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According to John Wills Jr., the earliest record of China’s interest in Taiwan is ‘Wang Ta-Yung’s Tao-I chih-lueh (1349)’.6 Until the early 17th century, China paid little attention to Taiwan and there was little Chinese settlement on the island, except for some fishermen, smugglers and pirates. It was not until the Qing dynasty that Chinese imperial power eventually took over Taiwan and included it as a part of its territory. Therefore, early development of Taiwan by the Chinese took place during the Qing period, from approximately 1683 to 1770, and this is generally referred to as the ‘pioneering stage’ of the island’s history.7 Later, the period between the 1780s and 1860s is characterised by historians as the ‘intermediate stage’, when thousands and thousands of Chinese started to emigrate to the island. According to data, Chinese immigrants in Taiwan numbered 600,147 in 1756; 839,800 in 1777; 912,000 in Wills, op cit, p 86. Also in Thompson, Laurence G. ‘The Earliest Chinese Eyewitness Accounts of the Formosan Aborigines’ in Monumenta Serica. Sankt Augustin, No 23, 1963, pp 163-204.
See Wills, op cit, p 134.
M. Turner, © 2008 1782 and 1,786,883 in 1824.8 During the early stage of Chinese development in Taiwan, ‘newcomers constituted fully half the total population, and from 1782 to 1881 they made up two thirds of the island’s population’.9 This is the period when the ancestors of most Han Taiwanese arrived in Taiwan to start their new lives on the island.10 Therefore, in my research, the distinction between the Taiwanese and the Chinese Mainlanders refers not to their race (both are Han), but to historically different groups who arrived on the island at different periods of time. Hence, Taiwanese refers to those Han who have lived in Taiwan for centuries, whilst the Chinese (also Han) who came to the island after 1945 are affiliated with Chiang’s Nationalist government. Clearly, this comparison is centred on the Hans at different historical periods whilst the aborigines have lived on the island long before the arrival of the Chinese Han immigrants.
Taiwan, including the Peng-hu islands, was ceded to Japan from China (Qing Dynasty) in 1895 as part of the agreement after the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895). After the Japanese troops arrived in Taiwan, the first ‘pan-Taiwan’ identity was developed, although this was effectively limited to a Han identity rather than a ‘native’ Taiwanese identity. James Davidson, an American war correspondent with the Japanese army, reports that representatives of the various Han groups in Taiwan formed the ‘Republic of Taiwan’ (Taiwan Min Zhu Guo) in 1895, which had a seven-year resistance to Japan’s occupation of the island.11 Thus, the first clear Taiwanese identity See Wills, ibid., p 136. Also in Shepherd, John. Statecraft and Political Economy on the Taiwan Frontier. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993, p 161.
See Chen, Chiukun. ‘From Landlords to Local Strongmen,’ in Rubinstein (ed), op cit, p 136.
The ancestors of my family are included in those Hans, who came to Taiwan for settlement in the 18th and the 19th century from Mainland China. In the text, the Han Taiwanese do not include the aborigines who have lived in Taiwan for thousands of years.
Davidson, James W. The Island of Formosa Past and Present: History, People, Resources, M. Turner, © 2008 was established in resistance to the colonisation by Japan, although it did not succeed. However, Japan considered the island as their ‘model colony’,12 through which they intended to develop Taiwan as the first ‘Japan-ised’ territory of its ‘Southward Thrust’ policy, 13 which was their colonial plan to occupy South Asia.
The Japanese started to modernise Taiwan (in a very different way from the Qing dynasty) including the ‘unifying [of] weights, measures and currency;
guaranteeing private property rights; building a modern infrastructure;
mobilizing natural resources; increasing agricultural productivity [and] making investment capital available’,14 all of which had never been established during the Qing dynasty. As a result, even though the Taiwanese could not determine their own political and social power and status, they experienced constructive and modernised development under Japanese colonisation. The contrast between Japan’s and the Chinese Nationalist government’s rule in Taiwan resulted in the Taiwanese people’s disappointment when Chiang Kai-Shek took over Taiwan in 1947. Even though Japan’s colonisation of the island was mainly for the sake of its own imperial economic benefit, the and Commercial Prospects – Tea, Camphor, Sugar, Gold, Coal, Sulphur, Economical Plants and Other Productions. Taipei and Oxford: Southern Materials Centre Inc. and Oxford University Press, 1988 (1903), pp 257-370. Also in Brown (2004), op cit, p 8.
The term, ‘model colony’, comes from Edmondson’s essay, The February 28 Incident and National Identity, and this term implies the positive perspectives of Japanese development in Taiwan during its colonisation. Edmondson, op cit, p 26.
According to Premier Konoye, the Southward Trust policy is Japan’s imperial and military strategy to occupy East Asia, which was proclaimed on the 3rd of November 1938: ‘[w]hat Japan seeks is the establishment of a new order which will ensure the permanent stability of East Asia. In this lies the ultimate purpose of our present military campaign’. The phrase ‘new order in East Asia’ soon became a slogan for Japanese expansionism in the Pacific area and the term envisaged the establishment of an Asian and even a world’s empire under the hegemony of Japan. See Furuya, Keiji. Chiang Kai-Shek: His Life and Times. New York: St John’s University Press, 1981, pp 628-629.
Gold, Thomas. State and Society in the Taiwan Miracle. New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1986, p 44.
M. Turner, © 2008 Japanese authority did at least bring positive development to the island, as opposed to the early stage of Chiang’s control. With regard to the Taiwanese people’s affirmative views towards Japan’s colonisation on the island, Melissa Brown asserts that ‘Japan improved public safety, health, education, and the industrial and communications infrastructures. These changes created a Taiwanese middle class, many of whom remember the Japanese colonial period with nostalgia’.15 Brown, further notes that ‘[e]ven working-class and rural Taiwanese remember the Japanese as strict but fair’.16 Hence, after fifty years of Japanese colonisation of the island, the Taiwanese, even though still suppressed as colonised objects, were used to the discipline and regulations set up by the Japanese, which ultimately changed Taiwan’s society from being an agricultural economy to one of industry.
After the end of the World War II, while Chiang was still holding large parts of China with his Nationalist forces, the Allied forces ceded Taiwan to Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalist government without asking for Taiwanese opinions.
The Taiwanese, under Japanese rule from 1895 to 1945, initially welcomed the Chinese Nationalist forces (Chiang’s soldiers and their families) in 1947. It was considered by the Taiwanese that Taiwan was being ‘gloriously returned’ (guangfu) to Chinese rule, as if being returned to its motherland.17 The joy of
returning to China did not last long and, as Chang Mao-Kuei describes:
There must have been a moment when, knowing they would soon be Brown, Melissa J. ‘Reconstructing Ethnicity: Recorded and Remembered Identity in Taiwan’ in Ethnology, Vol 40, No 2, Spring 2001, p 154.
Here, Taiwanese refers to Han living in Taiwan during that time and who considered themselves as ethnic Chinese.
M. Turner, © 2008 under Chinese rule again, the Taiwanese (i.e., Han in Taiwan) could assume themselves simply to be Chinese. That moment lasted until shortly after the Mainlanders arrived.18 This cheerful celebration soon changed into sorrow and anger when the new
corruption was rife at all levels after the Mainlanders’ arrival on the island.
From late 1945, Mainlanders gradually emigrated to the island and according to the records, there were some one or two million of them by the autumn of 1949, during which time, there were approximately six million people living on the island.19 Although the Taiwanese started to feel that the arrival of the Chinese Nationalist government was not in fact ‘decolonisation,’ (to liberate them from Japanese colonisation), rather they were encountering ‘the pain of recolonisation’.20 The tension between the Taiwanese and the Mainlanders increased. In order to make this point more clear, it is worth citing Edmondson
at some length:
In many significant ways, the Nationalists [Mainlanders] were unable to distance themselves from the Japanese who had ruled before them.
They moved into Japanese residences, filled the most important administrative posts, replaced the Japanese as the police force, nationalised the largest industries previously owned by the Japanese, and imposed Mandarin Chinese, a foreign language to the Taiwanese, as the national dialect. Portraits of the Japanese emperor in public schools and offices were replaced by pictures of Sun Yat-Sen and Chiang Kai-Shek as the new objects of mandatory ritualised state-worship and urban spaces were recorded with place-names evoking a ‘motherland’ that few living Chang, Mao-Kuei. ‘On the Origins and Transformation of Taiwanese National Identity’ in China Perspectives, No 28, March/April, 2000, pp 51-70.
The figures can be found in Brown (2004), op cit, p 9 and Wachman, op cit, p 7.
Pan An-Yi has suggested that during the martial law period, the Taiwanese ‘did not feel that they were returned to the embrace of the motherland; on the contrary, they felt that they were enduring the pain of recolonisation’. Pan, op cit, p 3.
M. Turner, © 2008 Taiwanese had ever seen.21 With the new disciplines and guidelines imposed by Chiang’s government, the Taiwanese were forced to learn how to be Chinese after fifty-one years’ of colonisation by Japan. The Chinese failed to understand the fact that the Taiwanese were to some degree Japan-ised and that it was very difficult for them to accept another political, social and cultural system within such a short time. To re-iterate the point made earlier, this major change was as a result of the decision made by the Allies, without consultation with the Taiwanese. The tension between the Taiwanese and the Mainlanders became more critical because in the years leading up to 1947, the problems of inflation, grain shortages, corruption, lack of military discipline, unemployment, industrial collapse, and cultural conflict had become much worse even before the KMT arrived. All of these problems became the sparks which resulted in the 228 Incident [fig 9 and fig 10], and it has been argued by some historians that ‘Nationalist rule of Taiwan during the latter half of the 1940s was a failure’.22 I should now give some details about how the Incident occurred by looking at some historical narratives. On 27 February 1947, Lin Jiang-Mai, with her two small children, set up a stall in Taipei’s Round Park, selling a few packs of cigarettes in order to try and eke out a living. Agents from the Taipei Wine and Tobacco Monopoly Bureau appeared, accusing the woman of selling untaxed cigarettes, and then seized her meagre stock and her cash. The woman Edmondson, op cit, p 27.
Phillips, Steven. ‘Between Assimilation and Independence: Taiwanese Political Aspirations under Nationalist Chinese Rule, 1945-1948’ in Rubinstein (ed), op cit, p 282. Also in Pepper, Suzanne. Civil War in China: The Political Struggle 1945-1949. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.
M. Turner, © 2008 screamed in protest, while the crowd started to gather, but was brutally knocked down, and pistol-whipped about her head. People started to gather around angrily, so the agents started to shoot wildly into the crowd in order to open a way for them to escape. During this Incident, a person in the crowd
February 1947), a crowd, estimated at about 2,000 people, marched to the Monopoly Bureau Headquarters, with a petition demanding that the agents who had caused the death and injury on the previous day should be prosecuted and sentenced to death.23 At the time, Chiang was still in China fighting against Mao’s Communist army and Chen Yi had been appointed as the administrator and commander of Taiwan. Working through the Executive Office he had direct control over the administrative, military, judicial and regulatory organs on the island.24 The protestors’ petition did not succeed and Chen Yi ordered the military police to fire upon the crowd with machine-guns. Thus the tragedy started and the riots of the Taiwanese against the military suppression by the Mainlanders spread throughout the island.
During the first ten days after 28 February, Chen Yi kept up the pretence of negotiating with the leaders of the protest movement, and Chiang’s troops were promptly sent from the mainland to Taiwan to ‘help’ Chen to ‘sort out’ the The historical narrative of how the 228 Incident occurred can be found in Kerr, George H.
Formosa Betrayed. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1966, pp 254-262; Yip, June. Envisioning Taiwan: Fiction, Cinema, and the Nation in the Cultural Imaginary. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2004, pp 15-17; Brown (2004), op cit, pp 58-59; Philips, Steven. ‘Between Assimilation and Independence: Taiwanese Political Aspirations under Nationalist Chinese Rules, 1945-1948’ in Rubinstein (ed), op cit, pp 292-296; Wachman, op cit, pp 98-101 and Edmondson, Robert. ‘The February 28 Incident and National Identity’ in Corcuff (ed), op cit, pp 29-31.
More details can be found in Rubinstein (ed), op cit, p 282.