Breaking with the Past: The Kuomintang Central Reform Committee on Taiwan, 1950-52

Publication Date: December 2007

Publisher: Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace

Author(s): Ramon H. Myers; Hsiao-ting Lin

Research Area: Politics

Keywords: Kuomintang; Chinese Nationalist Party; Taiwan; Chiang Kai-shek

Type: Other

Coverage: Taiwan China


Few defeated political parties in wartime have the opportunity to make a fresh start in a new location. Even fewer can leave their failures behind and go on to succeed. The Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, KMT) was such an exception. In late 1949, having been almost destroyed by the Chinese Communists, the KMT relocated to Taiwan and reinvented itself. Not only did the KMT leadership build a new party that has endured for five decades, but it built a new polity on Taiwan that created economic prosperity and China's first democracy.

How did this defeated party reinvent itself? New microfilmed materials on the KMT Central Reform Committee--now in the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University--shed new light on this unusual phenomenon. From August 1950 to October 1952, more than four hundred working meetings were held almost four times a week to discuss how to build a new political party and implement Nationalist government policies.

Chiang Kai-shek began the reforms by establishing the Central Reform Committee (CRC) to replace the inept Central Standing Committee and Central Executive Committee, the party's two most powerful agencies on the mainland. Unlike its predecessors, the CRC recruited young, highly educated party members, who, encouraged by Chiang Kai-shek, revitalized the KMT by introducing new institutions that would build a society based on the principles of Sun Yat-sen, one of the party's founders.