Debunking the Myths of Chiang Kai-shek: Myth # 2, Chiang Kai-shek Rebuilt Taiwan
Tuesday January 01, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.
A second myth that the profiteers and exploiters of Chiang Kai-shek's dictatorship use to justify their position and profit is to promote the idea that the people of Taiwan should be grateful to Chiang Kai-shek because he rebuilt it after World War II. This is Myth # 2: Chiang Kai-shek rebuilt Taiwan. Answer: Chiang Kai-shek (CKS) did not rebuild Taiwan; in reality, he is the one who brought it to its lowest degradation.
This myth has two parts; the first treats Taiwan before 1950 and the second treats the period following 1950. This answer will treat the pre-1950 situation. Before World War II (WWII), Taiwan as a colony of Japan had a better infrastructure, economy and health care system than China. The nefarious and duplicitous Chen Yi (who CKS would make governor of Taiwan after WWII) visited Taiwan in 1937 and was much impressed with it.
Taiwan began to suffer war damage after the USA entered the war. From that time on military targets in Taiwan were subject to bombings. After the USA retook the Philippines these bombings intensified, particularly of the port cities and the capital Taipei. Taiwan's infrastructure did receive damage during WWII, but the real damage to Taiwan came after 1945.
From 1945 to 1949, when CKS was finally driven from China, Taiwan suffered tremendous destruction physically and morally (The 2-28, er-er-ba, uprising was a direct result of this). In addition to the mistreatment of the people, Taiwan was stripped of machinery, factory parts, materials, metals, foods, rice etc. etc.; anything and everything that could be used to bolster Chiang's losing effort in China was taken from the island and shipped to China. Some of it went to Chiang's armies and other parts were sold on the black market. This was when the real denuding, pillaging and destruction of Taiwan took place.
When all was lost in China and CKS had to retreat to the island Taiwan, he came to an impoverished island in 1949. It did need to be rebuilt. CKS and his minions began a rebuilding of what they had destroyed, not because they loved Taiwan, but because they had no place left to go. Their situation can be likened to the followers of Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost. Faced with threats of extinction and with little recourse, Mammon suggests that they make a "heaven out of their hell." CKS and his followers did not make Taiwan a heaven, but at least they began to rebuild what they had destroyed. This is the reality of CKS's rebuilding of Taiwan in the early 1950s. The second half which treats the Taiwan Miracle will be treated later along with more myths about CKS. All this must be understood to grasp why so many feel the statues of CKS are an insult to Taiwan and must go.