On the morning of October 25th, 1945, in the Taipei City Hall, the Kuomintang Taiwan Garrison Commander-in-Chief – Chen Yi (陈仪) – received the Unconditional Surrender Notification from the former Japanese Governor of Taiwan Ando Toshiyoshi, and announced, “From today onwards, Taiwan and the Penghu Islands officially re-enter the Chinese territory!” The people of Taiwan who heard the news rejoiced and ran to tell each other that the people who had suffered from Japanese colonial rule for such a long time had finally returned to the warm embrace of the Chinese Motherland! At this time, however, they did not know that a new autocratic rule was waiting for them, and a longer separation from Mainland of China was quietly brewing!
In 1945, WWII ended with the victory of the Allied forces, and the Japanese imperialist aggression against China ceased. According to the requirements of the Potsdam Proclamation, the Japanese colonial regime (and occupying military forces) must withdraw from Taiwan and the Penghu Islands. Taiwan, which had been brutally enslaved and ruled by a foreign country for 50 years, could finally return to the Chinese Motherland! The Nanjing National Government immediately started preparations for the return of Taiwan to China!
On September 14th – Zhang Tingmeng (张廷孟) – Commander of the First Route Army of the Kuomintang Air Force, flew to Taipei, whilst the personnel at Taipei Songshan Airport replaced the Japanese flag with the Chinese flag! After 50 years, the Chinese flag was raised again on the island of Taiwan; On October 2nd, the Nationalist Government established the Taiwan Provincial Chief Executive’s Office and the Forward Command Post of the Garrison Command in Taipei, specifically responsible for the recovery and reconstruction of the Taiwan regime; On October 17th and October 22nd, the 75th Division of the 70th Army and the 12th Army of the Chinese Armed Forces landed on Taiwan in batches and began to perform military garrison tasks to secure the island. On October 25th, the Surrender Ceremony of the former Japanese Taiwan region in the Chinese theatre was held in Taipei. As the Chief Officer of the Surrender – Chen Yi – accepted the Unconditional Surrender of the Japanese Army occupying Taiwan, and officially recovered Taiwan’s jurisdiction and corresponding assets and facilities. After the Surrender Ceremony, Chen Yi solemnly announced via the radio: ‘All the lands and people included as part of the Taiwan and the Penghu Islands have been placed under the sovereignty of the National Government of the Republic of China… I would like to report to the Chinese compatriots (and the listening world) that Taiwan has now been officially recovered as Chinese territory.’ (Note 1)
The long-awaited return to the Motherland by the Taiwanese people has finally come true! During the transition period of regime management between Japan surrendering and the official take-over by the National Government – the people of Taiwan consciously retained social order, and there was no major disruption. Everyone looked forward to the arrival of the National Government with high hopes. When they learned that the Chinese Army was about to land in Taiwan, hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese people spontaneously greeted the Army at the landing port and along the side of the troop transport railway. From Keelung Port to Taipei Main Station, the welcoming crowd was endless!
October 10th was the declared National Day for the start of the National Reunification period! People from all over Taiwan took to the streets to express their joy of returning to the Motherland – setting off firecrackers and participating in lantern parades. The former Japanese Governor of Taiwan had a so-called ‘Special Agent’ whose job it was to oversee the indoctrination of ‘Chinese’ children as they passed through the Japanese-controlled High School System This man was named ‘Otoku Saburo’ and in his memoirs he recorded his thoughts and feelings regarding what he witnessed during the collapse of Japanese rule: “Japan’s 50-year-old culture has turned into yesterday’s dream overnight, and this is the case all over the island! Throughout every village, (even remote places like this one), the Taiwan people are united in singing happy songs about the joy of returning to the Chinese Motherland! This fully demonstrates the sincere joy that Taiwanese people feel and that they will no longer bow their heads to anyone.” (Note 2) On January 12th, 1946, the Nationalist Government of China issued an order: “From October 25th, the thirty-fourth year of the Republic of China (1945), all (Taiwanese) will be restored to the ‘Chinese’ nationality!” This is how the formerly occupied and brutalised ‘Chinese’ people of Taiwan were ‘legally’ returned to the warm embrace of the Chinese Motherland! Since then, October 25th has been designated as ‘Taiwan Restoration Day’.
A saying began to spread amongst the Taiwanese people – ‘We were rescued from the dogs and ended-up controlled by fat pigs!’ Due to the corruption of the Nationalist regime, all ethnic groups on the island of Taiwan began to complain! After Taiwan’s liberation, Chiang Kai-shek (蒋介石) placed high hopes on Taiwan’s development and directly appointed Chen Yi, (a fellow countryman and Nationalist crony), as Taiwan’s first Chief Executive! Chen Yi took charge of the Administrative and military affairs of Taiwan Province and granted it a greater political and economic autonomy than other province of China. Chiang Kai-shek’s original intention was to strengthen the ability of the Taiwan Administration to govern through a concentration of power, and to carry out an efficient reconstruction of the Taiwan region in the shortest time – but this idea backfired. This unified approach to power laid the groundwork for autocratic rule in Taiwan. Chen Yi distrusted the ethnic Taiwanese natives and discriminated against them – employing mostly foreigners in their place. It was difficult for locals to obtain any form of political representation or governmental employment opportunity. Therefore, the people’s normal democratic needs and demands were often not met. During the period of Japanese rule, many local Taiwanese elites led the people to wage an unremitting struggle against the Japanese Authorities in order to fight for the political rights of the aborigines. Now that the Japanese had been driven away, and the ‘Nationalist’ Kuomintang (KMT) was in power, the local ethnic people still possessed no political rights or status of their own – which generated a sense of discontent amongst a large section of the ethnic Taiwanese population!
In terms of economy, due to the bombing of the Japanese-ruled Taiwan region by the Allied forces during the latter part of the Pacific War (1941-1945), more than half of the island’s factories, docks, warehouses (and other important facilities) were damaged, whilst the quality of farmland and the conservation of water was also greatly (negatively) affected. However, due to the general lack of economic governance capabilities of the KMT Administrative Team in Taiwan (appointed by Chen Yi), the progress of economic recovery work was slow – resulting in industrial stagnation, lack of basic living materials, poor agricultural harvests, severe rice shortages in various places, and people’s living standards being generally far lower than during the times of the Japanese rule! Even in this situation, the Kuomintang government still gathered these depleted supplies produced in Taiwan and exported them to the Chinese Mainland in support of the Civil War between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party!
Under this severe economic crisis, Chen Yi did not take effective measures to save Taiwan’s economy but focused on strengthening economic and trade control by establishing a Monopoly and Trade Bureau. At the same time, prices rose year after year! In 1946, Taiwan’s prices rose by 500% compared with the past, and in 1947, they rose by 400% on this basis. (Note 3) In terms of social culture, Chen Yi (and the foreign officials under his leadership) ignored the historical reality that Taiwan had been ruled by Japan for 50 years, and blindly criticized some traces of Japanese culture left within the people on the island as a manifestation of the people’s ‘slavery’! Chen Yi did nothing to help the ordinary people of Taiwan who had been indoctrinated by Japanese fascism and racism for 50 years – and he treated Taiwan as a place to be plundered for the benefit of Chiang Kai-shek!
Political discrimination, economic incompetence, and cultural prejudice gradually cooled the enthusiasm of Taiwan’s aborigines, and public grievances continued to grow amongst the general population. At that time, there was a popular saying which ran ‘We were rescued from the dogs and ended-up controlled by fat pigs!’ – the harsh Japanese were compared to ‘dogs’, and the greedy and stupid KMT were compared to ‘pigs’! People used this saying to express their extreme disappointment and dissatisfaction with the KMT regime. (Note 4) When dissatisfaction accumulated to a certain level, it turned into anger! The Kuomintang – as Taiwan’s ruling Authorities -discriminated against the aborigines, which caused the ethnic split between the aborigines and the ethnic Chinese population. Anger began to spread across the island, as the power of the ordinary Taiwanese people began to manifest itself in a wave of democratic protest opposed to Kuomingtang totalitarian rule!
On the evening of February 27th, 1947, Lin Jiangmai (林江迈), a woman stall owner operating near the ‘Taipei Tianma Teahouse’, was standing in front of her cigarette stall, when she was suddenly surrounded by several smugglers from the Monopoly Bureau, who accused her of violating the law! Tobacco stalls were confiscated in the name of Monopoly Regulations – with the contents stolen and then sold by these criminals operating in the name of the KMT! Middle-aged and widowed, Lin Jiangmai – supported herself and her children buy selling cigarettes – and she pleaded with the KMT ruffians to be left alone! The violence of the anti-smuggling team aroused the anger of the onlookers! Many came to the aid of this woman and defended her against the injustice she was suffering! In the chaos, the anti-smuggling team member Fu Xuetong (傅学通) shot and killed a local young man named ‘Chen Wenxi’ (陈文溪)!
This further aroused the anger of the wider population! They burned Police cars and gathered in front of Police Stations, demanding that the murderer be punished immediately! The news spread quickly, and a large-scale demonstration broke out in Taipei the next morning. The angry crowd stormed the Monopoly Bureau, burned the Inventory and Cash Records, and surrounded the Chief Executive’s Office – demanding the abolition of the Monopoly Bureau and the punishing of its officials for murder, torture and theft! Seeing this, Sun Yi (孙仪) not only failed to take effective measures to quell the anger of the masses, but ordered Taipei to be placed under martial law! The military and police then fired directly into the demonstrators, killing three people and injuring three others on the spot! This brutal repression by the KMT Administrative Authorities did not frighten the protestors but strengthened the movement! The purpose of the activity changed from simply demanding the punishing of local officials – to demanding regional political reforms! The oppression of the KMT ignited a People’s Revolt!
The citizens of Taipei occupied the radio station and issued a call to the whole province through a broadcast – stating that the people of Taiwan should rise-up and fight against this ‘Nationalist’ tyranny for their rights as human beings! The protests of the people of Taipei were quickly responded to throughout the provinces. People everywhere went on strike, participated in sit-ins, and organised non-cooperation movements throughout the cities. In many places, armed units were spontaneously set up to attack the Kuomintang government Administration centres, Nationalist Party Offices, and other important facilities. Taichung citizens also established their own People’s Government and People’s Armed Forces – which were used to arrest and punish public officials of the Kuomintang who had oppressed local people!
From popular riots to Petition activities – and then to People’s Armed Uprisings – the people’s situation on the island had changed dramatically in just a few days, which forced Chen Yi to soften his attitude and to reconsider the people’s demands. He sent five government officials and representatives (selected through Taipei public opinion) to form the ‘February 28th Incident Handling Committee’ (referred to as the ‘Disposal Committee’) to jointly investigate the ‘tobacco and blood case’. It was also announced through the radio that martial law in Taipei City was lifted – and the arrested people released – whilst those who had participated in the protests would no longer be held accountable. Meanwhile, military and police shootings were prohibited. Chen Yi’s above-mentioned measures only applied with regard to the ‘February 28th Incident’ and were not intended as a response to the people’s general demands for political reform, so the conflicts in various places did not stop.
The ‘Disposal Committee’ proposed 32 ‘handling guidelines’ to the Taiwan Administration, covering political, economic, and military suggestions. Stop the oppression of people’s livelihood and the economic monopoly on the island and guarantee reasonable and legitimate democratic rights to the people. (Note 5) Chen Yi did not accept the request made by the ‘Disciplinary Committee’. In order to suppress the People’s Movement, he telegraphed Chiang Kai-shek to lie about ‘planned and organized rebellion’ on the island and demanded that troops be sent to suppress it. Chiang Kai-shek believed that the rebellion on the island was related to ‘incitement by the Communist Party’, and so he mobilized troops from the Mainland to support the island. The vanguard troops opened fire on the people at the Keelung Pier, and then joined forces with the garrison on the island to violently suppress the uprisings in various places. A large number of Taiwanese activists were arrested, wounded and killed – whilst the media that spoke-up for the people was violently suppressed! A vigorous anti-authoritarian, mass movement for democracy was thus brutally suppressed by the KMT! On March 15th, the Central Committee of the Kuomintang held the Third Plenary Session of its Sixth Central Committee, which focused on the situation in Taiwan. At this time, Chiang Kai-shek already understood the real reasons for the movement on the island. The meeting passed some decisions that catered to appeasing public opinion on the island. There was an adjustment of Taiwan’s Administrative jurisdiction and the rights of citizens – whilst Chen Yi was dismissed and investigated. The ‘February 28th Incident’ eventually caused Fu Xuetong to be sentenced to death! (Note 6)
‘Coveting the treasure island, I have a different idea, which involves retreating into a corner to plan counterattack!’ January 1949, with the end of the Tianjin Campaign, the outcome of the Civil War between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party was determined. Chiang Kai-shek had to make plans for his own retreat to Taiwan – which became his only option – but Chiang Kai-shek’s plan was opposed by the Americans.
As early as 1942, there was discussion in the United States about Taiwan being part of the neo-imperialist ‘Condominium Theory’. At that time, George Cole, a so-called ‘Taiwan expert’ with the US military, suggested establishing a US military base in Taiwan as an ‘international trusteeship’ – whilst using this development to seize Taiwan’s resources for post-war reconstruction. His idea was supported throughout many sections of the US government, with mainstream magazines such as Time and Life printing and distributing a pamphlet entitled ‘Pacific Relations’, which mentioned: ‘Islands in the South Pacific such Taiwan, Ryukyu and Ogasawara, etc. Forming a strategically important trans-Pacific defensive zone under international condominium…’ (Note 7) The then US President Roosevelt did not agree the above point of view – when considering the overall situation of coordinating the interests of all parties whilst jointly combating fascism. Instead, the leaders of the United States, Britain and China jointly signed the Cairo Declaration in 1943, which made it clear: ‘The territory that Japan has stolen from China, such as the four northeastern provinces, Taiwan, and the Penghu Islands, shall be returned to the Republic of China.’ (Note 8) A similar expression was contained in the Potsdam Proclamation issued in 1945.
After the end of World War II, the United States adopted a new understanding of Taiwan’s strategic value – with the idea of ‘co-management’ again materialised. America begun to fully intervene in Taiwanese internal affairs from military, economic and even political aspects. In terms of military affairs, Allied Commander-in-Chief MacArthur obtained the right to enter the main ports of Taiwan and establish naval and military bases through communication with Chiang Kai-shek. In terms of economy, in 1946, the United States obtained the right to set up enterprises in Taiwan, build hydropower facilities, and develop international ports. In 1948, through the signing of the ‘Agreement on Joint Development of Taiwan’, the United States obtained the right to mine and refine minerals in Taiwan. (Note 9)
The US political interference in Taiwan was mainly initiated after the ‘February 28th Incident’. The ‘February 28th Incident’ made some American politicians question the ability of the Kuomintang to govern democratically and took the opportunity to propose that Taiwan be handed over to the United States or the United Nations. At the same time, Chiang Kai-shek’s decision to retreat to Taiwan contradicted these conspiratorial attempts for Westerners to take direct control of a part of China! In January 1949, the US Ambassador to China (and the Head of the Military Advisory Group in China) raised objections to the then acting President of the Nationalist Government – Li Zongren [李宗仁 ] (Note 11) – regarding Chiang Kai-shek’s preparation to withdraw his troops to Taiwan (Note 11). Before the signing of the Peace Treaty with Japan, Taiwan had been an occupied territory as part of a besieged China, which meant that the Kuomintang did not have the right to retreat to Taiwan (and abandon Mainland China) without Allied Authorization. (Note 12) In response to the opposition of the United States, Chiang Kai-shek, on the one hand, stated that he did not agree with this interpretation regarding Taiwan, whilst on the other hand, he asked for US military support whilst continuing to make intensive preparations to withdraw from Mainland China. He arranged for Chiang Ching-kuo (蒋经国) to secretly transport the Central Bank’s $500 million worth of gold, US dollar bills and other assets, as well as nearly 250,000 national treasures from the Palace Museum in Beijing, to Taiwan, and then a large number of military supplies, a large number of Kuomintang military and political officials and their families arrived in Taiwan one after another. (Note 13)
As the situation during the Civil War between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party became clear, the United States realized that the Communist Party was about to take full control of the Chinese Mainland, and that Taiwan was also at stake. In this case, the United States gave up the idea of hosting Taiwan. In December 1949, the US State Department issued the ‘Policy and Propaganda Instructions on Taiwan’ to various US agencies abroad, designed to prepare public opinion for the imminent fall of Taiwan. (Note 14) However, Chiang Kai-shek, who was about to leave the Mainland, was not reconciled to this failure. He went to Taiwan supposedly to perform an ‘inspection’ during May 1949 – where he concocted a Taiwan defence plan and a future counterattack against the Mainland! The great dictator intended to ‘build a US-supported fortress upon Taiwan, and from this base invade, hold and control Fujian, Guangdong and Guangxi – whilst opening up Sichuan and Yunnan’! (Note 15) On December 10th, Chiang Kai-shek fled in a hurry from Chengdu to Taipei and never returned to Mainland China again – whilst his counteroffensive plan finally became nothing but a dream.
It has now been more than 70 years since the Kuomintang fled to Taiwan, and Taiwan itself has undergone great changes by becoming a colony of the US, but the shadow that hovered over the island of Taiwan through Japanese tyranny – still lingers on through US tyranny! The ethnic conflicts caused by the ‘February 28th Incident’ are still distorted and used by today’s (US-friendly) ‘Taiwan Independence’ forces! The US still wants to steal Taiwan for its own racist ends, and it also uses continuous (anti-intellectual) conspiracies to interfere with the desired reunification process that exists on both sides of the straits – trying to control China through Taiwan – whilst never truly understanding the Chinese people at all! Historical world events – unfolding more than 70 years ago – have proven that justice always triumphs and signals the end of evil! Today, contemporary conditions also prove that the pace of reunification of Taiwan with the Chinese Motherland cannot be stopped, and that the shortcomings of history will eventually be rectified (one way or another)!
Notes and References (Note 1) “Taiwan Question and Sino-US Relations” (Peking University Press) (Note 2) “Fifty Years of Japanese Colonial Domination of Taiwan” (Author: Chen Xiaochong) (Note 3) “Fifty Years of Japanese Colonial Domination of Taiwan” (Author: Chen Xiaochong) (Note 4) “The History of Cross-Strait Relations”, Volume II (Fujian People’s Publishing House) (Note 5) “Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Handbook” Volume 1 (edited by Chen Guoshao and others) (Note 6) “Taiwan Fifty Years Memorabilia” first volume (Xinhua News Agency reference news editorial department) (Note 7) “Research on the History of the Communist Party of China”, No. 2, 1996, “China’s Stern Struggle Against “Taiwan’s International Co-management Theory” in the Late Anti-Japanese War (Note 8) Selected Materials on the History of Modern International Relations (Peking University Press) (Note 9) “Taiwan Question and Sino-US Relations” (Peking University Press) (Note 10) “Forty Years of US-Taiwan Relations” (edited by Zi Zhongyun and He Di) (Note 11) The second volume of “Memoirs of Li Zongren” (Guangxi Political Consultative Conference Literature and History Information Committee) (Note 12) “Forty Years of US-Taiwan Relations” (edited by Zi Zhongyun and He Di) (Note 13) The second volume of “Memoirs of Li Zongren” (Guangxi Political Consultative Conference Literature and History Information Committee) (Note 14) “Selected Important Documents on U.S.-Taiwan Relations” (edited by Meizi) (Note 15) “One Hundred Years of Chinese Kuomintang” (Qinghai People’s Publishing House)
“On September 14, 1945, the Japanese flag was replaced by the Chinese flag at Taipei Songshan Airport. After 50 years, the Chinese flag was raised again on Taiwan Island.” On a certain day in a certain year, the five-star red flag will be raised on the island of Taiwan, the Chinese people all hope that this day will come soon! Fujian netizens December 18
3 “1945年9月14日，台北松山机场以中国国旗替换了日本国旗，时隔50年后，中国国旗再一次在台湾岛上升起。” 某年某月某日，五星红旗在台湾岛上升起，中国人民都希望这一天早日到来！