Just as a controversial report by Nihon Keizai Shimbun alleging that many retired Taiwanese military officers had visited and spied for China has run its course, another event threatens to deal a second blow to the military’s image. Reports say that several veterans’ associations are organizing tours for more than 500 veterans to attend the 99th anniversary of the Whampoa Military Academy in China.
Veterans Affairs Council Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) admonished veterans that the event is a thinly veiled attempt to promote unification and urged them not to attend. The council also called on the academy’s alumni not to fall for the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “united front” tactics.
The hearth and home of Whampoa Military Academy is at the Republic of China (ROC) Military Academy, headquartered at Kaohsiung’s Fongshan District (鳳山), Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said, adding that most, if not all, Taiwanese veterans were trained at home, not in China.
Defending the veterans’ plan, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷), a retired lieutenant general, said that the Constitution protects people’s right to travel.
On many levels, no veteran should harbor thoughts about attending the event in China, be it in terms of history, political affiliation or patriotism.
To back up its claim that Taiwan is an inseparable part of its territory, China is using the Whampoa Military Academy to assert its connections with Taiwan. Founded on June 16, 1924, the ROC Military Academy, previously known as the Whampoa Military Academy due to its location in China’s Huangpu District, was established at a time of CCP-KMT alliance to train troops to counter local warlords and unite China. It was re-established in Taiwan after Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) retreat, yet China is latching on to this flimsy connection to claim kinship and blood ties. What is worse is Taiwanese veterans have failed to see through China’s ploy and insist on identifying as alumni of an alien academy.
This incident illustrates why foreign media have said “identity” is one of the major concerns plaguing Taiwan. An article in The Economist said: “A plurality of Taiwanese are undecided on either party affiliation or on independence versus unification.” This is even more unnerving when veterans — people who should be the epitome of unwavering loyalty to one’s nation and its people — demonstrate such ambiguous attitudes.
Mao Zedong (毛澤東) once said: “Who are our enemies? Who are our friends? This is a question of the first importance for the revolution.” Some Taiwanese veterans, whether because they subscribe to the ideology that “both sides of the Strait are one family” or because of self-interest, suffer from an inability to differentiate between friend and foe, and are facilitating a third CCP-KMT alliance to undermine Taiwanese independence and promote unification.
It is a great shame that these veterans, whose pensions are paid out of taxpayers’ money, are turning their backs on Chiang’s founding belief of countering communism and have become China’s walking advertisement for unification.
Perhaps, the greatest culprit is the KMT. As the founder of the academy, its party members have had a long history of pandering to China — from its acceptance of the so-called “1992 consensus” to former KMT chairpeople visiting China to talk about “one country, two systems,” and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) meeting in Singapore. If a head of state could demonstrate such a pro-China attitude, it is not surprising that veterans or members of the military could show wavering allegiance.
As a nation on the front line of Chinese aggression, Taiwan cannot afford to suffer from an identity crisis, let alone its veterans. The KMT should also reflect on the motto set down by its founding fathers.
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