The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) took its campaign against the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee international this week, telling foreign media that the asset issue should be handled by the nation’s judicial system, not the committee, and complaining of a government vendetta against it.
However, KMT Vice Chairman Jason Hu’s (胡志強) performance at the news conference was about as likely to convince the foreign media of the validity of the party’s grievances as that of other KMT officials with the average Taiwanese.
While the former Taichung mayor said that the KMT’s assets might have been “improperly or inappropriately acquired,” he reiterated the absurd claim, first raised in March, that the gold reserves the KMT government moved from China to Taiwan “were primarily considered a party asset,” along with “treasures in the National Palace Museum,” and that the KMT had given “some of its assets to the state.”
The KMT’s love-hate relationship with historical facts reached a new low with that rapacious assertion, which KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) has been repeating at regular intervals this year in the hope that someone will think it is true.
As basis for that claim, Hung in August said that Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) made the decision to move museum artifacts and gold to Taiwan as chairman of the KMT, and not as the president of the ROC.
Chiang was KMT director-general at the time, and he also held the post of ROC president from May 20, 1948 to Jan. 21, 1949, and according to Chen Chin-chang’s (陳錦昌) book Chiang Kai-shek’s Retreat to Taiwan, the official decision to transport artifacts from the museum — along with the National Central Library and Academia Sinica’s Institute of History and Philology — was made on Nov. 10, 1948.
Twenty days later, Chiang issued the order to secretly move gold from the Central Bank of China to Taiwan, a story also recounted in The Archives of Gold by Wu Sing-yung (吳興鏞), whose father, lieutenant general Wu Song-ching (吳嵩慶), had been entrusted to carry out the order.
So the million taels of gold and silver and foreign currency reserves moved to Taiwan came not from the KMT’s coffers, but the central bank. Whether Chiang was wearing his KMT hat or his president’s cap, the central bank was not the KMT’s or Chiang’s personal piggy bank, nor were China’s foreign reserves or the crates of palace museum riches the KMT’s.
Despite Hung’s rationale, neither she nor the KMT is making a similar claim to the items transferred from the National Central Library and the institute — or the Beijing Library, which was added to the evacuation effort along with the National Central Museum — which undercuts her defense.
It is past time to shut such absurd claims down. Then-National Palace Museum director Feng Ming-chu (馮明珠) made a rather weak effort in March, when she told lawmakers that the museum’s collection belonged to the ROC and that all of its artifacts had been registered with the Ministry of Finance.
She ignored the principle of the case against the KMT: Just because the KMT ran a party-state government in China and then in Taiwan does not make everything that belonged to the ROC government in China — or Taiwan — the property of the KMT.
As for Hu’s call for the judiciary to handle the KMT’s assets issue, perhaps the KMT should not be counting on help from that quarter, since on Friday last week, the Taipei High Administrative Court rejected a petition by the KMT to suspend the committee’s decision that Central Investment Co and Hsinyutai Co are KMT affiliates and therefore the party’s ill-gotten assets.
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