I went down to Chiayi, Taiwan today to give a speech at a vocational school about the magazines my company publishes. I was in the teachers' room when I noticed this portrait of Chiang Kai-shek on the wall and took a picture of it on my cell phone (I need to start carrying a camera with me). Anyway, one of the teachers expressed that she was surprised to see a "foreigner" taking a picture of Chiang Kai-shek because "foreigners" think he's a dictator. In my opinion, Chiang is a favorite topic of "foreigners", both here in Taiwan and elsewhere. Some "foreigners" even think that if Chiang Kai-shek hadn't come to Taiwan, it would be Communist today:
I'm not so sure about this however. The US, frustrated by KMT corruption and ineptitude, was ready to throw in the towel on the Chiangs in early 1950. Truman seems to have changed his mind after Mao invaded Korea later that year. In January 1950, the US was giving Chiang about four months to fall, and had all but left him to his own devices. It was the US, and the 7th Fleet in particular, that probably saved Taiwan. I think they would've gotten behind any government here at this time.
I had a nice visit to this school, my second in a week. While there, I met Martin, an English teacher with a degree from Fresno State. Martin's dad served in the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII - a topic that feeds into the thesis I might actually write some day (if I can ever get up off my butt and get to work). I'm looking forward to meeting him soon. I am particularly curious about the topic of the draft. I've read that Taiwanese were not drafted into the army, but rather chose to join as they were promised land afterward. This point has been questioned by readers of my blog in the past. Martin was an interesting individual. He's up on both Taiwanese and Chiayi history, and is easy to chat with.
I wonder what the teachers make of this picture. One teacher told me that it wasn't Chiang Kai-shek, but rather "the father of our nation", Sun Yat-sen.
I took this photo from the platform of the Chiayi High Speed Rail Station. Parking doesn't seem to be an issue down there. Neither is driving - the roads seem empty, people stay in their lanes and go along at a reasonable speed.
BTW, I'm always surprised by Taiwan's weather. To me, Taiwan is a small country. It amazes me that a city like Chiayi, 200 km. south of Taipei, can be balmy T-shirt weather. Then I return and it's cold misty smog, and I'm freezing to death. Brr.