Saturday, January 07, 2012

60th Anniversary of Fu Hsing Kang College

The photo above shows 92 alumni of Fu Hsing Kang College of National Defense University demonstrating their famous “Mulan quick steps”---144 steps per minute at a parade in the school’s 60th anniversary celebratory events held yesterday. Those alumni attending the parade were all retired female political warfare officers.

Seeing this picture on the newspaper brought me back to January 1978 when I and fellow ROTC cadets were trained there at the main campus located in Fu Hsing Kang, Beitou District of Taipei City.

Fu Hsing Kang College is a euphemistic name for Military Political Warfare School, founded by the late President Chiang Ching-kuo (1910-1988) in 1952 to train political warfare cadres for the military. Painfully sensing the fact that the Kuomingtang (KMT) forces were not defeated in the civil war by the Communist militarily but politically, Chiang, realized that he had to be more effectively in control of the military and make sure that the troops were loyal to the ruling party in the future struggle with Communist China.

Chiang, the eldest son of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975), then the head of the political department of the Ministry of Defense, who had been in Stalin’s Soviet Union for twelve years, thought of copying the “commissar” system which worked marvelously in the Soviet’s Red Army and applied it into our armed forces. The first step to approach the goal was to establish an institution to train the needed personnel.

Historically speaking, it was not the first time that KMT tried to lay its hands on the military. Since the establishment of Whampoa Military Academy, the predecessor of Chinese Military Academy, in 1924, the buildup of its party army, party representatives were assigned to each unit and their job was to keep an eye on the moves of military officers to make sure they did not do anything not conforming to the party interest. Chinese communists knew well about the political power in the military, so they asked that political sections in the KMT military be removed when General George Marshall (1880-1959) was sent by President Harry Truman to China to broker a peace deal during Chinese Civil War. The Nationalist China(KMT), trying to gain aids from the U.S. to fight the Communist, reluctantly agreed. Unfortunately they still lost the war.

When Chiang Ching-kuo was put to take charge of the political work in the military in 1951, his first job was to rebuild the military political system. His idea was to make sure that political warfare officers were assigned to every military unit, from an infantry company to an army corps, on board every naval vessel, and every squadron of the air force, to tightly monitor that everything was run according to party directives. In my opinion, the stability of our armed forces for over half an century was his greatest lifetime achievement.

I was trained extensively for the first three months of 1978 at Fu Hsing Kang. I still remember how impressed and amazed we were when we saw carbines hanging on their bed poles on the school anniversary, the only day in the year male cadets were allowed to visit the female quarters. In early April, I was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to be the head political officer of a supply company.

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