|1 March 1950
Chinese Nationalist Government Proclaimed on Taiwan
|By late 1948 it was looking more and more likely that Mao
Zedong’s communists would emerge victorious in the Chinese Civil War. In
the ensuing months large numbers of Chinese, particularly those associated
with the government and the business community, fled to the island of Taiwan,
off the Chinese coast. This exodus accelerated further after Mao’s proclamation
of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949, so that by early
December some 600,000 Nationalist troops and two million refugees from
the mainland were on the island. The Nationalist leader, Chiang Kai-shek,
therefore announced that Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, would temporarily
serve as his seat of government. However, he continued to insist that Mao’s
regime was illegitimate, and that his government was the sole legal authority
Initially the United States showed no inclination to assist the Taiwan government in what seemed like a hopeless last stand against Mao’s new republic on the mainland. However, once the Korean War began in the summer of 1950 President Truman feared the political backlash that might result if he allowed Chiang’s regime to fall. He therefore ordered the U.S. Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Straits to protect the island from invasion. Eventually the United States pledged itself formally to the defense of Taiwan.
Since China was a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, the question of which government was the legitimate representative of China became of paramount concern. The United States and its allies insisted that Chiang’s government was still the rightful holder of China’s seat, and in protest the Soviet Union—which was now formally allied to Mao’s regime—announced that its delegation would boycott all United Nations proceedings.