by Lisa Reynolds Wolfe on April 8, 2014

taipei shophouse

In 1966, industry was located mostly in Old Taipei where the districts of Tatong, Lungshan, Yengping and Shuangyuan contained 44.7% of all factories. Overall, the Old City locations had benefits (access to rail and road transportation along with availability of water, markets, and employees) which allowed them to retain their advantage and their large manufacturing base even though there were some shifts to new neighborhoods as a result of cheaper land. For example, industries which were a public nuisance owing to pollution — or which required large amounts of space — located in the new districts of Shihlin and Nankang. Sungshan and Tatong, though, had both the most diverse mixture of factories and the greatest number of companies in each type of manufacturing.

As with most older cities in China, there was not a complete separation of urban function, nor was there a separation of work and residence. Instead, like many cities in Asia, Taipei boasted an architectural form known as the shophouse.

Shophouses can be found throughout Asia, wherever there are Chinese shopkeepers. In Taipei, the main concentration was found along Chungshan North Road and in the area north and east of the central railroad station. During the 1970s,  this core was displaced by the development of new, more westernized shopping centers. Still, more space remained devoted to residences in downtown commercial areas of Taipei than western planners were comfortable with at the time. Because whole city blocks were usually not available for development, the city ended up with a combination of large, modern structures along a main street with a small enclave of traditional buildings squeezed between them.

The shophouse structure was set back from the street with some sort of work area on the ground floor and living quarters for the family in back. In some instances, the living quarters were above the work area, extending out over the sidewalk. Consequently, during the 1960s and 1970s, more traditional, informal economic and social services were found on almost every street corner in the city. Even with the advent of the multinational firm, most industry in Taipei remained small scale, and SMEs were solidly integrated into the urban fabric of the capital. Cheap public transportation and the absence of privately owned vehicles precluded the development of car oriented centers in the older areas of Taipei.

While influenced by the US in so many different aspects, concepts of western planning had little impact on Taipei’s industrial core.

The chief commonality between US cities and Taipei during the Cold War period seems to be the decline of population in the urban core and the growth of peripheral areas, leading to boundary expansion.

On the other hand, unlike American cities, wherever one traveled in the capital during the labor intensive period one encountered the military aspects of everyday life. According to Roger Mark Selya

. . . the Chinese militry permeated all of Taipei life. There were jeeps and military trucks on every road. Soldiers were everywhere. Some of them “guarded” buildings or important intersections. Many soldiers of all ranks just seemed to be doing daily, personal, household chores. Middle and high school students also looked like soldiers since their uniforms were the same style and color as the military. One newspaper cartoon had a middle school child sitting beside a general on a bus asking which high school the general attended. Security concerns also permeated civilian and business offices . . .

Militarism rather than Western concepts of urban design dictated the character of urban life. However, even though Cold War fears and opportunities had changed the face of Taipei, there were also other anxieties, particularly related to uneasiness over illegal workers, the informal sector, and heightening rural-urban migration.

By 1966, up to 39% of all factories in Taipei City were illegal, usually concentrated in the Old City. Most unauthorized business were traditional, not associated with the new business partnerships with the US. Four types of industry comprised the majority (60%). The industries most highly represented were basic metals (24%). machinery (12%), printing (15%), and wood (9%).

At the same time, as in other urban areas of the less developed world, there was a large informal sector. However, in Taipei, workers in the less formal sector received relatively high salaries compared to workers with similar positions in other fast-growing Third World nations. Moreover, in contrast with the more common pattern worldwide, Taipei’s informal sector was not dominated by migrants. Instead, due to the rich mix of public and private transportation made possible by US supported infrastructure projects in Taiwan, many of Taipei’s informal workers were commuters.



by Lisa Reynolds Wolfe on April 4, 2014

spy 1958

If you’ll remember, on September 25, 1957, President Eisenhower orders the CIA to overthrow Indonesia. He sets out 3 missions:

  1. to provide “arms and other military aid” to “anti-Sukarno military commanders” throughout Indonesia.
  2. to “strengthen the determination, will, and cohesion” of the rebel army officers on the islands of Sumatra and Sulawesi.
  3. to support and “stimulate into action, singly or in unison, non- and anti-Communist elements” among political parties on the main island of Java.

U-2 planes fly over the archipelago and plot the delivery of arms and ammunition to the rebels by sea and air. It takes 3 months to plan the operation. US operatives make contact with a handful of Indonesian rebels on Sumatra and another contingent of commandos seeking power on the island of Sulawesi, northeast of Java. The Pentagon puts together a package of machine guns, carbines, rifles, rocket launchers, mortars, hand grenades, and ammunition sufficient for 8,000 soldiers. Plans are made to supply the rebels on both Sumatra and Sulawesi by both sea and air.

January 8, 1958: The first arms shipment leaves Subic Bay in the Philippines on the USS Thomaston, bound for Sumatra. The arms arrive the following week in the northern Sumatran port of Padang. There is no pretense of secrecy.

January 31, 1958: The US successfully launches its first satellite, the Explorer.

February 10, 1958: The Indonesian rebels broadcast a challenge to Sukarno from a newly established CIA radio station in Padang. They demand a new government and the outlawing of communism within 5 days. Hearing nothing from Sukarno, they announce a revolutionary government. Their foreign minister is Colonel Maludin Simbolin, an English speaking Christian handpicked and paid by the CIA. Meanwhile, the CIA prepares new weapons shipments from the Philippines and waits for the first signs of a nationwide popular uprising against Sukarno.

February 21, 1958:  The Indonesian air force demolishes the revolutionaries’ radio stations in Central Sumatra. The Indonesian navy blockades rebel positions along the coast. The CIA’s Indonesian agents and their American advisers retreat into the jungle.

The CIA seems not to know (or care) that some of the most powerful commanders in the Indonesian army have trained in the US and refer to themselves as “the sons of Eisenhower.” The army, led by anticommunists, is at war with the CIA.

March 1, 1958: Khrushchev is named Soviet premier.

March 9, 1958: John Foster Dulles makes a public statement openly calling for a revolt against “Communist depotism” under Sukarno. General Nasution, Sukarno’s army chief, responds by assembling forces off the northern coast of Sumatra.

The new US ambassador to Indonesia, Howard Jones, cables Foster Dulles that General Nasution is a reliable anticommunist and the rebels have no chance of victory. The message is ignored.

General Nasution’s chief of operations , Colonel Ahmed Yani, is one of the “sons of Eisenhower” and a friend of Major George Benson, the American military attache in Jakarta. The colonel is preparing a major military offensive against the rebels and asks Major Benson for maps. The major, unaware of the CIA’s covert operation, gladly supplies them.

CIA flights carry 5 tons of weapons and ammunition and bundles of cash for the rebels on Sumatra.  The flights are detected by General Nasution’s patrols moments after they enter Indonesian air space. Nasution’s paratroopers pick up every one of the crates that the CIA’s pilots drop.

On Sulawesi, the CIA’s war also is a disaster.

April 19, 1958: The CIA’s pilots begin bombing and strafing Indonesia’s outer islands in contravention of Eisenhower’s orders. The president wants to keep the operation deniable. He orders that no Americans can be involved “in any operations partaking of a military character in Indonesia.” Dulles disobeys him. The pilots are described in a written CIA briefing for the White House and the president as “dissident planes” — Indonesian planes flown by Indonesians, not American aircraft flown by agency personnel.

April 27, 1958:  For the next 3 weeks, CIA pilots hit civilian and military targets in the villages and harbors of northwestern Indonesia. Hundreds of civilians die. Dulles says the bombings “stirred great anger ” among the Indonesian people. It is charged that American pilots had been at the controls. The charges are true, but the Eisenhower and his secretary of state deny them.

End of April, 1958: Sukarno’s soldiers destroy the rebels on Sumatra. The CIA flees Sumatra.

The American Embassy  and Admiral Felix Stump, commander of American forces in the Pacific, alert Washington that the CIA’s operation is a failure. Moreover, the failure of secrecy involved violates the agency’s charter and the president’s direct orders.

May 19, 1958: Allen Dulles sends a flash cable to his officers in Indonesia, the Phillipines, Taiwan, and Singapore telling them to stand down, cut off money, shut down the arms pipeline, burn the evidence, and retreat.

May 21, 1958: The agency tells the White House that the Indonesian army is suppressing communism and that Sukarno is speaking and acting in ways that are favorable to the United States. They announce that it is the CIA’s former friends who are threatening American interests.

Sukarno knows that the CIA tried to overthrow his government, his army knew it, and the political establishment of Indonesia knew it. The ultimate effect was to strengthen communism.

June 1958: Frank Wisner returns from Indonesia and his last operation as chief of the clandestine service. He is diagnosed with “psychotic mania.”

The president is wondering if the CIA  knows what it is doing. He asks Allen Dulles: “Allen, are you trying to scare me into starting a war?”

June 23, 1958: At a deputies’ meeting, Dulles says he is “at a loss as to what component of the Agency he can turn to when he desires specific information on the USSR.”

December 16, 1958: Eisenhower receives a report from his intelligence board of consultants advising him to overhaul the CIA. Its members fear that the agency is “incapable of making objective appraisals of its own intelligence information as well as of its own operations.” Led by former defense secretary Robert Lovett, they plead with the president to take covert operations out of Allen Dulles’s hands.

Dulles fends off efforts to change the CIA. He promises the president that Wisner’s replacement will fix the missions and organization of the clandestine service.

End of 1958: Abbot Smith, one of the CIA’s best analysts, wrote:

We had constructed for ourselves a picture of the USSR, and whatever happened had to be made to fit into that picture. Intelligence estimators can hardly commit a more abominable sin.

Photograph: US Embassy



March 30, 2014

The Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) led the revolution’s attack on domestic service and on prostitution. After 1959, domestic service was viewed as degrading and exploitative. Maids began to be described as slaves who were exploited by long hours of work, abusive treatment and low pay. In this context, Castro’s stated objective was to get those […]

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March 25, 2014

Overview: The Military Support for all of Iran’s security forces increased dramatically during the Cold War period, especially after the rapid escalation in oil profits facilitated spending. According to Thomas M. Ricks, regarding the military: He [the shah] increased its size from 200,000 men in 1963 to 410,000 in 1977; the army went from 180,000 […]

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March 19, 2014

Havana’s pre-revolutionary militarization occurred with the installation of Batista as dictator.  It intensified throughout the ensuing struggle of resistance because “the guerilla struggles which overthrew the Batista regime were above all military or paramilitary in nature.” However, the city’s form and organization did not mirror the forces of Cold War militarism so obvious in other […]

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March 13, 2014

January 1957: A follow-up report by the president’s intelligence board says that the CIA’s operations were conducted “on an autonomous and freewheeling basis in highly critical areas involving the conduct of foreign relations . . . . In some quarters that leads to situations which are almost unbelievable.” April 1957: The CIA revives their plan for […]

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March 11, 2014

Geography Constrains Taipei’s Urban Growth Because geographic barriers separate the east and west coasts of the island of Taiwan, urban expansion has been restricted to the western plains areas and the low hills around Taipei in the north of the country. The capital itself has been limited in its potential growth because it is bounded […]

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March 10, 2014

Finally, Cold War Studies is on Facebook. I’m really happy about this because it allows me to post more types of Cold War information: cultural, environmental, current events. I hope you’ll check us out. Fancy buttons are coming soon! Meanwhile, we’d love some likes.

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