Editorial Notes

China phobia versus Chinese unification: The China Post

Pro-unification activists raising a Taiwanese flag in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall during the 70th anniversary of the 228 incident in Taipei on Feb 28, 2017.
Pro-unification activists raising a Taiwanese flag in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall during the 70th anniversary of the 228 incident in Taipei on Feb 28, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

In its editorial on March 1, the paper examines the ongoing debate between establishing closer relations with China and pushing for independence.

TAIPEI (THE CHINA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - One well-known quote, whose authorship is oft disputed, is: "If you are not a Communist at 20, you have no heart. If you are still a Communist at 35, you have no heart."

This may well sum up the attitude of young people in Taiwan used to have toward Chinese unification: Radical youth giving way to the wisdom of age.

That explains why the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League, one of China's government-sanctioned eight democratic parties, held an expanded discussion meeting in Beijing last Saturday to mark the 70th anniversary of the Feb 28 Incident of 1947, and to declare that the carnage started seven decades ago was an uprising of the people of Taiwan against the despotic rule by the then-Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party) government. This was as a part of the struggle for liberation of the Chinese people, a patriotic and democratic movement exemplifying their glorious tradition of Chinese patriotism.

At the same time, the league also concluded that current Taiwan independence and secession forces have distorted historic facts to stoke the feud between the native Taiwanese and Chinese mainlanders so as to politically polarise Taiwan. Their purpose being to help the Communist Party of China kick off a new peace offensive to force President Tsai Ing-wen to accept the "1992 Consensus," an unsigned modus vivendi under which former President Ma Ying-jeou maintained a detente between Taipei and Beijing for eight years.

Independence for Taiwan was first advocated by the Taiwan Communist Party, which Xie Xue-hong, at 27, founded at a photography shop in the French Settlement in Shanghai in 1928.

Its platform, which was drafted by the Japan Communist Party with the consent of its Chinese counterpart, endorsed independence from Japan.

Under the control of Communist International in Moscow, the Taiwan Communist Party had the founding of an independent state of Taiwan as its final objective. Its members were almost all younger than she was. They were not those who had no heart. They were arrested, and she was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Her party was dissolved.

When Taiwan was restored to the Republic of China in 1945, all the people on Japan's colonial island rejoiced in their return to the motherland.

Soon, however, they were dissatisfied with the discriminatory administration of General Chen Yi, administrator-general of Taiwan, to the extent that they rioted en masse in the 228 Incident in which thousands, mostly from the younger generations, were massacred by government troops sent from China to suppress the island-wide riots, which General Chen reported to Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Kuomintang, as an act of sedition.

Xie organised her 52nd Brigade of about 500 troops in Taichung to fight the only battle of the incident against the suppression force. They withdrew to Puli, where they were besieged, but she made her escape to Hong Kong where she formed the Taiwan Self-Government League, which moved its headquarters to Beijing after Mao Zedong had proclaimed the People's Republic of China and has since survived - though she was purged for her insistence on Taiwan independence while Mao's Red Guards were wreaking havoc.

Compare this to the situation now: Tsai doesn't seem to know the truth, and her government was ordered to find the truth of the 228 Incident to identify the chief culprits of the massacre in a futile attempt to uphold transitional justice.

Chen Shui-bian issued the same order while he was the president and declared Chiang Kai-shek the chief culprit.

Thus Tsai has to continue her campaign to dethrone Chiang. Her Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun held a press conference to announce that sales of Chiang's memorabilia and the broadcasting of "Ode to Chiang" at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall had been banned. She added that the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Act would be revised to change its name and remove his statue.

On the other hand, Beijing needs no peace offensive.

Tsai may try to organise her born independentistas into groupies like Mao's Red Guards to ensure her re-election, but won't succeed. Young people are no longer those who are not Communists at 20. They love fun more than their homeland of Taiwan or her. And they know China will eventually be unified.

They would surrender or flee if they could - and if Taiwan were economically starved enough.

The China Post is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 22 news media entities.