State and Society in the Taiwan Miracle

By Thomas B. Gold | Go to book overview

5
Rehabilitation and Import-Substitution Industrialization, 1950-1959

Global Geopolitics and Political Reform

The mysterious forces of history had given the Chinese Nationalists and the people of Taiwan a second chance to work out their relationship. The setting--global and domestic--in 1950 was quite different from that in act one, 1945.

In that first encounter, the Nationalists had had no social base or administrative infrastructure on the island. Coming out of eight years of war, the Nationalists were on the victorious side, one of the Allied Powers, and could count on U.S. backing, even though the Americans were concentrating most of their vast resources on the rehabilitation of Europe. The KMT had its political headquarters in Nanking, a large cadre of officials, a formidable military machine, and a continent of untapped resources. All of this made them cocky about recovering territories formerly under enemy occupation. It mattered little to them that they had almost no understanding of Taiwan's social structure or cultural heritage, or that they were insensitive to its people's long-pent- up aspirations. Their arrogance, compounded by the debilitating corruption of their regime, obsession with security, vindictiveness toward those who had lived under the Japanese, and eagerness to make up for the years of relative deprivation in the hinterland, poisoned their approach to Taiwan.

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