The Search for Recognition

Intervention: Nanking, Tokyo, Washington, or the UN?

FAITH IN THE Central Government died hard. Formosans wanted to see their problem as a local one which could be corrected if the Generalissimo would take note of conditions on the island. They had entered 1946 continuing to declare loyalty to Chiang, and with faith in the future of "New China." By the end of the year they were seeking desperately to invoke some form of foreign inquiry or intervention. In this chapter we will review the change in attitudes toward the Generalissimo and China.

Here and there a voice publicly expressed belief that if Washington, through the American Ambassador, would draw Chiang's attention to Taipei he would at once decree a change for the better. Others who sought to avoid any suggestion that China's allies should become involved, noted that China's new constitution would sufficiently guarantee Formosan interests by providing for election of the governor. Some Formosans heatedly rejected the idea of an appeal to Washington or the United Nations, wanting no shadow of the old "foreign intervention."

In January, 1946, General Chen announced conscription of Formosan youths for service with Nationalist forces on the mainland. In the outcry which greeted this, local leaders declared that their sons were eager to train for the defense of their island home but raised the question of Formosa's legal status. Editors and orators took the position that it was technically "occupied enemy territory" and as such not subject to conscription by the "Occupying Power." Behind this, of course, lay a profound reluctance to commit any Formosan youth to the Nationalist Army organization for service on distant mainland frontiers. The Formosans had seen quite enough of undisciplined Nationalist troops, half-starved and ragged. They had no faith whatsoever in the future of the National Army. Many believed the move was designed to strip Formosa of able-bodied young men who could defend their homes vis-a-vis mainland Chinese if things went from bad to worse on the continent and on the island.

Voices proposing an appeal to the Supreme Commander at Tokyo grew louder, and then came suggestions that appeals should be addressed to the United Nations. Some suggested direct appeals to the United States.

Governor Chen saw that conscription was premature, and quickly dropped the subject. The Central Government was extremely sensitive to any mention of the sovereignty issue and deeply resented any suggestion of intervention however friendly the foreign power or powers might be. Every means was taken to quench the issue. The official line was firmly established for propaganda guidance: Japan's surrender automatically brought about the return of "stolen territory" to China. The Cairo Declaration had done the trick. Formosans were united in support of the Nationalist Government. Only communist malcontents criticised the administration.

But among the Formosans wishes fathered thoughts; in growing alarm they watched the disintegration of Chiang's mainland military, political and economic position and the failure of the Marshall Mission. More or less subconsciously they turned toward the United States, and by midyear the island was swept with rumors of an impending American intervention to prevent a Communist invasion. Word spread that Washington was about to establish trusteeship for a ten-year period, or for the duration of the Communist threat. Rumor said that Chiang was about to hand Formosa to the United States in payment for war debts, or surety against huge new grants of military aid.

Because it was widely believed that American Armed Forces were about to move in, alert businessmen approached the American Consulate for aid in securing commercial concessions near bases which they understood were to be taken over by the U. S. Army, Air Force, and Navy. At the same time the Consulate had many requests for information concerning prospects for direct Formosan-American trade which could be arranged to bypass Shanghai. It was rumored, too, that a new university would soon be established, under American auspices, to develop local intellectual and political leadership.

Our Consul thought the whole business distasteful, embarrassing, and rather silly; there was no substance to all this ("This is China now") - hence it could be dismissed. He did not seem to understand the strain this drift of affairs placed upon the United States Information Service. Our USIS program, after all, was the "other half" of the Consular organization, and it was required to pour out a flood of propaganda praising American aid to "democratic China."

The expectation of American aid was a deeply emotional phenomenon; the Formosans had expected so much, and as things now stood (in 1946) some act on the part of the United States -- as China's sponsor before the world -- was believed to be the only possible solution to local difficulties.

The Formosan Press Formulates the Issues

Obviously, if Formosa turned to the United States for help, it would be profitable to know the English language. Study of the Chinese "national language" (kuo yu so popular in 1945, was now put aside. English conversation classes flourished, radio programs offered English instruction, and a spate of new publications eagerly reprinted American stories and news commentary.

Many of these reprints -- perhaps a majority -- were provided, gratis, by the United States Information Service. American concepts of a brave new postwar world were projected eagerly by young Formosan editors. The slogans "Freedom of the Press" and "Freedom of Assembly" became prime topics for public debate.

In January and February, 1946, Dr. Lin Mou-sheng (a Columbia University man) published a series of articles in which he developed the theme that "If in Formosa the Three People's Principles [of Sun Yat-sen] cannot be carried out, then the future of the Republic of China will indeed be dark." His blunt comments were timed to reach the attention of an official deputation which the Central Government proposed to send to Formosa for an inspection tour. In time-honored fashion it was announced that these representatives would receive petitions addressed to them by "the People." The Formosans knew enough of Chinese history to know that this was traditional " window-dressing," something to look well in the historical record; they proposed more incisive action. Public discussion of current issues led quickly to political organization.

On February 2 a Formosan People's Association came into being, reorganized soon after as the Taiwan Political Reconstruction Association. On March 11, 1946, the newspaper Min Pao (edited by Lin Mou-sheng) published names of its officers and members, a representative cross-section of substantial landholders and professional men. Contrary to later Nationalist charges, this was not a secret, subversive organization but rather a revival, in new form, of the Home Rule Association which had struggled so long to represent Formosan interests under the Japanese administration.

Concurrently there began to appear "Citizens' Freedom Safe- guarding Committees" which were in effect vigilante units formed by men determined to defend local interests wherever they were threatened by mainland Chinese newcomers. The first Committee appeared at Taipei on March 5, 1946, only five months after the surrender. Others soon appeared throughout the island, letting it be known that they felt they could no longer look to the local police to maintain law and order.

The Government did all that it could to impede the growth of these popular bodies, and a running battle of words filled the press. In this the Min Pao took the lead in a series of editorials entitled "Safeguarding the People's Freedom" which bitterly commented upon the need to take such measures of selfdefense so soon after "liberation."

The Formosans were prepared to fight for freedom of expression, so long denied them under Japanese rule, and the mainland Chinese were equally determined to repress criticism. Before the war the Formosan journal Minpo had been suppressed, and five Japanese-language dailies were consolidated and published as the Taiwan Shimpo from 1942 until the Japanese surrender on October 25, 1945. Literate Formosans were starved for a means of expression, and among all the glittering promises rained down in American propaganda pamphlets and broadcast by American stations, none was more attractive than the assurance "freedom of the press" would be theirs.

The mainland Chinese at Taipei, on the other hand, were baffled; they had expected to have no more trouble in controlling the provincial Formosans than they normally experienced in outlying illiterate mainland provinces. Throughout 1946 they underestimated the significance of a well-developed islandwide communications system and of widespread literacy.

Within a few weeks after the surrender ten newspapers came into being. The old Taiwan Shimpo - with the best technical assets and largest organization - was taken over to serve as a Government mouthpiece, under the name Hsin Sheng Pao. Circulation soon dropped from 170,000 to less than 56,000 or one-third. The Opposition was led by Lim Hsien-tang's old Formosan newspaper, revived as the Min Pao or "People's Journal." Under the editorial guidance of Lin Mou-sheng it promptly began crusading on behalf of Formosan interests.

Aligned with the Min Pao was the Jen Min Tao Pao or "People's Herald" founded on January 1, 1946, by several Formosans who had returned after years in China, and who were somewhat left-of-center in political ideology. It failed, and on the point of bankruptcy the noted local lawyer, Wang Tien-teng, took it over, reorganized it, and soon made it popular through his spirited attacks upon corruption in Chen Yi's government.

Representatives of the wealthy Lim Clan undertook to publish Formosa's only evening paper - the Ta Ming Pao, or "Great Light," designed to appeal to local intellectuals. It was a progressive paper urging reform within the Government and an early development of liberal constitutional government throughout China.

All independent Formosan newspapers were subjected to government and Party interference. On March 7 the Government suspended publication of the only East Coast journal, at Hualien City, because the editor had dared to criticize a speech made by an official newly arrived from the mainland. For a time "Freedom of the Press" was a dominant theme, and on May 23 General Chen took note of it in conversations with representatives of the American Consulate. We were told that he wished to stress his desire to ensure full freedom of speech and press. Three days later, however, we learned that representatives of the Bureau of Mining and Industry had attempted to seize the building of the Ta Ming Pao and had severely manhandled Formosan pressmen attempting to hold them off.

One quotation will suggest Wang Tien-teng's approach to the problem of relations with the mainland. A Government editorial (in the Hsin Sheng Pao) had stressed Formosan obligation to compare local conditions favorably with contemporary conditions on the mainland, rather than unfavorably with high prewar standards which prevailed under Japanese rule. Wang's editorial rejoinder was often quoted thereafter. He said:

Does this mean that because China has corruption, Formosa must also have corruption? And because China has widespread famine, Formosa must also have famine? ... The problem is that the common people here have their own viewpoints, quite different from the Chinese view.

Of course, in the process of reconversion various difficulties are inevitable. Rome was not built in a day. These are facts. But we cannot rely upon corrupt officials to save the situation. Guarantees of success depend upon wise administration and an upright people. We favor the Sinification of Formosa, but this does not mean that Taiwan should also be corrupted and poor ...[1]

Is the U.S.A. Responsible?

There were many smaller newspapers and magazines, a number of which were published in English, or in English and Chinese. The Taiwan Youth Report (English edition of the Taiwan Chinglian) encouraged English-language studies and stressed the need for strong international ties to advance Formosa's development. The Liberty Weekly or Tzu Yu Pao of Taipei, was filled with hopeful plans for the future of Formosa as China's most progressive and well-developed province. The Formosan Magazine (subtitled "The Magazine for New Formosans") was the most elaborate of the "youth" publications.

The founders and editors of these journals were young men whose well-to-do families had sent them to Japanese universities. In 1946 they looked upon the United States as the leading modern nation and upon English as the indispensable "International language" through which they must keep abreast of world affairs and technical developments. But they held to the proposition that Formosans must be citizens of China, enjoying local self-government while contributing to China's growth as an independent constitutional state. American aid must be welcomed throughout China, for it was obviously essential to national political security and economic recovery. At the same time they looked to the United States to assume moral responsibility for the actions of Chiang's Nationalist Government in Formosa because of Washington's unlimited support for the Generalissimo.

After the bloody March crisis, 1947, Chen Yi's propagandists (Stanway Cheng and his men) charged that the Formosan Magazine, the Taiwan Youth Report and the Liberty Weekly were "Communist journals." Here is the record: Of thirty-seven items published in the first issue of the Formosan Magazine (September, 1946) no less than thirty-four concerned the United States. The leading article was a biography of President Truman, followed by one entitled "Japan's Fatal Mistake" (reprinted from the U. S. Infantry Journal), and an essay by E. R. Stettinius, Secretary of State, entitled "In the Cause of Peace." There were articles on the United States armed services, on the English language, American industrial know-how, and the names of the forty-eight states. A Saroyan short story and the reflections of a Gold Star mother were among the diverse offerings of this "Communist" journal.

The leading editorial in the first issue took for its background a commentary entitled "Formosan Scandal" which had appeared in the Washington Post on March 29. Responsibility for conditions within Formosa were laid at America's door.

With the unconditional surrender of Japan, the transition of the jurisdiction of Taiwan to her original Chinese owner had been carried out swiftly and smoothly. America, that supplied us with men and vessels, took an important part in the period of transfer. Chinese troops and officials were shipped over into this island by American ships to replace the Japanese. The repatriation of the Japanese from Taiwan, too, has been carried out by American vessels . . .

Noting Japan's tireless prewar efforts to estrange Formosans from China, to suppress news, to discourage the use of English, and to censor English and Chinese texts which the Formosans wanted to read, the editorial continued:

Our Generalissimo Chiang sent to Taiwan Governor Chen, although an upright man, we regret to say that some of his followers misbehaved themselves, thereby incurring much misunderstanding among the Taiwan brethren who believe their coming here is for the sake of finding riches rather than doing good work for the Province of Taiwan . . .

The editor notes China's failure to press toward rehabilitation of public services which had so distinguished Formosa from the mainland provinces.

Communications on land and sea are becoming more difficult. On land we find decayed old locomotives and had trucks running over bad railways and unrepaired roads; and at sea we have very few steamships plying among our ports . . . Two centuries ago our ancestors came by junks to this island, and we find our brethren are resorting to the same means to come over [today].

Now we wish America to help us immediately with vessels to import raw materials that we urgently require for our factories, and we hope that our provincial government would consult with American Authorities to help us solve this important problem ...

Taiwan is now under the Chinese flag, the islanders should adopt everything Chinese, and cast away the hypocritical ideas of the Japanese. Since the retrocession of Taiwan to China, many officials did not make a thorough study of the intention of patriotic and aspiring youths, under the plea that they are disqualified for lack of Chinese learning, and of knowledge of the National language. Learning does not mean knowing of the writing of Chinese characters and language; it means the understanding of things in general - as the knowing of Science, Philosophy, Politics, etc. ....

With the advancement of Science, the Pacific Ocean voyage separating the two big Powers - America and China - has been made much shorter . . . The people of the two continents are becoming intimate friends.

America does not hesitate to help China, for the Chinese are a peace-loving people, and to understand American civilization and how Americans of late have made tremendous improvements, the first thing for the Taiwan people to learn is English, and then American books in every branch of learning. If opportunity offered, go to America at once, and you shall conceive how our American friends are going on in their daily life, and adopt what is good for the improvement of the nation. It is shameful to everyone of us if we cannot keep step with our good friends; in case if we cannot keep pace, at least we must follow as closely as possible the improvements of our friends. [2]

This, in Nationalist eyes, was a "Communist line," or so it was represented to be by American-educated Chinese on Chen Yi's staff in 1947.

The third issue of the Formosan Magazine (November, 1946) was devoted principally to a discussion of international interests, including articles on the British Government and people, and upon UNRRA. A series entitled "The Great Dream" attempted to outline Formosa's potential as a proving ground for both technological development and democracy in China. Several articles were critical of the Nationalist Government. The situation in Formosa was compared to the breathless period preceding a great typhoon, and warned of coming chaos if conditions were not improved and mainland policies not reversed. One discussion of Formosa's fate ended with these words: "Struggle on, Formosans! Yield to nothing, but go on to our goal! But I wonder what will become of Taiwan???"

The American Consulate was fully aware of Formosan opinion; members of the UNRRA organization reported profound discontent in every island community, and the Formosans themselves tried again and again to bring their problems to the attention of foreign residents. On July 2, I dined with seven Formosans who had been well known to me before the war. They had returned to Formosa with firsthand knowledge of colonial systems as diverse as the British, Portuguese, French, Dutch and Japanese. Several had observed the Philippines preparing for independence before 1942, and the fate of the Filipinos who had remained loyal to the United States during the Japanese occupation. Now they discussed Formosa's peculiar fate as a "liberated" territory. All agreed that the island must be considered a province of China, but felt that a federated relationship would serve the island's interests to best advantage. They agreed that Formosa lacked strong leadership, political sophistication, and organization, and that few Formosans were of sufficient stature to command island-wide support and respect. But, said one, "If civil war breaks out in China proper, then a ten- or fifteen-year trusteeship under the United States is the only salvation. The people of Formosa trust the United States to give them freedom to return to China when the Chinese government has been reformed. Look at the Philippines."

On August 2 a petition was addressed to the American Consulate by an organization of Formosans who had been taken to the Philippines as wartime conscript labor, and there made prisoners of war by American forces. Having outlined their experiences, they concluded with these words:

We have returned to Taiwan with mixed feeling. We feel happy and we also feel sad, because we are compared to the slaves, and we find our former abodes occupied by others. We earnestly hope, therefore, that the U. S. Government will give us speedy relief in view of our lot ...

A more emotional appeal, made in a letter dated September 30, reflects the heightened sense of insecurity disturbing Formosa as we entered the autumn months of 1946:

Many silent prayers be given to those American soldiers who sacrificed themselves for the sake of world peace, and at the same time may we give thanks unceasingly to the United States of America.

To tell the truth, when I read [an American magazine article, published on June 10] which stressed that if the Formosans are permitted to choose their own sovereigning nation by vote, by all means they will first of all choose the United States of America and then Japan; we perfectly in sympathy with them. When we read this latter one, we felt that what was said was too much of a truth, and we could not but to thank them . . . We could imagine how much the United States of America is just like a God who will not only lead us but the whole world. The government we have now is a ruinous government which takes us as slaves and which will lead the whole race to hell.

At the time of retrieving [i.e., return to China] we clapped our hands to welcome the arms of Chiang, the Chairman, but at present we are somehow equivalent to be in a state where after a dog (Japanese) is being driven away, a swine came into its place here in Taiwan.

This suffering, this lamentation! For the release of our 6,700,000 people we must first of all lean upon America and next on Japan, which is of the same yellow race. This is our intention.

The Government shouts of "The Three Principles," "Equality" and for "A World for the Public" but is it not true that it takes an attitude of a squeezism in secret? Our desire is to make the present government retire, and to build a powerful, responsive government; for this we shall pray without ceasing. The usurping of goods which the UNRRA sent for relief and the distribution of them at the market price are certainly rotten.

I will introduce you our present government; its name shall be "The Great Chinese joint-Stock Company, Unlimited." Chiang Kai-shek is the Chief of the Trustees. T. V. Soong the Vice Chief of the Trustees, Chen Yi, the swine, is the Manager of the Branch Office.

Please communicate this to the God of Salvation, the American people, for their reference.

The Chiangs Visit Taipei

A few Formosans did think of the American people in terms of "divinity" - or at least omnipotence; the majority placed a less exalted valuation upon those indestructible symbols of "Chinese-American Friendship," the Generalissimo and Madame Chiang. This they made clear on October 25.

At Nanking General George C. Marshall patiently continued to seek some basis for a lasting truce which might save China from civil war, and the Nationalist Government from disaster. But Chiang refused to take the advice of American military advisors and was even then losing North China. Now he refused to make a serious effort to solve his problems through negotiation. He had persuaded himself that soon enough the United States would move in to defeat the Communists on his behalf, just as the United States and Great Britain had moved in to drive the Japanese from China.

General Marshall persuaded Communist leader Chou En-lai to agree to further negotiations at Nanking. Obviously Marshall needed Chiang there, too, for only the Generalissimo could speak with an authority binding upon the Nationalist Government.

Chiang would have none of it; it was announced that he must visit Formosa to celebrate the first anniversary of Japan's surrender there, and would then retire modestly to a quiet mountain resort to celebrate his own sixtieth birthday.

From a propaganda point of view, the visit was a blunder for the Nationalists. Commemoration Day (October 25) was chosen for the official triumphal entry into the island capital. A general holiday was declared, and hours before the event students, teachers, government employees and many others were marched into place along the principal boulevard leading into Taipei. The tedium of waiting was broken only once, when a truck and a jeep bearing UNRRA officers sped down the highroad. Enthusiastic acclaim swept the Formosan ranks, flags waved, a spontaneous shout went up, and on all sides one heard "Banzai! Banzai! Amerika-jin! Hi, Jo!"

Half an hour later the Chiangs passed along the same route. For the better part of the way they were met by silence, broken only here and there where embarrassed mainland teachers or government officers prompted their charges to make a show of greeting.

Throughout the ill-timed visit the National leader and his wife were received with notable coolness, and suffered thereby a painful loss of face. But everywhere they went the way was smoothed; roads were repaired and buildings refurnished, and only the "right" island people were brought forward to be received by the Chief of State.

In public addresses the Generalissimo noted the evidence of successful reconstruction which he professed to see on every side. To the American Consular staff Madame Chiang made her usual remarks about dear orphans designed to show her interest in little children and good social works, but added when we spoke of Formosa's wealth--that she would like to be Governor of Taiwan for ten years.

The Chiangs' visit perceptibly heightened Formosa's sense of disillusionment; the National Leader had found everything in Formosa to his satisfaction - so he said - and praised Chen Yi for the quality and progress of local administration.

It is just possible that the Generalissimo believed what he said, for even at the end of a year of rapacious administration the general conditions of livelihood upon uncrowded Formosa stood in sharply favorable contrast to conditions on the wartorn and exhausted mainland. But local Army and Party leaders were well aware of the swift decline of the Chiangs' prestige. Moderate Formosan leaders could no longer hold forth the assurance that conditions would improve "if the Generalissimo only knew the truth."

In an attempt to reach the Generalissimo's eye, on October 28 the Min Pao editorialized:

Taiwan has every possibility of becoming a model province of China. However, present conditions on the island prove to us the contrary ... We fully appreciate the good will of the Governor, but regret that many of his men are corrupt. The increasing number of unemployed indicates that the social crisis is approaching, followed by a political and economic crisis. Every day we see youths looking for jobs while all positions high and low are filled by strangers. News of robbery and theft is ever-present in the papers, and we even hear that some of the brothers from the mainland have organized looting parties.

The thoughts of the unemployed youths are deteriorating daily. Dissatisfied with the corruption of the officials and the extravagant rich, many of them become robbers and thieves. This year is coming to an end, and we must take steps to prevent the final crisis. [3]

On the previous day a number of prominent Formosans had announced the formation of a Constitution Promotion Association of Taiwan. They anticipated the promulgation of a new constitution for China on December 25, to become effective one year thereafter. As the year drew to a close the island press devoted many columns to discussions of constitutional problems and procedures, and conservative editors and public speakers referred often to the American federal structure, which recommended itself to advocates of maximum Formosan autonomy within the Chinese provincial system.

American Propaganda Feeds the Fires of Discontent

Less experienced younger men, however, were beginning to think in terms of direct action, and in this they were prompted by the inappropriate propaganda being distributed on the island by the United States Information Service.

The situation in Formosa at this time - and the tragic events that were about to take place - foreshadowed the rebellions of a later date in Poland and Hungary, where other distressed minorities took American promises of sympathetic support and America's "Liberation" propaganda at face value.

Propaganda directives emanating from paneled offices along the Potomac often bore little or no relevance to areas for which they were issued. The Formosans, for example, were in no position to enjoy the luxury of political self-expression which American propagandists piously assumed was every man's prerogative. Much against the better judgment of the local United States Information Service Director at Taipei, Washington required distribution throughout Formosa of propaganda preaching the "American Way of Life," and "American-style democracy."

As an example, in late 1946 the Consulate received from Washington thousands of copies of a well-illustrated pamphlet entitled The Story of the United States Government--How it Started . . . and How it Works. This purported to show the growth of American representative political institutions, beginning with migrations from England in search of freedom in new lands, the development of pre-Revolutionary New England town meetings, and the final development of the legislative and judicial systems under constitutional protection. Colonial protest against taxation without representation was illustrated, and so, too, was the ideal of the individual prepared to die for the cause of local self-government.

The pamphlet - like many others - took the form of a pictorial appeal to young people of middle and high school age, that age of political unsophistication when all things seem possible to achieve through direct action. Formosans reading it could see the parallel distinctly - their ancestors, too, had left mainland China for an open frontier, and they, too, had tried again and again to protest taxation without representation. (The taxation of tea was a very familiar issue.) For a quarter century their fathers and elder brothers had struggled under the Japanese to achieve local self-government through elective assemblies; now it was their turn to take up the self-sacrificing struggle.

A few quotations from this Washington production will indicate how extraordinarily inappropriate and irresponsible American propaganda was at this time in this place, already ripe for rebellion:

John is an American citizen . . . He learned how the people of early American colonies fought and won their independence and freedom to govern themselves . . . and that each of these colonies had a separate government.

He learned that under each of these colonial governments were many local governments ... and that many of these local governments were formed by vote of the people at a mass assembly.

John understood that self-government made it easy for public officials, reflecting the will of the people, to act according to the needs of the community . . . and that it was easy for the people of the community to see that the public officials performed their duties . . .

[The pamphlet then described the evolution of the Constitution, and continued]

Political parties were organized under the Constitutional guarantee of the people's right to assemble peaceably . . .

The party organizations help in many ways to stimulate interest in government, and to develop leadership. It is possible, however, for these organizations to fall under the control of unscrupulous politicians who then select candidates to serve selfish interests instead of the best interests of the people ...

And it is a result of these experiences that John's form of government has become precious to him - a government which permits freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, and freedom to choose those who govern. Today John and millions like him all over the world are fighting to keep these freedoms alive. [4]

This sort of thing was construed to mean that the United States Government and the American people were standing by ready to support a "fighting effort" to make democracy come true in Formosa.

The United States Information Service Director realized that propaganda headquarters in Washington was paying not the slightest heed to our consular reports. These had been grave enough in early 1946, but as the year drew to a close they carried warning that a sense of crisis filled the island. November brought many new reports of conflict between the Formosans and the mainland Chinese, and some of these incidents - in retrospect - were to take on special significance. Not least were reports of a series of verbal clashes between Nationalist Army officers charged with the military training program at the higher schools, and Formosan students, most of whom had received some training during the last years of the Japanese administration. Students at the University took delight in jeering from the ranks, calling out offers to show the incompetent Chinese newcomers how to conduct close-order drill "in the Japanese manner." The furious instructors retired from the field in confusion, shouting threats of revenge for an intolerable loss of face. The possibility of violence was present; the ill-considered propaganda was inflammatory, but the Consulate continued to distribute it.

The Second PPC Assembly Brings the Crisis Near

As we have noted, December 12 brought the second convocation of the Taiwan Peoples' Political Council. In an obvious attempt to reduce the effectiveness of meetings and to limit public debate, Chen's officers withheld permission to use the wide stage and large auditorium of the Civic Center. The sessions therefore opened in the narrow chambers of the Educational Association Building, far from the center of town. There was scarcely space for the participants, virtually no room for spectators, and the public-address system conspicuously failed to operate at critical moments when Formosan delegates rose to speak.

For ten days the Council Chambers rang with angry debate. The Government presented its formal reports, but it was evident that they were no more accurate or truthful than those made to the First Council session in May, and that the Governor had pointedly ignored most of the recommendations made in the spring.

Formosan leaders at last realized that the organization of the council system itself was mere window-dressing, mocking the democratic process which China's leaders professed to uphold. Many intemperate exchanges took place. Formosan demands that the mainland garrison troops be replaced by a Home Guard, recruited on Formosa and trained to repel any future threat of invasion, were singled out by Chen's officers as proof" that the Formosans harbored rebellious thoughts. Council members made it unmistakably clear that they had no faith in Chiang's ability to establish order on the mainland or to defend Formosan interests. Army spokesmen retorted that Formosan youths were "disloyal" and "subversive."

Council meetings broke up in an atmosphere of unbridled anger. Formosan councilors heaped abuse upon the Governor and his men, and left no rumor undiscussed. No solid support could be given to many of the charges, but so much was true and so widely observed that Formosans were prepared to believe the worst of any mainland Chinese. Since each stormy meeting was given full press coverage throughout the island, tensions were heightened everywhere. Wang Tien-teng, then President of the Tea Merchants Guild, told me in mid-December that be was being urged to organize demonstrations, but that he refused, hoping that as soon as the new constitution for China came into effect it would automatically modify the autocratic powers of the Governor-General and provide a peaceful road to reform. Liberals and conservatives alike would then have representatives at Nanking, lobbying for national recognition of Formosa's problems under Chen Yi. If the new constitution (to become effective in 1947) brought no relief, it might be necessary then for Formosans to take stronger action.

A wave of disillusionment engulfed Formosa at the year's end. The island-wide Assembly, so long anticipated, had failed to shield the people from an abusive government. Leading members of the Council were caught in a cross fire between an angry Government and an angry electorate. The public had expected too much of the Council, believing it to have greater power and authority than it actually possessed. The Government, on the other hand, had trifled with the electorate, underestimating the Formosans' profound determination to secure representative government, and the effective strength of widespread literacy. Chen was not dealing with yokels of an interior province but with an island people who had been exposed to the Western world long ago, and for fifty years had been governed by the most advanced nation in Asia.

The American position was awkward. Formosans were proud to think of themselves in association with the people of the United States through China's status as an ally. China's prestige in Formosa in 1945 derived from this association quite as much as from any emotional ties with a "mother country." The Allies - led by the United States - had delivered the island from colonial servitude -and now, at the end of 1946, Formosans looked to the American people to help them escape a new tyranny. They were baffled by the situation at the Consulate, from which poured out a flood of printed materials advocating the "1776 approach" to oppressive government. At the same time the Consul made it unmistakably clear that as an official body the Consulate was not interested in the Formosa problem. Its official relations were with Chen Yi and his Commissioners.

We realized how quickly a complaint by Chen Yi to the proper Higher Authorities at Nanking could cause our recall from Taipei. This could be done by a word at Nanking hinting American sympathy for "rebels" and "Communists." We were acutely conscious of the Department's decision that "This is China now," but in our eagerness to make this clear to Chen Yi's Commissioners, we sometimes rather overdid it both in social cordiality (Sino-American friendship was given many a toast) and in "sterilized" reports going forward to the Embassy and Washington.

We consistently underplayed the significance and gravity of events about us. Every statement was qualified or hedged about by bureaucratic phrases such as "Formosans claimed ..." or "It was alleged by Formosans ..." as if neither the Consular staff nor the Americans in the UNRRA group had eyes or ears with which to perceive the incidents and record the circumstances leading to crisis. The whole was to be treated as a petty misunderstanding within the Chinese national family.

In December the Consul flew off to Shanghai and Nanking for a brief holiday which also provided opportunity to discuss informally, the situation in Formosa. Perhaps things were not so bad as they might seem in formal reports. We had excellent working relations with Governor Chen's Commissioners, he thought, and the American posture in Taipei was "correct." But during his absence our "official friends" at Taipei staged an anti-American demonstration designed to show the world how much Formosans disliked the U.S.A.

The Government's "Hate Foreigners" Campaign

We were now in a most awkward three-sided confrontation. The Formosans were looking to the foreigners to help them rid the island of Chen Yi, the American Consulate was assuring the Nationalists of its firm support, and the Nationalists were doing all that they could to destroy Formosan trust in Washington's promises and leadership.

By midyear 1946 Chen's advisors and propaganda officers had become alarmed by the impact of United States propaganda in Formosa and by the popularity of the UNRRA team and program. The American military group had made a favorable impression on the Formosans, too, throwing the condition and behavior of the Nationalist military into high relief.

By contrast, the Commissioners were acutely conscious that Formosans held mainland Chinese in contempt, and equally sensitive to the fact - obvious to all - that the Nationalist Government was wholly dependent upon the United States for political and economic support if it were to stay in power. Here again was a matter of face.

Governor Chen's office began a campaign to undermine Formosan trust in the United States Government and people, and the United Nations. It was as obvious as it was vicious. Stanway Cheng knew that Formosans had grown indifferent to the study of mainland Mandarin or kuo yu and were intensively pursuing the study of English, reading anything in English that came to hand. He therefore launched a new English-language journal, the New Taiwan Monthly with a dual purpose. It could be used as a vehicle for anti-American propaganda within Formosa, and it could be used abroad as a counterfoil to the popular Formosan Youth Magazine and Liberty. Since the new journal could be printed and circulated at Government expense, it could smother the struggling Formosan papers.

The October, 1946, issue established the official line. The Governor was pictured as a man much too generous and indulgent, a father to his people; his critics were represented as either pro-Japanese Formosans, or Communists. The American people were represented as cruel, calculating, bigoted and avaricious, but very skilled at hiding all this behind a facade of good works.

On this first point, said the Editor:

Opinion on the Chinese administrative policy on Taiwan seems to be sharply divided into two camps of thought. One school tends to believe that a maximum amount of freedom and rights should be given the Taiwanese who should live under a local government pretty much autonomous if not independent, from the Chinese National Government. Taiwan should be Taiwanese is their slogan. Everywhere they complain and charge the present administration of exercising too much control over them both economically and politically. This group, led mainly by those local gentry and intelligensia [sic] who used to be friendly with their Japanese masters, believes in a closed door policy and insists that Taiwan can be best governed by themselves only.

The other school [the mainland Chinese] points out that complete democratization of Taiwan after fifty-one years of slavery and iron rule by Japan, can not be successful without first undergoing a period of de-Nipponization and Chinese nationalization. If an unprepared people such as this are given democracy at once it can do more harm than good, they point out. A wise administration should grant democracy bit by bit. This will help the people keep control of themselves. This group is equally critical of the present [Chen Yi] administration, for being too rapid in pushing democratic ideals and instruction to the local people . . . [5]

A long article entitled "Memoirs of a Japanese Professor in Taiwan," (a transparent fabrication) embodied a vicious attack upon the United States and the American armed forces. With heavy sarcasm it implied American contempt for all Asians ("Surely there is something in American psychology which is beyond our sluggish Oriental minds!"), and suggested that the failure to stage an Allied invasion of Formosa was to be attributed to American cowardice in the face of strong defenses. It alleged that American flyers took pains to bomb nonmilitary targets, but that it was American policy to spare industries which the United States could acquire after the surrender. Formosan suffering during the last months of the war was caused by careless, mischievous and callous American airmen. Chen Yi's difficulties in rehabilitating Formosa must be attributed to wanton American action, a love of destruction for its own sake.

While Stanway Cheng directed this outpouring of anti-American propaganda in print and on the radio programs emanating from Taipei, Chairman Huang Chao-chin of the Peoples' Political Councils took the lead in making newsworthy anti-American remarks in public. Having lived long in the United States he represented himself as an authority on the American political system. American-style democracy, said he, was most unsuitable in Formosa, which was being offered the opportunity to enjoy "true" or Nationalist democracy. The Formosans, he said, had no capacity to understand democracy as he had observed it in the United States, and he implied that, at best, American-style democracy was a sorry business.

The Governor's agents planted rumors and stories designed to disparage the United States and its Western Allies. The argument usually suggested that the Americans and the British were no better than the Axis partners had been, and that the only difference was this - Japan and Germany had been straightforward in their conquests, whereas the United States and Britain were devious, using UNRRA supplies and other relief measures to further imperialist ambitions in an underhand way.

The Formosans found most of these propaganda efforts absurd, but affairs took a more serious turn in December when the Governor's agents attempted to stage a "Formosan attack" upon the American Consulate.

For this they thought to exploit popular reaction to an incident at Tokyo of which grossly distorted reports were being spread about in Formosa. A number of Formosans living on the edges of the underworld in Tokyo were encouraged to exploit their new status as "Chinese citizens" in Occupied Japan. There was a clash with the police and a riot in the Shibuya ward, in Tokyo. The ringleaders were arrested, tried, and sentenced to deportation by General MacArthur's Headquarters. Stanway Cheng's office seized this "Incident" as evidence that the United States proposed to revive Japanese militarism, and that there was imminent danger Formosa might again be subjected to Japan's control. Formosans were encouraged to protest the verdict brought against their "brothers" in Japan.

At Taipei, on the morning of December 11, the Acting Secretary-General, Yen Chia-kan, sought an appointment with me, for I was then Officer-in-Charge at the Consulate. With an air of secrecy and deep concern, Yen reported that the Governor's agents had uncovered a Formosan plot to stage a great anti-American demonstration on the following day. The Taiwan Political Reconstruction Association (under "communist" leadership, according to Mr. Yen) was scheduled to hold a mass meeting at the nearby Civic Auditorium, after which the demonstrators would march upon the Consulate.

The Governor, said Mr. Yen, deeply regretted this state of affairs. An adequate force would be provided to ensure protection for the Consulate.

This offer of armed protection I declined, with thanks, assuring the Acting Secretary-General that most Americans on Formosa felt no apprehension of danger at Formosan hands. I did not add, however, that the "communist" leader of the forthcoming mass meeting was in fact well known to me, and had already forewarned the Consulate of a plan, hatched in Government offices, to make the proposed mass meeting appear to be a demonstration against Americans on Formosa.

Before bidding Mr. Yen good day I observed, offhand, that it was rather odd the Governor would permit a Communist rally to be held in the Civic Auditorium, which was Government property. That, said Mr. Yen, was simply a demonstration of the Governor's sincere desire to ensure freedom of speech and assembly.

On the next morning (December 12), truckloads of gendarmes and civil police appeared at the Consulate gates, set up machine guns covering the nearby streets, and formed a double line --a distinct channel-- reaching from the Consulate to the plaza upon which the Civic Auditorium stands. To the uninformed it looked indeed as if the American Consulate were in danger and had called in Chen Yi's men to provide protection.

Toward noon, however, the scene changed suddenly. Without a word to us the unwanted guards decamped; gendarmes and police hurried away in the direction of the Governor's office. As the mass meeting broke up, and the crowds poured forth upon the plaza, the leaders had ignored the channeling lines prepared for them and had turned instead toward the Governor's office to which they marched under banners protesting the Chinese Government's weakness in defending national interests and the interests of its new citizens (the Formosans) at Tokyo.

That afternoon the leading demonstrator, the "communist" Chairman of the Formosan Political Reconstruction Association, called upon me in person at the American Consulate to ask that a "Memorandum of Protest" be forwarded to the Supreme Commander at Tokyo. This document held that the Formosans who had been expelled from Japan had not been properly represented by the Chinese Nationalist mission there. This business accomplished he then thanked the Consulate and the American Government for all that was being done by America on Formosa's behalf in this difficult period of postwar adjustment. He was especially grateful for American guidance for Formosan youth. It was a remarkable speech for a "communist."

About this time a new mainland Chinese phenomenon - the professional student agitator - appeared on the island. It will be recalled that the "Go Home American!" campaign was then being vigorously promoted at Shanghai and in other cities throughout China proper and in these demonstrations the professional student-agitators took the lead. Now they entered Formosa. Drab, blue-gowned mainland Chinese girls began to make rabble-rousing speeches in the classrooms, on the campus, and in the public streets and parks. They were a new and unwelcomed phenomenon in local academic life. Formosan students were urged to join their mainland "brethren" in a drive to expel foreigners from China.

Formosans were unaccustomed to a noisy role for women in the classroom; the nationalist slogans had little appeal; island students were more interested in the Western world than in China proper, and were in fact beginning to believe that only an appeal to the Western powers would restore the academic standards they had known before 1945.

They found now, however, that if they refused to take up the anti-foreign cry, they were subjected to torrents of abuse and accusations that they were "slaves of imperialism," "running dogs of the Americans" and the like.

At the year's end these professional agitators found a fresh cause in the so-called "Christmas Rape Case" or "Peking Rape Incident" involving an American serviceman in North China. Stanway Cheng's office and Chen Yi's Department of Education were delighted to exploit the affair. A new "anti-American Demonstration" was arranged for January 9. Nationalist Party agents ordered teachers to march their classes against the American Consulate. Those who protested this unwarranted interruption of class schedules were berated, humiliated, and thoroughly intimidated by the professional student-agitators who had infiltrated the major schools.

On January 9, therefore, the streets were filled with marching youths carrying flags, banners, and stickers bearing anti-American slogans prepared in advance in great quantity. Several thousand people were led through the streets near the Consulate, passing its gates again and again in what might appear to be an endless procession. Small primary school children waved slogans they did not understand, and chanted whatever they were told to chant.

With a great show of embarrassment, members of Chen Yi's government conveyed to the receptive and understanding Consul their regret that the "backward" Formosans should show such signs of anti-American sentiment, but that evening - and for days thereafter - older Formosan students and their teachers privately sought out foreigners to apologize for the "anti-foreign" demonstration in which they had been compelled to participate.

The "anti-American demonstration" had been staged with careful timing. Stanway Cheng's office made sure that it was well reported in the foreign press, where it might be expected to provoke American anger, to create anti-Formosan prejudice at Washington, and to quench any flickering concern in what was about to follow at Taipei.

next chapter
contents of Formosa Betrayed


1. Jen Min Tao Pao (Taipei), June 13, 1946.

2. The Formosan Magazine (Taipei), Vol. 1, No. 1, September, 1946, pp. 2-3, 38-39.

3. Min Pao (Taipei), October 28, 1946.

4.[U. S. Govt., Office of War Information] The Story of the United States Government ... How it Started ... and How it Works ... (Washington, D. C., n.d.), 39 pp., illus.

5. Stanway N. W. Cheng, ed., The New Taiwan Monthly (Taipei), No. 1 (October, 1946), p. 2.