Winberg CHAI

Chen Cheng, Chiang Kai-shek’s “right-hand man,” at a tree planting ceremony in Yilan County, 1954. By instituting universal primary education and expanding opportunities for secondary and college education, Chen promoted strong investment in “human capital.”

Chen Cheng was Chinese Nationalist Party leader Chiang Kai-shek’s right-hand man during the early years of the Republic of China (1912–1949) and later, under Chiang, was premier of the Guomindang (Kuomintang) government-in-exile in Taiwan.

Chen Cheng was born was born in Zhejiang Province. He attended Whampoa (?? Huangpu) Military Academy, where he met Chinese Nationalist Party (Guomindang) leader Chiang Kai-shek, whom he eventually followed into exile. During the War of Resistance against Japan (1937–1945) he was China’s minister of war. Later he was promoted to a full general, chief of general staff, and commander-in-chief of the Chinese navy.

After Chiang’s defeat in the Civil War between the Nationalists and Communists (1945–1949), Chen fled to Taiwan with Chiang Kai-shek and became governor of Taiwan (1949–1950). He also served nonconsecutive terms as premier of Chiang’s government-in-exile in Taiwan from 1950 to 1954 and from 1958 to 1963. Chen’s major accomplishments in Taiwan included land reform policies, which had two major components: (1) He reduced rents by 37.5 percent on crop-producing land, and (2) he sold public land held by the ROC government to tenant farmers. In addition, Chen implemented a massive program to provide farmers with new technology, obtained through U.S. assistance, to maximize production. Chen implemented the so-called import substitution policy, establishing strong government control over many kinds of imports to protect the domestic market from foreign competition, while saving foreign exchange for products that Chen thought could be used to promote Taiwan’s industrialization. Furthermore, he promoted strong investment in “human capital” by instituting universal primary education and expanding opportunities for secondary and college education.

Chen Cheng’s Land Reform Policy

Writing on land reform in 1960, Chen Cheng, then governor of Taiwan, said the following.

Hunger and starvation have always been with us. Desperate people facing starvation are likely to take advantage of all opportunities to make trouble and raise the standard of revolt. Students of Chinese history find that years of civil commotion arising out of a poor harvest far outnumber the years of peace. Eight or nine out of ten such disturbances have been caused by our failure to find a thorough-going and permanent solution of the land problem.

Source: Chen Cheng.. (1961). Land reform in Taiwan. Taiwan: China Publishing Co.

Further Reading

Chinese Ministry of Information. (1947). China Handbook, 1937-1945. New York: Macmillan.

Chinese Ministry of Information. (1965). China Yearbook, 1963-1964. Taipei, Taiwan: China Publishing Co.

Copper, J. F. (2007). Historical dictionary of Taiwan, 3rd edition. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press.

Riggs, F. W. (1972). Formosa under Chinese Nationalist rule. New York: Octagon Books.

Source: Chai, Winberg (2009). CHEN Cheng. In Linsun Cheng, et al. (Eds.), Berkshire Encyclopedia of China, pp. 302–303. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing.

CHEN Cheng (Chén Chéng ??)|Chén Chéng ?? (CHEN Cheng)

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