Lessons Drawn from TV Series Depicting the KMT and CPC Contest
By Peter Kien-hong Yu

Lessons Drawn from TV Series Depicting the KMT and CPC Contest

Feb. 06, 2018  |     |  0 comments

In recent years, I have watched many television series that are related to the power struggle and even cooperation1 between the Nationalist Party of China (Kuomintang or KMT for short) and the Communist Party of China (CPC) since July 1921 in general and the period from September 1931 to December 1949 in particular.


Beijing, as opposed to Taipei, does have the budget to produce many such series. Ever since the March 2005 promulgation of the Anti-Secession Law, which refers to a last resort to prevent Taiwan from establishing de jure independence, viewers on the Chinese mainland, ironically, began to learn that the KMT troops did play a major role in the 8- or 14-year war against Imperial Japan.


By watching those series, one can acquire some new knowledge and be closer to reality, because the words and deeds of the KMT sometimes differ from the CPC perspective, regarding the same issue, phenomenon, or development.


We can certainly learn lessons from history, that is, why nations, countries, or states wax and wane and ruling political parties, cleave asunder.


The KMT under Chiang Kai-shek on mainland China initially did have Dang Xing (DX),2 just like Liu ShaoQi who lectured on the attributes of being a good party member in his speech, “How to Be a Good Communist,” at Yan An’s Academy of Marxism-Leninism in July 1939. DX can be roughly translated as political party spirit, which embraces attributes like Xin Yang (XY) — a term which can be roughly translated as conviction that your opponent(s) will be eventually defeated — as well as faith, devotion, and allegiance to your party. A case in point: Lieutenant General Dai Li, who was the spy master and who has both DX and XY, wholeheartedly helped Chiang under San Min Zhu Yi (Three Principles of the People) from the late 1920s to March 1946. Another top KMT military official also constantly thought about the welfare of the 400 million Chinese people, as opposed to his own interest, before and after the end of World War II.3 


However, having DX and XY are not enough. The staunch believer must perceive that their side symbolizes or represents Guang Ming (a streak of light in the darkness, bright future, etc.), so that a person is willing to sacrifice oneself at any point in time for the sake of the organization, which could be only a few people at a certain point in time or the entire party. By sacrifice, it means that one would willingly die, even knowing that such death will bring about the demise of his or her family and loved ones. It is said that, once you have joined the KMT’s Bureau of Investigation and Statistics, you would die for sure if you leave the organization, in one way or another.4


The believer must possess the third indispensable attribute, that is, no matter what kind of favors or incentives have been offered, one will not surrender or cave in, at the expense of one’s organization. In episode 29 of the series Feng Sheng Chuan Qi (Legends of the Message), a veteran KMT spy Gu ShaoLian said in January 1949 that the CPC had a bunch of not rich nor wealthy members who could not be easily bought over. Needless to say, Gu is not saying all the CPC members are like that. In many series, we do see some CPC members revealing party secrets and betraying the party under Kao Da (relentless torture and interrogation) and threat of Qiang Bi (getting shot). What Gu is emphasizing is that the number of such people is less than those in the KMT, especially after World War II. In many episodes, you would see many KMT officials and those working for the intelligence units trading gold bars in exchange for doing something against the existing rules and regulations.       


Some observations are in order. First, do the activists and advocates for the creation of the Republic of Taiwan (ROT) possess DX and XY? Do they see a bright future? Are they willing to physically sacrifice themselves? Would they refrain from betraying the party or the organization and the ROT, when enticed by tangible and intangible interests or incentives which can change loyalty? Are they selfish, thinking only about their immediate family members or where to escape to when the ROT is about to become a thing of the past?  

The short-lived Taiwan Democratic State was created in May 1895 but became history after opposing the Imperial Japanese rule for only five months.

Second, in another series Feng Yu (Enemies among Us), we see that even after it had retreated to the war capital of Chongqing, the KMT Government in general and the ultra-secret Hei Shi (Black Chamber) — which was in charge of decoding and deciphering, for example, Imperial Japanese codes — was still penetrated by hostile forces,5 including the CPC members, the Imperial Japanese,6 Wang Jingwei’s puppets, and local warlords or bandits. In earlier episodes, we were told that the wife of the chamber’s director was working for Wang. In episode 29, we see the KMT director personally shooting his wife to death, after having verified the truth.


In addition, this chamber decoded and deciphered Wang’s collusion with the Imperial Japanese leaders and Chi Buzhou/Chen Jiahu successfully decoded and deciphered Tokyo’s plan to attack Pearl Harbor. In episode 34, we see the Imperial Japanese agents finally finding the location of Hei Shi. In the following episode, we see them attacking the Hei Shi compound or base. Today, stretching our imagination, can we also imagine supporters and informants of Washington, Tokyo, etc. hidden in Tsai Ing-wen’s inner circles since May 2016?7 Fortunately, in many series where the time period dates back almost one century, we often see the minimal requirement of securing solid, bulletproof evidence, before hunting down the prime suspect of a mole, jailing this accused agent, or killing that clandestine case officer.


Third, in another series Yi Hao Mu Biao (Who is Undercover), we see that even Zhou Enlai, who was in charge of intelligence work,8 admitted that Dai’s spy operations are better than the CPC’s. In addition, he made a terrible mistake by losing his notebook, which contained a vital piece of information about the address of a CPC undercover, Xiong Xianghui. Xiong infiltrated the KMT and was trusted by a top KMT general, Hu ZongNan, from spring 1938 to May 1947. For the record, Chiang only trusted Hu and General Chen Cheng, before retreating to Taiwan in December 1949. In short, would the pro-ROT activists and advocates be able to not make any mistakes, such as deceiving themselves by demonizing Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek, etc. after May 2016, acts of which are tantamount to the breaking of the status quo, as promised by Tsai? It is not possible.


Fourth, the number of staunch believers must be more than rivals. Otherwise, even if the organization has a lofty Li Nian (ideal), it cannot succeed in beating the rivals.9 By watching the mainland Chinese television series, we do get the impression that the KMT also has some members with DX and XY. However, right after World War II, many, if not most, senior KMT officials became corrupt, myopic, etc.


Fifth, is the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) not corrupt today? In January 2018, a former vice-mayor of Tainan City in southern Taiwan said the party will become history, when its legislative members voted Chen Shi-meng to be a new member of the Control Yuan (branch). Chen, deceiving himself, said the former ROC president, Chen Shui-bian, was not corrupt.


Last but not least, another TV series Bao Mi Ju De Qiang Sheng (The Gunshots of the Secrecy Bureau) was about what a top-secret station under Chiang that had been infiltrated by the CPC had done in the months before the liberation of Shanghai in May 1949. However, we do see deep mistrust even among the agents in the inner circle, each accusing one another for working for the CPC, resulting in endless internal strife.  


In a nutshell, I perceive that the days of the Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan are numbered.10 Should the group of activists and advocates who are for the de jure establishment of the ROT succeed, the new political entity can seemingly only last for a short period of time, just like the short-lived Taiwan Democratic State, which was created in May 1895 but became history after opposing the Imperial Japanese rule for only five months.




1. After World War II, the two political parties still cooperated with each other on certain issues, such as escorting war criminal, Shi Yanfu/谷壽夫/Tani Hisao, from Tokyo to Nanjing to be brought to justice. See, for example, Zhan Hou Zhi Zhan (War After the War).


2. The oath of the CPC reads: It is my will to join the CPC, uphold the Party’s program, observe the provisions of the Party Constitution, fulfill a Party member’s duties, carry out the Party’s decisions, strictly observe Party discipline, guard Party secrets, be loyal to the Party, work hard, fight for communism throughout my life, be ready at all times to sacrifice my all for the Party and the people, and never betray the Party. See http://language.chinadaily.com.cn/2007-10/31/content_6219108_2.htm, accessed on January 24, 2018.


3. See, for example, Feng Yu (Enemies Among Us).


4. See, for example, episode 14 of Feng Sheng Chuan Qi (Legends of the Message).


5. In the series, there is an American diplomat in the US Embassy in Chongqing working for the Imperial Japanese.


6. Zhan Hou Zhi Zhan (War After the War) was about escorting the Imperial Japanese military official Shi Yanfu, who was directly responsible for the Nanjing massacre, from Tokyo to Nanjing, the then capital of the ROC. In episode 24, evidence of massacre was shown. In episode 12, Shi said he was not guilty of the charge.


7. The Political Warfare Bureau of the National Defense Ministry in Taiwan also telecasts series alerting professional soldiers about mainland Chinese spies. See, for example, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9S-FudFkfz8 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRJfC2FsIyc, accessed on January 23, 2018. See also http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2018/01/16/2003685859, accessed on January 24, 2018.


Perceiving the eventual demise of the Wang regime, protégés like Zhou Fohai and Ding Mocun defected to the Chiang Kai-shek camp; Zhou between October 1942 and May 1943, and Ding in January 1942. Zhou joined Wang in September 1938. Wang died in November 1944. Li Dengke, who was Dai’s number 21306 agent, said Wang was not a traitor of the Chinese nation. In other words, for the sake of defeating Imperial Japan, Wang sacrificed himself. See http://forum.hkej.com/node/98747, accessed on January 24, 2018.


In Fall 1925, Moscow Sun Yat-sen University and The Sun Yat-sen Communist University of the Toilers of China was established, due to Dr. Sun’s new policy toward the Soviets. In April 1927, the KMT and the CPC broke their relations. For seven weeks in fall 1929, the then Soviet Union occupied part of northeast China in a bloody war over the jointly operated Chinese Eastern Railroad, and the two countries broke diplomatic relations. The University ended in Summer 1930.


8. In November 1928, the CPC created its own intelligence agency, the Special Service Section of the Central Committee. Later, Zhou Enlai was able to control it.


9. Exiled Chinese mainland dissident Wang Dan said many Taiwan independence activists and advocates are not interested in mainland China’s democratization, even though it is closely related to Taiwan’s interests. See http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2018/01/20/2003686100, accessed on January 24, 2018.


10. As of January 2018, the KMT in Taiwan has 383 branches supposedly serving the people. The Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee, which was created in August 2016 and which is supposed to be an independent government agency of the ROC, will investigate and return ill-gotten assets of the KMT and its affiliated organizations during the martial law period (May 1949-July 1987) in Taiwan.

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