The idea of the motherland was destroyed by the 228 Incident. There was much anticipation, but the motherland disappeared in a maze of confusion as the 228 Incident destroyed the Taiwanese soul. It was not until the Kaohsiung Incident occurred in 1979 that people stood up again, but what they faced was not a straight road to reconstruction.
Perhaps some will say that what was destroyed was the idea of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) motherland.
After all, after World War II and the 228 Incident, there were Taiwanese who had high expectations of communist China, in the hope that leftist China would be different from rightist China. In the end, they were the same.
After the war, some Taiwanese sided with nationalist China while others sided with communist China. The same was true of the many Chinese who sided politically with either the KMT or the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). There are also other parties, but modern Chinese politics basically remains the brutal playground of the KMT and the CCP.
They called each other “Mao’s bandits” and “Chiang’s gang,” after late leaders Mao Zedong (毛澤東) and Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石).
The Chinese, of course, did not only kill Taiwanese, they also killed Chinese. In Taiwan, the KMT did not hesitate as it killed many Chinese for being “communist bandits.” In China, the CCP killed innumerable Chinese for being KMT spies.
There is a reason Taiwanese ideas of the motherland were destroyed. The KMT does not engage in self-reflection, and after the long Martial Law era, during which Taiwanese were forced to oppose communism, the party is now joining hands with the communists to suppress Taiwanese.
Thanks to the party’s view of China and an empty national interest discourse, it often complains that although Taiwan was colonized by Japan, Taiwanese do not hate the Japanese, and it forces through changes to school textbooks to promote its “brainwashing project.” All this only serves to aggravate Taiwanese aversion to China.
The new generation of Taiwanese did not experience the 228 Incident, the fetters of the White Terror era and other curses and nightmares — they breathe political reform movement, democratization and freedom.
They are different from the long suffering older generation and see beyond the war between the KMT and the CCP and political views that want to destroy and emulate each other — their vision is of a new world.
It was only after having looked toward the motherland, welcomed it and had their dream of the motherland destroyed that Taiwanese set out on the road toward rebuilding an independent and sovereign country, thus losing an opportunity.
KMT members must not label Taiwanese as Japan lovers every chance they get.
The reason that the scars of colonization became a badge of honor is that the colonial experience has developed into a force and a wake up call. The Chinese party-state discourse is imprinted in the minds of the Taiwanese: Motherland is its name, colonization its reality.
Lee Min-yung is a poet.
Translated by Perry Svensson