Red Brick Daily

From 1949 till his death in 1975, Taiwan was led by General-President Chiang Kai Shek, a man who had a single goal for much of his life: re-taking the mainland after his defeat in the Chinese Civil War.

Well, as we all know, that didn’t end up happening and Taiwan became not much better than a police state for many decades.

Many stories of heroes or martyrs were excluded from textbooks during those dark years, but today, ever-more are coming to light.

(Sun with a popular army elephant/Wiki Commons)

The tale of  Sun Li-jen (孫立人) is one such story.

As the Taipei Times reports:

“Sun was head of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) elite New First Army that gained notoriety after it was responsible for the greatest number of Japanese casualties among all KMT army divisions during the Sino-Japanese War. 

Sun came to Taiwan in 1947 to train new officers to fight in the Chinese Civil War, hoping to reinforce the embattled KMT forces fighting the communists in China, and he notably drew from among Taiwan’s homeless youth for his army, housing them and offering them training in various camps throughout southern Taiwan

Sun is said to have maintained good rapport with his officers, eating with them and marching with them through wind and rain.”

So why isn’t Sun better known? Well, in 1955 he was implicated in a coup plot against Chiang, reportedly planning an assassination and the declaration of a Republic of Taiwan.

General Sun spent the last 33 years of his life under house arrest in Taichung after 1955.  In 2001, Sun’s reputation was cleared after a government investigation found the coup allegations bogus. In January 2011, then-president Ma apologized to Sun Li-jen’s family. Sun’s house in Taichung is now a memorial hall and museum.

And now, many more people will get a chance to learn about Sun after a group of Sun’s former soldiers unveiled a museum and wax sculpture of Sun in Pingtung.

A sad story about a fascinating man.