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The former socialist ideology of the Kuomintang is a unique form of socialism and socialist thought developed in mainland China during the early Republic of China. The Tongmenghui revolutionary organization led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen was the first to promote socialist ideology in China.
One of the Three Principles of the People of the Kuomintang, Minsheng, was defined as socialism by Dr. Sun Yat-sen. The concept may be understood as social welfare as well. Sun understood it as an industrial economy and equality of land holdings for the Chinese peasant farmers. Here he was influenced by the American thinker Henry George (see Georgism) and British thinker Bertrand Russell; the land value tax in Taiwan is a legacy thereof. He divided livelihood into four areas: food, clothing, housing, and transportation; and planned out how an ideal Chinese government can take care of these for its people.
The Kuomintang was referred to having a socialist ideology. "Equalization of land rights" was a clause included by Dr. Sun in the original Tongmenhui. The Kuomintang's revolutionary ideology in the 1920s incorporated unique Chinese Socialism as part of its ideology.
The Soviet Union trained Kuomintang revolutionaries in the Moscow Sun Yat-sen University. In the West and in the Soviet Union, Chiang Kai-shek was known as the "Red General". Movie theaters in the Soviet Union showed newsreels and clips of Chiang, at Moscow Sun Yat-sen University Portraits of Chiang were hung on the walls, and in the Soviet May Day Parades that year, Chiang's portrait was to be carried along with the portraits of Karl Marx, Lenin, Stalin and other socialist leaders.
The Kuomintang attempted to levy taxes upon merchants in Canton, and the merchants resisted by raising an army, the Merchant's volunteer corps. Dr. Sun initiated this anti-merchant policy, and Chiang Kai-shek enforced it, Chiang led his army of Whampoa Military Academy graduates to defeat the merchant army. Chiang was assisted by Soviet advisors, who supplied him with weapons, while the merchants were supplied with weapons from the Western countries.
The merchants were supported by the foreign, western imperialists such as the British, who led an international flotilla to support them against Dr. Sun. Chiang seized the western supplied weapons from the merchants, and battled against them. A Kuomintang General executed several merchants, and the Kuomintang formed a Soviet inspired Revolutionary Committee. The British Communist party congratulated Dr. Sun for his war against foreign imperialists and capitalists.
Even after Chiang turned on the Soviet Union and massacred the Communists, he still continued anti-capitalist activities, and promoting revolutionary thought, accusing the merchants of being reactionaries and counterrevolutionaries.
Chiang also confronted and dominated the merchants of Shanghai in 1927, seizing loans from them, with the threats of death or exile. Rich merchants, industrialists, and entrepreneurs were arrested by Chiang, who accused them of being "counterrevolutionary", and Chiang held them until they gave money to the Kuomintang. Chiang arrests targeted rich millionaires, accusing them of communism and counterrevolutionary activities. Chiang also enforced an anti-Japanese boycott, sending his agents to sack the shops of those who sold Japanese made items, fining them. Chiang also disregarded the Internationally protected International Settlement, putting cages on its borders, threatening to have the merchants placed in there. He terrorized the merchant community. The Kuomintang's alliance with the Green Gang allowed it to ignore the borders of the foreign concessions.
The Kuomintang repeatedly attempted land reform in China. On 8 January 1933, Chiang Kai-Shek established the Chinese Institute of Land Economics, under the 1932 "Ten Principles for promoting Party Land Policy", to "Regulate land ownership rights", "Establish a system of equal land rights", "Advance land use", "Establish land governance organisations", to facilitate land redistribution. US Ambassador Patrick Hurley declared that the difference between the Communists and Nationalists were no greater than those between the Republican and Democratic parties in the United States.
In 1948, the Kuomintang again curbed the merchants of Shanghai, and Chiang Kai-shek sent his son Chiang Ching-kuo to restore economic order. Ching-kuo copied Soviet methods, which he learned during his stay there, to start a social revolution by targeting middle class merchants. He also enforced low prices on all goods to raise support from the Proletariat.
As riots broke out and savings were ruined, bankrupting shopowners, Ching-kuo began to pursue the wealthy, seizing assets and placing them under arrest. The son of the gangster Du Yuesheng was arrested by him. Ching-kuo ordered Kuomintang agents to raid the Yangtze Development Corporation's warehouses, which was privately owned by H.H. Kung and his family. H.H. Kung's wife was Soong Ai-ling, the sister of Soong Mei-ling who was Ching-kuo's stepmother. H.H. Kung's son David was arrested, the Kung's responded by blackmailing the Chiangs, threatening to release information about them, eventually he was freed after negotiations, and Ching-kuo resigned, ending the terror on the Shanghainese merchants.
An American scholar and government advisor, A. Doak Barnett, praised Ma Bufang's government as "one of the most efficient in China, and one of the most energetic. While most of China is bogged down, almost inevitably, by Civil War, Chinghai is attempting to carry our small-scale, but nevertheless ambitious, development and reconstruction schemes on its own initiative".
General Ma started a state run and controlled industrialization project, directly creating educational, medical, agricultural, and sanitation projects, run or assisted by the state. The state provided money for food and uniforms in all schools, state run or private. Roads and a theater were constructed. The state controlled all the press, no freedom was allowed for independent journalists. His regime was dictatoral in its political system. Barnett admitted that the regime had "sterm authoritarianism" and "little room for personal freedom".
The Kuomintang also promotes government-owned corporations. The Kuomintang founder Sun Yat-sen, was heavily influenced by the economic ideas of Henry George, who believed that the rents extracted from natural monopolies or the usage of land belonged to the public. Dr. Sun argued for Georgism and emphasized the importance of a mixed economy, which he termed "The Principle of Minsheng" in his Three Principles of the People.
"The railroads, public utilities, canals, and forests should be nationalized, and all income from the land and mines should be in the hands of the State. With this money in hand, the State can therefore finance the social welfare programs".
The Kuomintang Muslim Governor of Ningxia, Ma Hongkui promoted state owned monopoly companies. His government had a company, Fu Ning Company, which had a monopoly over commercial and industry in Ningxia.
The Chinese Muslim 36th Division (National Revolutionary Army) governed southern Xinjiang from 1934-1937. The General Ma Hushan was chief of the 36th Division. The Chinese Muslims operated state-owned carpet factories.
The Kuomintang government under Dr. Sun and Chiang denounced feudalism as counterrevolutionary. They proudly proclaimed themselves to be revolutionary. Chiang called the warlords feudalists, and called for feudalism and counterrevolutionaries to be stamped out by the Kuomintang. Chiang showed extreme rage when he was called a warlord, because of its negative, feudal connotations.
The Blue Shirts were a fascist paramilitary organization within the Kuomintang modeled after Mussolini's blackshirts, and were anti-communist and rigorously nationalist. The intended goal of the Blue shirts was to destroy the Communists, "suppress feudal influences" and "deal with foreign insults". In addition to being anti-communist, some Kuomintang members, like Chiang Kai-shek's right-hand man Dai Li were anti-American, and they wanted to expel American influence.
Marxists also existed in the Kuomintang party. They viewed the Chinese revolution in different terms than the Communists, claiming that China already went past its feudal stage and in a stagnation period rather than in another mode of production. These Marxists in the Kuomintang did not always agree the Chinese Communist Party ideology.
Contrary to the view that he was pro-capitalist, Chiang Kai-shek behaved in an antagonistic manner to the capitalists of Shanghai, often attacking them and confiscating their capital and assets for the use of the government, even while he was fighting the communists.
Chiang crushed pro-communist worker and peasant organizations and the rich Shanghai capitalists at the same time. Chiang continued Dr. Sun Yat-sen's anti-capitalist ideology; Kuomintang media openly attacked the capitalists and capitalism, demanding government-controlled industry instead.
Chiang blocked the capitalists from gaining any political power or voice in his regime. Once Chiang Kai-shek was done with his original rampage and "reign of terror" on pro-communist laborers, he proceeded to turn on the capitalists. Gangster connections allowed Chiang to attack them in the International Settlement, to force capitalists to back him up with their assets for his military expenditures.
Revolutionary and socialist leader Vladimir Lenin praised Dr. Sun Yatsen and the Kuomintang for their ideology and principles. Lenin praised Dr. Sun, his attempts on social reformation and congratulated him for fighting foreign Imperialism. Dr. Sun also returned the praise, calling him a "great man", and sent his congratulations on the revolution in Russia.
The Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng, also known as the Vietnamese Kuomintang, was based on the Kuomintang and one part of its ideology was socialism.
The Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang (RCCK) was founded in 1948 by left-wing members who broke with the main Kuomintang during the Chinese Civil War. The RCCK is now one of nine registered political parties in the People's Republic of China.
The Three Principles of the People are officially the ideology of the Republic of China, as stated in the Constitution of the Republic of China. Mínshēng, defined as democratic socialism, is one of these principles.