TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — On Saturday (Oct. 10), Taiwan's National Day, searches on Google with the terms "Republic of China establishment" suddenly yielded the date in 1949 that Kuomintang (KMT) forces were carrying out their retreat from China, prompting Google to begin an investigation.
Netizens on Saturday began to notice that when they typed in the Chinese phrases "Republic of China establishment" (中華民國成立); "Time of the establishment of the Republic of China" (中華民國建立時間); and "Time of founding of the Republic of China" (中華民國建國時間), the search result and autocomplete on Google was the date Dec. 7, 1949. When netizens began complaining about the erroneous date, Google restored the correct date to 1912 over the weekend.
The National Day celebrations currently held in Taiwan actually commemorate the Wuchang Uprising in what is now the Wuchang District in Wuhan, China, on Oct. 10, 1911: the event that touched off the Xinhai Revolution, which ultimately overthrew the Qing Dynasty. The actual founding of the Republic of China (ROC) took place on Jan. 1, 1912, in Nanjing with Sun Yat-sen (孫中山) elected as the provisional president.
Search result for "Time of founding of the Republic of China." (Google screenshot)
On Feb. 12, the Empress Dowager Longyu signed an agreement on behalf of Puyi, the last emperor of China, abdicating from the throne. However, Dec. 7, 1949, is the date that the KMT, its officers, and approximately two million soldiers, along with many civilians and refugees, began a retreat from China to Taiwan to flee advancing People's Liberation Army (PLA) forces.
On that day, PLA forces were advancing on Chengdu, and Chiang instructed his subordinates to prepare to retreat from the city. The Executive Yuan held a meeting that night and decided to relocate the national government to Taipei.
The sudden appearance of 1949 as the founding of the ROC appears to be the work of hackers who timed it to coincide with Taiwan's official National Day celebrations. When asked for comment on the egregious error, Google public relations representatives on Sunday evening (Oct. 11) said that the incident is "still under investigation."
The incorrect date continued to appear well into Sunday until being corrected to Jan. 1, 1912 as of Monday (Oct. 12).
Search and autocomplete results for "Time of the establishment of the Republic of China." (Google screenshot)