Showing posts with label no_really_chiang_sucks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label no_really_chiang_sucks. Show all posts

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Chiang Kai-shek did not save Taiwan from the CCP: Part 2 - what did stop China from taking Taiwan?

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This is from a post for some movie I've long forgotten the title of.


This is Part 2 of a longer post. For Part 1, which discusses the ways in which Chiang Kai-shek is actually to blame for CCP interest in Taiwan, click here

Because it explores historical factors that I don't think many people are aware of, that post didn't address the core of the bad argument I keep hearing -- that sure the KMT wasn't great, but it's thanks to them that Taiwan isn't a part of the People's Republic of China! 

The belief here actually comes from something else: an interpretation of historical events between approximately 1949 and 1955, which places the ROC as the main bulwark against CCP designs on Taiwan. There's even a pretty terrible News Lens op-ed from a few years ago -- it's so bad that I won't link to it, but I did respond at the time -- that called Chiang "the greatest single fighter of the Chinese Communist Party, bar none", which is funny to me, because they thoroughly defeated him, and in order to hold Taiwan against them, he needed US assistance. 

My main source, once again, is Hsiao-Ting Lin's Accidental State, but I'll also be drawing on other sources, including this article from the Journal of Northeast Asian Studies. I'll try to quote frequently from it for those who don't have access.

I also want to say here that anyone who really knows Taiwanese history is likely already aware of everything I'm about to say; nothing here will surprise you. Instead, this is a sort of self-service: instead of writing the same reply to such comments over and over again, I'm putting it all in one handy blog post that I (and you!) can just link to whenever it inevitably comes up. Again

Here's the summary: despite some victories by the Nationalists, we don't have Chiang or his government to thank for Taiwan being saved from incorporation into the People's Republic of China. In fact, it was mostly the US's efforts to contain the CCP that led to Taiwan staying out of PRC hands. This had nothing to do with any sort of sincere care for the ROC on the part of the US, and certainly had nothing at all to do with any sort of goodwill toward Taiwan. Although the Nationalists did score some victories toward the end of the civil war, the lasting repellent that kept the PRC out of Taiwan was (somewhat grudging) American assistance to the ROC, due to a US desire to secure a defense perimeter around the PRC and renewed desire to include Taiwan in that defensive corridor due to the outbreak of the Korean War. 

From the link (all emphasis mine):

If there had not been a Korean War, the Chinese Communists would probably have invaded Taiwan in 1950. After the outbreak of the Korean War, the United States began to reverse its hands-off policy toward the Chinese Nationalists on Taiwan. The Korean War first compelled the United States to grant military aid to Taiwan and then put the island under U.S. protection. The war forestalled the deterioration of the ROC' s international status, but the legal status of Taiwan became undetermined in the eyes of U.S. policymakers....

Both attacks compelled the United States to go to war, and on both occasions this simultaneously saved the Kuomintang (KMT) from total defeat. One high-ranking KMT official even described the Korean War as the Sian incident in reverse - an unexpected twist of fate that saved the KMT from total annihilation. 2 Before the outbreak of the Korean War, KMT-controlled Taiwan (then called Formosa) fell outside the U.S. defense perimeter, and the Truman administration had assumed the final defeat of the KMT to be only a matter of time. Immediately after the outbreak of the war, President Harry S. Truman decided to neutralize Taiwan, both to protect it from communist invasion and to prevent the KMT from using it as a base to mount an assault on the mainland. The Korean War also forced President Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson to resume their entanglement with the KMT. 


The details of how all this happened are a bit muddier. Accidental State asserts that the Allies considered many options at different points, including simply allowing the PRC to take Taiwan, a United Nations trusteeship that would help Taiwan transition from Japanese colonial rule and backing of Formosan home rule groups; in other words, post-war US support for the ROC was far shakier and more ambivalent than people seem to believe. Lin (Accidental State) agrees with Lin (article quoted above) that there was a period when Communist takeover of Taiwan was considered "inevitable", and the US was, for a time, prepared to just let that happen. Around 1949-1950, the US made it clear that it would not interfere in the Chinese civil war and that it considered Taiwan to be a part of China. To me, it seems US support was more ambivalent rather than outright dismissive in those years, an ambivalence which remained through 1952, but that might be a topic for a later post.

In Untying the Knot, Richard Bush dismisses this idea that the US ever seriously considered a "trusteeship": 

FDR had his own plans for the island, and allowing international trusteeship of the island and a plebiscite to elicit the wishes of its people was not one of them. In his vision for postwar peace and security, "four policemen" -- the United Sates, Britain, the Soviet Union and China -- would insist on disarmament by most other countries and enforce it through a system of military bases. 

In fact, the idea of UN trusteeship, while it was never of interest to FDR, was of great interest to others, including several Senators and Dean Rusk (who would eventually become Secretary of State) recommended removing Chiang and UN trusteeship for Taiwan to then-Secretary of State Dean Acheson. Acheson seems to have completely ignored Rusk's letter, and was planning to enlist Sun Liren in a plot to remove Chiang and put Taiwan under new administration, but it never came to be. By 1950 it was considered a bad idea to support an independent Taiwan for a variety of reasons that I mostly disagree with, including a lack of US control over the outcome. 

That whole thing makes the pro-democracy, pro-self-determination, anti-war, anti-Big Power military-enforced imperialism liberal in me want to barf, but hey, that's history for you. It also clarifies that the US has never, at any point, held a sincere interest in the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan. It was always about power. The only way in which I can sign onto that as acceptable is my belief that the PRC did need to be stopped, and still needs to be stopped today, and wagged fingers and disapproving looks were never (and are never) going to accomplish that. Sometimes that entails accepting realities that I really wish weren't...real. 

On everything else, though, he agrees with Lin and Lin: 

In the Truman administration in 1949, there was a consensus that a Communist takeover was both likely -- again because of the Nationalists' political and military ineptitude -- and detrimental to U.S. security interests....

North Korea's invasion of South Korea in June 1950 saved Taiwan and the ROC. Washington -- afraid that the invasion of South Korea was part of a larger campaign by the communists to extend their control and wanting to end the ROC's continuing minor attacks against the mainland -- deployed the 7th fleet to the Taiwan Strait to prevent the PRC and ROC from attacking each other. The net effect, however, was to ensure Chiang's survival. The ROC is was able to retain its seat in the United Nations and diplomatic relations with a majority of the world's countries 
[for the time being]. The Truman administration justified its policy reversal by saying that because there had been no peace treaty with Japan to dispose of "ownership" of Taiwan, its legal status (whether it was indeed part of China) had not been determined; thus its security was an international issue, not a purely domestic one.


You don't actually care about Taiwan for Taiwan's sake just as you've never cared about any other country for its own sake, and you never did, but Taiwan still needed the PRC stopped. So thanks, America! 

But also no thanks, because your previous ambivalence and lack of interest in home rule or international trusteeship is what precipitated the KMT occupation and subsequent military dictatorship and campaign of mass murder in the following decades. Yet you seemed fine with that. Yikes, America! 

Some might use that information to argue that for the brief period that it lacked strong US support, that the ROC did, in fact, "save" Taiwan by staving off the Communists without US help. 

And I can't deny that they won a few victories (Guningtou being the most prominent one that I'm aware of) in that time period. They were, according to Accidental State, "at least able to stop and search ships flying the flags of either Nationalist China or the PRC in the territorial waters surrounding Taiwan and the other Nationals-controlled isles to prevent military supplies from reaching Communist-held ports" and they had a "weak but still-functional naval capacity". (Why they would also search ships flying the Nationalist flag is unclear to me, but also irrelevant here.) 

But, the Communists were exhausted -- I can't find the source but I've read somewhere that the PRC attack on Guningtou was carried out by a rather ragtag group of falling-apart junks, they had insufficient supplies, and the main reason the ROC won was because one of their ships was in Kinmen awaiting a delivery of foodstuffs that they were going to smuggle to China. Indeed, they were still putting down "bandits" across China, and not only is the Taiwan Strait in fact ridiculously hard to navigate but also Taiwan itself is difficult to land on as an invading force. So, sure, we can give some credit where it's due, but there was a lot of luck involved, too. 

Let's not forget, however, that not only did the ROC's claim to Taiwan precipitate the Communists' interest in the first place, but their landing here also likely redoubled CCP desire to take Taiwan. From Bush:

Ever since the Cairo Declaration of December 1943, Mao Zedong and his revolutionary colleagues had set their sights on seizing the island as well as the mainland, and Taiwan became part of their mission of national recovery and unification. That their civil war rivals, whom they termed the "Chiang Kai-shek reactionary clique" planned to mount a last ditch stand on Taiwan was all the more reason to take the island. 


In fact, those years when one might argue that the KMT bravely and successfully fought off the PRC looked very different from the perspective of Chiang and his minions. Accidental State describes Chiang's attitude at this time as: 

so disheartened that, at one point in early June [1950], he seemed to truly believe it was no longer possible for him to find a living space in this world. In his personal diary around this time, Chiang, despite a despairing situation, still hoped against hope to fight against the "dark forces" for his very survival to the last...Adopting the posture of apparent self-abegnation that he had taken with President Truman, on June 15 Chiang passed the following message to MacArthur..."The Generalissimo, aware of teh danger of his position, is agreeable to accept American high command in every category and hopes to interest General MacArthur to accept this responsibility...soliciting his advice, guidance and direction."


Ha ha.

Sorry, I just hate Chiang Kai-shek so much that any despair of his, no matter how far in the past and even though he's dead and rotting at Cihu, gives me great joy.

Given that, what honestly matters more from a historical perspective is what forces helped keep the PRC away long-term. And, again, the answer to that is US strategic interests, not any sort of military genius or salvation by the ROC.

Lin goes on to call Chiang's solicitation of a mutual defense treaty with the US in the early 1950s as "desperate", and discusses in detail how Taipei anticipated that the outbreak of war in Korea would need to a US need to engage with them more proactively, and might even give them the necessary "in" to get the US involved in their desire to re-take China. They wanted nothing more than to be included in the US defense perimeter, their initial exclusion evoking the terror in Chiang outlined above. In 1950, Chiang even offered to send 33,000 troops to the Korean war effort, which the US rejected. From the linked article: 

President Truman objected to MacArthur's suggestion of a "military policy of aggression" and he had deliberately rejected President Chiang Kaishek's offer to send 33,000 Nationalist troops to assist South Korea because "it would be a little inconsistent to spend American money to protect an island while its natural defenders were somewhere else."


They did eventually get their wish: 

The People's Republic of China's (PRC) intervention in the Korean War struck the U.S. Eighth Army and X Corps a heavy blow in November 1950, and the JCS [Joint Chiefs of Staff] began to question President Truman's military neutralization of Formosa. On November 20, 1950, the JCS sent the Department of Defense a memorandum, to which acting Secretary of Defense Robert Lovett concurred....

The JCS then emphasized "the strategic importance of Formosa" and suggested that "it would be desirable to have port facilities and airfield on Formosa available to the United States," if a full-scale war should develop against Communist China and the Soviet Union. The new Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall, who was not as supportive of the KMT as his predecessor Louis Johnson, argued that Taiwan was "of no particular strategic importance" in U.S. hands, but it "would be of disastrous importance if it were held by an enemy."  In December 1950, Truman indicated to British Prime Minister Clement Attlee that Chiang Kai-shek intended to get the United States involved militarily on the Chinese mainland. Under pressure from the U.S. Senate, Truman stated the United States would not allow Formosa to fall into Communist hands. 

By January 1951, Taiwan had received military hardware worth US $29 million....Later that same month, the State Department instructed the U.S. embassy in Taipei to exchange notes with the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which led to a Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement (MDAA) between the two governments.  The MDAA was designed to legitimize the use of incoming U.S. military aid to Formosa for the island's internal security and self-defense.


The Korean War was so central to the continued existence of Taiwan that its end was considered a potential problem by the ROC:

If the Korean War was the salvation of the ROC, an armistice in Korea could naturally complicate the U.S.-Taiwan security relationship. On March 19, 1953, ROC Ambassador Wellington Koo explored the question of a U.S.- ROC mutual security pact, but received a cold response from Secretary of State Dulles. 4n In June 1953, Chiang Kai-shek wrote at least two letters to President Eisenhower probing the possibility of U.S.-initiated Asian multilateral mutual security pacts. 45 Although Eisenhower believed that a mutual security arrangement must come from the Asian nations themselves, by August 1953 the United States had concluded mutual defense treaties with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand. 

The ROC government took the initiative and handed a draft U.S.-ROC mutual security pact to U.S. Ambassador Rankin on December 18, 1953. 


And if it wasn't clear that US aid to Taiwan at that time was aimed at helping the Nationalists defend an island they honestly could not hold on their own: 

On October 7, 1954, President Eisenhower revealed to Dulles that he had decided to conclude a security treaty with the ROC provided that Generalissimo Chiang was prepared to assume a defensive posture on Taiwan....

In January 1955 when the Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States and the ROC was pending ratification by the U.S. Congress, PRC forces attacked some small offshore positions, including the I-chiang and Tachen islands. At a NSC meeting on January 20, Dulles suggested the United States grant logistical support to the ROC to evaluate the Ta-chen islands and that President Eisenhower be authorized by Congress to use forces in the Taiwan Strait if necessary. On January 29, Congress voted favorably on the so-called Formosa Resolution authorizing Eisenhower to "employ the Armed Forces of the United States for protecting the security of Formosa, the Pescadores and related positions and territories of that area." The Formosa Resolution implicitly granted protection to Quemoy and Matsu.  


I reiterate: without US help, the Communists would have taken Taiwan -- and sooner rather than later -- an interest the CCP only cultivated in the first place because the ROC claimed it and then retreated there. Chiang Kai-shek was desperate and despondent.

He is not the hero of staving off the Communists that you think he is. He is not the hero of anything unless you think mass murder is great. 

This is also the situation which led to Taiwan's status being undetermined rather than agreed-upon as a part of China, a topic that also deserves its own post. It's worth remembering that even then-foreign minister to the ROC George Kung-chao Yeh knew that. The KMT later playing at Taiwan's status being clear in an attempt to close the door to independence is an absolute joke at odds with their own history.

In these and the following years, US aid to Taiwan spiked dramatically. Jacoby (U.S. Aid to Taiwan) first says military assistance between 1952 and 1965 reached a total of US$2.5 billion, but his later chart says $368 million. Though I'm not sure where the first number comes from, the exact number is less important than the fact that it was a lot. From Lin (the article, not the Accidental State author):

 

Without U.S. economic assistance in the early 1950s, Taiwan's economy might possibly have collapsed. In 1950 alone, retail prices in Taiwan rose 58 percent, from mid-1949 to 1951 wholesale prices rose 400 percent, and by early 1951, ROC-held gold and foreign exchange reserves were nearly exhausted....Approximately 80 percent of the national budget went to the military, so the island's economy could be sustained only with external assistance. An NSC report pointed out that "had it not been for increased MSA [Mutual Security Agency] aid during the fiscal years 1951 and 1952, a serious inflationary situation would have developed which might have well led to complete economic collapse.”


All of this aid was not meant just to bolster Taiwan's defense capability, but also to make the island more self-sufficient, a goal which was eventually reached.

Also -- oops, it looks like I just made an argument that US strategic interests, not brilliant economic planning on the part of the KMT, is what kickstarted the Taiwan Miracle. 

Let's not forget, however, that 1952-1965 more or less correlated with the White Terror years. So...thanks, America. But also yikes, America! 

I'm not trying to convince you here that the US is Taiwan's good friend. It's not -- yet again, a topic for an entirely different post. What I am trying to convince you of is simple: 

Like them, hate them or grudgingly tolerate them as the devil we can make a deal with because they're not the ones pointing missiles at us, the US had more to do with repelling a PRC takeover of this country than Chiang Kai-shek and his merry band of murderers ever did. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

For the former colonizers of Taiwan, equality feels like oppression: my latest for Ketagalan Media

Because apparently Lao Ren Cha is all about the sensational (but true) stories today, let's all take a look back at last week's insanity (again)!

This time, I look at retired entertainer Lisa Cheng slapping current Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun in the face at a Lunar New Year banquet, over what she called Minister Cheng's desire to "eradicate" Chiang Kai-shek, "discredit" his "contributions" to Taiwan and "demolish" Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

Note my liberal use of scare quotes. None of what she says about Minister Cheng is true, yet she slapped her anyway.

Why? Because she's lashing out at the perception that the group she identifies with, who were once the dominant/default/ruling social class in Taiwan (by force, no Taiwanese invited them to swoosh in like they owned the place), is being oppressed (lol) when, in fact, society is simply moving towards greater equality. She's retreating to identity politics and letting her insecurity and fragility get the better of her.

Anyway, I talk about all this and more in my latest for Ketagalan Media.

Let's hope this week is less of a dumpster dive for news, seeing as last week was basically a crazy parade of people acting badly. Oh man. But at least it produced a little worthwhile commentary for this tired, nihilist blogger?

Friday, July 20, 2018

Paint the town red!

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I don't have access to the actual photo so I made my own with this Wikimedia Commons photo.
Feels nice, let me tell you. You should make one too! 


Another day, another lob of red paint thrown at a Chiang Kai-shek statue - this time the Big Kahuna, the huge bronze atrocity that graces Dead Dictator Memorial Hall in downtown Taipei (link in Chinese).

A bunch of people are going to post this with some (maybe self-righteous - it's hard to avoid sounding that way) screed about how they "support the goals" of the people who did this "but not the actions" because they "turn off" the other side, are "uncivilized", or make it "impossible to engage in dialogue" with those who disagree, or who might think such actions inappropriate.

And yeah, that's not entirely wrong, but you know what? I don't care. So let me pre-emptively say:

If you are "turned off" from dialogue with those who have a political belief you are not naturally inclined to follow because of some red paint, but not put off by actual blood Chiang Kai-shek spilled, I just don't think you can be reasoned with, nor should people waste their time trying. If his being a brutal, murderous dictator doesn't bother you more than an act of civil protest pointing out that history - civil protest in which no one was injured - I don't see how dialogue is possible.

Let alone "respectful" dialogue, as though one should feel the need to be "respectful" when talking about support for a mass-murdering dictator. 

This is in stark contrast to a woman in China who disappeared after throwing ink on an image of dictator Xi Jin-ping. These paint-throwers will probably face charges, but they won't disappear. They won't be executed. They won't be tortured. And other acts of civil disobedience might well go unpunished, as it is now something of a core tenet of Taiwanese democracy. The reason why Taiwan is more tolerant of this sort of protest? Well, because of the past pro-democracy protest actions of the sort of people who would throw red paint at a statue of a dictator to begin with. You have their ideological predecessors to thank for the fact that you have the right to speak out at all in Taiwan. Remember that next time someone is afraid a little red paint will "offend" people.

There are those who will also say "if we can act like this, the other side can deface statues too" - sure, they can. They did, to Yoichi Hatta's statue in southern Taiwan. But honestly, these actions don't happen in a vacuum: they are justified (or not) by historical facts. Those who would deface Chiang have recorded history on their side. Those who would deface Hatta do not, and their actions make them look like idiots. There is no moral equivalency between the two actions.

In fact, this isn't a matter of "opinion" - we have the facts. We know what he did. It's been public for some time, and new facts come to light all the time. There's no shading this - it's not "you see a 6 and I see a 9" - the records are there and there's no glossing over what he did. Those people are still dead, or their livelihoods (or mental health, in some cases) destroyed. We know he was a dictator because that word has a meaning, and he embodied it through actions that provably happened. That money is still in KMT coffers, we already know how most of it got there, and we can now finally count it.

This is all true whether or not you like, or would engage in, or "approve" of, this kind of civil disobedience. It's true whether or not you think civil disobedience is an important component of healthy democracy (it is, and if you don't think so, I think you're wrong, but at least one can have an opinion on that. It's an idea, not a fact.) Your "feelings" about some red paint don't really matter.

That's not an "opinion". That's not a "side". That's not "well we just see this issue differently". That's not "let's have a dialogue". It happened, we know it happened, and if you still think "dialogue" is necessary because you don't want to face facts, and you might be too "offended" by some paint (again - but not murder?) to engage in that "dialogue", or you want "respect" for the "perspective" that maybe Chiang was not a dictator or mass murderer because you don't think words mean things or past actions can be proven, then all I have for you is a big fat

 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 


...and a big ol' ball of red paint.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I'm in The News Lens, punching you with history

My response to two opinion pieces on what to do about Chiang Kai-shek statues (and his memorial hall) appeared in The News Lens International Edition today - you can read it here.

A few key points:


His legacy ought to be studied and analyzed, if only to remember the horrors and agonies of the history of this island nation, and to educate ourselves on the importance of avoiding a backslide into totalitarianism. I do not believe anyone has suggested that he be deleted from history textbooks, nor would it be wise to do so.


This gets to the heart of why I wrote the response to begin with - the first article used the word "delete" in the title but never actually suggested he be erased from history, merely that his presence in statue form does not belong does not belong anywhere in the country, except perhaps at Cihu. I have no issue with a place like that existing, in the same way that one may visit other sites around the world that cause us to reflect on the tragedies of history. However, many people who defend Chiang's likenesses remaining intact equate removing the statues with 'deleting' him entirely from history. It must be clear that this is a straw man argument: no reasonable person would say we should forget Chiang existed, any more than we should forget that any other dictator existed.

Let's remember, as a friend pointed out, that one can appropriately remember and study history without keeping statues everywhere. The nations of the former USSR are quite able to learn about and understand what led to their 20th century circumstances without statues of Lenin still hanging about everywhere.

I also took issue with Adam Hatch (the original writer's) three key reasons for why the statues and memorial hall should remain. In short, he pointed to "economic development", "defense against the People's Republic" and "land reform", saying that all of these things make Chiang's legacy more complex than many would have you believe, and he tried to point out without apologizing for Chiang's crimes that, as a result, Chiang did some good in Taiwan too.

Why would I have an issue with this? Well...even if these points were historically accurate (spoiler: they are not), they do not adequately make a case for continuing to let Chiang's horrid face pop up around the country:


In short, there is no political, military or economic argument for continuing to allow Chiang statues to dot the Taiwanese landscape. Even if the economic and anti-Communist defenses were accurate, they would still not begin to contend with the pain his actions caused in Taiwan.


However, that's not why I wrote in.

One thing that really, really bothers me is the use of historical arguments to make one's case that are not actually historically accurate. I can tolerate it to some extent on the Internet because that place is full of crazies who don't know what they're talking about, but Hatch is a graduate student in the field. I don't want to be too mean, but I have to say, a grad student in this subject ought to know better. I'm a graduate student (or I will be soon) in an entirely different field, and simply because I care about Taiwan and read a lot, I knew his points were wrong. So where did he get these ideas? Who is teaching the postgrads at NCCU? What is up with the revisionist history? I do not believe that Hatch is attempting to push an agenda, and I do not mean to attack him personally, but whoever is teaching this version of history sure is.

What's more, these three arguments keep popping up in discussions of Taiwan affairs and their related history - this isn't the first time I've heard the "but economic development, land reform, and he kept the Commies away!" triad of arguments.

Frankly, I'm sick of it. It's time to beat these inaccurate arguments down - punch them with the fists of history.

A quick summary of why all three points are wrong - not wrong in my opinion, but factually wrong:

Regarding "Chiang Beat The Commies":



The change in Western attitudes to Taiwan came with the outbreak of the Korean War. The U.S. decided that Taiwan was an essential bulwark against the spread of Communism (and of China's navy into the Pacific). It was this change in Taiwan's strategic importance and the subsequent mutual defense agreements signed between the United States and the Republic of China, not any action of Chiang’s, which ensured that Taiwan did not fall to the People's Republic. Not only would this have likely happened without Chiang in power, it might have happened sooner under a leader more appealing to the United States, or with Taiwan hypothetically having gained independence as a former colonial territory of Japan.


Of course, we can't know what would have happened if the ROC had never come here, and Taiwan had been dealt with by the Allies as all former colonies of Japan had been, but the hypothetical seems reasonable given how things played out elsewhere.

In any case, Taiwan not falling to the PRC had nothing to do with Chiang himself.

And about "Chiang created economic development initiatives that made Taiwan an Asian Tiger", remember that this bit of revisionism asks you to believe that the KMT came to backwater Taiwan, and developed it, but that was not the case:


Before World War II, Taiwan was one of the most prosperous territories in Asia.
World War II certainly did its part to create economic turmoil in Taiwan, but for the most part, the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang or KMT) inherited a prosperous and well-run economy in 1945. This is not a defense of the Japanese colonial period: colonialism is, generally, indefensible. However, Taiwan's pre-ROC era economic prosperity is simply a fact. What destroyed the Taiwanese economy so much that the KMT eventually decided to "develop" it? The KMT themselves: as Hsiao-ting Lin (林孝庭) notes in “Accidental State”, under Chiang-appointed Chen Yi (陳儀), resources were so badly mismanaged, governance so high-handed and command economy and state monopoly enterprises so unsuited to local conditions that the economy, and the living standards of the Taiwanese, plummeted....
Chiang Kai-shek did not develop initiatives to turn Taiwan from a backwater into an Asian Tiger. He merely, and belatedly, sought to fix what he and his own party had broken to begin with. 

More could be said about this, and is included in the article, but the point is, you are not a hero when you wait a decade or so to fix what you yourself broke. And even if you were, it does not absolve you of other crimes: if you kill tens or hundreds of thousands, it does not matter if you made the trains run on time.

Finally, on "but land reform was really necessary, something Chiang realized led to his failure in China!" - yeah, not really, no:



Land reform is similarly a complicated issue: while breaking up large landholdings of an entrenched property-owning class is quite defensible, much of that land was ceded by Japanese owners leaving the former colony, and although some was redistributed, much of it was taken by the state directly, or given to KMT state-run monopolies. Make no mistake: land reform was enacted to enrich the ruling diaspora, including Chiang himself, just as much as it was meant to redistribute land to everyone else.


So please, make your arguments, mount your defenses, create your cases, but do so with an accurate view of history. Quit it with the "look at all the good Chiang did, too!" remarks. We know them to be inaccurate, because history tells us so. These are not secrets. These are not hidden stories. We know the story of the end of the Chinese Civil War. We know the story of the Taiwan Miracle. We know how land reform was handled. We know these things, so don't try to make a case by getting them wrong. These points keep popping up, and I'm done. Stop it.

Learn your history, and learn it well.