A couple of days ago I was walking from Ximending to Taipei Main Station when suddenly I came across a number of … cannons and bombshells – an unusual sight in the middle of the city. I took a closer look at them and, after reading an explanation label, I realised I was standing in front of the Armed Forces Museum (AFM; Chinese: 國軍歷史文物館, literally: Museum of the Historical Relics of the National Army).
This museum is an interesting example of Nationalist ideology as practiced in Taiwan. Its five showrooms illustrate the history of the ROC army from the foundation of the Whampoa Academy in China’s Guangdong Province in 1924 to the present: 1) Establishment of the Whampoa Army and China’s reunification after the Northern Expedition; 2) The 8-Year War of Resistance against Japan; 3) Counterinsurgency Campaign (i.e., the Chinese Civil War between the Guomindang and the Communists) and the battle of the Taiwan Strait; 4) The modernised R.O.C Armed Forces; 5) Arms showroom. The cannons and bombshells outside of the museums are actually ‘trophies of war’ that the ROC armed forces took from the Japanese in World War II, as well as weapons used by the Chinese during the conflict.
|German-made torpedoes, 1897|
The following video, issued by the Armed Forces to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Whampoa Academy, seems to me to show the still existing Leninist and Nationalist ideological elements of the ROC army.
Somebody once told me that I give too much space on this blog to Guomindang ideology and Sunyatsenism. However, my position should not be misunderstood. I am indeed interested in Nationalist ideology, but in the same way in which a Westerner in the 19th century might have been interested in, for instance, Qing Dynasty China or Meiji Japan. I am fascinated by the history of Republican China, and I believe it is of historical significance to observe how the institutions and ideology of Nationalist China have evolved and are evolving in Taiwan. After all, no one knows what will happen to this state called Republic of China in the future, whether it will survive for a long time to come, or whether it will cease to exist – either annexed by the PRC or transformed into a Republic of Taiwan. In this case, future generations might wonder how the ROC was like – just as I, for example, wonder how Hong Kong used to be under British rule and how it has changed, or how Qing Dynasty China used to be. As foreign observers, we have the privilege to live in this state and society and record our personal thoughts, experiences and point of view.