A photograph and film exhibition showcasing the interaction between presidents of the Republic of China (ROC) and the US organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is to open today.
The exhibit will be held through Oct. 13 and is aimed at promoting greater awareness of the nation’s foreign policies and its long and amicable relationship with the US, the ministry said.
The material for the exposition was sourced from the ministry’s records, as well as from the media, the Presidential Office, Academia Historica, the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Culture and Communication Committee and others. In total, 180 photos from between 1949 and this year will be on display.
One of the photos to be shown in the exhibit depicts a meeting between former US president Dwight Eisenhower and former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) in Taipei on June 18, 1960. The meeting was the first and only time that a US president has visited Taiwan while in office, the ministry said.
The two leaders first met in the Cairo Conference of 1943, to which Eisenhower was accompanying then-US president Franklin Roosevelt.
The meeting of World War II allies, attended by Roosevelt, Chiang and then-British prime minister Winston Churchill, focused on Allied strategy against Japan and the rearrangement of post-war Asia.
Seventeen years later, the two former commanders of two separate theaters in the World War II — Eisenhower was the supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe, and Chiang was the supreme commander of Allied forces in the China theater — met again in Taipei at Chiang’s invitation, the ministry said.
During the 24-hour visit, Eisenhower and Chiang met twice to discuss global issues and, more importantly, to reaffirm that the ROC and the US would tirelessly seek to pursue freedom, democracy, and peace, the ministry said.
In the Sino-American Joint Communique released on June 19, 1960, both heads of state “pledged once again that both their governments would continue to stand solidly behind the Sino-US Mutual Defense Treaty” and “deplored the outrageous and barbaric practice of the Chinese Communists in shelling [Kinmen],” the ministry added.
Eisenhower also gave a speech at the plaza in front of the Presidential Office Building that evening, drawing a crowd of 500,000, the ministry said.
It added that throughout history, there have been multiple aerial altercations between the ROC and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over the Taiwan Strait, as well as maritime clashes, some of which lead to the 1954 shelling of Kinmen.
Eisenhower had been committed to keeping peace in the Strait and had even threatened nuclear strikes should the PRC seek to take Taiwan by force, the ministry said, adding that the former US president’s strategies had contributed greatly to cross-strait stability and peace.
The 1960 meeting symbolized the firm alliance of the ROC and the US and was an event that deserved its important place in Taiwan’s foreign diplomatic history, the ministry said.
Washington had maintained diplomatic relations with the ROC since its founding and continued to recognize the ROC as the sole legitimate government of China after it relocated to Taiwan in 1949.
From 1949 to 1979, Washington had seven presidents, while Taiwan went through the presidencies of Chiang, Yen Chia-kan (嚴家淦), and Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), the ministry said.
It added that even after the US switched recognition from the ROC to the PRC in 1979, Washington maintained ties with Taiwan as detailed in the US Taiwan Relations Act.
The ministry said it hoped the exhibit would help visitors understand more about Taiwanese diplomacy and the nation’s long-term friendship with the US.