The Kuomintang (KMT) is a political party with a long history and a wholesome ideal. This ideal is the establishment of the Republic of China (ROC) as a free, democratic, prosperous and dignified modern nation. The KMT’s long history is a glorious record of its committed struggle to the realization of this ideal.
In 1894, at a critical juncture in the Sino-Japanese war of 1894-1895, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, with clear perception and vision, traveled to Honolulu to appeal to the overseas Chinese there to form a revolutionary organization with the aim of rescuing the Chinese nation. Named the Revive China Society, it was the beginning of the KMT.
This event also marked the start of China’s drive for modernization. It has been 106 years since this remarkable process of change and development began. Today, the KMT still stands towering like a giant as it enters the 21st Century.
For more than a century, the KMT and the Republic of China have been a united entity. All along, the party has been the leading force behind the country’s modernization, making great efforts to develop the country and improve the wellbeing of the people.
Early on in its history, it fought a revolution to establish the Republic, then brought down Yuan Shi-kai and restored the legitimate government. It organized the Northern Expedition to unify China, and undertook political tutelage. It led the nation in a long war of resistance against Japanese aggression, writing and implementing the Constitution of the Republic of China after the war. It fought the communist rebellion, defending and building Taiwan as a model province of the ROC.
In order to maintain long-term competitiveness over the passage of time, the party has had to continuously reorganize itself. In 1905, the Revive China Society joined forces with the revolutionary groups the ‘Society for China’s Revival’ and the ‘Restoration Society’ to form the Revolutionary Alliance in Tokyo, which itself merged with several other political parties to form the KMT in August 1912 in Peking. In July 1914 the KMT reorganized itself into the Chinese Revolutionary Party, and later in 1919 changed its name to the Kuomintang of China. It was in January 1924, during the first National Congress, that the party’s process of reorganization into the Kuomintang of China was formally completed.
So far, the KMT has held fourteen National Congresses. Each one has marked the successful completion of the missions and tasks faced during the respective periods in history. The party has made historic contributions to the nation and society in each stage of its evolution—from a revolutionary party, to a revolutionary democratic party, to the modern democratic party it is today.
It is rare in modern Chinese history that a political party has been able to stand the test of time while maintaining the support of the people like the KMT. In its more than one hundred-year history, not a day has gone by where the KMT has not faced countless perilous challenges and calamitous dangers.
For instance, the KMT’s duel with the Qing Court, Royalist Party and Constitutionalist Faction during the Revolution; Yuan Shi-kai’s oppression and the threat of the warlords in the years after the establishment of the Republic in 1912; the conflict with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Japanese aggression during the latter stages of the first half of the last century; and the continuing struggle to break the CCP’s long-term military confrontation.
However, as the Chinese saying goes: “true gold fears not the fire of the furnace”. The KMT has never stopped upholding the ideals of making the nation prosperous and benefiting the people, or vehemently defending the principles of freedom and democracy. It has been able to weather many storms and overcome many setbacks, growing stronger for it and rising anew each time. The strength of the party lies in its fearless fighting spirit, its courage to face challenges and its steadfast will to overcome countless difficulties.
For its history of more than one hundred years, the KMT’s ultimate objective has been consistent: to make the ROC a perfect example of a country run on the Three Principles of the People. The Three Principles of the People were developed by Dr. Sun Yat-sen while he was leading the Chinese Revolution.
In 1897, when he was in London fermenting the revolution, he would often go to the British Museum Library to study the politics and societies of different European countries. Through his reading, he realized that a political revolution would not be able to address social problems. This prompted him to set about completing the early framework of a new philosophy (the Principle of People’s Livelihood). In the process, he founded the theory of the Three Principles of the People.
It was later in 1905, when the Revolutionary Alliance was established, that Dr. Sun Yat-sen officially unveiled the Three Principles of the People (the principles of nationalism, democracy and the people’s livelihood) that were to form the foundations of a new China. This legacy is without doubt the KMT’s greatest political asset.
For over a century, the KMT has made its duty the implementation of the Three Principles. Under its leadership, innumerable public spirited citizens, with the highest aspiration, have made great strives in order to realize this goal. Since the ROC government moved to Taiwan, successive leaders have worked with the utmost endeavor to build a strong nation by applying the Three Principles of the People.
Through successful land reforms and economic reconstruction; development in culture and education, and science and technology; constitutional reform, and advancing democratic governance; improving cross-strait relations; and forging the world-admired ‘Taiwan Experience’, the KMT has proven without doubt that the theory of the Three Principles of the People is the ideology most suited to meeting the needs and interests of the Chinese people.?
Looking back through the KMT’s turbulent history, we see the glory of victory as well as the shame of defeat, and hardships borne abound. But this is nothing new. The party has been able to maintain a firm advance all the way through, not only due to the clear guidance provided by the theory of the Three Principles of the People but also because of its outstanding standard bearers.
Each leader of the KMT—in order: National President Sun Yat-sen, Director-General Chiang Kai-shek, Chairman Chiang Ching-kuo, Chairman Lee Tung-hui, Chairman Lien Chan and currently Chairman Ma Ying-jeou—has led with wisdom, able to plan precisely and with foresight, and make quick decisions in critical moments. As long as it has the rallying power and wise guidance of its leaders, the KMT will never back down from resisting wrong and defending right.
From the time the KMT became established as a political party, both National President Sun Yat-sen and Director-General Chiang Kei-shek restructured the party on many occasions in order to avert crisis. This meant that the party was able to adjust with the times and continually renew its strength.
In March 2000, the party was reeling from defeat in the presidential election and from losing the majority in the Legislative Yuan. However, the party supported the new Chairman, Lien Chan, vowing to carry on party reform. It vowed to stay committed to its manifesto; to reaffirm the party’s objectives; to reinvigorate the life of the party; and to rouse the party’s competitive spirit.
We firmly believe that the re-forged KMT will, like a phoenix, rise above theses setbacks and be born again. History will show that the KMT is the only party that can truly defend the Republic of China. Only when the KMT returns to power will the maximum stability and progress of the nation be assured.