Sun, Mar 05, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Reporter’s Notebook: 228 Incident left interwoven factions in its wake

ONCE BITTEN:It is to be expected that the leftist unificationist faction views the KMT negatively, as the regime also killed hundreds of communist sympathizers

By Alison Hsiao

On Tuesday, as President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) commemorated the 228 Incident with a group of 228 victims and their families, a seminar in Taipei was taking place at about the same time attended by relatives of those who also suffered during the Incident and the subsequent White Terror era.

While both sets of people agree that the corrupt nature of the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime brought about the uprising that preceded the KMT’s violent suppression, they differ in how they identify themselves. The former consider themselves Taiwanese, while the latter see themselves as Zhonguoren (中國人, Chinese) and support the ideology and rule of the Chinese Communist Party.

The names of the two organizations behind the seminar are revealing. The Taiwan Area Political Victims Mutual Help Association and the Taiwan Region Association for the Settlement of Martial Law Era Political Incidents can be easily differentiated from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-friendly Formosan Political Prisoner Association. Their political views are clear: Their referral to Taiwan as the “Taiwan area” is an effort to show that Taiwan is politically part of the “Mainland area.” The term is also used in the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution.

The two associations, along with the China Tide Association, the Labor Party and the Cross-Strait Peace and Development Union, are known as the “unificationist leftist faction” (統左派). The inception of this movement can be traced back to the Japanese colonial era, when the Taiwanese Communist Party was a branch of the Japanese Communist Party and to the early post-1945 period, when the “underground party” affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party thrived — and was later crushed.

They describe the Incident and the White Terror era in the 1950s as “China’s lesion inflicted by a 100 years of imperialism” and ascribe the cross-strait division to the actions of US imperialists.

The leftist unificationist faction survived the long Martial Law era, when any left-leaning speeches or thinking were instantly quashed, and the period of democratization, when such ideas were still viewed with suspicion — both due to the residue of the past and antagonism against communist China.

They are therefore not to be conflated with the Concentric Patriotism Association (CPA), founded in 1993, and the China Unification Promotion Party (CUPP), launched in China in 2004 and registered in Taiwan in 2005 by former Bamboo Union leader Chang An-le (張安樂), also known as the White Wolf. While these two groups also champion unification with China, Chinese nationalism for them trumps all other causes as the foremost and only concern.

There is an alternative pro-unification faction on the other side of the political spectrum, the right-wing pro-unification faction, made up of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the New Party, a KMT spinoff formed in 1993 due to disagreements with then-KMT chairman Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).

Moderate KMT members might be less inclined to embrace the idea, but as KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) keeps saying, the objective of the KMT and the ROC it brought with it to Taiwan decades ago has always been to unify China under the banner of the ROC rather than the People’s Republic of China.

The relations between the three factions is curious, as they are not inherently potential allies as might be presumed, particularly the leftist and the right-wing factions, whose ideological agendas apparently contradict each other.

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