How KMT Smuggled 8000 Years of Chinese History to Taiwan

The National Palace Museum in Taiwan has over 696,000 pieces of Ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks. The collection is the largest in the world and it encompasses over 8,000 years of Chinese History.

You might ask: How did all that prestige and history end up in Taiwan?

The KMT smuggled it across the the Taiwan Strait during the Chinese Civil War.



As the civil war worsened in the mainland, the Palace Museum and other five institutions made the decision to send some of the most prized items to Taiwan from 1948 to 1949. A total of 2,972 crates of artifacts from the Forbidden City were moved to Taiwan.  The collection only accounted for 22% of the crates originally transported south, although the pieces represented some of the very best of the collection.

2015-12-01 KMT

During the chaos of the war and evacuation,  3 shipments were made across the Strait to preserve the arts to Taiwan.



Transporting these delicate items were not easy. In addition to protecting the artifacts, the KMT had to deal with refugees were wanted to evacuate to Taiwan as well. As soon as the ZhongDing 中鼎號 freighter docked, refugees rushed the ship and refused to get off. It was not until Naval Commander 桂永清 YongQing Gui arrived at the scene to reassure the refugees that there are other ships arranged for them. 712 crates of precious art pieces and 60 crates of diplomatic documents were sent to Keelung, Taiwan on Dec 21st, 1948. 3,502 crates also arrived in Keelung from Jan 6th to Jan 9th, 1949.
2015-12-02 ZhongDing
On Jan 28th, a total of 1248 crates boarded the 崑崙艦 KunLun Battleship. The captain had to order everyone to abandon their belongings and disassemble all furnitures including beds off the ship to get more space to accommodate the artifacts. Shortly after leaving the Yangtze River, Co-Captain 禇廉方 LianFang Chu noticed that the ship had been quietly heading North instead of South. Chu suspected mutiny of the ship and planned to retake the ship. Chu immediately took over the ship and seized Captain 沈彝懋 YiBi Sheng and his son and returned the ship back to its original course.

2015-12-01 KunLun Ship

Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek executed Mutineer YiBi Sheng and his son as soon as the KunLun Battleship docked.

A fourth shipment was scheduled but halted by then acting president Li Zongren.


National Palace Museum is one of the Must Visits in Taiwan.

If you need help travelling in Taiwan, take a look at our exclusive Tofu Daily CONCIERGE service here.

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