Sun, Jan 28, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Sinking of ferry in 1949 a tragedyfor `all Taiwanese'

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The sinking of the ferry Taiping (太平輪) on Jan 27, 1949, may not be as famous as that of the Titanic, but it holds profound significance as it showed that all different ethnic groups in Taiwan "are bound as families" in the pursuit of a common goal -- freedom, a panelist at a forum said yesterday.

Yang Chang-cheng (楊長鎮), director of the Democratic Progressive Party's Department of Ethnic Affairs, made the remarks yesterday at an event held to commemorate the 57th anniversary of the tragic incident.

In 1949, about 2 million soldiers and civilians fled to Taiwan from China as it became clear that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) armies were losing the civil war to Chinese Communist forces.

Many of them took ferries from Shanghai to Keelung.

On its journey to Keelung Harbor on the eve of the Lunar New Year in 1949, the Taiping collided with the Chienyuan (建元號), causing both ships to sink, leaving nearly 1,000 people dead, including the father of renowned forensic scientist Henry Lee (李昌鈺).

Yang said the tragedy high-lighted the fate and the mission shared by immigrants to the nation, as well as the Taiwanese people.

"We hope the story of the Taiping, like the stories of other immigrants to Taiwan, can be remembered, cherished and respected by all Taiwanese and become a shared memory among all ethnic communities," Yang said.

Showing a documentary about the incident and the life of the victims' families, Yang said the immigrants and local residents shared something in common -- they were all seeking freedom.

"When we grieve over the incident, the victim's freedom-pursuing spirits become the strength for us to continue seeking freedom and also become part of our history," Yang said.

"In this sense, they are also `Taiwanese' although they never made it to this shore," he added.

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