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NTU Digital Taiwan-Related Arhives Project

US foreign aid was very important to the reconstruction and economic development of post-war Taiwan. For the purpose of effective implementation of US foreign aid, the US Government employed J. G. White Engineering Corporation (hereafter J.G. White) to take part in drafting and carrying out economic, social, and industrial development policies and the follow-up overseeing works. Valery S. de Beausset was the planning manager at J.G. White in the period 1950-1957.

Mr. de Beausset showed incomparable patience and willpower during the planning of Taiwan’s infrastructure. He would make investigation inspections by himself before work began and often took part in worksite. He was a genuine “practitioner”. For example, before proposing the construction of east-west highways in Taiwan using US foreign aid, de Beausset made several visits to the undeveloped course of the to-be East-West Cross-Island Highway, taking many risks along the way. (Video).The construction work of the East-West Cross-Island Highway had been started just prior to de Beausset taking leave of Taiwan in 1957. At the time, Mr. Chiang Ching-guo asked de Beausset what would he like as a farewell present, and de Beausset said he wanted Chiang to accompany him on a trip along this Central Cross-Island Highway. And so it was that Chiang accompanied de Beausset giving de Beausset the opportunity to see the under-construction Cross-Island Highway with his own eyes.

Over recent decades the cross-island highways have definitely opened up transportation between the east and west of Taiwan right up until recent years when extensive rockslides have cut the roads. Although the cross-island highways are only open to traffic in some areas, however, the opening up of the roads in the past helped Taroko Gorge and its natural scenery become an important tourist destination in Taiwan. Besides, it also enabled people and scholars, teachers and students to be able to get close to this special geology site. The color films made by de Beausset when he visited the undeveloped mountain areas are a record of his exploration in Taiwan. They also provide a record of the original look of the Central Cross-Island Highway and Taroko Gorge before development.

Why was US foreign aid used to construct east-west highways across Taiwan? This is de Beausset’s answer. (Video).

The images you see here are from a DVD documentary produced by National Taiwan University Library, Valery S. de Beausset and U.S. Aid to Taiwan. The bilingual film, Chinese and English, begins with background of Taiwan’s economy and US foreign aid. It talks about the concepts behind the economic and infrastructure development policy in the first 4-year plan under the support of US aid for Taiwan. It also gives examples of de Beausset’s participation in US aid-funded projects. Its witness of the modern history of US-China cooperation was recognized and was bestowed a 2009 “National Publication Award”.

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