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THE CONFERENCE ON CHIANG KAI-SHEK AND MODERN CHINA Ramon H. Myers A conference on Chiang Kai-shek and modern China was held at the new National Central Library between October 26-30, 1986, in Taipei, Taiwan of the Republic of China. To commemorate the 100th birthday of the late President Chiang Kai-shek, some 200 local and more than 50 foreign scholars convened to present 98 papers at four panels that ran concurrently between October 27-30, 1986. The Historical Commission of the Kuomintang, the Institute for Modern History of Academia Sinica, Academia Historica (RC), and the Association for Chinese History sponsored the conference. These papers fell into four general categories: evaluations of Chiang Kai-shek--the man and his thoughtJ views and interpretations of Chiang Kai-shek's leadership style and place in history, studies of Chiang Kai-shek's role in key historical events; finally, analyses and discussions of major historical events. All papers will be published by the spring of 1987. Let me now briefly describe some of these papers as samples of the above categories which best represent solid research and enhance our understanding of this important leader and the period he lived in. Guy Alitto examined Western historiography about Chiang Kaishek , with respect to Chiang's personality, intellect, thought, successes and failures, policies toward narrowing the rural-urban gap, and responsibility for the Nationalist loss in the civil war. This wide ranging essay, the first analytical apprisal of this kind, concludes that Chiang has had a very bad image in Western historiography . The reason for this unfavorable image is that writers of different persuasion explain his successes or his failures by the same qualities of mind and character: his military skills, Confucian values, authoritarian personality, etc. Because these same qualities are used to explain both Chiang's limited success and his dismal failures, there emerges a great contradiction in Western historiography . It seems the time has now come for a new appraisal of Chiang, one that ~valuates his role in the accomplishments on Taiwan since 1949, as well as his previous failures on the mainland. But such an appraisal, according to Alitto, must be written with style and artistry , and resolve the logical inconsistency which has marked historiography about Chiang so far. Ramon H. Myers related Chiang's economic policies to his vision of the •good• society or ta-t•ung for the 1930s and 1950s. He argued that Chiang's moral premises for the •good• society were essentially Confucian, with emphasis on social harmony between groups and individuals while they adhered to the usual traditional Confucian values; these premises never changed over time. But to achieve the •good• 86 society, Chiang relied upon policies that were based upon a •transformative vision• of the desired future order for the 1930s as reflected in Chiang's endorsement of the New Life Movement and thE National Economic Construction Movement. But on Taiwan, Chiang pressed for policies related to an •accommodative vision• fox achieving the •good• society in a gradual, step-by-step manner. These analytical categories, borrowed from the work of Thomas A. Metzger, elucidate why Chiang's policies in certain dimensions of activities differed over the course of his life. Ho Long-hsu explicated Chiang's political philosophy as conceiving policies and means of implementing them solely in terms of their potential benefit for the people. Referring to such traditional texts as the Li Chi, the Doctrine of the Mean and the Great Learning which Chiang read repeatedly throughout his life, Ho argues that Chiang developed his political thinking chiefly froR those ideas. Further, Chiang believed he and all government officials should behave as sages, setting model examples by which people could pattern their behavior. Pichon P. Y. Loh focused upon the years 1912-13, examining Chiang's views on China's loss of national sovereignty and on actual national threats and how they could be checked. Chiang ruled out a war with Britain and Japan, but he worried about a confrontation with Russia because of that country's long border and history of tensions with China. Chiang realized that China, being weak, would have to rely upon a diplomacy of appeasement until sufficient military...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5065
Print ISSN
1521-5385
Pages
pp. 86-90
Launched on MUSE
2021-05-25
Open Access
No
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