Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Monday, August 08, 2022

The theft of Chinese antiquities by Taiwan



My son Julian lives and teaches in Taiwan. Mary Beth and I have visited there a few times in recent years. On one of our trips Julian took us to this large and quite amazing museum. We had never heard of it before, nor did we know that it was the repository of stolen art from China.

After the end of World War II, these dispersed collections were reassembled in Nanjing, but in 1948–49 they were taken by the retreating US-backed Nationalist army led by fascist Chiang Kai-shek to Taiwan, where they were stored at the Taipei suburb of Taichung until they were installed in the new museum in 1965.

National Palace Museum, is the major art museum of China, at Taipei, that holds many of the art treassures of the Chinese imperial collection. The museum houses more than 650,000 art objects and documents that were formerly held at Beijing.

The museum came into being when the collections of Taiwan’s National Palace Museum, the Central Museum, and other public Taiwanese cultural institutions were brought together in a new museum building in Taipei; the combined collections were called the National Palace Museum. The core of the museum’s art holdings once formed part of the imperial art collection in Beijing, which in turn derived primarily from the far-flung collecting activities of the Qing (Manchu) dynasty emperor Qianlong (reigned 1735–96). His art holdings and those of his successors remained in the Imperial Palace at Beijing as a private collection until 1925, when China’s republican government converted the palace into a public institution called the Palace Museum. In the 1930s the Japanese invasion of North China prompted the Chinese government to relocate part of the Palace Museum’s holdings to Nanjing and then to Shanghai and other locations. 

The National Palace Museum’s collection illustrates more than 4,000 years of Chinese art, from the Shang through the Qing dynasty. Its collection of Chinese painting is one of the finest in the world, with many important masterpieces from the Tang, Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties. The museum also has large collections of Chinese ritual bronzes, ceramics, jade, lacquer-ware, enamelware, decorative carvings, embroidery and tapestry, books, calligraphy, and archival documents. 

So as we learn more about Chinese and Taiwan fractured relations (and the dirty role the US has played in the entire episode) it is vital that we see the full context of what makes the Beijing government so angry about US-Taiwan policy.

The fact that people from China have to journey to Taipei to see these rare treasures just adds insult to injury. If we hope for peace between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland then Washington must stop playing its divide and conquer games.



Blogger Ariel Ky said...

Thank you for this journey into antiquities. It was all new information for me. I agree that the United States needs to let well enough alone when it comes to relations between China and Taiwan. We so often meddle where it's none of our business, and never to the benefit of the other countries involved. Korea is a good example. Also Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia.

8/9/22, 10:33 AM  

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