Shih Hsin University professor Wang Hsiao-po (王曉波), who also served as the convener of the Ministry of Education’s curriculum adjustment task force, yesterday said that the killing of 20,000 people by former president Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) Nationalist military in the 228 Massacre was “a small case” compared with the 400,000 killed during Chiang’s purges in China.
Wang made the remarks in response to a question from the audience at a forum hosted by the pro-unification Cross-Strait Peace Development Forum to commemorate the 67th anniversary of the 228 Massacre.
“Chiang started killing his opponents in China, not in Taiwan. The Chinese government estimated Chiang had put to death over 400,000 people during the ‘communist purges’ in China [during the 1920s],” Wang said.
“Families of Taiwan’s 228 victims said the total people killed by the KMT troops was around 20,000. So when you compare 400,000 to 20,000, what we have here is a small case,” he said.
Wang, born in China in 1943, said the 228 Incident was not a conflict between Taiwanese and Mainlanders, but of oppressed people rising up against oppressors.
“Why did the Nationalist military go on an arbitrary arrest and killing spree of Taiwanese? That was because you opposed the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] government,” he said. “When Mainlanders escaped to Taiwan in 1949, their leadership regime was the KMT government. At the time, whomever the government branded a communist had to be killed. So the 228 Incident resulted from the Chinese Civil War.”
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) condemned Wang’s remarks.
“He is trampling on people’s rights, and adding more hurt and insult to [228 Massacre] victims and their families,” she said. “How can such a person be qualified to head up the committee to adjust school curriculum guidelines, which has a wide and extensive influence on students’ right to education?”
“China has such a large population, where as Taiwan has a much smaller population. Does Wang Hsiao-po think that killing 20,000 people was not enough?” DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said.
“Wang has no concept of human rights, that is why he removed the words ‘White Terror era’ [in the adjusted high-school curriculum guidelines] and made remarks lacking in any human conscience,” Chen said.
Wang also urged an end to the Chinese Civil War and political infighting and to focus on peaceful unification of “China.”
“There are no heroes in a civil war. What is the big deal about Chinese people killing fellow Chinese? Real heroes should fight against foreign invaders,” he said.
“Therefore we should come together to build up China as a peaceful, free, equal rights, and neutral nation,” he said. “That is the unfinished business following the suffering of victims from the 228 and the White Terror period.”
The decisions of the ministry’s task force have led to controversy.
Critics have complained that Wang is not a historian and that the task force did not have one academic specializing in Taiwan history.
Wang yesterday vigorously defended the task force’s decisions.
"You tell those pan-green historians to come up with 100 questions, and let us see who is better at coming up with answers," he said.
He said history studies are divided into Taiwan’s history, Chinese history, world history and the history of civilizations.