Taiwan Struggling for Independence : A Historical Perspective  *  (1997)


      In Taiwan, there is popular song called "Dancing Girl"舞女 that vividly depicts a girl who earns her living by dancing with her patrons and trying to please them in every way possible. But finally she ends up in being deserted by them all. It has been a favorite song to many as it invokes a pathetic image of Taiwan, which changed hands over the last some 400 years in much the same way like the dancing girl. Unlike the girl, however, Taiwan appears to be throwing away the fetters on her shoulders, with her steps inching towards freedom and independence.

     Geographically, Taiwan is an island located at the west rim of the Asia-Pacific basin. Like many small islands, she has been vulnerable to looting and invasion by pirates and colonists. This is what has happened to her over the last some 400 years, changing hands from the Dutch VOC (荷蘭東印度公司"Dutch Eastern Indian Company" in English) to the Tungnin Kingdom東寧王國 to the Ching Dynasty清朝 to the Japanese Empire and to the Chinese Nationalist regime since l624. Now she is drifting to a cross road, puzzling whether to lean towards China or to stand up like a tall tree, i.e., an independent Republic of Taiwan.

    Taiwan has been conjured up as an "orphan of Asia" 亞細亞孤兒in a novel with the same title by the famous Taiwanese novelist Wu Cho-liu吳濁流. Is this orphan growing up and has she learned her lessons from her past history? Or is she now intelligent enough to acquire her nationhood?

    This paper is a brief account of how fate has played Taiwan in its hands and how Taiwanese has reacted in her struggle against fate.

Prehistoric Taiwan (Since 6000 B.C.)

    Described by Taiwanese historian Lien Heng連橫 in his A General History of Taiwan (台灣通史1922) as a "beautiful island in a magnificent ocean" 美麗之島,婆娑之洋Taiwan, at the dawn of history, was more appropriately a Pacific island inhabited by several groups of peoples who have completely disappeared from the island, leaving behind them only remnants for archaeologists to pore and ponder. Beginning about 6,000 years ago, Taiwan became a homeland of the Austronesian-speaking people南島民族, including the aboriginal Taiwanese who settled or lived on Taiwan before the arrival of ethnic Chinese in the 17th century.

1.     Taiwan, a Pacific Island

  The Austronesian-speaking people today has a total population of about 250 million scattering over islands in the Pacific Ocean, including Taiwan, Island Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands and Madagascar. It is widely believed that their ancestors originally emigrated from Taiwan.

    According to Dr. Peter Bellwood, an Australian anthropologist, the first group of aboriginal Taiwanese arrived to settle in Taiwan in about 4000 B.C. and developed the proto-Austronesian language before their resettlement in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and other areas. Even the name "Taiwan" is thought to derive from an Austronesian word "Tyawan" denoting a small island or sandbar off the southwest coast of Taiwan proper and now connected to mainland Taiwan and becomes the present Anping District of Tainan City台南市安平區 in southwest Taiwan. Just as Mozambique 莫三比克was originally the name of a small island but has now become the name of the entire country, so has Taiwan become the name of the country well known to the world as a showcase of economic success, though officially the country is still called the "Republic of China."

2.     Taiwanese, an Ethnic Austronesian People

     In contrast to the first group of aboriginal Taiwanese who have settled or lived on Taiwan for at least 6,000 years, a majority Taiwanese of ethnic Chinese have emigrated to Taiwan for only 400 years. For the sake of convenience, anthropologists have traditionally divided aboriginal Taiwanese into two major groups: plain aborigines平埔族 who lived on the west plains of the island and mountain aborigines 高山族who mainly lived in the mountains. The plain aborigines have now become nearly extinct following their oppression by or intermarriage with Chinese settlers. Thus, most of the Taiwanese can be said to be the distant relatives of the Austronesian people in dispersal.

Taiwan As a Milking Cow of the Dutch VOC (1624-62)

1.   Ilha Formosa

    Taiwan was called "Ilha Formosa" 福爾摩沙, 美麗島by certain awe-stricken Portuguese sailors upon their catching sight of the magnificent Taiwan when their ship passed by the east coast of Taiwan in l544. However, it was the Dutch Verenigde OosIndische Compagnie (荷蘭東印度公司VOC), rather than Japanese or Chinese pirates who occasionally stormed Taiwan, which established the first government on Taiwan in l624 with the consent of the Chinese Ming Dynasty after their having been ousted from the Pescadores 澎湖off the west coast of Taiwan.

    2. Dutch Rule

     In 1624, Formosa thus became a colony of the Dutch VOC headquartered in Batavia (巴達維亞, 今雅加達Jakarta), Indonesia. The Dutch governors established an administrative center "Zeelandia"熱蘭遮城, 今安平古堡)on a small island called "Tyawan" and a military fortress "Provintia"普羅文遮, 今赤崁樓at Saccam赤崁just opposite the island.

     The Dutch rulers operated an effective government on Taiwan, spread Christianity and introduced some agricultural reforms to the island. They also persuaded elders of 28 aboriginal settlements in southern Taiwan to pledge their allegiance to the VOC in 1636 and to convene an annual Landdag (conference) from l641 until 1662 when they were ousted from Taiwan by Cheng Chen-kung 鄭成功of the Ming Dynasty. In 1644, they expelled the Spanish who had been in control of northern Taiwan since 1626.

2.     Revolts and Religious Persecution

     Commercial conflicts prompted a Japanese buccaneer Hamado Yahyoe濱田彌兵衛 to kidnap the Dutch Governor Nuyts in l628. Assessment of heavy taxes stirred up a Chinese colonizer Kuo Hwaiyi郭懷一 to head thousands of followers to attack Provintia in vain in 1652, the year when VOC's personnel landed at Capetown南非開普敦. In 1658, the Dutch banished 298 aboriginal witches to the wilderness, with 250 of them starving to death and 48 forced to covert for release.

3.   Taiwan As a "Good Milking Cow"

     But the Dutch's colonization of Formosa was mainly based on the pursuit of their own economic profits. Formosa was used by the Dutch VOC as a center for their international trade with China, Japan and other countries. As confided by a Dutch governor, Formosa was "a good milking cow for the Company (VOC)." For example, the Company earned 330,000 reels from Formosa in 1653 alone, thereby making Formosa the most profitable colony of the Dutch.


Taiwan As a Base for Recovering the Defunct Ming Dynasty (1662-83)

1.   Government in Exile

    The Manchu (Tartars), after having occupied Beijing, the capital of the Ming Dynasty in l644, formally established the Ching Dynasty (清朝1644-1912) and declared Beijing as their capital. Immediately, they moved their forces southward to exterminate other Chinese reactionary forces.

    A Chinese prince with a Japanese mother, Cheng Chen-kung, or "Koxinga"國姓爺 in Fukienese, escaped from the Fukien Province of China to take refuge in Taiwan and then set up a Ming regime in exile there, as Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek 蔣介石元帥of the Nationalist China did in l949.

2.     Tungnin Kingdom 東寧王國

        Cheng Chen-kung seized "Zeelandia" and forced the Dutch VOC to surrender and flee Taiwan in February l662. He changed the name "Zeelandia" into "Tungtu Mingkin"東都明京 or literally "the east capital of the Ming Dynasty," vowing to recover China from the Manchu's yoke, but prematurely died only one month later.


                              Cheng Ching鄭經, his son (r. 1662-81), changed the name "Tungtu Mingkin" into "Tungnin" 東寧or literally "oriental peace" in l664 after having withdrawn his defeated troops from the Province of Fukien. Upon completing the change, Cheng Ching wrote the Ching Court, declaring that he had "established a kingdom at Tungnin" 東寧建國and self-proclaimed as the "Lord of the Tungnin Kingdom." Doubtless to say, he implied to invite the Ching Court to recognize his kingdom, though to no avail. But ten years later he unwisely got involved in a rebellion in China and caused his Tungnin Kingdom to be doomed.

3.     Failed Recovery of the Defunct Ming Dynasty (1674-80)

      Three governors general of the former Ming Dynasty formed an alliance to revolt against the Ching Dynasty in 1674三藩之亂. At their request, Cheng Ching led his troops to attack the Ching Dynasty but ended in a fiasco and retreated to Taiwan in l680. He died next year.

     Cheng Keh-shuan鄭克塽, his 12-year-old son, succeeded him, but eventually surrendered to the invading troops of the Ching Dynasty headed by Shih Lang施琅 in l683. From then on, both Taiwan and China were all placed under the Manchu's rule.

Taiwan As a Protector of the Coastal Provinces of China (1683 - 1895)

     In 1683, the Ching forces led by Shih Lang, a rebellious general of Cheng Chen-kung, took over Taiwan and convinced the Ching Court to incorporate Taiwan into the territory of Manchus as Taiwan was considered as a "protector of the inner provinces" of China. Henceforth, Taiwan became a part of the Ching Dynasty for 212 years until l895 when it was ceded to Japan.

1.   Passive Administration

a) Taiwan As a Prefecture of Fukien Province (1683-1885)


       After having annexed Taiwan, Emperor Kang Hsi commented: Taiwan is a "trifling place. Taking it adds nothing and abandoning it is no loss," 台灣僅彈丸之地,得之無所加,不得無所損reflecting the passive attitude that has been the dominant public policy of the Ching Dynasty since its takeover of Taiwan.

      The main purpose of the Ching's rule of Taiwan in the ensuing 200 years was to prevent Taiwan from being a place of outlaws and pirates which have harassed the coastal provinces of China from time to time.

      Administratively, Taiwan was made a prefecture of the Province of Fukien. Under the passive "administration for defense only" principle of the Ching Court為防台而理台, a "government official and military rotational system班兵制度" was installed to bar Taiwanese from serving as high-ranking officials or enlisting in the army. Meanwhile, another system was also installed to ban additional Chinese from crossing the Taiwan Strait to settle on Taiwan. This so-called "ocean crossing ban" [海禁16831874]intended to minimize emigrants, though ineffective, was not officially abolished until l875.

b) Repetitive Uprisings


              As a result of the rampant corruption and heavy taxes, Taiwan was so

plagued by so many recurring social uprisings that historians and civilians alike characterized it as an island with "a minor uprising once every three years and a major one once every five years." 三年一小反, 五年一大亂During the period when Taiwan was placed under the jurisdiction of the Ching Dynasty, about 116 uprisings occurred in Taiwan. The most notorious ones were those led by Chu I-kuei (朱一貴1721-22), Lin Shuan-wen (林爽文1786-88) and Dai Chao-tsun (戴潮春1862-64). The "divide and rule" policy was consistently applied to quell those uprisings.

c) Opening to the Wider World  

      Although the Ching Court had tried to isolate Taiwan from China, she could not insulate it from foreign influences. After having lost in a war with the English and French forces in 1860, the Ching Court was compelled to open four harbors of Taiwan to foreign trade - Tamsui 淡水and Keelung 基隆in the north and Anping (Tainan) and Kaohsiung in the southwest.

        In l871, more than 60 Okinawans琉球人shipwrecked at Mudang(牡丹社) at the southern tip of Taiwan and were killed by local aborigines there. On that excuse, the Japanese Empire sent fleets to occupy Mudang in 1874 and forced the scared Ching Court to pay compensation and apologize before the Japanese forces withdrew from Taiwan. This "Mudang Incident"牡丹社事件 served to awaken the Ching Court to foreign ambition on Taiwan and prompted it to initiate limited modernization programs. It was also a prelude to Japan's annexation of Taiwan in l895.

2.   Aggressive Administration (1885 - 1895)

a) Taiwan As a Separate Province  

     During the Franco-Ching War (清法戰爭1884 - 1885) over the Vietnamese sovereignty, French forces, in their attempt to occupy Taiwan and to use it as their supply outpost, attacked Keelung thrice, the third time using African troops of Algerian prisoners, and occupying the Pescadores and blockading the entire Taiwan for some time.

    After the end of the war, Empress Dowager慈禧太后 of the Ching Court ordered the establishment of Taiwan as a province independent of Fukien, stressing her strategic importance as "a gateway to South China Sea"南洋之門戶 and "a protector of the seven coastal provinces" 七省藩籬of the Ching Dynasty.

b) Taiwan As the Most Developed Province of the Ching Dynasty


    Liu Ming-chuan, the first governor of Taiwan, actively carried out several infrastructure projects in his efforts to reinforce Taiwan during his four years of office, thus making Taiwan the most developed province of the Ching Dynasty. Nevertheless, Taiwan fell into the hands of the Japanese Empire in 1895 when the Ching forces were defeated in a war with the Japanese.

Short-Lived, Farcical Republic of Formosa (1895)

1.     Taiwan As a Scapegoat of Sino-Japanese War

 Although Taiwan was made a province of the Ching Dynasty in 1885, it was never treated by the dynasty as an inalienable territory of China as Beijing has time and again claimed in the recent years.

       The Ching Dynasty lost in a war with Japan in l894 over the issue of Korean sovereignty and signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki 馬關條約with Japan on April 14, l895, under which the Ching Court agreed to cede Taiwan and the Pescadores澎湖 to Japan. On May 20, l895, the Ching Court ordered Tang Ching-sung唐景崧, the then governor of Taiwan to retreat to China along with his associates.

2.   Phony Declaration of Independence

     On May 23, l895, Tan Ching-sung, instead of complying with the order of the Ching Court, however, under the pressure of his subjects, issued an English "Official Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Formosa," stating: "...We, the people of Formosa, are irrevocably resolved to die before we will serve the enemy." 台灣士民,義不臣倭,願為島國,永戴聖清

     At his inauguration as the President of the Republic on May 25, l895, Tang served a notice on the Ching Court, declaring that the Republic was "at the same time recognizing the suzerainty of the Emperor of the Ching Dynasty and standing in the relation of a tributary state to China,"但仍恭奉正朔,遙作屏藩,氣脈相通,無意中土 thereby unveiling his phony intention to declare independence.

     The Japanese forces landed on northern Taiwan on May 29, l895 and President Tang fled from Tamsui淡水 to China on June 4 by camouflaging himself as an old woman. The Japanese occupation authority inaugurated their sovereignty over Taiwan on June 17 and sent forces southward from Taipei to quell resistance, including those led by General Liu Yung-fu劉永福in Tainan City, who fled to China on October 20, l895.

3.   Belied Expectations

     Both President Tang and General Liu were Chinese government officials and thus were not serious in establishing the "Republic of Formosa" 台灣民主國as an independent state. Tang expected two French warships from Vietnam to help him, though the ships were unfortunately reassigned to quell a rebellion on Madagascar and never showed up, whereas General Liu was misled by the Ching Court into believing that Russian ships would come to his rescue. Both fled to China after their expectations had been belied. Hence, the short-lived Republic of Formosa can be said to represent nothing more than a doomed diplomatic maneuver to defend Taiwan from Japanese annexation.


Taiwan As a Base for Japanese Southward Adventure

(1895 - 1945)

     The Japanese colonization of Taiwan was divided into three periods, a coincidental reflection of the different styles of Taiwanese reactions to Japanese rule.

1.   Armed Uprising (1895 - 1919)

a) Continuing Resistance and Military Governors  

    Although the Republic of Formosa had been officially terminated in October 1895, Taiwanese guerrilla resistance elements were not exterminated until May l902 when Lin Shao-mao 林少貓was executed, though rebellions continued to erupt intermittently from 1907 through 1915, when Yu Ching-fan 余清芳was executed.

    During this period, military governors were sent to Taiwan with absolute executive, legislative and judicial powers conferred by the Japanese Diet through the "Law No. 63."六三法 This period witnessed more than 100 uprisings in Taiwan, with 5,884 persons convicted and 4,430 of them executed in addition to tens of thousands martyred anonymously.

b) Goto Shinpei and His Initiatives  

      Those military governors, however, laid a solid foundation for the subsequent effective Japanese colonization of Taiwan, thanks to the initiatives of Goto Shinpei後藤新平, director in charge of civil affairs (民政局長官1898 - 1906) at the Taiwan Governor's Office台灣總督府.

      On civil affairs, Goto phased in the so-called "Principle of Biology" 生物學原則gradual introduction of Japanese system and culture, beginning with an extensive "investigation of the old Taiwanese customs"舊慣調查.It was based on the results of those investigations that old Taiwanese laws and regulations were revised and new ones were enacted to pave a way for smooth Japanese colonization of Taiwan.

       On economic affairs, Goto implemented three major infrastructure projects: (i) scientific survey of flat lands for tax collection purposes, (ii) railroad construction to connect the west coast formerly separated by east-west rivers, (iii) modernization of Keelung and Kaohsiung harbors with railroad terminals.

2.   Non-Violent Resistance (1919 - 1936)

a) Japanese Extensionism and Civilian Governors

     Following the end of the World War I, there was a wide spread of

nationalism in the Third World. For example, the eruption of the Korean independence movement in 1919 forced Japan to adopt a new policy of "Japanese extensionism" 內地延長主義to extend her cultures to her colonies. Under such a new policy, civilian governors of Taiwan were appointed.

       Since l920, the Japanese Empire began to phase in a public policy of "Industrial Japan Proper and agricultural Taiwan"工業日本、農業台灣 to meet the needs of the growing population in Japan. In 1930, in line with her Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere大東亞共榮圈, the empire further introduced her industrial plan to satisfy the requirements of her military expansion to China and Southeast Asia, thus forcing Taiwan to play the role as a war base.

b)     First-Ever Taiwanese Civic Organizations  

     This period saw eruptions of non-violent resistance in Taiwan. The New People Association新民會, formed in 1919 to lobby the Japan Diet日本國會 for the repeal of the Law 63 and the establishment of an independent Taiwan Parliament, existed from 1920 to 1934. The Taiwanese Cultural Association 台灣文化協會was set up in l921 to send articulate intelligentsia to make itinerant speeches throughout the island to enlighten the Taiwanese.

 Subsequently, right-wingers of the association broke away and established the Taiwan Commoners Party台灣民眾黨 in l927, the first of its kind in Taiwan. Associations established in the ensuing years included other civic organizations, such as Taiwanese Federation of Farmers Unions台灣農民組合, Taiwanese Federation of Workers Unions台灣工友總聯盟, and even Taiwanese Communist Party台灣共產黨[which maintained Taiwan independence]. But those organizations were either mercilessly suppressed or banned by the Japanese colonial government. The last one that became dissolved in l937 was the Taiwanese Alliance for Local Autonomy台灣地方自治聯盟.

3.   Resumption of Military Rule (1936-45)

      The Taiwan Governor's Office was headed by militarists once again since l936 when the Sino-Japanese War gathered momentum. Under the Japan's "Super National Defense"高度國防政策 and "General Mobilization"總力戰體制 policies, Taiwan was placed in the wartime system of Japan during World War II.

      For the general mobilization purposes, the Japanese Empire, following its radical assimilation policy, forbade Taiwanese from maintaining their old customs and encouraging them to speak the Japanese language and to use Japanese-style names. In l941, a so-called "Tribute to Emperor Society"皇民奉公會 with island-wide branches was formed to enforce the assimilation policy.

      Taiwan became a source of soldiers, too. Volunteers were recruited and sent to the war effort since 1942 and a mandatory military service system was introduced in January l945, when 207,183 soldiers mobilized, 30,304 of which died in actions. World War II ended on August 15, l945 when the Japanese Emperor Hirohito 裕仁天皇announced unconditional surrender and abdicated Taiwan. Thereupon, Taiwan fell into the hands of another foreign regime, an unprecedented barbarian one in the history of Taiwan.


Taiwan As Possessed by the Republic of China

1.   "Pigs Come After Dogs Are Gone" (1945-49)

       A popular saying "Pigs come after dogs are gone"狗去豬來 vividly reflects how bitter Taiwanese felt about the transition of colonial rule from the Japanese to the Chinese. The "Japanese dogs," 日本狗albeit an epithet used by Taiwanese to refer to the cruel Japanese colonists, were duty-bound and carried to completion certain significant modernization programs, brought in law and order and took to their hearts the lives and prosperity of Taiwanese, while the "Chinese pigs"中國豬 were considered avaricious, corrupt and exploitative. Both "pigs" and "dogs" denote the ruling class, not the general public.

       Like Japan to U.S. Gen. MacArthur麥克阿瑟將軍, Taiwan was entrusted, not gifted, to China by the Allies in the wake of the second world war. But Commissioner Chen Yi陳儀, assigned by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek to rule Taiwan, unilaterally declared at the transition ceremony held on October 25, l945: "From today onward, Taiwan formally becomes a part of Chinese territory again." From then on, the Commissioner's Office succeeded to the Japanese Governor's Office as well as all the Japanese public and private properties on Taiwan. To the amazement and disappointment of Taiwanese, Chinese soldiers on Taiwan began to commit robbery, pilferage and rape, though they had welcome them with an open heart upon their arrival in the island. These Chinese spoke mandarin and different Chinese dialects which most of the Taiwanese did not understand.

       The "February 28 Massacre" 二二八屠殺in 1947 would not have been considered a regrettable development if and only if the Taiwanese had known in advance how corrupted the Chinese nationalists were. Angered by the brutal beating to death of an old woman suspected of having offered for sale smuggled cigarettes, the Taiwanese, after having sought pardon in vain and gunned by the armed forces on the order of the authorities in Taipei, first stormed the Chinese officials in protest. The protest turned into a riot that spread to other parts of the island. Commissioner Chen feigned to consult with the then Taiwanese opinion leaders, but stealthily seeking the help of Generalissimo Chiang to send armed forces from China. The forces arrived at Keelung and Kaohsiung on March 8, l947 and began to massacre Taiwanese, whether culpable or innocent. The number of death or casualties was incalculable, ranging from roughly 20,000 in official figure to approximately 100,000 in private figure out of the then 6.5 million population.

 The massacre terrorized and alienated the Taiwanese from the Chinese on Taiwan, thereby planting the seed of Taiwan independence ever since. Just as the Eritrean厄利垂亞 in northeast Africa who, after having been ruled by Italy and Britain, could not fit themselves into Ethiopians 衣索匹亞and then struggled for independence, so did the Taiwanese, after having been ruled by the far more advanced Japan, find themselves incompatible with the Chinese who fled Taiwan from the Chinese mainland. The subsequent "country cleansing campaign"清鄉and "white terror"白色恐怖 were even more terrible in that they operated to stifle all the dissidents in Taiwan.

2.   The "Chiang Dynasty" (1949-88)

 On October 1, l949, Mao Tse-tung毛澤東 declared the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in Beijing. On December 7 of the same year, the defeated Chinese nationalists fled to Taiwan, with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek holding himself out as the reinstated President of the exiled Republic of China from 1949 to 1975. Chiang Ching-kuo, his son, succeeded to the presidency in l978, thenceforth ushering in a dark age of the "Chiang Dynasty" 蔣朝in the history of Taiwan.

a)   “Temple Keepers Expelled by Beggars ”(1949-87)  

      On May 19, l949, Generalissimo Chiang proclaimed martial law on China. Although the Chinese Civil War had ended upon the establishment of the PRC in October of the same year and had been no longer relevant to the Taiwanese people, the exiled Nationalist Chinese regime continued to enforce the martial law in Taiwan on the excuse that it would counterattack mainland China. A popular metaphor has it that Taiwanese, like temple keepers, was expelled by the Chinese political refugees, the beggars乞丐趕廟公.

      The martial rule, which met its gravest challenge on September 28, l986 when the Democratic Progressive Party (民主進步黨DPP) was founded, was not lifted until July 15, l987. In its place, the National Security Law was enacted, which discourages "people from forming associations in violation of the Constitution and national policy of anti-communism, and maintaining the division of national territory," an implied prohibition of Taiwan independence.

b) A Parliament of "Old Thieves" (1949-92)  

       In l949, a rump Chinese parliament was reinstated in Taiwan as a rubber stamp for the "Chiang Dynasty," with several additional members elected by Taiwanese since l970. Those life-long parliamentarians were dubbed "old thieves" 老賊as they did not stand re-election, but forced to retire in l992.

c)      An "Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier" During the Cold War  

      On August 5, l949, the U.S. Government issued its White Paper on China, calling to tasks the Nationalist Chinese regime's corruption and incompetence and declaring that the U.S. Government would no longer intervene in the Chinese Civil War and would cease its aid to Chiang Kai-shek. But unexpectedly the Korean War broke out in l950, thereby prompting the U.S. to resume her military and economic aid to the Nationalist China on Taiwan, with an intent to use Taiwan as a military base to contain Communist China. On December 2, 1954, the exiled Nationalist Chinese Government signed with the U.S. Government the so-called "Mutual Defense Treaty Between the Republic of China and the United States of America."中美共同防禦協定

Accordingly, Taiwan became an "unsinkable aircraft carrier"不沉的航空母艦 from the U.S. perspective of strategic deployment during the period of the Cold War. Taiwan did not cease such status until l979 when the U.S. normalized its diplomatic relations with the PRC and terminated the treaty with the Nationalist China.

d)     A Pariah State  

      Taiwan under the rule of the fascist Nationalist China was considered a "pariah state"賤國 like Israel and South Africa when the latter was under the apartheid regime. In l971, Chiang Kai-shek's representatives were expelled out of the United Nations after the resolution No. 2758 was adopted at the U.N. General Assembly. Subsequently, Taiwan became more and more isolated in the international community which continues to this day.

e) Taiwan Independence Movements  

      Under the martial law of the exiled Nationalist Chinese regime, maintaining Taiwan independence runs the risk of being prosecuted for high treason until the recent years. Even today any civic organization would be considered "illegal" if it uses "Taiwan" as part of its name and thus would be non-registrable with the government registrar. In 1964, Dr. Peng Ming-min

彭明敏stealthily drafted the "Declaration of Self-Salvation of the Taiwanese People," 台灣人民自救宣言stressing the necessity of Taiwanese independence. In l982, the then non-Kuomingtang (or KMT, the ruling party) candidates unveiled their uniform electoral program黨外候選人共同政見 - "Taiwan's future should be determined by Taiwanese according to the principle of self-determination," which was later incorporated in the platform of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in l986 when it was set up.

      It is acknowledged that overseas Taiwanese enjoyed more freedom of political activities. In l956, a "Provisional Government of the Republic of Taiwan" was established in Tokyo, followed by other independence groups in Japan. In l970, World United Formosans for Independence 台獨聯盟, WUFIwas formed in Tokyo with presence in many major countries throughout the world, and then relocated to New York in l987 and then to Taiwan in 1992. The Formosan Association of Public Affairs台灣人公共事務協會, founded in the U.S. in l982, is continuing its relentless efforts to lobby for foreign affairs for Taiwan.

3.   Post-Chiang Period Since 1988

     In l988 when Chiang Ching-kuo passed away, Lee Teng-hui李登輝, the then Vice President, succeeded to the presidency. Being the first native Taiwanese to assume the highest public office, President Lee has since enjoyed popular support and effectively put to rest, albeit not exterminated, the old guards in his ruling party. He holds himself out as a Moses to lead Taiwanese to walk out of the current doldrums arising out of the "Chiang Dynasty." Instead, however, he seems to take more interest in consolidating his personal powers to maintain the status quo of the ancien regime doggishly. Specifically, he appears to be crawling within the graveyard of the "Chiang Dynasty."

  a) Party Politics  

       The DPP which received about an average of 35% of the popular votes in recent elections has been the largest opposition party mainly because it advocates, among other things, Taiwan independence, and has adopted two resolutions (Nos. 417 and 1007) in April l988 and in October 1990 respectively to promote the cause. The first resolution reiterates the principle of self-determination and denies China's claim over the sovereignty, while the latter represents that "Taiwan's sovereignty does not cover mainland China and Outer Mongolia." [Mr. Chen Sui-bian陳水扁, the candidate of DPP won the presidential election in the March of 2000.]

        In l992, the DPP invited representatives of public interest civic organizations in Taiwan to a convention at which the draft Constitution of Taiwan based on the presidential system was approved. But during the first-ever popular presidential election held on March 23, l996 under the military intimidation of the PRC, the DPP had an about face and changed their constitutional proposition and seeking the chances of forming a coalition government with the ruling party, thereby betraying their own presidential candidate. Worse still, they went a step further by declaring that "Taiwan is already independent," and dubbing some of their supporters as "Taiwan independence fundamentalists."台獨基本教義派 Some supporters later founded the Taiwan Independence Party 建國黨in October l996.

      Meanwhile, the old guards of the ruling party - KMT - broke away and founded the Chinese New Party upholding reunification with China or the PRC, though undoubtedly the so-called "reunification" is generally thought to be the equivalent of annexation of Taiwan by or Taiwan's surrendering to the PRC. With a majority members speaking mandarin, the Chinese New Party, though benefiting inproportionately from their control of the mass media in Taiwan, won only 13% support of the popular votes in the last parliamentarian election in 1992, a percentage conforming to that of the Chinese political refugees in the total population in Taiwan.

b) Taiwan Still a Chinese Colony  

 President Lee Teng-hui李登輝, albeit winning the popular support, is reluctant to renounce the existing impractical Chinese constitution based on the five-power governmental system. Instead, the constitution has been recently amended so much so that it becomes more and more unconstitutional. The political procedure appears democratic in form, but plutocratic in substance. Even today, Chinese political refugees are still appointed to head the education, defense and foreign affairs ministries, thus making Taiwan preserving its Chinese colonial system.

         Currently, the Taiwan government can be said to be a "Republic of

Confusion" as it is called "Republic of China" at one time and "Republic of China on Taiwan" at another, the latter name more preferable to President Lee Teng-hui due probably to the fact that it denotes the Republic of China is in fact a government in exile in Taiwan. Because of this, some people has been misled into believing that he may proceed to change the name into "Republic of Taiwan" someday in the future, just like the Republic of Zimbabwe which has gone through the transitional stage of  “Zimbabwe/Rhodesia”辛巴威/羅德西亞 from the colonial Rhodesia to full independence.

While whether he will do so remains to be seen, Taiwan is still being plagued diplomatically because he continues to stick to the suicidal foreign policy of "There is one China only and Taiwan is a part of China," constituting an invitation for China to take over Taiwan someday.


Conclusion: Taiwan for the Taiwanese

    In retrospect, the past some 400 years have witnessed a Taiwan that served different purposes of different foreign regimes: "a good milking cow" for the Dutch VOC, a military base for recovering the Ming Dynasty for the Tungnin Kingdom, a protector of the Chinese coastal provinces for the Ching Dynasty, a base for the farcical Republic of Formosa to preserve Taiwan for the Ching Dynasty, a military base again for the Southward Adventure of the Japanese Empire, a haven for the corrupted exiled Nationalist Chinese regime and an unsinkable aircraft carrier for the U.S. strategic deployment to contain the Communist China until 1979.

    The PRC has been repeating its territorial claim that Taiwan is a part of China. Now let us look at the history for the truth. Not long after Taiwan had been annexed into the Ching Dynasty, Emperor Yung Cheng雍正皇帝 claimed in 1722 that "Taiwan has never been a part of China since time immemorial."台灣地方自古不屬中國,我皇考聖略神威,編入版圖 In signing the Treaty of San Francisco 舊金山和約in l951, the defeated Japanese Government agreed to give up Taiwan, the Pescadores澎湖 and other related islands without having specified any country to which the sovereignty of Taiwan would be reverted. Under such circumstances, Taiwan naturally belongs to the Taiwanese. This opinion is fully supported in 1993 by Dr. Peng Ming-ming, the betrayed DPP presidential candidate, who pointed out that there is no international document indicating that Taiwan is a part of China.

  Furthermore, that a majority people on Taiwan are of ethnic Chinese does  not necessarily mean that the ancestors of those Taiwanese immigrated to Taiwan for the mere purpose of expanding the territory of China. Instead, what those ancestors had in mind was to seek a "brave new world"美麗新世界that offers better life and more opportunities, just like what the ancestors of the existing U.S., Australian and New Zealand citizens as well as the existing Afrikaners and Indians in South Africa had hundreds of years ago.

      Whether on a de jure法律 or de facto 事實basis, Taiwan meets all the requirements of an independent nation with independent sovereignty, definite territory, effective government and a certain amount of population other than a clear official name. It is universally acknowledged that only Beijing can represent China. Taiwan's calling herself as the "Republic of China" and claiming to represent the whole China is not shared by a majority of other nations in the world.

     Another question is the national policy of "there is one China only and Taiwan is a part of China," which echoes the stated policy of the PRC and thus provides the latter with an excuse to annex Taiwan. All in all, if Taiwan desires to become a truly independent nation, on both the de jure and de facto basis, it has no other choice but to rid itself of the ghostly mask, i.e., the official name of "Republic of China," renouncing her national policy of reunifying with China and denying that it is a part of China, lest Taiwan should be regarded as a "renegade province" 叛亂的一省of China. In fact, all the confusions and problems will be dissolved automatically as soon as the official name "Republic of Taiwan" is adopted.

      Lastly, the most significant, but not the least obstacle to Taiwan independence is the military threats from the PRC. Admittedly, the PRC may be a major power and has the ambition to invade Taiwan. But military powers cannot alone be the decisive factor. People's will to defend Taiwan is in fact all the more important. Cases in point are many, like France were expelled from Algeria, the U.S. and then China from Vietnam, the former U.S.S.R from Afghanistan, Russia from Cherchenia 車臣and the former European colonial powers from Africa and Asia. If China intends to improve her international political image, she had better mind its own business, keep its hands off Taiwan and respect the human rights of Tibetans and Ouigurs維吾爾人 in East Turkistan東突厥斯坦,新疆.  

Tsai Pai-chuan:
The author is a visiting scholar to the University of Natal, South Africa (l997). Before becoming a lecturer in African history, Tsai was once with the Central Office of the Democratic Progressive Party (DDP), the major opposition party in Taiwan