Lessons from Ukraine prompt top Taiwan museum to conduct ‘wartime response’ exercises

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Written by Wayne Chang, CNNTaipei, Taiwan

In March, amid rising fears of a Russian assault on Ukraine’s cultural capital Lviv, employees on the metropolis’s Nationwide Museum frantically packed up and hid hundreds of its treasures.

Now, greater than 5,000 miles away, one other globally acclaimed establishment can be getting ready for the specter of a attainable invasion.

Taiwan’s Nationwide Palace Museum, which boasts one of many world’s most interesting collections of Chinese language imperial relics, is actively contemplating how it will shield its treasures if Beijing launched an assault. With China stepping up navy strain on the self-ruled island, the establishment final week carried out its first ever “wartime response train” centered on evacuating its artifacts.

“Crucial objective of this train is to let our employees know who’s doing what if warfare breaks out, and how you can react,” museum director Wu Mi-cha informed CNN previous to the coaching session, including that the establishment was working with safety and legislation enforcement companies to refine its plans.

Staff members were walked through various scenarios and protocols during the exercise.

Employees members have been walked by way of varied eventualities and protocols in the course of the train. Credit score: Nationwide Palace Museum

The transfer comes after Wu revealed to lawmakers that he was unable to consider a perfect location to retailer the museum’s historic relics within the occasion of warfare. Pressed on his plans throughout a parliamentary assembly in mid-March, simply weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the director promised to plan an evacuation technique and maintain a drill in July.
China’s ruling Communist Occasion has lengthy claimed Taiwan as its personal territory and, regardless of having by no means managed the island, has not dominated out taking it by power. In latest months, the self-governing democracy of 24 million individuals has confronted rising navy posturing from China, which has regularly despatched warplanes close to the island. In late June, the Folks’s Liberation Military (PLA) Air Power flew 29 plane into the territory’s air protection identification zone (ADIZ), the third-highest day by day variety of jets this 12 months, in keeping with Taiwan’s Ministry of Nationwide Protection.
China’s tacit assist for Russia’s warfare on Ukraine has fueled hypothesis over its intentions with Taiwan, elevating questions on how the world may react ought to it launch an assault. Considerations over a attainable invasion have prompted the Taiwanese authorities to beef up its fight readiness and wartime preparation. Three different establishments in Taiwan — the Nationwide Taiwan Museum, the Nationwide Museum of Taiwan Historical past, and the Nationwide Taiwan Museum of High quality Arts — confirmed to CNN that also they are devising evacuation methods for his or her collections.

Throughout final week’s train, about 180 employees members have been taught how to answer varied eventualities, together with how you can request assist from police or the navy if safety amenities are broken and artifacts are seized by enemy forces. The particular coaching might be added to current security drills (that are presently geared towards terrorist assaults and pure disasters within the earthquake-prone capital, Taipei) to spice up employees’s total potential to guard the gathering, in keeping with the museum.

The special training will be added to existing safety drills.

The particular coaching might be added to current security drills. Credit score: Nationwide Palace Museum

Within the case of an evacuation, the museum stated it will concentrate on saving round 90,000 relics from its 700,000-strong assortment, prioritizing artifacts of upper worth and those who take up much less house.

“Whether or not we have to evacuate the artifacts is topic to the commander-in-chief if there’s a warfare. That stated, the museum wants to organize itself now, in order that we will act instantly if we obtain such orders,” museum officers stated.

The museum wouldn’t disclose the place the evacuated gadgets can be saved, or how they’d be transported there.

Surviving two wars 

Taiwan’s Nationwide Palace Museum is famend for its huge assortment of artifacts as soon as housed on the Palace Museum in Beijing’s Forbidden Metropolis — treasures which have already survived two wars.

Within the early Nineteen Thirties, amid the prospect of a Japanese invasion of Beijing, the Chinese language authorities moved elements of the imperial assortment south to Shanghai and Nanjing. Later that decade, lots of the artifacts have been transported additional inland to varied areas in Sichuan province.

Parts of the imperial collection shown outside the Forbidden City's Gate of Supreme Harmony in Beijing before they were moved south to Shanghai and Nanjing.

Components of the imperial assortment proven outdoors the Forbidden Metropolis’s Gate of Supreme Concord in Beijing earlier than they have been moved south to Shanghai and Nanjing. Credit score: Nationwide Palace Museum

Accompanied by a bunch of devoted escorts, who confronted fixed bombing threats, the treasures have been taken throughout the nation by way of trains, vehicles, horse carts and boats, being hidden in temples and caves alongside the best way. In 1947, two years after Japan’s give up to the Allies, the gathering was reassembled in Nanjing.

The treasures were accompanied by  escorts in their journey across China.

The treasures have been accompanied by escorts of their journey throughout China. Credit score: Chuang Ling/Nationwide Palace Museum

However by that point, the bloody civil warfare between the then-ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and the rebel Chinese language Communist Occasion (CCP) had resumed. When defeated KMT forces retreated to Taiwan in 1949, they took with them over 600,000 gadgets from the Palace Museum and different tutorial establishments — artifacts, artworks, books, maps and authorities information that will type the spine of the Taipei museum’s assortment.

After storing the gadgets in a former sugar mill and a cave outdoors the Taiwanese metropolis of Taichung, the KMT dredged tunnels deep right into a hill on the outskirts of Taipei for the artifacts’ safekeeping. The Nationwide Palace Museum was ultimately constructed on the base of the hill and, after opening in 1965, started exhibiting the gathering to the general public.

Museum staff at work, as parts of the imperial collection was temporarily 
stored in a cave outside of Taichung.

Museum employees at work, as elements of the imperial assortment was briefly
saved in a cave outdoors of Taichung. Credit score: Chuang Ling/Nationwide Palace Museum

Museum’s political significance

For many years, the museum and its treasures have been imbued with political and nationwide symbolism.

When the KMT retreated to Taiwan, it took what it thought of to be essentially the most worthwhile elements of the Palace Museum’s assortment. Possessing these objects positioned the occasion because the custodian of Chinese language tradition and strengthened its declare of being China’s respectable authorities, in keeping with Hsu Ya-hwei, an artwork historical past professor at Nationwide Taiwan College.

One of Taiwan's National Palace Museum's most famous artifacts is the Jadeite Cabbage.

Considered one of Taiwan’s Nationwide Palace Museum’s most well-known artifacts is the Jadeite Cabbage. Credit score: Koji Sasahara/AP

Hsu added that this place grew extra outstanding in the course of the Cultural Revolution of the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies, when giant swathes of China’s heritage have been destroyed in Mao Zedong’s marketing campaign in opposition to the “4 Olds”: previous customs, tradition, habits and concepts.

“It was throughout this time that the museum’s assortment grew to become essential, as a result of it was the embodiment of Chinese language tradition,” Hsu stated.

In latest a long time, the Nationwide Palace Museum has expanded its scope past China, staging several types of exhibitions and opening a brand new southern department, in rural Chiayi county, that showcases the interconnectivity of Asian cultures. However its assortment of treasures from the mainland is what has “put Taiwan on the map,” Wu, the museum director, stated.

“Struggle has introduced these artifacts to Taiwan,” he added. “It falls on us to guard these legacies which are invaluable to human civilizations.”

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