Scholar: Chiang Kai-shek is most responsible for Taiwan's diplomatic isolation

History professor Jim Lee said Chiang's zero-sum mindset led to Taiwan's diplomatic isolation today

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - While Beijing is escalating its bullying of Taiwan by excluding the country's presence in as many international conferences and sports events as it can, a scholar said bluntly on Sunday that former ruler Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) is also responsible for Taiwan's diplomatic isolation.

There is a perennial debate about the main culprit responsible for Taiwan's diplomatic isolation inside the country, along with the external forces applied by Communist China. In a workshop that discussed how the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall should be transformed on Sunday, Aug. 12, history professor Jim Lee (李筱峰) said Chiang's zero-sum mindset has led to Taiwan's diplomatic isolation today, according to a UDN report

Lee reminded the audience of the atrocities committed by the Kuomintang leader Chiang during the White Terror era that destroyed the lives of an unknown number of well-educated Taiwanese people, to eliminate internal threats to his dictatorship and to consolidate his rule. "There is no country seeking transitional justice would allow for, or build a memorial hall for a dictator," said Lee. 

Lee is a full-time professor at the National Taipei University of Education's graduate school of Taiwanese Culture, and has published 40 books since 1978 covering the history and politics of Taiwan. 

Defeated by the communists, Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan, where his government imposed Martial Law to consolidate his power from 1949, which was lifted by his son and political heir Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) in 1987. The diplomatic confrontation began following the end of the civil war between the Communist China and the Nationalist China, with each government claiming to be "the only legitimate representative of China" to the United Nations. In the 1950s, Nationalist China represented China in the U.N. and was initially able to hold its seat, however Communist China expressed interest in taking it. 

It is believed that in 1960s, the U.S. government tried to propose a solution of dual representation by allowing the two states into the UN, which was said to have been rejected by Chiang Kai-shek under his zero-sum mindset. After Communist China was voted into membership, Resolution 2758, which called to expel Chiang, followed in 1971. Before the resolution was voted on, Chiang's U.N. representative officially declared the state's intent to withdrawal from the organization in protest.

Lee concludes that Chiang resorted to suppression and terror to maintain his legacy in the country, and made bad decisions out of a zero-sum mentality, which has caused a big headache for later generations as Beijing has consistently sought to bar Taiwan from participating in any U.N.-related events. 

As for how the site can be transformed, Lee advised that it could be renovated as a museum to exhibit precious historical relics related to past political leaders or it might be turned into a library. 


The statue of Chiang Kai-shek inside the hall (Photo by Taiwan News)