anniversary is window to Taiwan political purgatory under Republic of China
Michael Richardson, Taiwan Policy Examiner
a year, for a day, the exiled Republic of China acknowledges “serious
government abuses” on the February 28 anniversary of the 228 Massacre.
There will be a solemn ceremony with bouquets of flowers on the podium. Ma
Ying-jeou will vow that such crimes will never again happen. Elderly
survivors of the bloody rampage by Kuomintang troops of Chiang Kia-shek will be
recognized and given plaques or some souvenir for their suffering. And then, at
day’s end, the “political purgatory” as recognized by the District of Columbia
U.S. Court of Appeals will once again envelope the island in a “strategic
ambiguity” that obscures nationhood itself.
one knows quite what to do about 228 in Taiwan. The Republic of China
in-exile, imposed by the United States, realizes it cannot any longer ignore
the anniversary, as it did for decades under harsh martial law. Taiwanese
independence advocates debate the tactics of a peaceful uprising versus use of
the partial democracy now extended to the Taiwanese people by the ROC
caretakers. Advocates of statehood for the former Japanese territory recognize
the anniversary is a reminder of the United States’ failure to protect the
people from Chinese Nationalist abuses in 1947 and the many years of the White
White Terror period, the years of executions and long imprisonments for
so-called political crimes, was permitted by the United States despite
obligations to the people of the island, then called Formosa, under the laws of
war. The United States is the principal occupying power of Taiwan under the San
Francisco Peace Treaty that ended World War II with Japan. The Cold War with
the Soviet Union and Red China kept Taiwan locked in a unresolved international
status. Now there is a move afoot by Ma’s government to purge White Terror from
high school textbooks and call the bloody era “severe government abuses.”
along the way Formosa became Taiwan, and now Taiwan is becoming Chinese Taipei.
Or is it the Republic of China that is becoming Chinese Taipei? Taiwanese
athletes had to compete in the Olympics as Chinese Taipei and wave a white flag
to boot. It is all ambiguous, by intention of the United States foreign policy
week a congressional delegation led by Edward Royce, chairman of the House
Committee on Foreign Affairs, made a three-day trip to Taiwan and met
with ROC President Ma Ying-jeou and also opposition political
delegation included Steve Chabot who is on a foreign affairs
subcommittee on Asia and Pacific. Brad Sherman, who is on a subcommittee on
terrorism, nonproliferation and trade; and Joe Wilson and Madeleine Bordallo,
who are both on the House Armed Services Committee, also made the trip.
Chinese-language Apple Daily reported that during the meeting with Ma
Ying-jeou that two members of the delegation asked Ma about Chen
Shui-bian. Ma told the congressmen that Chen was doing just fine.
Shui-bian, Ma’s predecessor, has been imprisoned since shortly after leaving
office in 2008, long confined in a tiny punishment cell without any furniture
and constant lighting, Chen’s health and spirit broken.
at a reception with leaders of the Democratic Progressive Party, a member of
the Legislative Yuan, Mark Chen, told the congressmen they had been deceived
about Chen’s condition. Presently the former president is incontinent, tremors
uncontrollably, has significant memory loss, has severe sleep apnea, and is
suicidal, having made two attempts on his own life by hanging.
was convicted following a controversial no-jury trial. The judge was
switched contrary to ROC law, and Chen was subjected to numerous
middle-of-the-night court sessions to discourage trial observers. Chen was
subjected to courtroom heckling, was the subject of a parody skit by court
personnel at a legal conference, and was convicted on coerced perjured
testimony, according to the chief witness who recanted his testimony.
the one day window into Taiwan’s past and future approaches, Chen Shui-bian is
today’s White Terror victim. Chen’s continued suffering is turning him into a
living martyr and shows to anyone who cares to pay attention the dangers facing
the Taiwanese people caught in political purgatory.