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By L. Buszynski

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The mainlander KMT regime imposed its rule upon the majority Taiwanese through an authoritarian system under a state of emergency that was not lifted until July 1987. The democratisation of Taiwan strengthened its separation from the mainland as the native Taiwanese majority came to power and broke with the mainlanders. Chiang Kai-shek’s son, the mainlander Chiang Ching-kuo, initiated the process of Taiwanisation and democratisation that was to have far-reaching repercussions subsequently. 62 After Chiang’s death on 13 January 1988 Lee Tenghui emerged as the first Taiwanese president and leader of the mainlander National People’s Party (KMT).

For the leadership the issue is the extent to which China can integrate into the international community while maintaining its traditional and familiar sense of identity, its centralised system of government, and its values and territorial integrity. That traditional conception of identity demands recognition of China’s status and the correction of past humiliations, including Taiwan’s reunification, equality with the US and a sphere of influence in East Asia recognised by the US and the international community.

They are inherited and passed on to future generations of decision-makers and preserved by organisations, ministries and research institutes which may have different views of how to go about applying values to particular situations but nevertheless maintain continuity. For established political systems and traditional cultures there are deeply ingrained principles and guidelines that form part of the historical memory of the generations, and which are preserved by institutions and public bodies.

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