The Kuomintang (KMT) is a political party with a grand vision and a proud history. The vision of the KMT is to establish the Republic of China (ROC) as a free, democratic, and dignified country with prosperity for all. The Party’s precarious history is the very testament to realize its vision.
A Party Born Out of Hardship; For the People, for the Country
The organization that would later be known as the KMT first took shape in 1894, during a period of crucial importance in the First Sino-Japanese War. The father of modern China, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, had traveled thousands of miles to Honolulu, Hawaii in order to muster the support of overseas Chinese compatriots, and it was there that he established the Revive China Society, a revolutionary organization committed to saving China.
In 1905, the Revive China Society merged with other revolutionary groups to form the United League (also known as the Revolutionary Alliance), in Tokyo, Japan. Later, the United League further merged with several political parties in Beijing to form the Chinese Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang (KMT), in August, 1912.
In 1914, the KMT again reorganized into the Chinese Revolutionary Party, and in 1919, changed its name once more to the Kuomintang of China (also known as the Chinese Nationalist Party). It was in 1924, the first National Party Congress marked the official culmination of the KMT’s formative stage.
The Cornerstone of the Party: The Three Principles of the People
In 1897, as Dr. Sun Yat-sen was in London advocating for support for the revolution, he frequently visited the British Museum Library, delving deep into study, and becoming well-versed in the political systems and social organization of many European countries. He concluded that no revolution could be successful without addressing and solving the problems that people faced in society, and following this research, he established his philosophy of the Principle of the People’s Livelihood. This had laid the groundwork for his Three Principles of the People, which he officially unveiled at the founding of the United League in 1905.
Over the 100 years since it was founded, the KMT has maintained an unwavering, unitary objective, formed at the outset of the Revolution: to establish the Republic of China according to the Three Principles of the People. These Principles consisted of the founding belief that guides the formation of the New China. Since this pivotal moment in history, many KMT compatriots have given their blood, sweat, and tears, many losing their lives, in the struggle to actualize this ideal.
Since the relocation of the ROC government to Taiwan in 1949, successive Party leaders have implemented these Principles, resulting in successful land reforms and economic development, strengthening culture and fostering education, furthering science and technology, carrying out constitutional reforms, promoting democracy, and improving cross-strait relations. All this has given rise to the miraculous “Taiwan Experience,” renowned and admired over the world.
Courage in the Face of Adversity: A Commitment to Reform
Recorded in the annals of the KMT are the resounding cheers of its victories, as well as its struggles and failures. Yet throughout its successes and setbacks, the Party has always adhered to the spirit of the Three Principles of the People, namely of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Since its founding, the KMT’s structure and platform have been reformed many times, changing with each era. Each subsequent reform has breathed new vitality into the Party, allowing it to turn the tides on each historical critical juncture.
Through its ability to forge ahead with steady progress, the KMT has overcome every kind of adversities. It has adapted to the times, with a dedication to reform and renewal, ultimately evolving into the modern, democratic political party that it is today.
Reflecting on the lessons of the KMT’s defeat in the 2000 presidential election, the entire Party endorsed and supported then-Chairman Lien Chan’s efforts for reform. In 2004, as it conceded its second presidential election loss in the aftermath of the 3/19 shooting incident, the KMT never let the sting of defeat cause it to falter from its higher aim.
After Chairman Lien left office, Ma Ying-jeou and Wu Poh-hsiung assumed leadership of the Party; under their direction and continued reforms, the KMT set in place the firm foundation of its return to power in 2008.
Blue Skies on the Horizon: The KMT’s Return to Power
The KMT opened a proud new chapter in its history in the 2008 presidential and legislative elections. On January 12th of that year, the Party won a landslide victory, securing 81 out of 113 seats in the Legislative Yuan, surpassing a 70% supermajority.
The KMT also set a new record for the most votes received in a presidential election in the ROC’s history on March 22nd of that year, as Ma Ying-jeou and Vincent Siew were elected to be the 12th President and Vice President, respectively, of the ROC. Together they garnered 7.65 million votes (58%), easily securing the KMT’s return to power.
On January 14th, 2012, Ma Ying-jeou was successfully re-elected to his second-term as President, with 51.9% of the vote; the KMT also continued to maintain its majority in the Legislative Yuan that year.
Eric Chu Pledges an “Open Party”
On November 29th, 2014, the KMT suffered major losses in Taiwan’s nine-in-one local election, including city mayors, city councilors, and county councilors, among public offices. Ma Ying-jeou, as leader of the KMT, accepted responsibility for the Party’s defeat and summarily submitted his resignation as chairman.
Following this, on January 17th, 2015, the party members elected Eric Chu, as the new chairman, who was also recently elected to his second term as New Taipei City Mayor, carried the chairmanship handily with 99.61% of the vote — the highest percentage in KMT history.
"Upon taking office, Chairman Chu pledged that the KMT would become a more open party, drawing upon publicly-elected officials to fill more party leadership positions, and promoting grassroots volunteerism. He especially emphasized the Party's need to appeal more to young people.
On cross-strait policy, Chairman Chu has advocated both sides joining together to confront the concerns about fairness and justice in the enacting of cross-strait exchanges head-on.
Promoting Peaceful and Stable Cross-Strait Relations
After the lifting of martial law on July 15th, 1987, the KMT has advocated that both sides of the Taiwan Strait should maintain peaceful, stable relations. On April 26th, 2005, Party Chairman Lien Chan opened a new chapter in sixty years of cross-strait relations, when he led the first KMT delegation to visit Mainland China under his “Journey of Peace.”
On May 26, 2008, Party Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung led another delegation to the Mainland, conducting the first high-level talks between the leaders of the governing parties of cross-straits, culminating in agreements between the Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), and the Mainland’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS). These agreements have facilitated the establishment of weekend charter flights, and the opening of Taiwan to Mainland tourists. These tangible results of cross-strait development have proven to be a win-win situation for people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
For more than a century, the KMT and the ROC have been intimately connected; this is the key driving force behind the modernization of this country. The KMT has held 19 National Party Congresses since the first one in January 1924, and today, KMT party membership stands at approximately 1.05 million people. History proves that the KMT is the true steward and defender of the Republic of China, and under its governance and leadership will the ROC continue to enjoy stability, prosperity, and sustainable development for future generations can be assured.