The 228 Incident: Sixty years on - Taiwanese take `228' to the US

GIVING HIS ALL: Misjudging the weather, 66-year-old Liu Chin-chen, `Taiwan's Forrest Gump,' ran 40km through heavy snow in Delaware wearing short pants

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Thu, Mar 01, 2007 - Page 3

A drive by Taiwanese-Americans to make other Americans aware of the 228 Incident and promote Taiwanese independence was set to come to Capitol Hill yesterday, as dozens of organizations made last minute preparations for a memorial service in a House office building.

The service, which was expected to attract a number of congressmen, and a press conference before it, were the culmination of a 240km walk/run from Philadelphia, the home of US independence, to Washington by 25 Taiwanese-Americans from all over the country.

Along the route, tired but enthusiastic marchers distributed copies of a manifesto they were planing to unveil in Washington. It called on US citizens to learn about the 228 Incident, urged US President George W. Bush and Congress to help safeguard Taiwan's democracy, called for Taiwanese membership of the UN and demanded that China "renounce its territorial claims over Taiwan."

Remember

In their proclamation, the marchers "implore the citizens of this great nation to learn the truth of the 228 massacre, so that those who perished 60 years ago shall not have died in vain and Americans can help prevent such history from repeating itself."

"We want the world to know that the Taiwanese want our own future," said marcher Nora Tsay (葉寶桂), a past president of the North American Taiwanese Women's Association. "Though we are all Taiwanese-Americans, we are deeply concerned about the future of Taiwan, and because of the 228 Incident, the massacre of Feb. 28, we want the world to know that this kind of tragedy could happen again, and that we do not want to see it happen."

After arriving at the University of Maryland on Monday evening, the group spent Tuesday visiting congressional offices and seeing congressmen and their aides.

Those they met were very supportive, said Michael Yeun (楊明昊), the president of the New Jersey chapter of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, the leader of the group.

"They seem to be able to understand the [228] situation," he said.

Joining the walk/run was Liu Chin-chen (劉金城), known as "The Forrest Gump of Taiwan," after the US book and movie. Liu gained fame by running barefoot around Taiwan in support of democracy.

Fellow marchers said that Liu, 66, ran a full 40km through heavy snow in Delaware. It was the first time Liu had been to the US and the first time he had seen snow, said Susan Chang (程韻如), a past president of the Taiwanese Association of America.

Underdressed

This time around, Liu wore shoes. But, not knowing much about US weather, he also wore shorts. He vowed to wear warmer clothing next time, Chang said.

Another marcher was Kathy Li, who holds the Taiwanese record for the 1,500m, which she set in 1975. She also won three gold medals at the 1975 Asian track championships in Korea, but was denied a shot at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal when the then Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government rejected China's demand that the name "Taiwan" not be used.

"This is my opportunity to wear the name `Taiwan' on my shirt and to represent Taiwan. Going forward, we should use the Taiwan name on everything. And we want Taiwan to be an independent country," Li told the Taipei Times.

A high point of the march came in Philadelphia when more than 300 Taiwanese-Americans gathered next to the Liberty Bell to proclaim Taiwan's cause through a rally and commemorative service.

The assemblage marched the first 5km symbolically and then dispersed, as the 24 core marchers continued on to Washington.