Fri, Jul 06, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Ma's defective Taiwanese history

By Lin Cho-shui 林濁水

It's hard to believe that after his "earnest research of Taiwanese history," Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) would come to the conclusions that he does in his book Taiwan Spirit. Ma says that he must "courageously point out" that "the true source of independence thinking lies in the [KMT government's 1953] land reforms" because "most of the early proponents of Taiwanese independence were land owners stripped of their fields" and they had been "the chief beneficiaries of Japanese colonial rule."

In making this postulation, Ma has ignored the link between the KMT and Taiwan that he champions. Long before the KMT's land reform, Lo Fu-hsing (羅福星) -- executed after leading resistance against Japanese rule and a member of the Revolutionary Alliance (Tongmenghui), a precursor to the KMT founded in 1905 -- wrote in his defense that "Taiwanese independence is the yellow of the Han flag." Of course, he was no Taiwanese land owner.

Lo wasn't the only one thinking of Taiwanese independence during the Japanese occupation. Like Lo, the majority of independence proponents happened to be related to the KMT. At the time, some Taiwanese youths fighting the Japanese in China formed many associations whose mainstream thinking was Taiwanese independence, which is revealed in their proclamations.

For example, the "Shanghai Taiwanese Youth Association" asked for "all gentlemen to help Taiwan toward liberty and independence." The "Taiwan Self-Rule Association" called on people to "help the countrymen from our perished nation with Taiwan's sovereignty and independence movement." The "Xiamen Taiwan Comrades Association" called for "Taiwanese to eliminate hate and remove shame, and to fight for independence." The "Taiwan Democracy Party" advocated "establishing the democratic and independent country of Taiwan." The Taiwanese Communist Party also drew up a party platform including "establishing a democratic Taiwanese republic."

At that time, Taiwanese independence ideology was shared by Taiwanese fighting the Japanese in China as well as the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). For example, following the Wushe Incident, in which Taiwanese Aborigines were massacred by Japanese troops, the CCP's Red Flag Daily called for "establishing a Taiwanese soviet republic."

Meanwhile, Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) said in a KMT meeting in 1938 that "His [Sun Yat-sen's (孫逸仙)] meaning was that we must make it so that our Korean and Taiwanese compatriots can restore independence and freedom."

From these records, we see that not only is Ma's Taiwanese history rusty, but also his understanding of KMT history -- assuming he is a gentlemen and is not deliberately distorting history.

Ma says that many of the early post-war independence leaders were land owners who benefited under the Japanese occupation, and therefore minimizing land reform was their core reason for apologetically promoting Taiwanese independence.

But a considerable number of the independence youths who fought the Japanese alongside the KMT and Chinese came from land-owning families. Meanwhile in Taiwan, it was the land-owning class that guided efforts to resist Japan by writing, promoting the establishment of a parliament and forming cultural associations.

The leaders of the fierce armed resistance in the south were also land owners. The anti-Japanese farmers and workers' movement led by the non-land-owning class appeared after Japan had already promoted industrialization in Taiwan. Even two of the three large revolts against the Qing Dynasty were lead by wealthy farmers: Lin Shuang-wen (林爽文) in 1786 and Tai Chao-chun (戴潮春) in 1862.

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