Kuomintang (gwō´mĬn´däng´, kwō´mĬntăng´) [Chin.,=national people's party] (KMT), Chinese and Taiwanese political party. Sung Chiao-jen organized the party in 1912, under the nominal leadership of Sun Yat-sen, to succeed the Revolutionary Alliance. The original Kuomintang program called for parliamentary democracy and moderate socialism. In 1913, Yüan Shih-kai, the president of China, suppressed the Kuomintang although it held a majority in the first national assembly. Under Sun Yat-sen, the party established unrecognized revolutionary governments at Guangzhou in 1918 and 1921 and even sent a delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference. Sun accepted aid from the USSR, and after 1922 many Comintern agents, notably Michael Borodin and V. K. Blücher, helped reorganize the Kuomintang. At the party congress in 1924 at Guangzhou, a coalition including Communists adopted Sun's political theory, which included the Three People's Principles (San Min Chu I), namely, nationalism, democracy, and the people's livelihood. Sun, who died in 1925, thought that Chinese national reconstruction must follow a progression of stages: military government, tutelage under the Kuomintang, and popular sovereignty.
In 1926, Kuomintang general Chiang Kai-shek launched the Northern Expedition, advancing north from Guangzhou against the Beijing government. After halting temporarily in 1927, when the Communists were purged and the civil war between the two factions began, Kuomintang forces finally captured Beijing in 1928. The Kuomintang government at Nanjing received diplomatic recognition in 1928 and began the period of tutelage. After several Kuomintang military campaigns, the Communists were forced (1934–35) to withdraw from their bases in S and central China and establish new strongholds in the northwest. The Kuomintang continued to war against the Communists, ignoring the growing Japanese threat until N China was invaded by the Japanese in 1937. Although plagued by bureaucratic inefficiency and corruption, it controlled the Chinese central government until 1947, when it permitted some participation by minor liberal parties. Its control at the provincial and local level, however, was never complete.
Full-scale civil war, further complicated by inflation, characterized the years from 1945 to 1949. The power of the Kuomintang steadily declined, and by the end of 1949 the Communists controlled the mainland. The Kuomintang, forced from the mainland, remained in power in Taiwan, first under Chiang, then under his son, Chiang Ching-kuo, and Lee Teng-hui. In 1991, Lee ended emergency rule, which had permitted the domination of Taiwan's national assembly by mainland delegates elected in 1947. During the 1990s the major opposition party gained a number of seats in the assembly; in the 1996 presidential elections, President Lee, who was opposed by the Beijing government, won a landslide victory. In 1999 a split developed in the party when James Soong challenged the official candidate for the 2000 presidency race, Vice President Lien Chan, and was expelled; the opposition candidate, Chen Shui-bian, won the election, and Lien placed third behind Soong. Shortly thereafter Lee Teng-hui resigned as Kuomintang chairman. Lee was expelled from the party the following year when he accused its leaders of selling out Taiwan to Beijing when they pursued a less confrontational relationship with the mainland. Although the factions united to oppose Chen's reelection in 2004, he narrowly defeat Lien Chan. In 2005, Lien visited China, becoming the first KMT leader to meet with a Chinese Communist party leader since World War II. Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou succeeded Lien as party leader in 2005 (except during 2007–9) and was elected president of Taiwan in 2008. Following party losses in local elections in 2014, Ma resigned as party leader.
See G. T. Yu, Party Politics in Republican China: The Kuomintang, 1912–1924 (1966); Hsieh Jan-chih, ed., The Kuomintang (1970).