Sun, Nov 17, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan in Time: Spies, guerillas and the final counterattack

Anti-communist troops and agents increasingly infiltrated China in the early 1960s, while Chiang Kai-shek prepared a fullscale invasion through the Guoguang Project

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

The badge of the Anti-Communist National Salvation Army based at Matsu’s Dongyin Island.

Photo courtesy of the Dongyin Anti-Communist National Salvation Army Veterans Association

Nov. 18 to Nov. 24

Fan Chen (樊鎮), a “model revolutionary soldier deeply influenced by the Three Principles of the People” and a captain in the Anti-Communist Advance Army (反共挺進軍), successfully landed in China’s Zhejiang Province with 11 subordinates on June 27, 1963.

When ambushed by People’s Liberation Army troops en route to the “target area,” Fan stayed behind to hold off the enemy so his comrades could go on, “achieving his vow to give his life for the mission.”

Fan was one of 21 “anti-communist martyrs” (反共烈士) honored on the front page of the Central Daily News (中央日報) on Nov. 23, 1964, all losing their lives in similar situations after infiltrating different areas along the coast of Communist-ruled China between 1950 and 1963. They were either members of the Anti-Communist Advance Army, the Anti-Communist National Salvation Army (反共救國軍) or agents who were already behind enemy lines.

According to the report, these martyrs were tasked with supporting the “holy war against the communists” by “planting seeds and lighting fires” in China. “They have not only caused the illegitimate regime to panic, but have also garnered much international attention.”

“They have established bases across China and have linked up with local anti-communist forces, greatly expanding the anti-communist presence in China,” the report states, adding that there were countless more who gave their life for the cause.

INFILTRATING CHINA

Republic of China (ROC) military groups had been operating off the coast of China since the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) retreated to Taiwan in 1949, continuing to clash with the communists throughout the decades. They received significant US support, especially after the Korean War broke out in 1950. In 1960, the different brigades were reorganized into a singular Anti-Communist National Salvation Army based at Dongyin (東引), one of the Matsu Islands off the Chinese coast.

Profiles of the featured martyrs provide a glimpse of the anti-communist activities since the end of the Chinese Civil War. In 1949, Fujian native Pan Hao-hsing (潘皓興) fled to the hills and engaged in guerilla resistance against the People’s Liberation Army; he officially joined the KMT resistance in 1950 and served as one of its contact points within China. He died trying to rescue a comrade that December.

Han Wen-chu (韓問渠), the only female on the list, became a secret agent for the KMT in Jiangsu Province in 1953 to avenge her husband. She was captured, interrogated and killed.

By 1954, the KMT still ran the Zhejiang Provincial Government from Dachen Island (大陳), where a branch of the Anti-Communist National Salvation Army was stationed. Zhejiang native Wang Yi-tsai (王義才) had retreated to Taiwan with the KMT, but in 1954 he headed to Dachen with plans to infiltrate China. When the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) overran Dachen in February 1955, Wang pretended to be a KMT hostage and joined the PLA as a spy. He was executed when he blew his cover. Liang Chu-cheng (梁居正) had the most illustrious career on the list, completing five missions into enemy territory between 1953 and 1958. He was caught on the sixth and executed.

A 1965 Taiwan Review article details the activity of the army, noting that that before 1962, “the emphasis was on information gathering and the planning of underground organizations. Now, the information is being used and the plans are being carried out. Many groups of commandos have conducted probing attacks along the mainland coastline during the last two years.”

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