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The Kuomintang or Nationalist Party of China (KMT; ????? Pinyin: Gœom’nd?ng,
literally the National People's Party), is the party is currently active in
the Republic of China on Taiwan. Together with the People First Party, it
forms what is popularly known as the pan-blue coalition, favoring Chinese
reunification, in opposition to the pan-green coalition, favoring Taiwan
independence, which consists of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and
the Taiwan Solidarity Union. The KMT was the only legal party of the
Republic of China until 1991 and the ruling party until the ROC Presidential
Election 2000. Thus the ROC was once referred to synonymously with the KMT
and as the Nationalist government of China.
Founded in Guangdong Province on August 25, 1912 by Sung Chiao-jen and Dr.
Sun Yat-sen, the KMT stems from an anti-monarchy league, the Tongmenghui, as
a democratic and moderate socialist party.
It gained a majority in the first national assembly, but in 1913 Yuan
Shikai, who was President of the Republic of China as part of an agreement
to have the emperor abdicate, dissolved the body and ordered the Kuomintang
The party established a government at Guangzhou in 1918 and accepted aid
from the USSR. At the party congress in 1924 they adopted Sun's political
theory, which included the Three Principles of the People- nationalism,
democracy, and the livelihood of the people.
In 1926, following the death of Sun Yat-sen, the new Kuomintang leader
General Chiang Kai-shek launched the Northern Expedition against the
official government. Halting briefly in Shanghai in 1927 to purge the
Communists who had been allied with the KMT, the civil war began.
Kuomintang forces finally took Beijing in 1928 and received diplomatic
recognition in the same year. After several military campaigns, the
Communists were forced (1934-35) to withdraw from their bases in southern
and central China. The Kuomintang continued to attack the Communists,
ignoring the Japanese until Manchuria was invaded in 1937. Even after the
Japanese invasion at Mukden, the KMT continued to fight the Communists.
The Civil War and move to Taiwan
Full-scale civil war lasted from 1945 to 1949. Chiang Kai-shek ordered his
forces to the cities to defend industrialists and financiers, allowing the
Communists to move freely through the countryside. Much of the war from
1946-1949 was financed from Taiwan's sugar and rice reserves acquisitioned
by the KMT. By the end of 1949 the Communists controlled the mainland. The
Kuomintang fled to Taiwan. In 1950 Chiang took office in Taipei under
emergency rules which halted democratic processes until the mainland could
be recovered. The Republic of China retained China's seat in the United
Nations until 1971.
Responding to democracy in Taiwan
In the 1970s, the Kuomintang began to allow for "supplemental elections" on
Taiwan to fill the seats of the aging representatives. Although opposition
parties were not permitted, dang wai or representatives from outside the
party, were tolerated. In the 1980s, the Kuomintang focused on transforming
itself from a party of a single-party system to one of many in a multi-party
democracy, and for "Taiwanizing" itself. With the end of martial law in
1991, the Kuomintang found itself competing against the Democratic
Progressive Party in Taiwanese elections. The leader of the Kuomintang
during the 1990s was Lee Teng-Hui, who angered the People's Republic of
China and a significant number of voters on Taiwan with his advocacy of
localization, which many associated with Taiwan independence. In order to
maintain influence, the Kuomintang was involved in vote buying and black
gold, which decreased its support among the Taiwanese middle class.
The Kuomintang faced a split in 1994 which led to the formation of the New
Party. This party was effectively destroyed in the legislative elections of 2001.
A much more serious split in the party occurred as a result of the 2000
Presidential election in Taiwan. Upset at the official nomination of Lien
Chan as the party's Presidential nominee, supporters of James Soong left the
party to form the People First Party. In order to prevent defections to the
PFP, Lien moved the party away from Lee's policies of localization and
became more favorable toward Chinese reunification. This shift led to Lee's
expulsion from the party and the formation of the Taiwan Solidarity Union.
With the party's voters defecting to both the PFP and TSU, the KMT did
poorly in the December 2001 legislative elections and lost its position as
the largest party in the Legislative Yuan. More recently, the party did well
in the 2002 mayoral and council election with Ma Ying-jeou, its candidate
for Taipei mayor, winning by a landslide and its candidate for Kaohsuing
mayor narrowing losing but doing surprisingly well.
There has been a recent warming of relations between the pan-blue coalition
and the Communist Party of China, with prominent members of both the KMT and
PFP in active discussions with officials on the Mainland.
As the ruling party on Taiwan, the KMT amassed a vast business empire of
banks, investment companies, petrochemical firms, and television and radio
stations. Its wealth in the year 2000 was at an estimated US $6.5 billion,
making it the richest political party in the world.
On domestic policy, the party is conservative and is a member of the
International Democrat Union.
The Revolutionary Committee of the Guomindang is one of eight registered
minor political parties (in addition to the Communist Party of China) in
Mainland China (the PRC). It was founded in 1948 by leftists who broke off
of the main Kuomintang during the Chinese Civil War. It was once headed by
Song Qingling. The party claims to be the true heir of Sun Yat-sen's legacy.