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The Politics of Mnemonics: History in the Debate over Taiwan's Status

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image of Journal of American-East Asian Relations

With the retreat of the Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi) from mainland China to Taiwan in the late 1940s, the island seemed destined to be part of another nation divided by the Cold War—superficially similar to Germany and Korea. The Chinese Communist Party established the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on the mainland, while the Nationalist Party (Guomindang) moved its government, the Republic of China (ROC), to Taiwan. It followed, then, that reconciliation between the two would unite both sides of the Taiwan Strait under one nation-state. Much has changed since those early years of the Cold War, however. The Communists have embraced capitalism, most nations have established relations with the PRC while cutting ties to the ROC, and it is difficult to discern whether the Nationalists are devoted to a Chinese or to a Taiwanese nation.1 Despite


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