Two TV programs that portray a historical series of events in China’s fight against Japan during World War II has helped mainland Chinese discover an unlikely wartime hero from 60 years ago — Chiang Kai-shek.
The two shows, a drama series and a Phoenix TV documentary, both tell the story of the Chinese military under Chiang’s Kuomintang (KMT) government when it joined forces with British and American allies in Burma. The shows are among the highest-rated programs in China right now.
Unsurprisingly, the shows’ heroic portrayal of KMT forces has sparked debate within China and has caused Chinese people to re-think other historical narratives.
One such event is the retreat of members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) from the KMT’s crackdown for their anti-government activities before the Second World War. One viewer posted an online comment on Phoenix TV’s ifeng.com, pointing out that the Chinese government has distorted history by portraying the retreat as necessary to fight the Japanese.
Still, allowing broadcast of positive stories about the KMT is already major progress for China and is partly the result of Taiwan’s opening up to Chinese tourists.
Chinese authorities actually forbid tour groups to visit places in Taiwan where Chiang’s relics are exhibited to prevent its people from learning a view of history that is different from its official version.
However, stories between the KMT and the CPC remain a topic of interest for Chinese people, and is reflected by popular discussions in China’s online travel forums.
While such previously little-known history surfaces for the Chinese, young Taiwanese can watch both programs as well and learn a few things about this past, which has been mostly neglected in the public consciousness since Taiwan went through the movement to focus on local cultures.