Taiwan has not been fortunate in its despots; Chiang kept democracy at bay during his life and his son, Chiang Ching-kuo (
Chiang made Taiwan poor
What Arthur Waldron does not seem to consider is that Chiang Kai-shek is the one who brought Taiwan into poverty. Japan had treated Taiwan as a model colony to show off to the world. At that time, Taiwan's infrastructure was the most modern in Asia.
Though it suffered some war damage, it was in the best situation after the war -- that is, until Chiang Kai-shek sent his henchman, executive administrator and garrison commander Chen Yi (
There were plenty of modern Taiwanese intellectuals educated in Japan who could have helped run the country and get the after-war economy back on track. Tragically, the KMT decided to eliminate all intellectual opposition, beginning with the 228 Incident in 1947 and continuing with the White Terror. His regime arrested dissidents and suspected dissidents, put them in prison and murdered them.
Just imagine what Taiwan would be like if the KMT had not shown up on its doorstep. Japanese-trained Taiwanese intellectuals would have had the chance to organize a new sovereign state after Japan relinquished its claim to the island in the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco. Even as the US rebuilt Japan, a delegation from Taiwan would have come and asked for aid. Without Chiang to demand to have Taiwan at the Cairo meeting, there would never have been an instance when anyone would consider Taiwan part of China, since it had been ceded in perpetuity to Japan in 1895 by the Qing Dynasty, which incidentally was Manchu, not Chinese. And if it had not been for Chiang's corrupt party, the communists might never have won the war in China. The Mainlanders might never have been displaced and we might today have two democracies smiling at each other across the Taiwan Strait.
`Independence Day' idiocy
What conceivable practical purpose could possibly be served by Bruce Herschensohn's suggestion that Taiwan declare Oct. 25 "Independence Day" (US academic proposes `independence' holiday, March 23, page 2)?
It is a call for a monumental exercise in cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.
"Over the years, you have done everything in the world to try to accommodate the international community. You can't win. Take exactly the opposite course," he urges.
Or, more succinctly: "You've been isolated all this time. Make yourselves more isolated."
His comparison with the Palestinian Authority is wildly misplaced.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an extremely deep and prolonged crisis and confrontation. The China-Taiwan situation is not. Perhaps Herschensohn would like to make it so.
As for President Chen Shui-bian's (