position of former President Chiang Ching-kuo to ‘protect Taiwan’ is undoubtedly the greatest consensus of the people of Taiwan share at the moment, and more importantly, the most important issue that confronts us”. She also quoted Chiang Ching-kuo’s own words, that the Republic of China has survived to this day, “with a future and hope, mainly because the government is a spiritual bastion in the world that is resolutely anti-communist and does not compromise with any communist party.”
Tsai Ing-wen therefore said that the first “presidential library” in Taiwan can help reach a consensus on its history, “Otherwise, in Taiwan, former President Chiang Ching-kuo will always only belong to a section of the people. Some people remember the economic development and security he brought, while others remember the authoritarian system he represented.”
After her speech, Tsai’s remarks quickly sparked heated debates in Taiwan’s political arena. Even Mainland China’s Taiwan Affairs Office issued a statement several days later.
Current KMT Chairman Chu Li-Lun responded to Tsai’s speech by saying that “Chiang Ching-kuo’s line was to oppose Taiwan independence line” and asked Tsai and the DPP to abandon Taiwan independence and move to the path of peaceful cross-strait unification.
A few days after Tsai’s speech, Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the Chinese mainland, responded at a regular press conference that Chiang Ching-kuo had said during his lifetime that he was “a Taiwanese and a true Chinese” and opposed “Taiwan independence”. She accused the DPP of political maneuvering and inciting the so-called “resistance to China and protection of Taiwan” to mislead the people of Taiwan.
“In response to Tsai Ing-wen’s speech, the issue of what Chiang Ching-kuo’s reasons were for “protecting Taiwan against the Communists” was the primary disagreement.
Dr. Chen Jiaming of the Institute of Political Science, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, criticized Tsai’s speech on Facebook for lacking an understanding of basic democracy. He said that people under an authoritarian dictatorship submit to the dictator only out of fear or because they are controlled in speech and thought, so the latter and his subjects are not really united as a political community. Chiang Ching-kuo was “divided from the Taiwanese community. So what Chiang Ching-kuo protected was not Taiwan, but his own dictatorship. Taiwan was only preserved by association because it was a part of his dictatorship.”
History scholar Chen Junkai, on the other hand, told the BBC that from the publicly available diaries of Chiang Ching-kuo from his diary and from various things he did in politics during his lifetime, Chiang Ching-kuo did not have a preference for democracy and was mostly pressured to be passive and open.
Chiang Kai-shek and his sons have been the leaders remembered by many Taiwanese “expatriates”. Soong Mei-ling is pictured in the middle, while Chiang Ching-kuo is pictured on the right.
However, another scholar of Taiwan history, Chen Fangming, affirmed Tsai’s move. According to Chen Fangming, Tsai’s “reconciliation” of the different opinions of Taiwan society’s ethnic groups is very “courageous”. While studying in the United States in the 1980s, Chen was blacklisted during Chiang Ching-kuo’s administration because of his involvement in the independent political candidates’ democracy movement [Note: In Taiwan at the time, independent political parties were banned but independent candidates were allowed; by some coincidence they all used green banners, later the color of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). End note], and was unable to return to Taiwan for many years. He applauded Tsai’s speech, saying that “Taiwan’s democratic history was indeed made possible by Chiang Ching-kuo’s announcement of the lifting of the curfew,” which later led to Lee Teng-hui’s announcement of direct presidential elections …… Tsai Ing-wen admires President Lee very much, and to a certain extent it is also an affirmation of Chiang Ching-kuo.”
Another Taiwanese cultural commentator, Yen Zeya, said, “Those who oppose Tsai’s speech are justified on the grounds of transitional justice …… But the discovery of historical truth can be a long process – a process in which the aggressor in the minds of one school of scholars may be the ‘actor who has no choice but to make a choice’ in the minds of another school of scholars.”
Like Chiang Ching-kuo or like South Korea’s deceased authoritarian ruler Park Chung-hee, both in the face of Communist challenges and infiltration during the Cold War, had a mentality that they would solve all challenges, both big and small, with the same size hammer. Thus their governments did much harm by wrongful killing of innocents, said Yen Zeya. “So he is not entirely innocent per se, but to consider the extent of his responsibility, one must still take into account to what extent he lacked real choices.”
However, according to political scientist Hsiao Yu-ho, the question of whether or not the core of Chiang Ching-kuo’s political line was being “anti-communist”, can be looked at through the recently released Diary of Chiang Ching-kuo. He argues that in his diary, Chiang identified “independent political groupings dangwai” overseas “Taiwan independence” groups, and the Chinese Communist Party as the “three aspects of one enemy,” for example, in his diary he attacked For example, in his diary, he criticized the “communist-backed Taiwan independence” as a sinister scheme. He said, “It can be said that Chiang Ching-kuo was indeed ‘anti-communist,’ but Chiang Ching-kuo’s anti-communism also included encompassed opposition to the dangwai indepedent political groupings, opposing ‘Taiwan independence. ‘Independing political groupings, Taiwan independence and the Chinese Communist Party’ is a triple enemy that are inextricably intertwined. “
Did he “push democratization” or “did he open up under U.S. pressure”?
In the last years of his administration, Chiang Ching-kuo announced the ending of the ban on political parties other than the KMT, ending the newspaper ban, and ending martial law. He chose ethnic Taiwanese scholar Lee Teng-hui as his vice president and successor and promoted a number of ethnic Taiweanese elites who had no military background to top positions. Public opinion welcomed this, praising Chiang Ching-kuo, saying that he had a place in the start of Taiwan’s post-war putting politics in the hands of local Taiwan people or democratization. The editorial of the Taiwanese media “Wind Media” [Feng Chuanmei] affirmed Chiang Ching-kuo, saying that Taiwan society is now “one because of Chiang Ching-kuo, each entitled to his own expression”, which is the result of Chiang Ching-kuo’s opening up to democracy.
However, for critics, many of the major political cases that occurred during Chiang Ching-kuo’s tenure, whether directly ordered by him or involving the usual tactics of Taiwan’s secret service agencies at the time, Chiang Ching-kuo’s image as an authoritarian dictator could not be shaken off.
For example, Chiang Ching-kuo was criticized for being the “master of white terror”, mainly because after the KMT moved to Taiwan, Chiang Kai-shek instructed his son Chiang Ching-kuo to lead the reform of the intelligence and ideology departments in order to prevent the infiltration of the Chinese Communist Party in the military and the civilian population.
Chiang Ching-kuo, who had studied in the Soviet Union for many years, followed the Soviet example and set up a political combat system in Taiwan. In addition, he brought several intelligence agencies under his command, including the Taiwan Bureau of Investigation and the Intelligence Bureau, and unified their command. At that time, the American political circles and the media called Chiang Ching-kuo the “head of intelligence” in Taiwan.
In addition, in 1979, the Kaohsiung Incident (美丽岛事件 meilidao shijian) occurred in Taiwan, in which people who called for the political lifting of party bans and other democratization movements in Taiwan were arrested and imprisoned and sentenced to death. According to the analysis of Taiwan University history professor Chou Wan-Ming, under the pressure of the United States, political cases that used to be tried in secret were later tried in public. Later several political murders occurred in Taiwan, including the murder of Lin Yi-hsiung’s young daughters (1980) [Translator’s note: murder occurred while the family home was under close 24-hour police surveillance] and Chen Wen-chen (1981) [Translator’s note: Carnegie Mellon Professor pushed/’fell off’ roof of the Taiwan University library, body discovered on campus after twelve-hour-long interrogation by Taiwan security services.] From shocked international public opinion, the United States, and from the rapidly growing independent political groupings, the KMT came under great pressure.
Hsiao told the BBC that the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the dictatorship in the Philippines had made Chiang Ching-kuo very wary, understanding that the pressure for democratization would hit the regime if not properly channeled. He believes that from the diary of Chiang Ching-kuo, which has been made public in recent years, it can be found that he himself does not have positive feelings about “democracy”: “Chiang criticized in his diary, during his term as executive president, the political inquiries of the representative councilors were ‘often exaggerated concerns about petty matters’. “This is the way of so-called ‘democratic politics’. I very much doubt that much good will come to the people of the country if we put our energy and time into it.”
Martial law has kept Taiwan in a state of military emergency for 38 years. Under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek, who used to be known as “Chiang Kung” [蒋公 Chiang the Public-Spirited] in Taiwan, the concept of “counter-attacking the Chinese mainland” took root.
In particular, in 1984, the famous “Jiang Nan case” occurred in California, where Taiwanese secret agents went to the United States to assassinate Liu Yiliang, who had written the biography of Chiang Ching-kuo, under the pseudonym “Jiang Nan”. Although there is no direct evidence that Chiang Ching-kuo personally dispatched the assassins [Translator’s note: Taiwan gangsters hired by the Taiwan military intelligence service.] , the case seriously damage to the relationship between the United States and the Kuomintang.
According to Professor Chen Fang-sumi of the Department of Political Science at Soochow University in Taiwan, in 1985 the U.S. Senate passed a resolution in support of Taiwan’s democracy, which was “included in a special section of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1986, requiring the KMT to implement Taiwan’s democratization. Under such domestic and foreign pressure, Chiang Ching-kuo announced that the next president would be constitutionally elected and that members of Chiang’s family may not and would not run for president.”
In 1987, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Taiwan Democracy Resolution, calling on the government of the Republic of China to end martial law and lift the party ban, include guarantees of freedom of speech and assembly, and accelerate the realization of democratic politics. Some would argue that attributing credit for the so-called democratization of Taiwan politics initiated by Chiang Ching-kuo to himself is not reasonable. They would argue that the KMT government opened up its politics step-by-step in response to the political opposition movement, U.S. and international pressure triggered democratization.
Dr. Lin Xiaoting, director of the East Asia Collection at the Hoover Archives at Stanford University, is currently the scholar with direct access to Chiang Ching-kuo’s diaries in the collection. He told German Radio “Deutsche Welle” that Chiang Ching-kuo did not leave a diary during his last nine years of life, so his last views on the U.S.-Taiwan and even cross-strait relations cannot be inferred much from it.
However, he stressed that after Chiang Ching-kuo’s administration, cross-strait relations “were promoted in a direction that was beneficial to the development and situation of Taiwan society itself, on the premise that the well-being of the people of Taiwan and the development of people’s livelihoods were fully guaranteed.
Lin Xiaoting believes that the time and space in which Chiang Ching-kuo was placed and the challenges he faced in the past may not be applicable to today’s cross-strait relations: “To evaluate Chiang Ching-kuo without considering the overall context of his times” is a one-sided and inadequate…. Although each perspective isn’t actually wrong. It is as if only a certain part that is favorable to their respective political positions is taken into play, and that is why contradictions and differences arise.”
In addition, the late historian Yu Ying-shih and Frank Dikötter, Chair Professor of History at the University of Hong Kong, have both affirmed that Chiang Ching-kuo was not obsessed with power in his later years and began to open up Taiwan politics.
The Role of the Kuomintang
A week before Tsai’s speech, the Taiwan Executive Yuan’s National Military Retired Officers and Soldiers Counseling Committee (NMPRC), in cooperation with the Civilian Military Veterans Association (CMAA) and other organizations, held a “Concert in Memory of Ching-kuo” in Taipei City, stressing that Chiang Ching-kuo’s “anti-communist, a reformer and a defender of Taiwan”. After Tsai Ing-wen’s speech, it triggered more commotion in Taiwan’s political arena and brought pressure to the KMT, in addition to dividing opinions within the party.
Pro-KMT commentaries not only published articles criticizing Tsai’s consumption of Chiang Ching-kuo, but also sent a warning message to the KMT. For example, Taiwanese political commentator Li Yanqiu said on Facebook, “The KMT must ask itself properly, ifeven Mr. Jingguo has become an asset of the DPP, what does it have left?”
In addition, former KMT senior executive Zheng Pei-fen, who used to be vice chairman of the KMT party newspaper Central Daily News, also explained to the Taiwanese media that the KMT has ignored Chiang Ching-kuo’s political legacy and discourse in recent years. Therefore the KMT appeared caught off guard by Tsai Ing-wen’s political masterstroke of playing the “Chiang Ching-kuo card” to attract the support of middle-class voters, and has not responded effectively to the move.
In response to criticism of Tsai’s speech, KMT Chairman Chu Li-lun said, “Chiang Ching-kuo’s line is the KMT line, and Tsai is welcome to follow Chiang Ching-kuo’s line” to “oppose Taiwan independence”. The first time I saw this, I was able to get to know the people of Taiwan. He also said that Chiang Ching-kuo in his later years opened up a democratic and free society in Taiwan, but the Democratic Progressive Party has been fighting the KMT opposition party in the past few years, and moving towards a “democratic dictatorship”, which is not at all what Chiang Ching-kuo wanted.
Chen Junkai told the BBC that Chiang Ching-kuo’s “merits” were recognized by many Taiwanese people because of a “biased scale of observation” based on a fragmented history or life experience. He said that in the 1970s, when the KMT regime was in full control of the media and education, Chiang Ching-kuo’s “deliberate image of being pro-people and loving the people was a rare political figure with a special style for those Mainland Chinese who had come to Taiwan with the KMT regime. “.
In any case, the controversies over the period of Chiang Ching-kuo’s leadership in fact reflected the great differences in Taiwan society in views regarding the history of unification and independence and Taiwan’s democratization. These debates have continued in the decades following Chiang’s death. Currently, the Taiwan Association for Civil Truth and Peace, a group of civil society organizations and political scholars in Taiwan, has launched a campaign to “condemn the DPP government for promoting authoritarian discourse” and call on the Tsai government to propose a timetable for the implementation of transitional justice. “More than forty civic and student organizations, including the Time Force, Women’s New Knowledge, and the Association for the Rehabilitation of the White Terror of the 1950s, have joined the campaign.
Roughly speaking, Taiwan’s post-World War II authoritarian rule began in late 1949, when the family of a million KMT troops led by Chiang Kai-shek’s government officially moved to Taiwan after losing the battle against the Chinese Communist Party in mainland China. The Taiwanese society was not at ease with the government that had moved to Taiwan.
After Chiang Kai-shek moved to Taiwan, he issued the “Martial Law” (Martial Law) in Taiwan and stated that Taiwan, Penghuang, and Jinma were in a “state of emergency under national crisis”, and banned civil organizations, political parties, rallies, and media on the grounds of national security, with penalties up to the death penalty for violators.
When Chiang Kai-shek died in 1975, Chiang Ching-kuo took over as president and served until his death in Taipei in January 1988. During Chiang’s presidency, a number of major political cases occurred, including the “Kaohsiung Incident,” the murder of former DPP Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung’s family, and the “Chen Wen-cheng murder case,” which remain unsolved.
However, during his lifetime, Chiang Ching-kuo announced the lifting of the ban on the party and the newspaper, and in July 1987, Taiwan announced the “lifting of martial law”, and Chiang Ching-kuo chose Lee Teng-hui, a native of the province, as his deputy, and after his death, Lee Teng-hui took over as president, while stating that the Chiang family would not be involved in politics after his death. At the same time, during his term of office, Taiwan’s economy took off dramatically, and major infrastructure and factories were established. Thus many in the KMT and among the Taiwan public still miss and affirm him. However, some believe that 38 years of martial law was the longest period of time imposed by any regime in the world, and that it has caused deep damage to Taiwan’s democracy and society.
Hsiao Yu-ho, a longtime researcher on Taiwan’s political development, told the BBC that Tsai’s motive for attending Chiang Ching-kuo Memorial Park is undoubtedly the hope that Taiwan society can have a foundational political consensus outside of party differences. He said, “Basically, this is a continuation of the ‘Lee Teng-hui line’.”
Hsiao explained that the “Lee Teng-hui line” refers to finding a greater political consensus for Taiwan society without completely negating the authoritarian regime of the past. He said, “The specific approach is to cut off ‘Chiang Ching-kuo himself’ from the ‘authoritarian regime’. The state system left behind by the authoritarian regime certainly needs to be dealt with, and Lee Teng-hui amended the constitution for this purpose, and Tsai Ing-wen also initiated ‘transitional justice’. Nonetheless ‘Chiang Ching-kuo himself’ is somehow seen as good. Lee Teng-hui has repeatedly stated that he is the true successor to Chiang Ching-kuo’s ‘diligent administration’ and that he is a graduate of ‘Chiang Ching-kuo’s school’. Tsai Ing-wen, on the other hand, has emphasized that the core of Chiang Ching-kuo’s political line is ‘opposing communism’ , and that ‘anti-communism’ is the only way to ‘protect Taiwan’.
January 25, 2022 Interview Editor: Lin Wing-ching
Tsai Ing-wen affirmed Chiang Ching-kuo, and the New Power Party criticized her for this, saying that it went against the principles of transformative justice.
The president, Tsai Ing-wen, has been criticized by her party comrades and the New Power Party Legislative Yuan caucus today (January 25) for her assessment of Chiang Ching-kuo, and if she fails to face the truth about the perpetrators of authoritarian rule then the transformative justice that the people expect will not come.
The president, Tsai Ing-wen, was invited by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation to give a speech at the opening ceremony of the “Ching-kuo Seven Seas Cultural Park” and expressed her affirmation of former president Chiang Ching-kuo’s stand against the communists and in defense of Taiwan.
On January 25, 2022 the New Power Party Legislative Yuan caucus also held a press conference, questioning President Tsai’s public criticism of “Chiang Ching-kuo’s myth” in 2009. They noted that she has changed her attitude about Chiang Ching-kuo and that this is not helpful to Taiwan’s practice of transformational justice. The problem that Taiwan has been encountering in promoting transitional justice is that there are only victims, but no perpetrators. Just because we are unwilling to confront those in charge of the authoritarian government, making it difficult to heal the wounds of history. The situation we see is that what she (Tsai Ing-wen) is doing and what she is saying and doing is very different from what she did in 2009, and it is also promoting a one-sided myth.
The government provides 40% of the funding of the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation and thus it has a semi-official character. However, one of the foundation’s directors, economist Liu Zunyi, was a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
The government should also consider the appropriateness of the project. Democratic Progressive Party legislator Kuo Kuo-wen believes that it is necessary to compile and record the data of all the ROC presidents. There are certainly those who have different evaluations of Chiang Ching-kuo’s merits and faults. The government should not ignore the Henry Liu (Jiang Nan) case and the Kaohsiung (Meilidao) Incident that both occurred during Chiang Ching-kuo’s term in office. Both his merits and his faults should be discussed.
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- 時間：2022-01-25 10:07