Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水) was one of the main leaders of Taiwan’s nationalist movement during Japanese colonial rule. The Democratic Progressive Party reveres him for his determined resistance against a foreign power, while the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) respects him for his stalwart nationalism.
Chiang was a medical doctor, as is Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who insists on naming the new party that he formally established on Monday the Taiwan People’s Party (台灣民眾黨) — the same name as the party Chiang founded in 1927.
This shows that Ko thinks of himself as Chiang’s successor.
The background to the founding of the Japanese-era Taiwan People’s Party was a split between right and left-wing factions of the Taiwan Cultural Association, which Chiang founded in 1921.
After the proletarian youth faction of Lien Wen-ching (連溫卿), Wang Min-chuan (王敏川) and others seized control of the Taiwan Cultural Association, some of the association’s original officials, including Lin Hsien-tang (林獻堂) and Chiang, were unhappy about the direction it was taking, so they started afresh by establishing the Taiwan People’s Party.
However, struggles between different political lines did not end there. In 1930, a faction around Tsai Pei-huo (蔡培火) broke away and established the Taiwan Local Autonomy League.
The next year, the Japanese governor-general’s office forcibly dissolved the Taiwan People’s Party because it had adopted a left-wing program.
In his book Taiwan’s 400-Year History (台灣人四百年史), Su Beng (史明) critically examines the national liberation movement led by Chiang and others, and identifies two obvious mistakes made by its leaders.
First, they confused the practical psychological orientation of Taiwan’s society and people, i.e. Taiwanese consciousness, with the abstract concepts about the “Chinese motherland” and “China’s Taiwan” that they imagined in their own heads, with the result that they unwittingly engaged in the Taiwanese national liberation movement based on the imaginary concept of a “Chinese motherland.”
To put it in today’s terms, they did not truly recognize the national differences between Taiwanese and Chinese.
On the contrary, they had a great deal to say about Taiwanese and Chinese all being ethnic Han.
Second, with regard to strategy, the Taiwanese revolution at that time was a “national revolution” against colonialism.
At that stage, the basic strategy should have been one of a “Taiwanese national united front” of various social classes working together in a struggle against a foreign occupying force.
However, the petty bourgeois intellectuals got stuck at the stage of street propaganda instead of going forward to unite property-owning and non-property-owning elements of the Taiwanese public to launch a united struggle.
As to the socialist faction, its strategy paid scant attention to the united front and national struggle.
Set against today’s backdrop, the same kind of mistake would be not recognizing the Chinese Communist Party as being the common enemy it is, but instead creating divisions within Taiwanese society over political lines.
These two lessons in Su’s book identify mistakes that were made even by the great Chiang.
Let us hope that Ko will not repeat the mistakes of his forebears.
Handsome Chow is a freelance editor.
Translated by Julian Clegg
Since COVID-19 broke out in Taiwan, there has been a fair amount of news regarding discrimination and “witch hunts” against medical personnel, people under self-quarantine and other targets, such as the students of a school where an infection was discovered. Quarantine breakers are almost certainly on the loose and it is only natural for people to be vigilant. One in Chiayi was found by accident at a traffic stop because his helmet was not fastened. However, those who follow the rules by quarantining themselves should be encouraged to keep up the good work in a difficult situation, instead of being
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace. He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public. People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan
As the nation welcomes home Taiwanese who had been stranded in China’s Hubei Province — arguably one of the most dangerous places on Earth since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in its capital, Wuhan, late last year — problems surrounding the “quasi-charter flights” that brought them back have been largely overlooked. The media used the term to describe the two flights dispatched by Taiwan’s state-run China Airlines because they do not count as charter flights. Taiwanese wanting to board those flights had to travel — most likely by train — more than 1,000km from Hubei to Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Burger King Taiwan on Wednesday last week posted an update on Facebook advertising a new “Wuhan pneumonia” (武漢肺炎) home delivery meal, catering to customers hankering for a Whopper, but who wished to avoid visiting one of its outlets. “Wuhan pneumonia” is the term commonly used in Taiwan to describe COVID-19. Beijing has been waging an extensive propaganda campaign against the use of the words “Wuhan” or “China” in reference to the novel coronavirus, calling it racist and discriminatory. Meanwhile, Chinese officials have claimed that the coronavirus might have originated in the US. The intention is obvious: to distract attention from the Chinese Communist