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《TAIPEI TIMES》Lai warns against defeatism at ceremony

Taiwanese cadets chant during the Republic of China Military Academy’s centennial celebrations in Kaohsiung yesterday.
Photo: Lo Pei-de, Taipei Times

Taiwanese cadets chant during the Republic of China Military Academy’s centennial celebrations in Kaohsiung yesterday. Photo: Lo Pei-de, Taipei Times

2024/06/17 03:00

‘HIGHEST COMMISSION’: Previous military academy students joined to fight off a Japanese invasion, but they now face the rise of China and its aims to disrupt the ‘status quo,’ Lai said

By Shelley Shan / Staff reporter

President William Lai (賴清德) yesterday told students and alumni at the Republic of China Military Academy centennial in Kaohsiung that they must know their enemy and resist defeatism.

In a ceremony to celebrate the founding of the Whampoa Military Academy on June 16, 1924, in Guangzhou, China, Lai highlighted the importance of defending the nation’s sovereignty, making sacrifices and staying united.

“No countries can exist without sovereignty, and the Republic of China can only exist if Taiwan exists. You [the students] are here at the academy as you have pledged to defend the nation,” he said. “We should distinguish friend from foe, and should never accept a defeatist attitude that says our first battle with the enemy would be the last.”

He appeared to be referencing remarks by former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who in 2020 said in a speech that China’s strategy is to mount a rapid invasion of Taiwan, leaving no time for the US to come to the nation’s rescue.

The academy was relocated to Taiwan after the Chinese Civil War and reopened in Kaohsiung as the Republic of China Military Academy. As the Chinese People’s Liberation Army recruited graduates from the original academy, both nations held centennials to assert ownership of the institution’s heritage.

More than 10,000 active and retired officers had been expected at the event in Kaohsiung, while fewer than 100 were forecast to attend China’s version in Huangpu, also known as Whampoa, Veterans Affairs Council Minister Yen De-fa (嚴德發) had said.

In Kaohsiung, students marched in step in a formal military parade — the first Lai has reviewed since taking office on May 20.

Legislative Speaker Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), National Security Council Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Minister of National Defense Wellington Koo (顧立雄) and foreign dignitaries also attended the event.

Lai said he was honored to preside over the centennial as commander-in-chief.

“The academy was established at a time when the country was in danger and was pressed on both domestic and international fronts. For a democratic republic of the people, by the people and for the people, young people joined the academy to fight wars to unite the nation, suppress communists and withstand the Japanese invasion. They were undaunted by hardships, difficulties and death,” Lai said.

Although the academy was relocated to Taiwan in 1949 following the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) loss to the Chinese Communist Party in the Chinese Civil War, it resumed operations in 1950 and defended Taiwan in the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1958 and other conflicts, he said.

Students of the academy have also helped rebuild the nation after natural disasters, he added.

“Despite drastic changes over the past 100 years, we firmly believe that wherever the Republic of China is, there is the spirit of Whampoa... It is here that the spirit of Whampoa continues and prospers. Only those who would fight for the survival, development and security of the Republic of China and its people are true graduates of the academy, and those who have no such ambition are false ones,” he said.

The greatest challenge the academy’s students and graduates face is the rise of China and its intention to disrupt the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait by annexing Taiwan and destroying the Republic of China, he said.

“Your highest commission should be to bravely defend Taiwan and maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” he said.

Academy graduates need to realize they do not belong to any individual or political party, as they have pledged allegiance to the country, people and democracy, he said.

新聞來源:TAIPEI TIMES

President William Lai, front, second left, visits the Republic of China Military Academy for its centennial celebrations in Kaohsiung yesterday.
Photo: Ann Wang, Reuters

President William Lai, front, second left, visits the Republic of China Military Academy for its centennial celebrations in Kaohsiung yesterday. Photo: Ann Wang, Reuters

American Institute in Taiwan Kaohsiung Branch Chief Neil Gibson, back, left, attends centennial celebrations for the Republic of China Military Academy in Kaohsiung yesterday.
Photo: Ann Wang, Reuters

American Institute in Taiwan Kaohsiung Branch Chief Neil Gibson, back, left, attends centennial celebrations for the Republic of China Military Academy in Kaohsiung yesterday. Photo: Ann Wang, Reuters

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