Taiwan marks anniversary of Nationalist era with military parades, military drill

Taiwan on Tuesday marked the anniversary of Nationalist independence with large military parades, a military drill and the opening of a prison devoted to the memory of a former president who resisted China’s communist forces during the civil war.

The Nationalist era, which ended in 1949 when the Nationalists fled to Taiwan following a bloody civil war, marked its 73rd anniversary with a patriotic holiday, and soldiers marched down Taiwan’s crowded Nanjing Road past tearful and cheering crowds.

In the capital, Taipei, a solemn parade followed, with soldiers dressed in green, white and red uniforms singing Taiwan’s two national anthems.

“If the Republic of China remains free and independent, we will be safe,” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen told the crowds, using the regime’s official name.

Huang Kit-sang, a nationalistic writer who wrote for China’s official Xinhua News Agency, was among the thousands of people lining Nanjing Road to watch the parade.

“It takes a lot of courage for the troops to fight,” he said. “But they are engaged in a great cause and not involved in fighting for financial gain.”

Taiwan has continued its military build-up, including joining naval patrols near Taiwan and buying new anti-ship missiles, to support what it calls its defense of “national independence.” Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its territory to be taken back by force, but calls for independence are anathema to the communist government in Beijing.

Taiwan’s defense ministry also held a “Distinguished Service Award Ceremony” in Taipei’s Presidential Palace, honoring 8,200 soldiers and sailors who served in 2016, the most the service has ever celebrated. It also used the occasion to open a detention center for the murder of the Nationalist’s first president, Chiang Kai-shek, by China.

For decades, Chiang was also the center of Taiwan’s effort to resist China’s communists by leading the Nationalists.

Officials named the prison — located in the rural town of Shou Shu-chen, some 270 miles south of Taipei — for him. His son Chiang Hsiu-chu is one of the hundreds of political prisoners currently held in prisons on the island.

Taiwan News reported that 32 other prisoners formerly held by the Nationalists are currently being held by the current ruling Chinese Party.

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