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Rehabilitation of Chiang Kai-shek’s Reputation in the US


 A Commentary

Rehabilitation of Chiang Kai-shek’s Reputation in the US
Norman Fu
Source: China Times
December 19, 2014
Recently in their books, China scholars (Zhongguo Tong,中國通), in the West have gradually changed their views about the Republic of China (ROC), particularly the ROC just before and just after WWII and the historical status of Chiang Kai-shek.  Such revisionist views of history in the US amount to a complete U-turn.  Jay Taylor, a retired US diplomat, wrote a book titled, “The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China.”  After reading the book, some reviewers concluded that it controverted Chiang’s reputation as a corrupt, and incompetent dictator.   Another book titled “Forgotten Ally,” written by Rana Ritter, a British historian, viewed the huge sacrifices and contributions made by the ROC during WWII in a positive light.
Last month, Richard Bernstein, a Time Magazine journalist stationed in Beijing, published a book titled “China 1945: Mao’s Revolution and America’s Fateful Choice.”  The book  strongly refuted the views of many American scholars that the US government missed the opportunity to support the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after WWII and thus the US paid a high price in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  Bernstein’s book did not cause any controversy, just the opposite, it won accolades.  On December 14, the Washington Post published a review of Bernstein’s book expressing complete agreement with Bernstein’s revisionist views.
Before the end of WWII, the US dispatched some diplomats, including John S. Service and John P. Davies, to China, and they called on the US to maintain good relations with the CCP.   In 1970s, when the US tried to seek normalization of relations with the CCP, John Service was reinstated as the State Department had fired him for his close ties to the CCP.  The secret telegrams sent by John Service from Chongqing and Yan’an in the 1940s were published in a book titled “Lost Chance in China.”
According to Bernstein’s book, the US lost all opportunities in China after WWII because President Franklin D. Roosevelt made a big mistake by promising to allow the Soviet Union to send troops into Northeast China during the Yalta Conference.  CCP troops took Northeast China back from the Japanese after WWII because they arrived before the ROC armed forces, so the CCP army received weapons and equipment of the Japanese    Kwantung Army with the assistance of the Soviet Union.  When the US started to help the ROC government to transport its troops into Northeast China, it was already too late, so nothing could be changed.  Stalin was the biggest winner in China after WWII.
Bernstein highly praised John Service as a decent and skilled diplomat, but Service was deceived by the lies told by Mao Zedong (毛澤東) and Zhou Enlai (周恩來).  Mao’s skills at lying were as good as Stalin’s, and John Service’s telegrams collected in “Lost Chance in China” were only his wishful thinking.  Zhou was better at telling lies.   Bernstein pointed out that there was a married couple, Chyao Kuan-hua (喬冠華) and Kung Peng (龔澎), under Zhou’s command, at the CCP office in Chongqing (重慶) during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression.   Chyan and Kung were good at united front warfare and were welcomed by the foreign journalists stationed in Chongqing.
Bernstein made a fair assessment of Chiang’s contributions during WWII in his book, writing that what Chiang had done much more during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression than US observers and historians had previously been aware of, and stating that it was a fact that the ROC government had fought against Japanese troops and suffered great losses.  Bernstein added that the CCP suffered limited losses due to their passive resistance against the Japanese, but Chiang was not considered a courageous fighter in the US.  
By the end of 1945, George Marshall, later a US Secretary of State, was dispatched by the US government to act as a special envoy to reconcile the KMT and the CCP so that they would join forces.  John Melby, who served in the US Embassy in China at the time, wrote in his diary that Marshall’s mission was doomed to fail, and in fact, Marshall completely failed in just one year.  The US placed its hopes in those who advocated democracy, but the CCP finally occupied the whole Mainland and caused China to fall into a revolutionary catastrophe and tragedy.
Time has disproved Chiang’s reputation as a corrupt and incompetent dictator, and the ROC has finally won justice.  However, this will not benefit Taiwan because some in Taiwan have betrayed the ideals of the founding forerunners of the KMT.  When in power, the DPP tried to annihilate the ROC without care to their historical status.  Only overseas ROC patriots care about the revisionist views of these China scholars.       

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