Chiang Kai-shek's Vision for Returning to China in the 1950s

Discussion Papers

No.729

by Haruka Matsumoto

November 2018

ABSTRACT

This paper investigates Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi, the First President of the Republic of China)’s vision for returning to mainland China during the period of the two Taiwan Strait Crises in the 1950s through the analysis of Taiwanese archival documents. Some conclusions can be drawn from the analysis presented here. First, Taiwanese archival documents show that the United States was more actively encouraging the Republic of China [ROC] to hold and even take advantage of the offshore islands, the Da-chen Islands in particular. The U.S.’s attitude may have maintained or strengthened Chiang Kai-shek’s hope that he would be able to return to the mainland of China. Second, Chiang had paid enormous attention to the People’s Republic of China [PRC]-Soviet relations, and when he discussed the subject with allied U.S. officials, he emphasized that the Soviet Union would not intervene even if the ROC conducted a counter-offensive against the Chinese mainland. While it is difficult to judge whether Chiang’s analysis of Soviet intentions concerning the defense of the PRC was motivated by his desire to entrap the United States or if it was the outcome of more cool-headed logical thinking, his observances of the signs of the split between Beijing and Moscow after the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1958 was remarkably accurate. It is possible that Chiang may have thought that his chance of returning to mainland China would be greater in the late 1950s and the early 1960s. The critical piece that he needed to realize his dream, however, was support from the United States who ironically became more reluctant as time went on.

Keywords: Chiang Kai-shek, U.S.-Taiwan Relations, Taiwan Strait Crisis, offshore islands

JEL classification:Z00

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