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“A Survey of the Operations of the Port of Kaohsiung, 1949-1957: The Policies for Survival?”

from Part I - Port Case Studies

Chih-Lung Lin
Affiliation:
Assistant Professor of History at the National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan.
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Summary

This brief paper investigates the performance of Kaohsiung, the biggest port in Taiwan, from 1949 to 1957, an era that should be thought of as the pre-takeoff period. The literature on port history in Taiwan is heavily concentrated on the years before 1945. Moreover, most research has been conducted from the perspective of economic geography. This paper will shed some new light on the subject, not only by looking at a later period but also by treating the Kaohsiung Port Authority (KPA) as a business corporation. I will use the archives from the Academia Historica in Taiwan to discuss the operation of the KPA from the assets revaluation in 1949 until 1957, when a Twelve-Year Development Plan for port development, a large Keynesian-inspired macroeconomic policy, was put into place. I will show that the authorities adopted a policy of “survival” during this period due to on-going, and largely economic, difficulties.

The port of Kaohsiung is located in the south-western part of Taiwan, a sub-tropical zone, 224 miles north of Keelung, 165 miles west of Amoy and 341 miles south of Hong Kong. Due to the nature of its sandy coast, dredging is always necessary to keep the port open. Kaohsiung was not developed under Chinese rule until it began to trade with Hong Kong in 1858. Taiwan was opened to foreign trade by the Tianjin Treaty between China and the United Kingdom. The British asked for trading rights at Kaohsiung in 1863, and a British consulate was opened in 1865. The British set out a plan to expand the port but never acted on it. Later, when the Chinese government began to build infrastructure it did so for defence against a possible French invasion rather than for commercial reasons.

Japan took over Taiwan after the Shimonoseki Treaty of 1895 and began to investigate Kaohsiung's potential in 1900. There were three development plans approved between 1906 and 1944. During this time Kaohsiung overtook Anping to become the biggest port in Taiwan despite the fact that the Japanese did not implement any of their plans fully.

During the Second World War, half the transport facilities in Taiwan were destroyed. Kaohsiung suffered heavy damage, and the Japanese even sank their own vessels to prevent an American invasion before they surrendered.

Type
Chapter
Information
Making Global and Local Connections
Historical Perspectives on Ports
, pp. 107 - 112
Publisher: Liverpool University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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