Tue, Feb 27, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Remembering is key to the future

By Li Thian-hok 李天福

On the afternoon of March 8, 1947, 10,000 troops landed in the port of Keelung in response to an urgent request for reinforcements by executive administrator Chen Yi (陳儀). Concurrently, some 3,000 troops landed in Kaohsiung. They then began a systematic massacre, shooting people on sight.

According to Allan Shackleton, a UN Relief and Rehabilitation officer witnessing the events: "Truckloads of troops armed with machine guns and automatic rifles quickly sped from Keelung to Taipei. Not content to firing at people on the street, they fired indiscriminately into shops and houses. In one village between Taipei and Keelung, 20 youths were castrated, their ears were cut off and their noses slit before they were bayoneted."

In Keelung, some prisoners were stripped naked, forced to kneel on the street and beaten to death with iron chains. Many were shot in the back of the head, had their ankles or palms pierced with wires and were thrown into the sea in groups of three or five. A policeman estimated that 2,000 people were disposed of in this way.

In Taipei, a massive slaughter of residents took place, including some 200 high-school students who had been cornered near the zoo.

Kaohsiung was unique in that a massacre of some 2,700 residents started on March 6, before the arrival of reinforcements from China. On that day, the mayor and four city councilors went to the Kaohsiung garrison headquarters to urge that troops disarm voluntarily.

The garrison commander, Peng Meng-chi (彭孟緝), shot three delegation members on the spot before leading more than 300 soldiers into the city to start an indiscriminate slaughter of residents. The gunfire persisted past March 8.

Peng was later commended by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) for his valor and promoted to major general in 1952. In 1957, he was made commander of the army, and later head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Academics generally agree that 28,000 Taiwanese were killed. [Editor's note: This is contestable.] What is noteworthy, however, is not only the number of deaths but also the brutality and wantonness with which the Chinese soldiers massacred people, molested women and robbed Taiwanese.

On March 13, massive arrests began. The members of the Settlement Committee were the first to be arrested, many executed on the spot, followed by the systematic slaughter of Taiwan's elite in all major cities and towns, including doctors, lawyers, teachers, journalists, businessmen and members of the Provincial Council.?A whole generation of Taiwanese leaders was thus eliminated through ruthless ethnic cleansing.

Today Taiwan faces the threat of another massacre by Chinese troops. China has deployed close to 1,000 short-range ballistic missiles targeted on Taiwan. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is rapidly developing the capacity to invade and overwhelm Taiwan's defenses before any help could arrive.

The PLA's modernization efforts are focused on a "Taiwan contingency" and include the acquisition of advanced weapons from Russia and improvement of its joint force operation capability while the Legislative Yuan cannot even debate the purchase of US weapons offered by the Bush administration back in 2001.

Taiwan is also increasingly vulnerable to internal subversion due to China's united front tactics. Ever since the pilgrimage of former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) to Beijing, the pan-blue opposition has done its utmost to belittle the Democratic Progressive Party government and scuttle Taiwan's democratic institutions in an effort to regain power and facilitate the annexation of Taiwan by China.

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