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Kuomintang (gwōˈmĭnˈdängˈ, kwōˈmĭntăngˈ) [Chin.,=national people's party] (KMT), Chinese and Taiwanese political party. Sung Chiao-jen organized the party in 1912, under the nominal leadership of Sun Yat-sen, to succeed the Revolutionary Alliance. The original Kuomintang program called for parliamentary democracy and moderate socialism. In 1913, Yüan Shih-kai, the president of China, suppressed the Kuomintang although it held a majority in the first national assembly. Under Sun Yat-sen, the party established unrecognized revolutionary governments at Guangzhou in 1918 and 1921 and even sent a delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference. Sun accepted aid from the USSR, and after 1922 many Comintern agents, notably Michael Borodin and V. K. Blücher, helped reorganize the Kuomintang. At the party congress in 1924 at Guangzhou, a coalition including Communists adopted Sun's political theory, which included the Three People's Principles (San Min Chu I), namely, nationalism, democracy, and the people's livelihood. Sun, who died in 1925, thought that Chinese national reconstruction must follow a progression of stages: military government, tutelage under the Kuomintang, and popular sovereignty.
In 1926, Kuomintang general Chiang Kai-shek launched the Northern Expedition, advancing north from Guangzhou against the Beijing government. After halting temporarily in 1927, when the Communists were purged and the civil war between the two factions began, Kuomintang forces finally captured Beijing in 1928. The Kuomintang government at Nanjing received diplomatic recognition in 1928 and began the period of tutelage. After several Kuomintang military campaigns, the Communists were forced (1934–35) to withdraw from their bases in S and central China and establish new strongholds in the northwest. The Kuomintang continued to war against the Communists, ignoring the growing Japanese threat until N China was invaded by the Japanese in 1937. Although plagued by bureaucratic inefficiency and corruption, it controlled the Chinese central government until 1947, when it permitted some participation by minor liberal parties. Its control at the provincial and local level, however, was never complete.
Full-scale civil war, further complicated by inflation, characterized the years from 1945 to 1949. The power of the Kuomintang steadily declined, and by the end of 1949 the Communists controlled the mainland. The Kuomintang, forced from the mainland, remained in power in Taiwan, first under Chiang, then under his son, Chiang Ching-kuo, and Lee Teng-hui. In 1991, Lee ended emergency rule, which had permitted the domination of Taiwan's national assembly by mainland delegates elected in 1947. During the 1990s the major opposition party gained a number of seats in the assembly; in the 1996 presidential elections, President Lee, who was opposed by the Beijing government, won a landslide victory. In 1999 a split developed in the party when James Soong challenged the official candidate for the 2000 presidency race, Vice President Lien Chan, and was expelled; the opposition candidate, Chen Shui-bian, won the election, and Lien placed third behind Soong. Shortly thereafter Lee Teng-hui resigned as Kuomintang chairman. Lee was expelled from the party the following year when he accused its leaders of selling out Taiwan to Beijing when they pursued a less confrontational relationship with the mainland. Although the factions united to oppose Chen's reelection in 2004, he narrowly defeat Lien Chan. In 2005, Lien visited China, becoming the first KMT leader to meet with a Chinese Communist party leader since World War II. Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou succeeded Lien as party leader in 2005 (except during 2007–9) and was elected president of Taiwan in 2008 and reelected in 2012. Following party losses in local elections in 2014, Ma resigned as party leader; he was followed by a series of interim and short-tenured leaders. Wu Den-yih, a former Taiwanese vice president, was leader from 2017 to 2020; he was succeeded by Johnny Chiang (Chiang Chi-chen), the legislative minority leader.
See G. T. Yu, Party Politics in Republican China: The Kuomintang, 1912–1924 (1966); Hsieh Jan-chih, ed., The Kuomintang (1970).
(“National Party”), a political party in China that initially (from 1912) played a progressive role and later (beginning in 1927) became the ruling party of the bourgeois-landowner reaction; its rule was overthrown by the Chinese people in 1949. The Kuomintang was founded in 1912 as a result of the merger of the Tung Meng Hui Alliance, led by Sun Yat-sen, with several organizations of the liberal bourgeoisie. This merger took place for the purpose of limiting the power of the president Yüan Shih-k’ai and strengthening the Chinese Republic created during the period of the Hsinhai Revolution. With the establishment of the military dictatorship of Yuan Shih-k’ai, the Kuomintang was banned on Nov. 4, 1913. Sun Yat-sen, who had emigrated to Japan, founded the Chinese Revolutionary Party there in 1914 (the Chunghua Komingtang). He and his supporters tried to continue the struggle for the liberation of China but failed to find the correct path for doing so. The attempts by Sun Yat-sen to reorganize the Kuomintang in 1918 and 1919 were unsuccessful. The way out of the impasse was found in collaboration between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China (CPC), which was created in 1921. In late 1923 and early 1924, with the active participation of the Chinese Communists and the Soviet adviser M. M. Borodin, who had been invited to China by Sun Yat-sen, the Kuomintang was transformed into a mass political party of the united revolutionary front. This party brought together the workers, the peasants, the urban petite and middle bourgeoisies, and individual feudal-comprador elements. The Communists entered the Kuomintang while maintaining the organizational, ideological, and political independence of the CPC. In January 1924 the First Kuomintang Congress approved a new program based upon Sun Yat-sen’s Three Principles of the People (nationalism, democracy, and prosperity). These principles were clearly anti-imperialist and antifeudal in direction. For the implementation of this program, Sun Yat-sen proposed three basic political lines: alliance with the USSR, alliance with the CPC, and support for the peasants and workers.
The creation of a united front based on collaboration between the CPC and the Kuomintang was one of the main prerequisites for the revolution of 1925–27 in China.
As the revolution developed and deepened, the right wing of the Kuomintang began to retreat from collaboration with the Communists. The counterrevolutionary activities of the rightist elements in the Kuomintang particularly intensified after the death of Sun Yat-sen on Mar. 12, 1925. In April 1927, Chiang Kai-shek and other right-wing Kuomintang leaders carried out counterrevolutionary coups in East and South China, and in May, June, and July of the same year, similar coups occurred in Central China. The Kuomintang became a counterrevolutionary party defending the interests of the landowners and the big bourgeoisie. A period of bloody terror began in China.
In the 1930’s the Kuomintang, relying on the support of the USA, Great Britain, and the other imperialist nations, conducted five major military campaigns against the revolutionary bases created under CPC leadership. At the same time, it carried out a policy of capitulation to imperialist Japan, which in 1931 had seized Northeast China, and in 1933–35 established actual control over certain regions of North China. The antinational policy of continuing the civil war and capitulating to Japanese aggression evoked the indignation of the Chinese people, and this swelled into the patriotic movement of Dec. 9, 1935, and the Sian events of 1936. These were accompanied by the arrest of Chiang Kai-shek by patriotic generals such as Chang Hsueh-liang. After this, the Kuomintang was forced to abandon the policy of instigating civil war and begin a war against Japanese imperialism. But even during the national liberation war of the Chinese people against the Japanese invaders in 1937–45, the Kuomintang leaders did not halt their struggle against the CPC. After the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II, in trying to eliminate the liberated regions and the armed forces led by the CPC, the Kuomintang started a nation-wide civil war in July 1946 with the support of American imperialism. But the Chinese people led by the CPC, in benefiting from the favorable international situation and the aid of all revolutionary forces throughout the world, defeated the Kuomintang army and on Oct. 1, 1949, proclaimed the creation of the Chinese People’s Republic. The remnants of the defeated Chiang Kai-shek clique fled to the island of Taiwan under the protection of American military forces and created the Taiwan Kuomintang. In the Chinese People’s Republic there is the Revolutionary Committee of the Kuomintang, which was formed in January 1948 by a group of Kuomintang leaders who opposed the reactionary policy of Chiang Kai-shek.
REFERENCESLenin, V. I. “Demokratiia i narodnichestvo v Kitae.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 21.
Lenin, V. I. “Obnovlennyi Kitai.” Ibid., vol. 22.
Lenin, V. I. “Bor’ba partii v Kitae.” Ibid., vol. 23.
Sun Yat-sen. Izbr. proizv. Moscow, 1964. (Translated from Chinese.)
Sun Yat-sen, 1866–1966: K stoletiiu so dnia rozhdeniia. Sb. statei, vospominanii i materialov. Moscow, 1966.
E. A. BELOV