Depending on who you talk to, everyone has their own opinion on Taiwan. There are of course two very opposing camps, then there are some who think they know because they read it on wikipedia, and others who have absolutely no idea who or where Taiwan is and think it’s the same as Thailand! Trust me, that’s what my friend in England said to me after I told her I was coming to live in Taiwan, “I hope you have a great time in Thailand!” Anyway, if you want to find out more about what I’m on about, make sure to read the little story I have written for you at the end of the post.
Today, I’m going to give you the official view from the KMT, the main political party when Chiang Kai Shek, the first President of Taiwan arrived from China in 1949. This is based on my recent visit to the CKS Memorial Hall where there is a permanent exhibition about the life and presidency of Chiang.
On the lower levels of the Memorial Hall is permanent exhibition about Chiang, starting from his early life, to his rise to power, then he arrived from mainland China to Taiwan in 1949, and how he led Taiwan on to the international stage throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s.
After entering the main entrance to the exhibition hall, I actually took the wrong turning stumbled into Chiang’s office first. This is an exact replica of his previous office including the size, furnishing, layout and they even had a waxwork of Chiang at his desk. I’ve never been a big fan of waxworks, and to be honest, unless my parents took me when I was a teeny dot, I don’t think I’ve ever been to Madame Tussauds Waxwork Musuem in London. Waxworks always gives me the creep.
The Main Hall
So I head back to the main entrance of the exhibition hall, and right in front of the entrance is this massive portrait called “One Heart, One Soul, The Joining of Titans”. This is a drawing of Chiang on the left and Sun Yat Sen. Sun is known of the founding father of modern China, was instrumental in overthrowing the Qing dynasty in 1911 and established The Republic of China. To date Sun is still well respected by pretty much all Chinese around the world (there’s always going to be the oddball).
On the right hand side of the hall are exhibits of Chiang’s early days. Although he was born in 1887 in China, there were quite a lot of photos of him as his family were quite wealthy. I didn’t take any photos of these exhibits as my interest wasn’t in this era. What I was quite impressed with was the ceiling of the exhibition hall and the decorative tiles.
Men always love cars, so I guess Chiang was no different. There were two of his official state cars on display. This 7 seater bullet proof 1955 Cadillac was a gift from the overseas Chinese in Philippines. Chiang only rode in it once because he said he didn’t need a bullet proof car since no one in Taiwan would ever harm him. Fair point I guess, if you’re ruling.
His other official state car that he used between 1972 to 1975 was also a Cadillic. To be honest, I prefer the 1955 one much more. Not because that’s bullet proof, but I think its so much more classier.
Chiang on the International Stage
Fast forward a few decades after the Republic of China was established in 1911, Chiang gradually rose to power. During this period, and after Chiang left China for Taiwan in 1949, he propelled himself and Taiwan onto the international stage as China reverted behind the iron curtain under Mao. There were many historical relics of Chiang meeting with international leaders from around the world.
He met, shook hands and dined with Kings, Presidents, Prime Ministers, military dignitaries from around the world. This included Ghandi, Lord Mountbatten from UK (one of them most decorated military personnel from UK), and President Johnson from USA to name but a few.
He even sat side by side with Roosevelt and Churchill at the Cairo Conference in 1943. Not only was Chiang part of the international platform, but Taiwan was also a member of the United Nations until 1971 when China bounced back to the international scene.
How one interprets this exhibition depends on your view of Chiang and the situation n Taiwan. Today, Chiang remains quite a controversial figure to some locals who actually mock the CKS Memorial Hall the CKS Temple. Controversial or not, Chiang’s legacy remains in Taiwan.
Who owns the barn?
A long long time ago Grandpa had a massive farm, after he died, two of his sons Nathen and Quinn fought over it with one another. Nathen won in the end and over the years he turned it into quite a thriving farm, working with other farmers and villagers. The village leader even asked him to takeover a barn nearby the farm. It was an old barn, not much use in Nathen’s opinion, so he thought “whatever”, and just left it there.
Some years later little brother Colin grew up and didn’t like the way the farm was being ran. He decided to takeover the farm and started to fight with Nathen over it. Nathen lost this time, and eventually moved over to stay at the barn, vowing to return one day to reclaim the farm. In the meanwhile Colin decided to disengage all connections with the other farmers and villagers and nobody heard much from him for many years.
During these years, Nathen built up the old barn, maintaining his connections with the other farmers and villagers, and held on to his belief of returning to take back ownership of the farm one day. Everyone was quite supportive of him, and the village leader even offered him a seat on the village council so he could take part in the village affairs.
A few years later, Colin decided to reconnect with all the other farmers and villagers, and announced that his farm was ready to do business with everyone again. He demanded a seat at the village council and said that he would represent the farm, including the barn. Nathen being a proud guy he was, insisted that the farm was still his and said he wanted to continue represent the entire farm otherwise he would leave the village council. Because the farm that Colin controlled was so big, most people supported him, so in the end Nathen left the council.
To date, Colin continues to claim ownership of the barn, while Nathen claims he had rebuilt it from nothing and he now owns it.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.