Today is a solemn day marking the beginning of a tragic chapter in the nation’s history. Seventy years ago, the 228 Massacre began; it was a violent crackdown spearheaded by the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) authoritarian regime that led to the White Terror era, during which thousands of Taiwanese were arrested, imprisoned and executed.
Many relatives of the massacre victims still do not know the reason for their loved ones’ deaths or the whereabouts of their remains.
While there is no known count of the total number of people killed during the massacre, historians estimate the casualties as being between 20,000 and 30,000.
Given that only about 2,200 compensation claims have been filed under the Act for Handling and Compensation for the 228 Incident (二二八事件賠償及處理條例), the vast disparity in numbers suggests that the truth concerning that dark page in Taiwan’s history has not been entirely uncovered and that the shadow of the massacre and the White Terror era still haunts many Taiwanese.
A more comprehensive understanding of what happened needs to be pursued. While it is painful to recall the injustices, the nation must continue to dig for answers so the whole truth about the bloody crackdown can be unearthed.
Those who argue that people should let bygones be bygones, all the while claiming that those who chase after the matter are motivated by revenge, ought to be reminded that to this day, no culprits — primary or secondary — have been officially held accountable.
For every crime, there are victims and perpetrators; yet in the case of the massacre, they seem to be missing.
Despite efforts by the government to heal the wounds by acknowledging mistakes, apologizing, offering compensation and erecting commemorative monuments, Taiwanese have only heard mention of victims, never who was responsible for this traumatic event.
While people will not forget, they should forgive and move on.
However, it is difficult for friends and relatives of victims to forgive when they do not even know who should be forgiven, as the killers and accomplices were never named.
A report published by a group of academics in 2006 said Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) should be held accountable for the Incident, along with then-Taiwan governor Chen Yi (陳儀) and Kaohsiung Fortress commander Peng Meng-chi (彭孟緝), who were directly responsible for the troops.
In a book released yesterday, Academia Sinica researcher Chen Yi-shen (陳儀深) cited declassified documents which said that Chiang approved Chen Yi’s request for military intervention in the nationwide protests following the Incident and showed support for Chen Yi and Peng in the aftermath.
Even former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said that Chiang has responsibility to bear for the Incident and the ensuing White Terror era. While Ma did add that more deliberation is needed “to determine what exactly that responsibility was” and warned against jumping to conclusions, his remarks nonetheless show that there is now a consensus among the pan-green and pan-blue camps that those who bear responsibility need to be uncovered.
As there is no truth, including official identification of the persons primarily responsible for this abominable crime, talk of implementing transitional justice is disingenuous.
China took advantage of the vacuum left behind when US carriers stayed out of the western Pacific Ocean due to COVID-19 outbreaks on several US Navy warships. The Chinese government is solidifying its hold on artificial islands in the South China Sea by moving in missiles and surveillance equipment, and formalizing its occupation by creating two municipal districts in the region under Hainan Island’s Sansha — Xisha District on Woody Island (Yongxing Island, 永興島) to administer the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) and Nansha District on Fiery Cross Reef (Yongshu Reef, 永暑島) to administer the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) —
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) yesterday wrapped up its annual party conference-cum-national decision-making forums in Beijing: the National People’s Congress (NPC) and National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), known colloquially as the “two meetings.” They are normally tightly choreographed affairs, designed to project an image of stability and unassailable strength, but several events leading up this month’s sessions provided strong indications that all is not well in the state of Denmark. The first sign of major discontent came in March, at the height of the COVID-19 crisis in China, when an article by real-estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang
As last year drew to a close, Taiwan lost several of its dwindling set of diplomatic allies, and China all but claimed victory in the long quest for universal recognition of the Peoples Republic of China. While Taiwan remained marginalized from traditional international institutions, intensifying protests in Hong Kong raised the specter of military repression in the territories still coveted by Beijing. At celebrations marking 70 years of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) also reasserted China’s ultimate goal of reunifying Taiwan with the mainland. Then COVID-19 hit. The pandemic has opened deep wounds in the increasingly
French firm DCI-DESCO in April won a bid to upgrade Taiwan’s Lafayette frigates, which has strained ties between China and France. In 1991, France sold Taiwan six Lafayette frigates and in 1992 sold it 60 Mirage 2000 fighter jets. To prevent arms sales between the nations, China negotiated an agreement with France and in 1994 in a joint statement, France promised that there would be no future arms sales to Taiwan. From China’s point of view, the DCI-DESCO deal constitutes a breach of the agreement, but the French stance is that it is not selling Taiwan new weapons, but instead providing a