History of Taiwan: US Military Station

Written by Donna Wang

History of Taiwan: US Military Station

The USA has been an important factor in Taiwanese history for a long time. I mean, way before our president, Mrs. Ing-Weng Tsai (蔡英文) called president Donald Trump to congratulate him on his election.

During WWII, Taiwan was a part of the Japanese Empire, and the US Air Force used to drop bombs here in an effort to weaken the Japanese war machine. The “Taihoku Air Raid (台北大空襲)” nearly destroyed Taipei City. The total number of deaths was over 3,000 people. Rather small when compared to the bombing of Tokyo, but a few hundred more than died at Pearl Harbor.

Things changed after WWII when the US helped the Korean government defend themselves against an invading North Korean dictatorship backed by the Soviet Union and Communist China. Taiwan was well-positioned to become a stationing point for US troops during the time, and troops remained on through the Vietnam War. American pop culture, as well as the values of political freedom and democracy, which were introduced by the troops, have had a lasting influence on the Taiwanese.

Spot Taipei used to be the residence of the US ambassador. (Source)

Back in the days when Taiwan and the US were still in formal diplomatic contact, the building which is now known as “The Taipei Film House (or Spot Taipei 光點台北)” used to be the US ambassador's official residence. In fact, Richard Nixon stayed there when he visited Taipei. Today, the beautiful, white-walled Western mansion has been turned into a movie center. This is one of the few places in Taipei that plays art films from all over the world.
@How do I get there? Take the MRT Red Line to ZhongShan Station (中山). Take Exit 3 and turn left on Sec. 2 ZhongShan North Road (中山北路二段).

The Old ZhongShan North Road. Photo taken by Tom Jones, who stayed in Taipei with the US Military (Source)

The US Military Dorm

Track 2: ShanZiHou US Army Dormitory

Going further to the north, the US troop used to be located at the best resort spot in Taipei. The old US military dormitory was in the Yang Ming Mountains, along with the National Palace Museum and the hot springs. These short houses with big yards are very spacious. It was an imitation of the US lifestyle, in the hope of making every soldier who stayed here feel at home. Since the US troops are no longer around, renovation is in progress. Part of the houses have already become restaurants and cafés that serve delicious pies and play movies. Keep going up, and you'll find bars that feature the magnificent night view of Taipei city. @How do I get there? Take the MRT Red Line to ShihLin Station (士林). Take Bus no. 111 at Exit 1 and get off at ShanZiHou Police Station (山仔后派出所).

The US Military Club in the YangMing Mountain. Photo taken by Tom Jones. (Source)

雅頌坊 The church next to NTU College of Management (Source)

If you pay a visit to National Taiwan University (NTU), you will find a small church at the corner of the campus right next to the College of Management (管理學院). It was built for the 327th US Air Division. The US Air Force's Taipei Air Station used to be here. Starting from the 1960s, many Taiwanese with higher educations went to the US to start a new life. Whether they were trying to pursue the American Dream or seek political protection, they formed the first wave of immigration. There was a saying that goes like this “come, come to NTU, go go to USA (來來來,來台大;去去去,去美國).” World renowned scientists David Ho (何大一) and Henry Chang-Yu Lee (李昌鈺) kicked off their career after they moved to the US. The parents of NBA player Jeremy Lin and fashion designer Alexander Wang also went to the US in the same period of time. @How do I get there? Take the MRT Green Line to GongGuan Station (公館). Take Exit 2.

A bird’s-eye view of ZhongShan North Road and YangMing Mountain (Grass Mountain) Photo taken by Tom Jones (Source)

In between the Pacific Realm and the edge of Eurasia, Taiwan has been the place that the super powers always wanted. Just have a look at how China and the US use Taiwan in their political struggles nowadays, and the Japanese before them. However, from a cultural perspective, the openness we have was inspired by the US during the American Aid. It has become the value that sets us apart from the other Chinese speaking countries around the world. Taiwan is a special place. A mix of East and West, where ideas come to compete and grow. A launching point for brilliance, and a center for precise, inspired creation. Stop by and have a look.