Dissatisfied with a dictator system the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was founded to overturn the Qing dynasty. They did not succeed until 1911. It wasn’t until 1945 that people from the party started to move to Taiwan. In 1949, KMT fled the Chinese Communist Party after the Chinese Civil War to establish themselves in Taiwan and ruled the island as a single party state until 1986 and saw the first democratic presidential election in 1996. KMT remains one of the two major parties in Taiwan.

KMT’s policy platform opposes Taiwan independence and puts heavy emphasis behind the entity of the Republic of China. KMT economic policies tends to be more international and leaning heavily on building closer relations with China.

Before Taiwan

Founding of Party

The first form of the Chinese Nationalist Party was in the form of the Revive China Society (興中會), in Honolulu, Republic of Hawaii (yes, Hawaii was a short lived one party state) in November 24, 1894. This date is listed as KMT’s party creation date. The party was largely funded by overseas Chinese merchants and quickly established itself as a wealthy party. In 1900, Dr. Sun Yet-Sen, one of the founding members of the Revive China Society, became the leader of the party and started to gather overseas Chinese in America along with Chinese nationals that had fled to Japan to come back to revolt against the Qing dynasty.

After 10 revolutions, in 1911, the coalition of anti-Qing organization took down the Qing Dynasty and claimed the formation of the Republic of China. There were many internal strifes for leadership, but eventually Dr. Sun Yet-Sen gained control and had all party members pledge allegiance to him.

Fun Fact: Of the many delegates that Sun Yet-Sen selected in his new government, many were from the Community Party including Mao Zhe-Dong (future leader of the Communist Party to drive out KMT from China)

From Sun Yet-Sen to Chiang Kai-Shek

After Sun Yet-Sen’s death, there was no clear heir so the party ruled with a committee based system. At this time, Chiang Kai-Shek was a general in the north. He rose to power as the northern warlords started to advance on the Republic of China. His rise to power also caused the government to split into two. It wasn’t until the Second Sino-Japanese War (which led to World War Two’s Pacific Theater) that the two parts cooperated in order to take down a common enemy.

Taiwan

Entering Taiwan

After World War 2, despite a moment of victory, KMT was having trouble taking on the Chinese Communist Party. In 1949, KMT officially fled from China and came to Taiwan to establish its government.

1950 local elections

When KMT formally retreated to Taiwan in 1949, martial law had already been imposed (KMT started its rule in 1945) and the formation of new political parties was considered treason. But by 1950, KMT had blended in with local politics which marked a large step to the reform of the KMT party.

Chiang Family

KMT’s exile to Taiwan was the start of the Chiang family’s control over Taiwan; Chiang Kai-Shek was the main leader of KMT and he would be succeeded by his son Chiang Ching-Kuo; Chiang Kai-Shek’s wife Chiang Soong Mei-Ling, also known as Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, had operated as KMT’s public face in America continued her close relations with the United States.

With the fear of the rise of communism, the United States government shored their support behind the Chiang family, often times turning a blind eye to the actions by the KMT government during what is referred to as the White Terror Era.

Splitting of the Party

After the passing of Chiang Ching-Kuo, then-vice-president Lee Teng Hui held the office of presidency. However, some party members were not happy with this and there continued to be struggles for power. From this came the first big split in members. In 1993, the New Party was formed from many of Lee’s adversaries. In 1999, after naming Lien Chan as Lee’s successor for the KMT party, James Soong, more popular in the polls, left the KMT party and ran in the 2000 election. He ended up gaining more votes than Lien Chan, but having split the vote for pro-KMT voters, handed the 2000 victory to opposition party DPP’s Chen Sui-Bien.

While KMT reclaimed the presidential office 2008 with president Ma Ying-Jeou, he ended his presidency with single digits approval rating leading to due a heavy loss at the 2016 election, KMT faced a new identity crisis as balances two cliques, one representing more local while the other as non-local.

Party Platform

KMT’s constant policy is that it opposes Taiwan independence. They state that Taiwan in unequivocally part of the Republic of China. However, the definition of “Republic of China” differs depending on the member. While there are some that cling to the idea that the Republic of China still represents all of China, many KMT members have a more flexible view of Republic of China.

Another staple of KMT”s platform is its economic policies. Tending to be more international, the party believes in building closer ties with China as it is now the super power in Asia. With this economic policy, their foreign affairs policy also tend to be friendly with China and avoid any harsh words toward the Chinese government.

KMT is typically favored by teachers, veterans and business owners. Teachers and veterans have had a large retirement packages (an incentive for more teachers and reward military personnel), which is often times being cut by DPP. Business owners also favor KMT due to the tendency to have more lax labor laws allow business owners to produce and earn more.

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