2015年4月30日 星期四

1950s Part 7: New minorities

Courtesy:Taipeimarc
The caption of this rare photo dated March 29 (1961) tells a powerful story: after 10 years of fighting the PLA, KMT stragglers relocated to Taiwan. It shows a queue of unarmed men in uniform with backpacks and canteens waiting at 王田 train station (now known as 成功 station gateway to the main military boot camp in Taiwan, 成功嶺) in Taichung. And indeed they were Nationalist stragglers, some had retreated to Burma-Laos-Thai borders and fought on as guerrillas since March 9, 1950. They were led at different times by KMT generals, 李彌, 李國輝, 朱心一, 段希文, and 柳元麟 with reinforcements dispatched from Taiwan, for example, 700 men in 1952, and at one point in 1953, even up to 18,500 men. Most were, however, withdrawn in 1953-54. And 1961 marked a coordinated attack by PLA and Burmese army; this was when the final withdrawal took place.

On March 24, 1961, 253 individuals, consisting of 77 guerrilla-fighters and the rest their family followers, were airlifted to Pintung and arrived in 成功嶺 on the next day (above). After 100 days of re-training, they were sent to Nantou to settle in 清境農場 (ChingJing Plantation), their final destination. This area is high in the mountains (elevation: 1,750m), about 8 km to the north of WuShe (霧社) famous for the 1930 Aboriginal rebellion against the colonial Japanese.

Their family members were composed of an astounding assortment of minority tribes found in the YunNan border areas, including 擺夷族(傣族), 裸黑(拉祐族), 栗栗族, 阿佧(哈尼族), 佧佤(佧族), 傜家(瑤族), 紅苗(苗族), and 蒲曼(布朗族), perhaps adding a bit more to the multi-culturalism in Taiwan as the new minorities.

Starting out from essentially a primitive living environment with no running water or electricity, the newly arrived have over the past 5 decades turned the Plantation into a tourist attraction, well-known for its European-like landscapes, not to mention the rich crops of pears, peaches, plums, kiwi fruits and other bounties, with wooly sheep everywhere.
European castle, one of the resorts in ChingJing Plantation
Not everyone joined the group in Taiwan in 1961. The remnants of the guerrilla army continued fighting on, now known commonly and unofficially as the 93rd Army, commanded by Gen 段希文. That is until 1964 when all causes were lost. Although, for survival, they had already become drug lords and/or enforcers in the famed Golden Triangle.

2015年4月25日 星期六

1950s Part 6: Stability

Taiwan menaced by Red China (illustration dated Mar 26, 1955)
It was an era of fight-to-the-death anti-communism, absolutely for real. Rhetorically, the slogan was "反共抗俄Repel the CCP and Resist the Soviet" supplemented with "Long live ROC", "Long Live CKS", and "Counter Attack Recover Mainland". Undeniably, however, it was also a time of prosperity. Taipeimarc has done a superb job organizing a series of photos showing a wide range of the 1950s economic development in Taiwan (here). Photo below is just an example: a 3,600-ton oil tanker, the SS Faith, that was being built in 1959 in Keelung:


Military and financial aids from the US were both timely and generous. And with increasing number of college graduates preparing/departing for overseas study for advanced degrees in the US, the influence of American pop culture, through music, novels and especially movies, was quite far reaching. All kids knew Hollywood movie stars by heart and learned indirectly the American way of life from the films. The gov't even banned the "West Side Story" to avoid gang-banging copycats (didn't work, BTW, movie plot, songs and sleek photos went around anyway).
 
Two movies both starring Rock Hudson, Giant (1956) and Something of Value (1957) were shown in Taipei. People queued up to buy admission tickets. Those in military uniforms were actually high school students. 

In the real world, there was little or no interaction between the Americans and the locals, however. Most US families stayed in the exclusive TianMu and YangMingShan suburbs enjoying a colonial life style, complete with servants, and kept to themselves. Some US servicemen frequented bars and night clubs on Chung Shan N Road that did not cater to the locals anyway. It was therefore surprising that on May 24, 1957, the US Embassy in Taipei was sacked by a "mob" (below). Almost no one expected anti-Americanism in Taiwan at that time. More likely, it was a protest against diplomatic immunity, which was confused with the unequal treaties forced upon the Qing by western powers. In many ways, the riot was a nationalism education in schools of all levels that had backfired. In fact, the youths were active participants, even children could be spotted in the crowd:
The riot
The incident was ignited by the acquittal of an American sergeant attached to the US Embassy, who had shot and killed 劉自然Liu Zi-ran, a citizen of Taiwan, claiming that Liu was a prowling peeping Tom. Even if the allegation was true, the use of deadly force was clearly unjustified. ROC security force nevertheless quickly took action and 3 rioters were shot dead, 111 arrested. Students who took part in the riot were later denied visa application, in effect barred from entering the US for life.

In the meantime, military preparedness continued unabated, just in case the Reds decided to attack, even high school girls were required to participate in drill sessions (below) and in target practice shooting with M1 rifles.


For the rest of the population, it was hustle and bustle:
The beginning of the motorbike age - the whole family on a Suzuki 50cc
Leg-powered traffic at the railroad crossing near North Gate in Taipei
The old Chung Hua Road where price haggling was an art (and a must)
The tranquility was occasionally disturbed by sporadic fighting in Kinmen and Matsu. The biggest event was the visit by Gen Dwight Eisenhower on June 18, 1960, the only US President that has ever endorsed Taiwan in such an open manner. He arrived in Songshan Airport greeted by CKS and the enthusiastic welcome of the people of Taiwan. We the students were among the cheering crowd lining both sides of the streets when the motorcade passed though.
This period lasted until Oct 25, 1971 when the UN passed a resolution ousting Taiwan. Earlier on July 15, Richard Nixon announced his planned visit to PRC, the first blow of the one-two punch. From this point on, Taiwan was on its own, struggled to maintain diplomatic relation with mostly third-world nations, and at the same time, to remain free from a forced takeover by the PRC. Even today.

Many who grew up in this 1950s era still recall a stable time for most ordinary citizens even though the stability was possible only because Taiwan was ruled under martial law. Not the least, though, the prosperity was brought about by dedicated workers and professionals of all walks in a time for survival.

2015年4月24日 星期五

1950s Part 5: Land reform

 Land reform, more like robbing Peter to pay Paul
Paul now owned a brick house with stone pillars and a water buffalo
and Peter, worthless stocks of unprofitable nationalized corporations
Source: http://taipics.com/mediapubs_development.php
In 1953, 耕者有其田條例 was enacted. Many, to this day, still believe that this was a governmental benevolent policy (德政). Indeed, 300,000 tenant-farmer families had reaped the benefits; even though it came at a hefty price to others that had been haplessly classified as landlords.
Taiwan land reform working manual, Feb 1953
The definition of Landlord in China had evolved with time:
(1) In 1928, a small landlord was one who owned around 3.07 hectares of land. By this standard, only 6.77% of Taiwan's peasant households in the early 1950s qualified.
(2) In 1933, the threshold was changed to 5.12 hectares. And 2.88% of Taiwan's landowners would have qualified.
(3) In 1941, the definition again changed to an ownership of 18.41 hectares, only 0.9% of Taiwan's farming households would have qualified.
In other words, unlike China, there were very few mega-landlords in Taiwan.

Land reform was a policy of the utmost import in China. Whoever won the hearts and minds of the peasants would rule China. The slogan 耕者有其田 (land solely for tillers) was actually shared by both CCP and KMT. This photo was taken in the "liberated areas" in China in 1947:
土地法大纲公布后,解放区农民行动起来,为实现“耕者有其田”而斗争
The CCP mode was a bloody one, with the "evil" mega-landlords totally eliminated in the 50s. When the KMT carried out the land reform in Taiwan, a landlord is now defined as anyone who rented out land regardless of the acreage. With this, 106,049 households with more than 2 million people were affected, and many became destitute from the loss of their major even the only income.

Was there such a need for land reform as that in Communist China? Political, sociological, and economical analyses and debates abound these days. The simple fact remains that there was not much of a difference in wealth between the land owners and the hired farmers by the 1950s. Starting in the 1920s, through education, many owners had become white collar workers and moved away. And for a multitude of reasons, there were also households with no menfolks to work the fields. These owners leased out often their inherited family plots to those farming neighbors. Changes in the employment structure in 1946 and the monetary system in 1949 had ensured financial ruin of Taiwanese "landlords". Worse, under the robbing Peter to pay Paul land grab, Peter was compensated with stocks worth 1/10 of their face values, issued by nationalized corporations that never turned a profit. At least only livelihood, not lives, was lost.

This land reform was in fact the biggest property transfer in modern Taiwan history. Also neglected was what would happen to the land if the tenant-farmer-turned-land-owners decided to get out of farming. In the past 60 years, they had been selling off the land for industrial or residential development, first a trickle, increasingly, to a torrent in recent years, and a crop of nouveau riche is born.

[For more, see Taipei Times 2/1/2007]

2015年4月22日 星期三

1950s Part 4: Preparation for war

With mainland China lost to Red China, the last bastion of the Nationalists, Taiwan, must be mobilized post-haste. To reinforce the 600,000 KMT soldiers withdrawn from various theaters in (and outside of) China, mandatory military service was instituted on Dec 28, 1949, and Taiwanese youth were once again drafted.

On June 25, 1950, the Korean War broke out. And an invasion of Taiwan by the Red Army appeared imminent, presumably first through air raids in March, 1951, followed by ground assaults in May. This was no idle speculation. In Tamsui, in some nights before and during this period, air-raid sirens were sounded with search lights scanning the sky. And each time, the residents would hastily head to bomb shelters, just like in those days in 1944-45. Luckily, nothing untoward happened.

Under this threat, war preparation in Taiwan rapidly escalated, all coordinated through US MAAG (Military Assistance and Advisory Group) that was headed by Maj Gen William C Chase. [On the civilian side, the USAID (Agency for International Development) had done a great job in promoting healthcare, reviving agriculture and introducing new industries.]


To raise the morale of the populace and mostly to send warning signals to the PRC, a show of force in the form of annual military parade on the Double 10th Day started in earnest in 1949 which was reviewed by Gen Chen-chen in the absence of CKS. The latter resumed leadership and assumed the grand reviewing commander-in-chief role in 1951. Each year, CKS would address the nation in heavily accented Mandarin through radio broadcast and the speech always started out with "全國軍民同胞們... (Soldiers and compatriots of the whole nation...)" For the rest of the day, organized rally of hundreds of civil and student groups led by almost the same number of marching bands would wind through the streets of Taipei, followed by fireworks at night. It was quite festive indeed. We were all sure that people of the PRC, especially the PLA, were suitably impressed.

Double 10th Parade and display of brand new 75mm howitzers, 1952
In 1960, besides regular goose-stepping soldiers, 女青年工作大隊Young Women's Working Brigade [or DoD Political Women Warriors] also took part:
Marching soldiers, here, sailors with M1 rifles and bayonets
DoD 女青年工作大隊 in Mulan steps befitting of ladies
A bird's eye view of the Double 10th Parade, 1961
There was an unfortunate incident in the 1964 parade. One of fighter-jets in a low-flying formation, while passing in front of the grand review stand, had hit the transmitting tower of 中國廣播公司China Broadcasting Co (below) nearby and lost an auxiliary fuel tank. The wayward tank struck and killed 2 people and a baby near the front gate of the Taiwan Weather Bureau. Two F-104s dispatched to escort the damaged fighter-jet bumped into each other in the air and crashed near 土城TuChen. Both pilots were killed. This tragedy had effectively halted the annual parade tradition, not to re-activate until 1975.
The tall antenna on the far left was hit and bent at the top by a low-flying fighter-jet.
An auxiliary fuel tank ruptured and detached. Rumor has it that CKS was seen wiping jet fuel off his face.

[Source of photos: Taipics.com]

2015年4月20日 星期一

1950s Part 3: Unknown battles

Major General 李學正 (1902-?)
In the early years after the founding of the PRC on Oct 1, 1949, at least 244 KMT generals were executed. Most had previously defected or surrendered to the PLA, or had already retired from KMT military services. Very little known, however, is that a few were captured in battles against the PLA inside mainland China that had continued into 1950. One of them was Major General 李學正Lee Shue-Cheng.

Lee was captured twice by the PLA, the second and final time on Mar 30, 1951 in 檬垻 while disguised as a private tutor, having escaped from the first on Jan 10, 1950 in 通江雲霧山 while being held as a POW after a fierce battle. This was particularly tragic as Lee and his wife and 4 children had already retreated safely to Taiwan in July, 1949, from fighting against the PLA in northern China as a division commander. He was ordered by CKS to return to mainland China to continue fighting the communists. Prompted by loyalty to the Republic and a strong sense of duty, he left his family behind in Taiwan and flew with Gen Hu Zhong-Nan 胡宗南 from Chungking to Shangxi陝西 on Aug 21, 1949, and in Nov, 1949, appointed by Hu to organize 4 Armies: the New 4th, New 5th, New 8th and the 127th. Lee later became the commander of the New 4th Army.

With the New 4th, New 5th and New 8th Armies of 10,000 men, commanded by General Wang Ling-Yun王凌雲, a tri-provincial periphery advancing army group named 川陝豫邊區挺進軍 was formed. The group reached 通江TongJiang in Szechuan on Nov 11, 1949. In operation in TongJiang at the same time were also the irregulars: “反共救國軍第十五縱隊第八師" led by 鮮熾賢 with 2,000 men, and “紅羅黨” (600 men), plus “中華保民救國軍第六挺進軍”, and “巴山游擊活動隊” (Note: These were eventually eliminated after the demise of the army group.)

On Dec 26, 1949, the PLA entered TongJiang and after 3 days of intense fighting, defeated the New 5th Army on Jan 2, 1950, accepting the surrender of 1,500 men. In a separate battle, the PLA also neutralized part of the New 4th Army capturing 200 with 70 family followers, and overtook another KMT stronghold soon after. The bulk of the KMT forces was essentially exterminated in the first week of Jan.

Facing overwhelming PLA forces, on Jan 7, 1950, Gen Wang convened an emergency meeting and decided that his deputy Maj Gen Lee was to set up defense posts at 雲霧山 with Wang himself holding 青峪口 and 涪陽壩. Lee led 3,000 men and took up positions on Jan 9. Unfortunately, General Wang was captured by the PLA on the same day, allegedly turned in by a local family that he was visiting. On the next day, Maj Gen Lee was also captured having lost the final battle to PLA.

To this day, the Lee family still has no idea as to what had transpired following Lee's capture. An unconfirmed report has it that on June 28, 1953, an announcement was posted outside the west gate of 河南靈寶 asking for Lee's family to come forward and arrange for his funeral.

On Nov 30, 1989, the ROC declared the death of Maj Gen Lee as being equivalent to combat-related without offering any explanation, and the official date of his death set as Oct 22, 1983 as well. Inexplicably, Lee was yet to be inducted into the Martyrs' Shrine as the declaration would have called for.

[Main source: a post by Dr Li Tai, Maj Gen Lee's son, here]

2015年4月18日 星期六

1950s Part 2: Evacuation

Folks from DaChen 大陳 now regard YongHe 永和 their second homeland. Where is the original homeland? Well, it goes back 60 years.
Map from early 1950s showing Tachen, Matsu, and Quemoy islands
By 1949, CCP forces had succeeded in driving KMT and its loyalists out of the mainland including Hainan Island. And in May, 1950, in 3 days, both the military (120,000 men) and the civilians (numbering 20,000) from 舟山ChouShan Islands retreated to Taiwan. Only a few tiny offshore islands remained under the Nationalist control, namely Tachen (DaChen, 大陳), Matsu (馬祖), and Quemoy (Kinmoy, Kinmen, 金門). Technically, the ROC then still retained Hokkien, ZheJiang, and Taiwan provinces, and with it, the all-important sea and air control of the Taiwan Strait. The CCP therefore must take these heavily defended island-fortresses by force. On Oct 24, 1949, the PLA invasion of Kinmen with 19,000 men was mercilessly beat back by the KMT military with a force of 40,000. [On Aug 23, 1958, the battle resumed in the form of artillery dueling that lasted until Oct 5.]
Madame CKS (left on platform) in Keelung
welcoming troops withdrawn from ChouShan

The battle in ZheJiang started at 7AM, Jan 18 1955 that ended after 61 hours and 12 minutes of intense fighting. This took place on 一江山YiJiangShan, a small island to the northwest, within the eyesight of DaChen. All 740 KMT defenders including the commander-in-chief perished - they went down with 4,000 PLA men. CCP claimed, however, that 500 KMT POWs were taken and some indeed were released in 1991 who subsequently reported back in Taiwan.

What followed was the 4-day total evacuation of DaChen and surrounding islets. Beginning on Feb 8, with the US 7th Fleet providing 132 ships and 400 planes of all sizes, 14,500 civilians, 10,000 garrison forces, 4,000 partisan fighters, and 40,000 tons of war materiel were evacuated. The ships arrived in Keelung and the evacuees temporarily hosed in school buildings. Soldiers were sent to reinforce the defense of Kinmen and Matsu.

Here are some photos of the great evacuation (for more see  here and here):

Evacuees and ships of all sizes

A grieving widow whose husband died fighting
the PLA on YiJiangShan Island
Civilians were settled in small towns all over Taiwan, including Tamsui. In recent years, they have gravitated towards 永和, now home to the largest DaChen enclave anywhere in the world.

2015年4月16日 星期四

1950s Part 1: Bandit spies

The 1950s in Taiwan was a time when children heard from their playmates or classmates, something about so-and-so's dad or mom had "disappeared" overnight - all too naive to know what was going on. The entire White Terror period actually started in 1947. In the ensuing years, Taiwanese, even mainland Chinese suspected of being Communists were imprisoned in 綠島 (below, source: here) or worse.
Re-education camps on Green Island with ca 1,450 detainees
Anti-brain washing classes, 5/29/1954
The original United Press caption
This in part had extended from the 228 Incident in which Taiwanese Communists had played a limited role. To complicate the matter further, beginning in 1949, there was also a huge influx of Chinese Communists known as Bandit Spies (匪諜) who were often caught and executed.

The martial law officially ended in 1987. Whether it was a draconian measure or it had saved Taiwan from the CCP remains contested. We do know the wars with the CCP were real, some of us actually served in the front lines. Nonetheless, its far-reaching human right violation still casts a long shadow even today.

In remembrance of the victims of the 228 Incident, there is the 228 Memorial Park in Taipei; nothing tangible, however, has been established for non-Communist victims of the White Terror era. In contrast, in China, the XiShan Memorial Square of Unknown Heroes finally acknowledges presence of its spy assets in Taiwan:

京華時報 5/26/2014: "1949年,包括時任國民黨國防部參謀次長吳石在內的1500多名中國大陸紅色特工遠赴台灣,之後這個群體犧牲過千...。在過去很長一段歲月裏,這些人中的大部分連名字都沒留下來。"In 1949, about 1,500 secret agents from Red China infiltrated Taiwan, including Wu-Shi who worked under the cover as a vice-chief of the planning staff of KMT DoD. Over 1,000 lost their lives without even leaving their names behind."

"直至2013年末北京西山無名英雄紀念廣場建成,846個當年犧牲於台灣的烈士英名被刻在紀念牆上。這是官方第一次以紀念廣場的形式公開紀念1950年代在台灣犧牲的中共地下工作者。“"It was not until late 2013 that the West Mountain Memorial Square for the Unknown Heroes in Beijing was built. The names of 846 martyrs who lost their lives in Taiwan are engraved on the memorial walls. This is the first ever official commemoration of CCP secret agents who died in Taiwan in the 1950s."

The name list of the secret agents and that of unclaimed ashes both were first disclosed on Jan 23, 2011 by 《環球時報》 in its 《追尋在台中共特工遺骨始末為兩岸和平種善因》 and again on May 4, 《台灣戒嚴時期疑似政治受難者名冊》. Both dates are significant on ROC calendar, 1/23 is the Freedom Day and 5/4 the Student Movement Day. The unclaimed cremation urns appear still stored in the warehouse of Taipei Funeral Home today. It is not possible to identify each one as many came to Taiwan using false identities.

Some of those from Taiwan were sent to Green Island for "re-education" simply because they were caught, usually in small groups, studying books on Communism out of intellectual curiosity. Among those Chinese who arrived in Taiwan in 1949, many were falsely accused by their personal enemies often anonymously. And some were charged with the flimsiest evidence. A well-known example was that of a radio personality 崔小萍; her alleged treasonous crime originated in a mention in passing of a certain communist in her childhood diary. Interrogated night and day for 3 months, imprisoned in 1968, and released in 1977, she finally published a memoir 碎夢集 (Shattered Dreams) in 2010.

Case-files of others are now beginning to be released to clear the name of those haplessly caught in the dragnet and compensation finally paid to the wrongly imprisoned.

2015年4月12日 星期日

Ghost money

On June 15, 1949, an announcement appeared in newspapers (below) and the headlines read: 
Taiwan reforms monetary system
New notes begin circulation today
New TWD (NT$) backed by a reserve of 800,000 ounces of gold
Exchange rate ties to five NT$ to 1 US$
40,000 Old TWD exchange for 1 NT$
Compensation for public servants and teachers shall be reasonably adjusted

Much has already been written with regard to the loss of livelihood and not the least, retirement funds for the people of Taiwan. Unimaginable instant poverty for many families in fact.

Here, we'll simply look at a collection of bank notes from different periods in Taiwan history (source: here):
Bank of Taiwan one yen note, backed by gold - Japanese Colonial era
Bank of Taiwan one yuan, 1946. One to one exchange with the pre-war yen
Bank of Taiwan Old TWD 10,000 issued in 1949 when hyperinflation set in
Bank of Taiwan NT$ 50 cents 1949 - good for Old TWD 20,000
Since only those who spoke Chinese could be employed as public servants and teachers, which most Taiwanese did not qualify, the former therefore had received a windfall ("reasonably adjusted") when paid in NT$.

Before this monetary collapse, a house in good shape in Tamsui sold for Old TW$1,000 to 2,000. Overnight, this money was good for a set of 油條 (Chinese crullers). Only those who hoarded solid gold and the like or invested in houses or land escaped the disaster. Land owners, however, would soon lose their holdings in the Land Reforms of the 1950s. To this day, older Taiwanese still hold on to their gold. Lessons learned.

2015年4月10日 星期五

Born in Taiwan

In the war-ravaged China between 1937-45, children born outside family hometowns sometimes were named after their birthplaces. This was when the masses migrated to the interior or other parts of China to escape the Japanese invasion. The names are often based on the abbreviation of a province, for example, 閩粵桂黔滇瓊蘇浙皖贛鄂湘川(or 蜀)魯冀豫晉陜(or 秦), and one of these plus a second character, usually 生 (birth), becomes a newborn's given name. Commonly seen are, e.g., 閩生, 蜀生, 湘生, and some moved with their parents to Taiwan in 1949. After 1949, if born in Taiwan, then it was natural to be named 台生. Hiding in these names are the parental memories of wartime hardship. The book "Big River Big Sea 1949" by 龍應台Lung Ying-tai, who was also born in Taiwan, has retold many such heart-wrenching stories. An English edition is now in the offing.

Then there are the 灣生 (Wansei), repatriated Japanese born in Taiwan during the Japanese Colonial era. As 閩生, 蜀生, 湘生 who now travel freely back to China to visit their birthplaces and hometowns, the 灣生 Japanese also return to Taiwan looking for the neighborhoods and old friends from their childhood.

A documentary on Wansei, 灣生回家 Wansei Coming Home by Tanaka Mika 田中實加, is premiering this month in Taiwan. Here is the trailer:

"We must clean up our house for the next family whoever they are to move in. 
And these fresh lilies to greet them, too."
"Birthplace is very important, it must not be mistaken."
"They absolutely positively did live on this land Taiwan!"

Background: The first Japanese immigrants of 133 families (385 members) arrived in Taiwan in 1899, organized by a private 賀田Kata company. They settled in Hua-lien area in a brand new village named 賀田村. The migration continued well into the 1930s. In Hua-lien/Taitung area, there were 15 such settlements all together. [For more, see here.]

This documentary is about children from one of the settlements, the Yoshino Village (吉野村, now 吉安郷). They are the sorrowful Perpetual Foreigners, who left Taiwan, not by choice, in 1946.
Yoshino Village (source: http://taipics.com/hualien.php)
Yoshino Village meeting house (source: http://taipics.com/hualien.php)
Karenko 花蓮港 sea shore (source: http://taipics.com/hualien.php)

The Yoshino children are not alone of course, see here. It is still unknown how many of these children islandwide were repatriated. An estimate puts the number at ca 100,000.

2015年4月8日 星期三

Freedom 1946

By April, 1946, 6 months after the Chinese takeover, news from Taiwan was not all good. An American journalist Harlow M Church had filed at least two reports, this "Out of the frying pan" piece was released on April 16 (source: here), in which Chinese looting and graft were cited:
Portable possessions of the repatriating Japanese were shipped to
Takao Harbor (photo dated April 5, 1946) under the terms of hiki-age
As citizens of a defeated nation, their real estates and 
unsold properties were confiscated, and valuables handed over
at checkpoints before boarding the ships back to Japan.
(Note: The other port of departure was Keelung.)
(Click to enlarge)
The second photo, Boy Miners, was taken on April 8, 1946 (source: here, also seen on other sites, for example, The View from Taiwan). This picture has raised many eyebrows questioning if child labor was allowed under the Japanese Colonial or the new Chinese rule:
Skipping the mandatory elementary education has always been a violation of the time-honored citizenship law since the early Japanese era. It was absolutely untrue that children in Taiwan were not required to go to school, they were; in fact, only personal sickness and family hardship were valid excuses. By April, 1946, with the Japanese school teachers gone and the curriculum abruptly changed to all-Chinese with very few qualified Chinese-speaking teachers in sight, many children in rural farming/mining areas were forced to defer schooling, only to resume years later. Some might have joined the labor force during this desperate time.
(Click to enlarge)
And the second report "Freedom is bitter tea for Formosa" was released on April 18, 1946. Increasing crime waves and prevalence of black markets were beginning to overwhelm and alarm the Taiwanese, observed Church, and that "They [now] regard Bondage as a lesser evil than "Liberation".

2015年4月6日 星期一

Umbrella Soldiers

When the first Corps of the Nationalist 70th Army arrived in Keelung on Oct 17, 1945, the welcoming Taiwanese were amazed to see umbrellas as the standard issue, and promptly called these soldiers from the Motherland, Umbrella Soldiers雨傘兵.

Worse, according to contemporary reports, the soldiers looked as haggard as street beggars who carried, in addition to weapons, pots and pans, satchels of rice, and who also wore torn/mended clothing and filthy straw slippers - hardly the appearance of a victorious army. The umbrellas were wishfully associated with mythical power; some folks truly believed that these umbrellas were bullet-proof. Others, however, could not help but notice the stark contrast in discipline shown by the Japanese army, then standing at attention on the docks, to greet the Chinese. It was a major let down for the Taiwanese.

Some photos have now surfaced and with which has emerged an argument that the original Taiwanese eyewitness accounts were incorrect, a smear in fact. This needs to be clarified.

The photos in question were taken by the "Wide World Photos from US Navy", and one of which has an accompanying short release (dated Nov 14, 1945, see below). It did not specify if the first or the second contingent of the 70th Army was photographed. In fact, there was the arrival of a second group on Oct 26. Its soldiers were transported directly to Hsinchu to relieve the Japanese force of their weaponry. The first group of 3,000 men was already sent to greater Taipei area to perform the same duty.
A truckload of the 70th Army in the always rainy Keelung
Defenders have pointed to the photos and argued for a Chinese military might. They, however, seem unaware that the first group had arrived wearing winter gears, a miscalculaion. In the subtropical heat of Keelung/Taiwan, they were forced to take off padded uniforms and were in various stages of undress, hence the dilapidated look. In addition, the seasickness en route did not help.

According to the recall of a surviving old soldier, the 70th was issued new uniforms and shoes, and straw slippers were banned before boarding the US transport ship to Taiwan. And the umbrellas? They were a generous gift from a merchant in WenZhou溫州, who originally came from Hokkien, in support of his fellow home-towners. These are clearly depicted in the photos, smartly dressed soldiers with umbrellas.

Indeed, the 70th Army was re-structured from a security force based in Hokkien ChangChou. Before dispatched to Taiwan, it was merged with another security force in NingPo寧波 area (the old soldier's unit). The first group now appears to be the old and tired unit from Hokkien and the second, younger and healthier, from NingPo. The Wide World photos were most likely taken of the second group on Oct 26, in no way contradicting the eyewitness accounts of the first group's arrival on Oct 17.

At that time, KMT regular armies were busy elsewhere, unavailable for the Taiwan take-over mission. Selection of the 70th Army was a monumental mistake, and the repercussion persists to this day. The 70th Army, downsized to a division, was sent back to fight the civil war in China in Dec, 1946. It was annihilated by the Red Army.
, Umbrella, brand new uniform and new shoes
[Source: http://taipics.com/mediapubs_50s_war2.php]

2015年4月2日 星期四

Children's Day presents

April 4 has always been Children's Day in Taiwan, since 1949 anyway. It is now combined with Women's Day (originally March 8) on theory that mothers and children should spend the holiday together. The gift-giving tradition, however, still continues: Tamsui Elementary School announced on March 11 a list of Children's Day presents to each grade, chess sets and marking pens, mostly:
On this day, pupils would gather at morning assembly and be lectured on by local dignitaries, mostly assuring the kids that one day, they shall become 國家的主人翁 (masters of the nation), etc. This is followed by distribution of the eagerly awaited presents. Then the rest of the day off.

The choice of the presents is still up to local gov'ts and/or individual schools. This year, in a deviation from the tradition, Taichung City decides that the "gift" shall be for each elementary school to adopt a stray dog/cat - to show the students how precious life is. Adding to this, some schools have elected to also distribute small tokens, e.g., pocket tissues.

Back in the 1950s in Tamsui, it was instant gratification, small slices of the savory 米糕 (rice cake, originated in Foochow) wrapped in blood-red paper, donated by local businessmen:
The memorable 米糕
Happy Children's Day!