Ideals of Taiwanese sovereignty and independence from China has long been a source of political and social tension. The Chinese Civil War had faced off a communist regime led by Mao Zedong against the Chinese Nationalist Party president Chiang Kai-shek. The latter was forced into exile and fled to Taiwan, taking treasure from the Forbidden City.
Chiang Kai-Shek established his government on the island, allying himself with the United States for economic modernization and protection. This ended two years after his death, when the states sought to improve relations with the People’s Republic of China. Ever since, the desire for Taiwanese independence has had to walk a precarious line with the mainland. The desire to rebel is kept in check by the fact that there is no real way to win here except in survival. I was a baby during the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, when China was shooting missiles into the Taiwan Strait for intimidation. My mom remembers the missiles pointed towards us from the mainland, and resents this bullying behavior. President Clinton made a show of being on our side in this, which was quite the relief.
The President of the Chinese Nationalist Party is a looming icon in Taiwanese history, and landmarks of his rule are made into common tourist attractions. Mom and I were headed over to the palace museum when we passed by Chiang Kai-Shek’s house. We couldn’t go inside his house we’d missed the tourist hours, but we could wander around the garden.
The first things to be seen were the athlete-shaped hedges for the 29th Summer Universiade, or the World Student Games scheduled for Taipei. It took a moment to realize what the bicycling hedge was.
The rest of the garden was really lovely. The weather was good, not so crowded. Fine little buggy statues, plants, ponds, and pagodas.
Chian Kai-shek was inspired by his studies in the west, and so he also has a pretty rose garden.
Very tasteful sheep.