727Consolidated with Post 9957 in Taipei as of August 13, 2017.
HISTORY & POLITICAL BRIEF ON TAIWAN
The Japanese established POW camps throughout Asia, Taiwan was no exception. Much has been written about the Japanese slave labor camps - but very little has been published about the camps on the island of Taiwan - other than Banzai You Bastards by Jack Edwards. Well worth reading! Also, there is now a web site dedicated just to the Taiwan POW camps - please use this link to see their site.
TAIWAN CHRONOLOGY (Commander's short and sweet version!)
Recorded history is all too often the product of the victorious or by culturally biased foreigners - usually one in the same! Taiwan's history recorded history is a little different! There are several indigenous tribes and almost as many views of Taiwan's history - plus those of the victors, the invaders, and of course the non-ethnic Chinese "observers". Most are - politely stated - distorted, often riddled with political rhetoric, and outright lies, rather than simple truths. Therefore, sifting through these recordings, and to attempt to present a history as honestly as possible and hopefully without political or cultural prejudice, is - admittedly - almost impossible.. But here's an attempt -
The reality of Taiwans "ambivalent situation" (President Trumans words) is still evident in its current struggles with democracy. At the end of 1945, after being a part of the Japanese Empire for fifty years, the island found itself with two distinct resident groups of people. One was the Taiwanese majority who had settled the island for more than one hundred years and had long aspired to self-government or at least self-representation. The other was the Kuomintang (KMT) Chinese, the Nationalist government retreating from mainland China, who had established the Republic of China. The KMT originated with Song Jiaoren and Sun Yat-sen in China, shortly after the Xinhai revolution (1911) and did not exist in Taiwan when Japan acquired Taiwan. But after the surrender of the Japanese to the U.S. in 1945, Taiwan was given to the ROC. This was the result of the Cairo Declaration of 1943 - a summit of the big four, which included Chiang Kei-shek (as the head of government of China - ROC). The PROC did not exist at that time.
Fleeing the communists to whom they were badly losing a civil war, the Nationalist Chinese (the KMT) re-established their capitol of China in Taiwan claiming it to be the capitol of China (a claim that the KMT quietly rescinded - on paper - in 1991). By 1949 the KMT numbered some two million Chinese, including soldiers, public servants and refugees. Many Taiwanese have called it their most recent "foreign" invasion. The end result was that people with two different ideologies found themselves living on one island seeking a resolution - which has been slow coming.
Taiwan has seen many arbitrary governments over its history. The aborigines were the original peoples, later came the Dutch, the Spanish, the Ming Loyalists, the Ching Manchus, the Japanese, the Kunmingtang Chinese (KMT), and finally elected individuals from a multi-party system. Ironically, the Peoples Republic of China, a government whose flag has never flown over Formosa/Taiwan considers the island as a renegade province of China. Perhaps as much in response to the KMT's long time claim on all of China, as it being a real or imagined historical claim of the island as a part of the mainland (but this is, admittedly, a western over simplified analysis.).
Political power on Taiwan had transferred so frequently in the past four centuries that the people of Taiwan are to be credited with a remarkable resiliency and capability to adjust to each new set of circumstances. A proverb states, "Policy is usually made by government, counter measures always come from the people." The elections of March 2000 represent a significant changing of the guard! The people of Taiwan directly and freely chose their leader from 'the opposition party' (DPP). It was a peaceful transition and some deem it a 'transference of power' and one that appears to mark a new era between the Taiwanese (or DPP) and the KMT because the elections of 2008 elected a KMT president - and again a peaceful transition between what a Westerner would characterize as political parties - this is NOT accurate - but it is becoming closer to that...
THE REPUBLIC OF CHINA ON TAIWAN
News of the Japanese surrender was broadcast by radio in Taiwan on August 15th, 1945. On September 2nd, under order No. 1 from the Japanese General Head Quarters (GHQ), the Japanese gave up their authority on Taiwan and the only internationally recognized Government of the Republic of China began preparations to take over. In October, an initial twelve thousand military personnel and two hundred officials landed on the island. At first, the people happily welcomed the Chinese military, but their joy soon turned to disappointment at the Soldiers lack of discipline and plundering attitude.
The soldiers coming off the boats were not an elite spit and polish group but remnants of an army that had been struggling for victory over the Japanese, and embroiled in a continuing civil war with 'communists' being led by Mao Zedong It was natural for the Taiwanese people to compare them with the well-disciplined Japanese soldiers that were leaving and wonder how had this rag-tag group won against the Japanese!
General Chen Yi, the ROC representative and first senior KMT officer to govern the island, continued to carry out the Baj-jia (partronage) system. He also made sure the chief positions in the government, the political party, the military authority and special mission organizations were given to people coming from main-land China. The in-coming KMT were suspicious - justifiably - of anyone who had been under Japanese rule for fifty years and felt it was necessary to de-Japanese them. The people had, in essence, just traded one colonial government for another. Instead of being treated as a liberated brother, the 'locals' were seen as the spoils of war.
As the civil war with the communists on the mainland continued, Taiwan suffered. Any and all materials and goods needed to support the KMTs efforts on the mainland were taken from the island. Inflation became rampant; the economy came to a standstill. Most Formosans had difficulty finding work; unemployment skyrocketed. In matters of justice, those in authority were easily bribed, a policy once started is difficult to erradicate.. The living conditions of the people deteriorated.
Under Japanese rule, even during World War II, Taiwan was relatively unaffected. As a matter of fact, never in the Peoples 400-year history on Taiwan had they ever experienced a shortage of rice. Now when they were supposedly "liberated," rice was scarce. The surprise and anger of the Formosans began to build.
Finally on February 27th, 1947, a simple conflict between the police and a street vendor would touch off waves of protest across the island. The street vendor was selling contraband cigarettes that had been smuggled in; 6 policemen discovered this and confiscated the goods. When the woman asked for the return of the goods, one officer struck her with the butt of his gun. A crowd gathered to intercede for the woman and the officer feeling nervous fired his gun. A "stray" bullet hit a bystander and killed him. The crowd grew angry.
On the following day, the 28th, a larger crowd came to the government offices asking for justice in this situation. The sentries fired on this unarmed crowd killing many and injuring more. In the mind of Chen Yi, the crowd was made up of thugs and action was justified. In the minds of the people, they were simply seeking justice in an unfair situation. Protests immediately broke out all over the island. Two years of building anger at mistreatment by the Mainlanders exploded. Shops and factories were closed; students went on strike.
The popular anger would continue in forms of protest until the middle of May when the military might of the new government succeeded in quelling the outward protests. This protest and subsequent brutal suppression has been dubbed "er-er-ba" or "2-2-8." Even today after more than 60 years, it cannot be mentioned in Taiwan without drawing a strong emotional response - and depending on the background of the person to whom you are talking - their viewpoint.
It is difficult to give an exact interpretation of the 2-28 affair since many of the historical records have been lost or destroyed and official records may well have been biased and not containing a full and factual accounting. Likewise, people could not talk openly about it for over 40 years and now when the climate is more open, many of the participants and eyewitnesses have already passed away. Some foreigners who witnessed the affair in person recorded their experiences and made them public.
Allan J. Shackleton, a New Zealander, is one such person. He had been assigned as an engineer by the UN to help rebuild the broken industry of Taiwan in 1947. Upon returning to his country, he recorded his experiences of the 2-28 affair and called it Formosa Calling. This was published posthumously by his family in 1948. Another work, Formosa Betrayed, written by George H. Kerr American vice-consul in Taiwan in 1947, was published in 1965. These two writings present the views of third party observers and accent the injustice and brutality of the time.
In Taiwan, as was said, it would be taboo to speak about this affair until after the lifting of martial law in1987. At the time of the protests, Chen Yi gave orders to arrest anyone suspected of anti-government activities and many of the Formosan educated elite were seized in the name of security. According to the published reports of the KMT government, almost 28,000 people would be killed; of these, the majority were members of the intellectual class creating a vacuum among the native Formosan intellectual elite.
Some of the educated Formosans escaped from being arrested and fled overseas. In Hong Kong (then under British rule), a group of those with a strong identification and sympathy to Taiwanese consciousness organized under the direction of Riao Yuen-yi of the "Taiwan Re-Liberation Alliance." These petitioned the United Nations to express their wishes that Taiwan be put in trust before the UN would determine whether Taiwan should be allowed to vote on independence or not.
In Kyoto in 1950, Riao organized political party, the "Taiwan Democratic Independence Party". After six years, his party attempted to establish a temporary government for the Republic of Taiwan in Tokyo. Later, in 1965, Riao would suddenly decide to surrender himself to the KMT as the KMT held several of his relatives hostages to compel him to give up his independence activities.
Wang Yu-de and his circle of the "Taiwan Youth Cooperation" in Tokyo organized a second Taiwan Independence movement. In the 1960s many Taiwanese students studying in the United States established other independence organizations and the center of Taiwan independence move to America. In 1970, Taiwanese intellectuals living in Japan and the States jointly established an international "Taiwan Independence Alliance" and developed branches around the world.
In the meantime, the civil war with the communists did not go well for the KMT. The Communist forces proved more adept at drawing the support of the Common people. By August 1949 the Chinese Communists established their own regime and called it the Peoples Republic of China (PROC). At the end of the same year, Chiang Kai-shek and his army had escaped to Taiwan to continue their battle - at a later time..
The KMT had lost most of the territory on the mainland and now occupied only Taiwan, the Pescadores and some smaller islands such as Kinmen and Matsu. The population of Taiwan increased by some 2,000,000 people; it was the largest influx the island had ever seen. Inflation continued to run rampant.
By the end of 1949, after spending billions of dollars, the United State government was having its doubts about the KMT because of its corruption and had ceased to support it. President Truman was willing to let the chips fall where they may and leave the PRC and ROC to work the matter out. If the Communist forces would attack Taiwan, the United States would stand aside. But again, happenings in Korea would affect the fate of Taiwan and its importance to the US and their allies.
On June 25th, 1950 North Korea with the aid of the Soviet Union invaded the South. The United States saw this as a larger communist threat to the free world and responded quickly by coming to the defense of South Korea. This involvement would make the United States reverse its position on Taiwan. Now it was not salvaging a corrupt government but was preventing the spread of what was seen as global communism. In January 1951 military aid was provided for the KMT. An agreement of joint defense and mutual aid was signed and a military consultant and regiment were assigned to Taiwan. Most important of all the entire United States Navys seventh fleet begin patrolling the Taiwan Strait, and by its show of force intending to prevent any attack by the Chinese Communists on the island of Taiwan. At the same time the KMT came to accept outside pressure that it must root out its corruption or at least appear to do so.
In 1953, the Korean War would end in a stalemate at virtually the same place that it had begun for both sides and the Cold War would ensue. Taiwan however had now become part of the Western Bloc.
The Communists would make a concerted military effort in 1954 to capture Kinmen (Quemoy) and islands that lay only 2 kilometers off the coat of the Mainland. After several days of shelling an attack was launched and landings made. Fierce fighting ensued for several days as both armies struggled for victory. The communist forces would be defeated and numbers were taken prisoner. This marked the last battle between the two forces. The island of Kinmen would be shelled regularly for several years but both sides would enter their own cold war. In December 1954 another treaty of joint defense was concluded between the KMT and the government of the United States ensuring Taiwans protection.
While the ROC was now a member of the United Nations and part of the strategy to stem communism, there was still an unresolved aspect of Taiwans history. What was the exact relationship of Taiwan and the PROC? In the San Francisco Treaty of 1952, Japan had given up its sovereignty over Taiwan, the Pescadores and other territories; but the treaty did not state to whom (read which "China") the sovereignty of these areas would be given. President Truman had initially been open to letting the PROC and the ROC settle this matter between them, but now with the Korean War and the belligerent threat of the PROC to stability in the region the matter was left in uncertainty. Even the ROC (at the time) was not that directly interested in Taiwan because its focus was still on regaining mainland China.
The sixties brought the Vietnam Conflict and the issue of Taiwans sovereignty was put on the back burner as the United States and western nations feared the domino effect of communism in Asia. Taiwan continued to prove valuable as a place for surveillance of the PROC, for R & R of US military personnel for the military supply linkage and strategy. During this time the US had in place the Taiwan Defense Command with a three star admiral in command and MAAG China in support of the ROC.
As the Vietnam Conflict wound down another series of events happened that would affect Taiwan internationally. The ROCs insistence on being the sole representative of all of China would eventually lead to its loss of its seat in the United Nations in 1971, with the passing of U.N. Resolution 2758.
In 1972, President Nixon made his historic visit to Peoples Republic of China. Then in December 1978, as more and more countries chose to recognize the PROC as the government of China, President Carter dropped his bombshell that the United States would shift its embassy from the ROC to the PROC in the coming year. In 1979 the United States embassy withdrew from Taiwan, as well as all US forces and the MAAG. The Taiwan Relations Act was set forth by the United States to support trade relations, defense support of Taiwan and other matters. A liaison office (American Institute in Taiwan) in place of an embassy is located in Taiwan in support of the Taiwan Relations Act.
After loss of its seat in the UN, thinking in the ROC began to change. There was the growing realization that the KMTs chances of retaking the mainland were growing from slim to non-existent without outside help. Revenue that the KMT had been storing up for the retaking of the mainland was seen as being better-spent on infrastructure development in Taiwan. From all the signs, the KMT was going to be on Taiwan for some time so it better make the best of it.
In 1975, Chiang Kai-shek died and his son Chiang Chiag-kuo took over first as the head of the KMT and then as President of the country in 1978.
There is much that has been written on Taiwan, but the many unanswered questions indicate that there is much still to be written. The Taiwan Miracle has been well documented as Formosa, now formally called Taiwan changed its agrarian structure in the sixties, developed an export economiy in Asia and throughout the world for that matter.
The country began its move towards democracy in the last phase of Chiang Ching-kuos presidency and has never looked back. Whether Chiang Ching-kuo was far-sighted and visionary or whether he was bowing to inevitable realities seen in the protests over the Chung-Li Affair in 1977 and later Kaohsiung Incident in 1979 is a story still to be told.
Chiang Ching-kuo is credited with recognizing and allowing opposition parties to develop, yet the reason why a "White Terror" atmosphere existed in politics from 1947 all the way until 1987 when martial law was formally revoked has yet to be fully explained.
When Chiang Ching-kuo died, LeeTen-hui, the hand-picked successor of Chiang Ching-kuo became President in 1988. He would be the firs native-born Taiwanese to be president. The democratic process would continue under him. Lee would also declare an ending to hostile relations between Taiwan and the Mainland in 1991. He would be re-elected in 1996 amidst the missile crisis with mainland China. This would be the first time the people could directly vote for their president. The extent and depth of Lees contributions to the democratic process in Taiwan as well as other areas are also a story to be written. Lees contributions to democracy will have to be balanced with his tolerance of "black gold" politics and corruption.
The culmination of the democratic movement in the past years was the election of March 2000, when Taiwanese for the second time in their history voted directly to determine their president. It was a new millennium and a new era. Ousted at that time was the KMT, which had held power in Taiwan for 55 years, but most outstanding was the fact that it was a true democratic election and the transference of power was peaceful.
Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was elected with a majority of 39.3%, second was James Soong, ex-KMT and Independent, with 36.84% and third was Lien Chan the KMT candidate with 23.14%. Two other candidates took the remaining 0.76%. It was a hotly contested race.
The PROC tried to influence the elections by hinting that Chen was the one candidate of the three that they did not want. It was a repeat of 1996 when the PROC fired missiles at both ends of the island to indicate that they did not want Lee Ten-hui elected. On both occasions they failed; the people of Taiwan made up their own minds. The candidate to whom the PROC did not want was elected.
Chen had only won by 39.4% and not a full majority; but full majorities are not always had in a democracy. A quick glance at the history of the United States reveals many instances where the president won by less than 50% of the vote and even cases where the losing candidate had a greater popular vote than the winner. Chens victory percentage was slightly less than that Abraham Lincoln had received (39.82%) when he was elected in 1860.
The 2000 election marks another milestone in the history of Taiwan. It was a coming to terms with 400 years of history. It was a coming to terms between the KMT and the Taiwanese that all future choices in government would be done (hopefully) by the democratic process. If the KMT were to rule in the future, it would have to gain the majority support of the people. The people of Taiwan have been finally allowed to choose their destiny and not be the pawns of the power politics of history.
In 2004 the National elections were again held in Taiwan with Chen Shui-bian (DPP) winning a second term by a mere 1% margin of the vote or 20,000 votes with the KMT coming in second. This election showed a stronger comeback of the KMT party from the past election. And many questions were raised relative to a recount and voting rigging. Again the PROC did put out propaganda about a Taiwan being a renegade province of China. The future looks bright for Taiwan as its economy is turning around and relations are still well with the United States under the Taiwan Relations Act. It appears democracy is now blooming in Taiwan and will be in the future.
The KMT came back into power in 2008 National election with Ma Ying-jeou (KMT) winning the election by a large majority vote over the incumbent party (DPP). Currently the ruling party seeks closer ties with China to resolve its difference and still remain an independent democracy. China has agreed in principle to the KMT concept, however, still claims Taiwan as part of China on the world forum. It does not want the ROC to be part of the United Nations or World Health Organization (WHO). The way of the future for Taiwan with the KMT governance should to more comfortable with democracy continuing with less fear of China.
There still remains the unfinished business of the PROC. The PROC did not exist before the Cairo Conference or the Potsdam Conference and the San Francisco Peace Treaty with Japan does not mention it. Yet the PROC, whose flag has never flown over Taiwan, insists that Taiwan has always been a part of China and that this issue is strictly an internal one. Should the 23 million people of Taiwan be forced to submit to the PROC? Should Taiwan be denied representation in the United Nations where 75% of the member countries have a population smaller than Taiwan? Even an island nation such as Tuvalu with a total land area of 26 square km and population of 9,000 has been approved as a member of the United Nations. If you examine the sovereignty issue and other issues in light of the history of Taiwan you can draw your own conclusions.
Timor, another island, is north of Australia; it is about the same size as Taiwan but with a smaller population. The Portuguese settled the East Side of Timor around 1520. The Dutch settled the West side one hundred years later and the island was split under the rule of these two countries. With the formation of Indonesia and the ousting of the Dutch, West Timor became a part of the Republic of Indonesia.
In 1975 when the Portuguese abandoned East Timor, it declared independence; but this independence was short-lived. Indonesia quickly invaded and took over East Timor. Unrest followed and finally Indonesia granted the people of East Timor the right to choose their destiny.
On August 10, 1999, East Timorese voted overwhelmingly to be independent. Again violence ensured as West Timor militias refused to accept the vote. The United Nations, which had never approved the original takeover of Indonesia, stepped in and sent an international peacekeeping force to quell the violence. East Timor now is rebuilding its country.
The question naturally arises that if the United Nations would step in to protect the rights of 800,000 people in East Timor would it protect the rights of the 23,000,000 people of Taiwan if force were used to settle the Taiwan question?.
The world has seen a previous intercession by an international coalition when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Kuwait, a former British protectorate had become independent in 1961. In 1990 Iraq invaded the country but was defeated in what is known as the Persian Gulf War. While one wonders if the intervention would have been as swift if Kuwait had not been an oil rich country. Look at what has happened currently in the Second Persian Gulf War with the United States and its collation of supporting countries in Iraqi. Also, is validity of the Taiwan Relations Act with United States a lasting protection for Taiwan from the PROC? Remember the jury is still out on the Taiwan issue.
After a conference in North Africa, President Roosevelt, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and Prime Minister Churchill issued the following general statement:
"The three great Allies are fighting this war to restrain and punish the aggression of Japan. They covet no gain for themselves and have no thought of territorial expansion. It is their purpose that Japan shall be stripped of all the islands in the Pacific which she has seized or occupied since the beginning of the first World War in 1914, and that all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China. Japan will also be expelled from all other territories which she has taken by violence and greed. The aforesaid three great powers, mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea, are determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent."
Proclamation by the Heads of Governments, United States, China and the United Kingdom:
"We the President of the United States, the President of the National Government of the Republic of China and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, representing the hundreds of millions of our countrymen, have conferred and agree that Japan shall be given an opportunity to end this war .(8) The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine."
The treaty was signed at San Francisco in 1951 by the respective Plenipotentiaries of the United States of America and 47 other Allied Powers, and Japan. It went into effect in 1952.
Chapter II, Territory, Article 2 (a) "Japan, recognizing the independence of Korea, renounces all right, title and claim to the islands of Quelpart, Port Hamilton and Dagelet, (b) Japan renounces all right, title and claim to Formosa and the Pescadores .(f) Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Spartly Islands and the Plaracel Islands."(Submitted January 1, 2011)