Johnny Chiang tells New York Times about plans to modernize KMT

Kuomintang Chairman Johnny Chiang is seen in this undated file photo alongside the online version of the New York Times article published on Feb. 12, 2021. (The China Post/Screengrab from The New York Times Website)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — In an interview with the New York Times, Kuomintang Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) expressed his view that being born in Taiwan does not necessarily mean being “naturally pro-independence.”

The New York Times’s article, “With Pig Parades and Youth Camps, Taiwan’s Ailing Kuomintang Tries a Revamp” published on Feb. 12, highlights the many challenges facing the Kuomintang under Chiang’s leadership, including the party’s image, its stance on cross-strait relations, and its efforts to win the approval of young people.

Since taking office, Chiang has vowed to lead the 126-year-old party through a transformation process, stressing that the KMT must keep up with the times and modernize.

“We can’t deny where people are born,” Chiang told the New York Times. “But just because you are ‘naturally Taiwanese’ doesn’t mean you necessarily have to be ‘naturally pro-independence.’”

To promote that message, the chairman details how the Kuomintang is trying to win over its biggest skeptics: Taiwan’s youth.

The revamp includes a stronger social media presence and a new drive to recruit younger members as well as an online merchandise store and a new app.

The article cites data on the growing Taiwanese identity in Taiwan, which shows that about two-thirds of Taiwanese do not identify themselves as Chinese, including more than eight in ten young people between the ages of 18 and 29.

The article also mentions that the success of this reform will have far-reaching implications not only for the future of Taiwan but also for Beijing and Washington.

The New York Times remarked, however, that Chinese President Xi Jinping, has yet to send a congratulatory letter to the Kuomintang’s leader since his election.

“The snub was a break with a practice that had been customary since 2005, and it suggested to some observers that the Communist Party was wary of Chiang’s coolness toward Beijing,” the report said.