The Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) recently published a 36-volume work on the history of the Republic of China (ROC).
The CASS, China’s highest research organization in the fields of philosophy and social sciences, spent 30 years compiling and writing the collection.
As the work does not touch on the sensitive issue of the ROC’s continued existence in Taiwan, China’s netizens have questioned the legitimacy and value of the collection, Taiwanese media reported on Wednesday.
“The ROC remains alive and vibrant on the opposite side of the Taiwan Strait, why would the CASS bother to compile its history?” one netizen asked.
People’s Daily Online – the Web site of the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) — reported that late Chinese premier Zhou Enlai (周恩來) ordered the work on ROC history as early as 1971.
At that time, China was embroiled in the Cultural Revolution and many political figures opposed the idea, questioning why they should waste time documenting the history of a “reactionary ruling class.”
The first volume of the CASS ROC history was published in 1981 and the whole collection, comprising 16 books on ROC history, a 12-books chronology of events that occurred under the ROC and eight volumes offering detailed biographies of key figures, was released earlier this month.
The work deals with many sensitive and complicated issues such as relations between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the CCP during the eight-year War of Resistance Against Japan (1937-1945). It also gives a relatively objective assessment of late ROC president Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) contributions to China.
The KMT led the Hsinhai revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and established Asia’s first republic — the Republic of China. The ROC ruled the Chinese mainland until 1949, when it lost a civil war to the CCP.
Although the CCP has since replaced the KMT as China’s ruling party, the ROC has continued to exist in Taiwan and has transformed from a KMT-dominated authoritarian regime into a pluralistic democracy.
None of the CASS-compiled volumes mention the ROC’s development in Taiwan after 1949.
Many Chinese netizens have used microblogs in recent days to criticize the compilation of the work because the ROC’s existence remains a fact of life, not history.
CASS Institute of Modern History deputy director Wang Chaoguang (汪朝光) said the work recognized the KMT’s contributions in the war against Japan and gave a more balanced and objective judgment of Chiang’s role in modern Chinese history, a major difference from earlier works that have tended to characterize Chiang as a corrupt dictator.
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