Myth #3, Chiang Kai-shek Created the Taiwan Miracle for the Sake of Taiwan
Wednesday January 02, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.
The Taiwan Miracle is regularly brought up by KMT to show its care for Taiwan. Myth #3, Chiang Kai-shek so loved Taiwan that he created the Taiwan Miracle for it. Answer: The Taiwan Miracle is a fact of history but it was not created for the sake of Taiwan. It was created because Chiang Kai-shek and the KMT realized that they would never retake China and that they might as well try to make a "heaven of their hell" in exile in Taiwan. To gain a needed and full perspective on what this means, one must compare it to the German Miracle and the Japanese Miracle after World War II.
Economic miracles happened in Germany, Japan, and Taiwan after World War II (WWII). They happened quicker in Germany and Japan than they did in Taiwan, but they happened in all three countries. One key difference and perhaps the explanation for the difference in quickness is that Germany and Japan remarkably also developed and achieved a democracy within a decade after the war. In Taiwan, democracy would come forty to fifty years later and at the price of the blood and suffering of the Taiwanese people. Taiwan's Miracle took longer in coming. The KMT was trying to do an impossible balancing act. It was desperately trying to hold as much power and patronage as it could and still make a heaven of its hell. As a minority population it eventually had to enlist the Taiwanese at the lower ranks. During this time, the KMT was also receiving pressure from the United States (whose Seventh Fleet was in the Taiwan Strait) to produce some democratic results.
Taiwan's economic miracle did come, but it was first and foremost created for the elite of the ruling one-party state. Unlike Germany and Japan, Taiwan further suffered the additional residue of the cancerous legacy of a system of corruption and patronage. The results of this are evident in the current problems of the special "discretionary funds" that all government officials have. Taiwanese were also corrupted; as the saying goes in Taiwan, "dogs can learn from wolves." More myths to be debunked will follow; in particular we will look at the bogus credit the KMT claims for land reform and its bogus support of democracy.