Sun, Mar 04, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan in Time: ‘Your fight is our fight’

Though the 228 Incident took place entirely in Taiwan, the Chinese Communist Party has, for the past 71 years, claimed the uprising as part of its “liberation struggle” against a perceived common enemy: the Chinese Nationalist Party

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter


After the rebellion was quelled, the 228 Incident became a taboo subject in Taiwan and was rarely talked about for several decades. The initial KMT narrative of the uprising being incited by Japanese or Communist agents or sympathizers (which was being espoused by the government even into the 1980s) has been shattered even though many details are still under dispute.

In China, the story remains mostly the same. Huang Chin-sheng (黃錦昇) writes in the study, The Interpretation Contexts of the 228 Incident between the Taiwan Strait, that the China-based Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League began commemorating the event in 1949.

“They claim that the patriotic and democratic movement against the KMT dictatorship as part of the Chinese liberation struggle,” Huang writes. “Their most prominent historical narrative is that the CCP supported the Taiwanese in their fight against the KMT.”

This has changed little over the years with An Fengshan (安峰山), spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, pretty much repeating those exact words last year before the 70th anniversary of the incident.

“The 228 Incident has not been as important to [the CCP’s] continued success; therefore, there has been little if any divergence from their initial interpretation of the event,” writes Craig Smith in the paper, Taiwan’s 228 Incident and the Politics of Placing Blame.

Embellishments were sometimes added. On the 28th anniversary of the incident in 1975, Beijing released a statement linking it to other pro-communist uprisings in China during the 1940s, adding that the Taiwanese were inspired by then-CCP leader Mao Zedong (毛澤東).

The story’s emphasis also shifted with the times. Huang writes that as relations between the KMT and CCP thawed in the mid-2000s, China placed less focus on bashing the KMT, instead praising the Taiwanese for their bravery and stressing that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait shared the same history.

Since the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) retook power in 2015, China has criticized those who frame the incident as a struggle against an outside regime, which would indicate that Taiwan and China were two entities.

“[The DPP has] distorted historical fact, instigated contradictions based on provincial origin, tearing at Taiwan’s ethnic groups and creating antagonism in society,” An said last year. “I think the motives behind this are really despicable.”

Taiwan in Time, a column about Taiwan’s history that is published every Sunday, spotlights important or interesting events around the nation that have anniversaries this week.

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