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Ko-Hang Liao: The ROC’s Nation-Building in Taiwan as the Final Anti-Communist Stronghold with Imperial Japanese Assistance under Martial Law, 1949-1954

Date: Thu, Oct 28, 2021 11:30 AM (CET)

Location: Online (Zoom)


There is a consensus among historians that it was the Korean War that triggered US intervention in the Taiwan Strait which in turn led to the signing of the Mutual Defence Treaty between the US and the ROC in 1954. It ‘accidentally’ gave the Nationalist state rooted in Taiwan its permanent shape after its ‘strategic transition’ (轉進) to the island upon total defeat in the Chinese Civil War in 1949. However, before American involvement in Taiwan, Chiang Kai-shek and the exiled ROC government had no one to rely on but their former enemy—Japanese!

This lecture brings everybody back to the early years of Martial Law and the Cold War in East Asia, and aims to look at the role that the White Group, Chiang’s secret military advisory group consisting of more than 80 former Imperial Japanese military officers who spent 20 years in Taiwan by helping retrain and reconstruct the ROC Armed Forces, drafting military plans for reconquering Mainland China and ‘reintroducing’ wartime mobilisation system including conscription and mobilisation guidelines with the goal of defending Taiwan and retaking the mainland, played in the ROC’s nation-building in Taiwan. The introduction of the ‘Anti-Communist and Anti-Soviet Mobilisation Campaign Guideline’ (反共抗俄總動員運動綱領) in 1952, with assistance of the White Group, had henceforth brought irreversible impact to post-War Taiwanese politics, economy, society and culture under Martial Law. This lecture investigates not only the influence of Japanese imperial military ideas on the development of post-1949 ROC military culture and ethos, but whether the ‘reintroduction’ of the wartime mobilisation system in Taiwan should be considered as the ‘protection’ for people of Taiwan from the invasion of the PRC or the ‘accomplice’ of Chiang’s authoritarian rule on this ‘accidental’ island-nation.


Ko-Hang Liao is a PhD candidate in East Asian Studies at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (FAMES), University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. His PhD research traces the genealogy and impact of the ‘White Group’ (Chinese: Baituan; Japanese: Paidan), Chiang Kai-shek’s Japanese military advisory group.





Vienna Center for Taiwan Studies

Department of East Asian Studies
University of Vienna
AAKH-Campus, Hof 2, Entrance 2.3
Spitalgasse 2
1090 Vienna Austria

Contact: Astrid Lipinsky
T: +43-1-4277-43844
University of Vienna | Universitätsring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43-1-4277-0
Lastupdate: 30.07.2017 - 12:34