Davenport on Taiwan <long>

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Fri, 15 Mar 1996 16:21:24 +0900

Dear Friends,

Except, perhaps, for a bit of lurking, I shall be off line
through next Tuesday. In my life as a capitalist tool I'm
involved in a presentation with several million dollars as
stake. The pressure is mounting. Couldn't leave though
without a last word to Clyde Davenport.

I am aware of the history you cite and also of some that you
don't. That the mainlander crew who followed Chiang Kai-
shek to Taiwan in '49 were every bit as foul a bunch as the
people who chased them out of the mainland is a perfectly
reasonable judgment. The 2/28 massacres which "secured"
the island for the KMT were vile. By a curious twist of fate,.
the coming of the mainlanders did, however, turn out
remarkably well. A combination of pressure from their
American allies and the obvious political advantages of
separating the traditional Taiwanese landlord class from
its local power base led to what is still the most successful
example, besides Japan, of land reform in Asia. Its success
was due, in large part to the fact that instead of simply
disposessing the former landlords, the KMT government
was able to buy them out with shares of expropriated
Japanese capital. The upshot of these transactions was,
within a remarkably short time, the emergence of a system
in which, while the mainlanders controlled the government,
army and educational system, the former Taiwanese
landlords became successful capitalists. While high-ranking
mainlanders did pretty well under the new system, a
substantial proportion of their children emigrated, mainly
to North America. The lower ranking soldiers slipped into
poverty which frequently prevented their marrying and
reproducing themselves. Thus, over time the army has
become increasingly Taiwanese, reducing the aging KMT
crowd's ability to keep themselves in power by force.
Children born since WWII have grown up in an
increasingly prosperous society which has, at the same
time, become increasingly democratic. While all this was
going on, the mainland enjoyed the twists and turns of The
Great Leap Forward, The Cultural Revolution, etc.,
expanding the gap in historical experience that emerged in
1895 when Taiwan became a Japanese colony. Since the
"opening up" of China to foreign investment by Deng, et.
al., there has been a lot of Taiwanese investment in China,
especially in Fukien province (right across the straits from
Taiwan and the place from which the majority of the
Taiwanese ancestors originally migrated). Should China
continue to develop in democratic directions, the
possibilities for peaceful reunification are there. At the
moment I am not surprised that few Taiwanese are eager
to see it happen any time soon and that some favor outright

On the "serious charge of racism" and the admonition to
clean up my language. I am, in fact, totally serious here
and I deliberately chose to use the language I did to
impress my readers with the seriousness of my feelings in
this matter. As I see it, any claim whatsoever that people
should be treated in a certain way because they were born
into a certain group is, ipso facto, racist. One can argue
about the details of political history, but China attempting
to recover Taiwan by force would be engaged in precisely
the same sort of behavior as Hitler seizing the
Seudetenland because its inhabitants were ethnically

John McCreery
March 15, 1996