The Wartime Regime and the Development of Public Diet in Taiwan (1947–1950s)

Pin-Tsang Tseng


The Nationalist Party retreated to Taiwan in 1949 after its defeat in the Chinese Civil War. Faced with a population explosion, economic recession, and a serious shortage of resources, the Nationalist government retained the “wartime regime” instituted during the civil war, while strengthening control of key foods – which significantly affected people’s daily life, and notably diet. This article argues that the purpose of implementing the wartime regime was not only to stabilise livelihoods, particularly to secure basic living conditions for a large number of soldiers and government employees; it also helped the Nationalist Party consolidate its authoritarian rule and establish a firm grip on national resources, facilitating national defence and economic development. The stringent control measures of the wartime regime caused, however, a gross imbalance between staple and subsidiary foods in the diet of local people, leading to consumption of excessive amounts of starchy staple foods and widening the gap between the diets of farmers and non-farmers.

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