Thursday, October 21, 2010

Taiwanese History: Double Tenth Day

October 10 is known as Double Tenth Day in Taiwan. This is also called Republic of China National day. It commemorates the Wuchang Uprising that resulted in the formation of the Republic of China and the eventual government on the island of Taiwan.

Taiwan is not an independent nation. It is still a province of China; this is the reason that there are economic Offices rather than embassies in Taiwan. A government establishing an embassy in Taiwan would be recognizing Taiwan as an independent nation. This would result in great friction and even the threat of war with Mainland China. However the ruling government in Taiwan is the Republic of China and not the People’s Republic of China. The current president Ma Ying Jiu is a part of the KMT party. This party is looking for closer ties to China as opposed to the DPP, which is leaning toward Taiwan independence. The government is a parliamentary government.

In light of Double Tenth day, I want to provide a bit of history about the establishment of the Republic of China.

Qing Dynasty Art
The Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the ruling power of China from 1644 until 1912 when the Empress Dowager Longyu abdicated the thrown on behalf of the emperor. The Republic of China was established on January 1, 1912 with Sun Yat Sen as the first provisional president.

The dynasty was at its strongest point in the mid 18th century. Territory and population increased but after the mid-century military power weakened, there were defeats and massive rebellions and as a result by the mid-nineteenth century the dynasty had declined. The dynasty was overthrown in the Xinhai Revolution resulting in the abdication of the emperor and the establishment of the Republic of China.

In 1900 the Qing dynasty created a modernized army called the “New Army.” They began to manufacture the weapons of modern warfare. One city Wuchang on the Yangtze river was the hub of the military industrial complex of China for that time. However, many of the officers were influenced by the revolutionary ideas of Sun Yat Sen and many joined revolutionary groups, such as the Literary Society.

The Wuchang Uprising

The Wuchang uprising marked the end of the Qing Dynasty It took place on October 10, 1911. The uprising started accidentally, Russian revolutionaries were building bombs in the city of Wuchang in the Hubei province. One of the bombs accidentally exploded resulting in a police investigation. The investigation uncovered a number of Literary Society members within the “New Army.” These men, recognizing that arrest and execution was imminent, staged a coup. The local officials panicked and fled, the Army took control of the local government within the day. The revolutionaries telegraphed other provinces telling them of the coup and urging them declare their independence from the emperor. Within six weeks fifteen provinces had seceded from the empire.

The provisional Government of the Republic of China was established under President Sun Yat Sen on January 1, 1912 and the emperor abdicated on February 12, 1912.

Sun Yat Sen

Sun Yat Sen
 Sun Yat Sen was in the United States during the Wuchang uprising, but returned immediately and helped to shape the emerging government becoming its first president. Although he is considered one of the greatest leaders of modern China he spent many years in exile. He fell from power quickly after the creation of the republic and led a number of revolutionary governments in an effort to wrest power from warlords who controlled much of the nation. He died in 1925 and failed to see his party, The Chinese National People’s Party, Koumintang (KMT) consolidate power over the entire nation. Sun’s chief legacy is the devlopment of his political philosophy known as the Three Principles of the People: nationalism, democracy, and the people's livelihood

Chiang Kai Shek

Chiang Kai Shek
Chiang Kai Shek after serving in the Imperial Japanese Army returned to China in 1911 after learning of the outbreak of the Wuchang Uprising, intending to fight as an artillery officer. He served in the revolutionary forces, leading a regiment in Shanghai. The Xinhai Revolution ultimately succeeded and Chiang Kai Shek became a founding member of the KMT.

On June 5, 1926, Chiang became Commander-in-Chief of the National Revolutionary Army (NRA), and on July 27 he launched a military campaign known as the Northern Expedition, to defeat the warlords controlling northern China and unify the country under the KMT.

The Nationalist Government of the Republic of China fought with Communists beginning in about 1927 as Chaing Kai Shek’s soldiers purged thousands of communists out of shanghai. His forces clashed with Mao Ze Dong’s people’s Liberation Army and in 1949, after many losses, fought a final battle in Chengdu, on December 10, 1949, in which Chiang Kai Shek was evacuated to the island of Taiwan

The government of the Republic of China was established on Taiwan with its capitol in Taipei. Chiang Kai Shek served as president reelected a number of times until his death in 1975.

Double Tenth Day

Double tenth day commemorates the Wuchang Uprising which took place on October 10, 1911. It is celebrated in Taiwan by a Military Parade and Fireworks.

Photo Credits:

Other posts you may be interested in:

Taiwanese History:  The Chiang Kai Shek Mausoleum
Taiwanese History:  Double Tenth Day
Taiwan Travelogue:  The Revolutionary Martyrs' Shrine

Monday, October 11, 2010

An American Presence: What I Don't Miss in Taiwan

One of the things people ask us a lot is what we miss living in Taiwan. Each of us has things we can’t get here that we miss. The kids miss their "Hot Cheetos” among other things. I miss Corn Tortillas and my favorite Mexican restaurants. Brenda misses being able to easily buy English books and some other things, but, all in all, it isn't like we live a deprived existence here.

Taiwan is pretty much a first world nation. There is a great deal of choice available in most products. Stores are well stocked and it is much the same as the US in that regard. The difference is that the products as you may have guessed are geared toward the tastes and culture of Taiwan.  There are many things you can get here that you couldn't get in the United States. Taiwanese people who travel and live in the US feel much the same way.  My Chinese friends in America shopped for food primarily in Chinatown.

There is a large American business presence in Taiwan. We have many American brands, products and stores to choose from. McDonalds is hugely popular in Taiwan. They serve many of the same foods that you get in America. Big Macs, those famous McDonald's French Fries and shakes, but in addition to those they also serve rice and fried chicken. Ford Motor Company has a plant in Taiwan; they make the Ford Mondeo, a car sold both on the island and in Europe. Costco has a number of stores on the island, they do things much the same way as in America. In other words, you buy massive quantities of whatever you buy.

7/11 is everywhere. Near my home there are three 7/11s within a 5 or 6 block radius. But it isn’t the 7/11 you're used to in the states. At 7/11 in Taiwan you can pay to park, pay your taxes, arrange for DHL international overnight delivery, and get phone service for your cellular phone. 7/11 is the place to go around here. They also sell those delicious and famous 7/11 Hot Dogs. But they're not delicious. I don't know why, but they just don’t feel like hot dogs. They do however sell a delicious Taiwanese soup, which is one of my favorite things to eat. I can't believe I just said I like 7/11 food…. Amazing.

We went to Costco this week; this is the only store I've seen here that sells Christmas Trees. You can buy Beef at Costco in all the cuts that you get in the US. Most butchers can't sell you a rib eye steak (if they even know what it is.) That's not how Taiwanese people cut and serve meats. If you want a real barbeque…I'm talking a man-sized outdoor grill, just about the only place you'll find one of those bad boys is in good old Costco.

Just yesterday I was downtown and saw, for the first time a store that sells CROCS, and guess what, people here think they're just as ugly as you do back home. The only real advantage to Crocs is that they're easy to slip on and off. (People take their shoes of before entering the house.)

Circle K was a very big convenience Store in Taiwan, but now they're called OK Mart. The first time I came here they had signs and logos that looked like the American Circle K Store, but the people called them OK mart. Now that logo has changed, apparently, control of the Taiwanese division of Circle K was wrestled away from the Circle K corporation by the president of OK Mart. I'm not sure of the details but it was in court here for a number of years and the courts finally awarded ownership to OK Mart with the provision that they change their logos.

Charlie Wang
So it's not that we miss that much. Mostly, what we miss is food that is exclusive to our region of the US, and it would be nice to be able to find books written in English without having to order them and have them shipped. We find ourselves beginning to enjoy some things that are exclusively Taiwanese. For example, I have had soda here maybe twice, But I drink a lot of cold Green Tea. You can buy that in the states but it always has either sugar or Aspartame in it. In Taiwan, unsweetened tea is sold in just about every store. My favorite brand is called Cha Li Wang (literal translation: Tea inside kings we would call it the Tea of Kings). I always refer to it as Charlie Wang


Friday, October 1, 2010

Local Color: The Temples of Taoyuan City

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

 We live in a “small” city in Taiwan of about 380,000 people. Taoyuan City is located about 30 kilometers from Taipei the capitol of Taiwan in Northern Taiwan.  The city is home to industry and small businesses alike.  In my neighborhood, there are three hairdressers, a number of restaurants, a small store, two vegetable markets, two scooter dealers, a bike shop and butcher.  These small businesses are run by the neighbors out of their homes.  One of the other features of Taoyuan City are the temples.  There are many of them in the city, today I want to talk about the temples.

Detail at a downtown temple

There are many temples throughout the city.  People come to them to worship neighborhood gods.  These are the traditional buildings you think of when you think of Chinese Architecture.  At the library in Riverside, California they have erected a gazebo that is based on this type of architecture.  The temples are brightly colored and usually feature an incinerator for burning "hell money" as a part of the ancestor worship.  There is also a huge urn for burning incense.

Incense urn (foreground) at incinerator

The little temple at right is about a half block from my house.  Other temples such as the one pictured below are very large.  The Temple below is outside of the city on a mountain road, it is surrounded by beautiful scenery and solitude.  It's called the "Temple of the Martyr," and features this sculpure of the Twelve Dragons 

The Twelve Dragons
Much of the life that people live here is built around the traditional Taiwanese religion, represented by these temples.  There are many festivals and parades that take place because of religious beliefs and temple tradition.  Recently, the people celebrated the Ghost Festival.  I recently posted an article on The Ghost Festival (Taiwanese Traditions:  Ghost day) or you can see a short glimpse of the Ghost Festival temple parade at (Ghost Festival Parade).  Pictured below are some vehicles that participate in the parades.


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