Thursday, September 2, 2010

Korean War and Taiwan

Let me summarize a brief history of Taiwan up to the year I graduated from Junior High.

1624 – The Dutch established Fort Zeelandia on the island of Formosa (the beautiful island).
1662 – The Ming dynasty claimed Taiwan back from the Dutch (quite an interesting war!).
1885 – The Qing dynasty made Taiwan officially a province of China.
1895 - Japan claimed Taiwan after the Treaty of Shimonoseki. (When westerners started to colonize China and other Asian lands, Japan criticized this action and declared that they hated colonization!)
1945 - Chiang Kai-shek's Chinese Nationalist claimed Taiwan after WWII. (My uncle came to this island at that time.)
1949 - Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomingtang (KMT) fled to Taiwan after losing mainland China to Mao Zedong, and on Dec. 7 he established his Republic of China (ROC) government in Taipei .
1950 - On June 26, Truman sent the Seventh Fleet to defend Taiwan during the Korean War. (I can still hear the cheers!)
1951 - On May 1, Gen. William C. Chase arrived in Taipei as head of the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) in Taiwan. (This marked the beginning of the use of U.S. manuals in the Taiwanese military.)
1953 - On Feb. 3, President Eisenhower (Ike) removed the Seventh Fleet from the Straits of Taiwan. In April, he appointed Karl L. Rankin ambassador to the ROC.
1954 - In August, Chiang sent troops to the small islands of Quemoy (Kinmen, or Jinmen) and Matsu, beginning the First Taiwan Strait Crisis. On Sept. 9, Mao began the artillery bombardment of Quemoy and Matsu, killing 2 American soldiers. On Sept. 12, at the NSC (high level U.S. security officials) meeting in Denver, Ike refused to retaliate. On Nov. 23, China sentenced to prison 13 U. S. pilots shot down during the Korean War. On Dec. 2, led by Sen. William Knowland, the so-called "Senator from Formosa," Congress passed the Mutual Defense Treaty with Taiwan.

Chiang's new government was very shaky at first, in early 1950. Everyone in Taiwan was anticipating a communist Mao's invasion at any moment. The start of the Korean War later in 1950 changed everything and saved Taiwan. The U.S. Seventh Fleet saved my generation of Chinese mainlanders from the communist's rule. To me, personally when I think back, this was the fortune-turning moment of my life. Who could imagine what would have happened otherwise! ( I did try!). When Ike came to visit Taiwan in 1953, I was one of the students waving an American flag and holding a sign "I like Ike". See, I became a Republican a long time ago! By the time I graduated from Junior High school, the Two-China policy had been firmly established by the U.S. congress.

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