10 October is Taiwan’s National Day, and in Honolulu it’s a lot of fun. I particularly enjoy the puppet plays, which usually have strong villains. It will be interesting to see which new modern-era props will be sported by this year’s villians. We must boo the villains, don’t you know? They deserve it SO MUCH!
These young Zhong Hua Min Guo soldiers on the above graphic were and are my peers. As an enlisted Communications Technician (read electronic spy) I was stationed to US Naval Intelligence Taibei (in an NSA shop) two years after this 1965 shot. These guys are far too introspective, as they tromp dutifully through the streets of Taipei [(on one of the rare days when there was actually some visibility in that profoundly polluted era in Taibei), sporting multiple absolutely black and absolutely serious images of an exceedingly Yoda-esque Sun Yatsen (There is no TRY, Luke!)] to be effective fighters, is it not? These men were in denial, and the atmosphere they created with that feeling pervaded Taibei. Their world simply did not make sense to them. Their parents had lost bigtime, but nevertheless the then seriously declining Chiang Kaishek had decreed hourly TV spots proclaiming (with enhanced sound volume) Taiwan’s intention to reinvade the Chinese mainland! The same message was displayed on huge billboards on the sides of virtually all the public buses that cruised Taibei. In fact, the G-Mo was no longer playing with a full deck at that point, but for the locals, Confucianist ethics forbade any mention of that, even to other Chinese.
And yes, these men you see here did consider themselves *Chinese*, and I’m sure that remains true of them today, for those that are still with us. To question that identity would have been to take your life in your hands. Back in the day, the Chinese language teachers in the Defense Language Institute that I attended in Monterey before being posted overseas were all from Taiwan, (and all working for the KMT I suspect), but they also volunteered the same kind of information about themselves when they started a new class. They introduced themselves as being from their family’s ancestral home on the Chinese mainland. According to them, Taiwan wasn’t their home. It was a place that they were just visiting.
So what finally happened to these men here? They were Boomers, just like me, and like me they just weren’t “lifer” (professional military) material. Nothing could be clearer than that from their demeanor and body language here (except for this platoon leader on the left, whom I really admire!) So as a whole generational cohort together, they got out of the Army, got financial aid from both the Americans and the Japanese, and perpetrated the post-war “Economic Miracle” of Taiwan. Sorry folks, that buzz-word contains zero truth. The people who escaped from the Chinese mainland with Chiang Kaishek, the parents of the soldiers you see here, were exactly the hereditary moneyed classes of China, who, because of their long cultural memory of what happens in Chinese succession crises, had decided to get out. They had seen the Chinese Communist atrocities coming, and they had correctly deduced that their beloved homeland was about to become a scenario “from which the Sage withdraws.” What was a “Miracle” to a perfectly naive world, but America in particular, was nothing but business as usual for them. I seriously doubt that any of the clan elders involved in this (or the entire KMT first two generations in Taiwan for that matter) ever even broke a sweat throughout that entire “Miracle.”
To this day, I believe that the smartest money of traditional China, some of which literally has millennia of accumulated wisdom about money, government, and families behind it, continues to be based in Taiwan, or controlled from Taiwan, and that, hare-brained females of Cai Yingwen, if you don’t get her to stop attacking that side of your country, she may find herself out of a job very fast, and in fact, it may already be too late for her this year. But in that case we know going in that she will also be back very fast. This woman is not a quitter, and I like her a lot, and my intuition is that she will in fact prevail one way or another, and that her ICHIBAN ZHANLU:E (一番战略) in that effort will be to STOP FIGHTING THE KMT this instant! （立马就不再给国民党挑战，好吗，珍贵的女士?)
Maitreya Meher Namo Namo