2012年8月29日 星期三

How to govern Taiwan - Part 1

藍鼎元 (Lan Ding-Yuan, 1680-1733)

All students of Taiwan history know this phrase "三年一小反,五年一大反", a description of the difficulty in governing this beautiful island Taiwan, "an uprising every 3 years, a revolt every 5 years". This is not a Taiwan proverb as commonly believed. It was coined by Tao-tai (governor) Xu Zhong-gan徐宗幹道臺 (1796-1866, as Taiwan Tao-tai in 1848), originally "三年小反, 五年大反" published in the 治臺必告錄 [The Essential of Governing Taiwan, edited by Xu] and his personal journal 斯未信齋文集.

Indeed, from 1696 to 1892, there had been 138 anti-Qing incidents in all, involving mostly the Han people and in some cases, the Aborigines. Was Taiwan a land of lawlessness full of ruffians, pirates, criminals, and murderers? Or was it the common Taiwanese folks simply trying to send a message? Why did the rebellions and uprisings take place at all and so frequently too?

We'll now provide some explanation:

Needless to say, people move to another land to seek a better life. This has always been true throughout the ages in Taiwan. The Hokkienese and others migrated to Taiwan, starting in the Dutch rule, through the Ming-Cheng era, indeed to leave behind a life of extreme hardship in China. Despite the ban during the early Qing rule, this migration continued unabated.

After the sacking of the Ming-Cheng Kingdom by Shi Lang in 1683, the Qing regarded Taiwan merely as a piece of conquered land, to be stripped of its wealth and riches and the spoils be shipped back to China. In essence, a colonial governance was imposed. The ruling principles therefore did not include economic development of the land or the construction of defendable cities/towns. Instead, the Qing expanded the taxation system based on that from the Dutch and Ming-Cheng periods, i.e., the land and head taxes, while at the same time, levied an additional mind-boggling number of new taxes. As a small example, not only land farming, all manners of fish farming were also taxed. Plus, exorbitant licensing fees were charged to all commercial and fishing ships, even tiny ferry boats. Where applicable, the tax rates were much higher, from 10% to 3 times more, than those back in Mainland China.

These days, one can e-file income tax and pay land taxes at 7-11 without ever seeing the face of a tax collector. Not so during the Qing rule. The extortionary taxation implemented by a corrupt officialdom was aided and abetted by thuggish enforcer-taxmen and soldier-turned loan sharks. In other words, the encounters were quite personal: either pay up or risk bodily harm, imprisonment, confiscation of properties, and loss of female family members.

The officials posted to Taiwan were often of questionable character. Their sole mission was to get rich by extracting as much as possible from the populace whose welfare be damned. Worse, each official was assisted by a contingent of law enforcers known as Li吏. The Li's were in fact Mafia enforcers on steroid (no offense). This was a well-recognized festering sore of the Qing rule (more below). Then there were the soldiers of the garrison force or loan sharks from hell, who often lent money, gained from illegitimate means, to a good number of Taiwanese who could not afford to pay off the taxes. The rate was quite high, for example, at 0.5% compounded daily. Missing one payment and the paid interest was nullified only to start all over again. This was known as the 五虎利 [five-tiger interest]. "Tiger" was mentioned together with the gov't in the Confucius fable of 苛政猛於虎 [living under a despotic gov't is worse than living with a (man-eating) tiger]. Five tigers was an euphemism which does not even begin to tell what the Taiwanese had to endure.

The presence of the thuggish enforcers persisted to the end of Qing rule of Taiwan. The Royal Commissioner to Taiwan 沈葆楨 (Shen Bao-zen, 1820-1879) in his report to the Qing Court "請移駐巡撫摺" opined that "始由官以吏胥為爪牙, 吏胥以民為魚肉 (the officials enable the Li as their claws and fangs to abuse and extort the common people)". This was during the Mu-Dan-She Incident in 1874, a mere 20 years before the 1st Sino-Japanese war.

Lured by the rumor 台灣錢淹腳目 [Taiwan is ankle-deep in money], the migrants continued to come. However, realizing that life was no better or even worse than the one they had left behind, the suppressed got organized, again and again, and attacked the suppressors in the vain hope of gaining self-rule or independence. This was the history of the 213 years of Qing rule of Taiwan. It is fair to say that a residual visceral distrust of the central government continues to this day - a sentiment apparently still unknown to the Chinese of today.

Had the problem been addressed before? Yes. And this brings up the story of 藍鼎元 (Lan Ding-Yuan, see portrait above). Lan accompanied his older cousin to Taiwan, the latter was charged with putting down the large-scale revolt of 朱一貴 (1721) and the subsequent popular unrests. Lan was a learned scholar who offered these observations, "臺民喜亂,如撲燈之蛾.死者在前,投者不已 (The Taiwanese love to rebel, just like moths attracted to the flames, dying one after another)" and "方慶削平,又圖復起 (Just getting ready to celebrate a mission completed, the insurgence starts up again)" - kind of blaming the victims. Although, Lan did study everything Taiwan, including its society, politics, economy, military, and the geography, custom, religion, and education. He then proposed the 19 rules of how to govern Taiwan. In his 平台紀略說 [A Synopsis of Governing Taiwan, 1731], they were listed as "信賞罰 (institute credible reward and punishment), 懲訟師 (penalize the lawyers), 除草竊 (weed out petty thefts), 治客民 (reign in the Hakka), 禁惡欲 (ban evil greed), 儆吏胥[punish the Li], 革規例 (reduce regulations), 崇節儉 (encourage thrift and savings), 正婚嫁 (normalize marriages), 興學校 (build schools), 修武備 (re-build military), 嚴守御 (restrict the garrison), 教樹畜 (teach husbandry), 寬租賦 [cut taxes], 行墾日 (till undeveloped land), 復官庄 (restore official fields), 恤澎民 (help the people of Peng-hu), 撫士番 (compensate the Aborigines), 招生番 (civilize the Aborigines)". Did any of these work or even implemented in the first place? From the number of armed revolts after 1731, a no across the board. In fact, even if only two [high-lighted in red] had been instituted, Taiwan would have become a much different/better place, possibly even the proverbial jewel on the Qing crown. Instead, Taiwan was handled as a hot potato, to be tossed at the first opportunity. That became true in 1895.

Lan had at least succeeded in petitioning the Qing Court to relax the ban on the officials' bringing family members to Taiwan. The Lan family and followers stayed in Taiwan and settled in 阿里港 in Pintung [now 屏東縣里港鄉] where their descendants still reside.

2012年8月27日 星期一

Consul Fukushima 1875

This is one of the rare pre-colonial Japanese official documents that had mentioned Tamsui. It was for the appointment of IJA Major 福島九成Fukushima Kyusei, the Consul of Port Amoy to an additional post of the Consul of Port Tamsui. This order, effective May 10, 1875, was issued on May 2 by the Foreign Minister on behalf of Emperor Meiji:

For easy reading, the text is transcribed below:

台湾淡水両口事務兼務被 仰付候事 翌10日陸軍省ヘ 心溥通達ス 外務 領事陸軍少佐福島九成ヘ御委任状
朕清国廈門在留領事陸軍少佐福島九成ヲ以テ台湾淡水二口ノ領事ヲ兼任セシメ即両国ノ條約ニ従ヒ其両口ニ到ル我国臣民ノ権理及商舶貨財貿易等ヲ保護シ且我国臣民ノ訴訟アルニ遭ハ律例ヲ照シテ判決スルノ権ヲ授典ス宜ク朕カ旨ヲ體シ前ニ掲クルニロノ地ニ到レル我国民ニ諭告シテ此命令ヲ遭奉セシムヘキヲ命ス故ニ清国皇帝及宰官等福島九成ノ領事タル ヲ承允シ至当ノ需ヲ為サハ之ニ補助ヲ興ヘラレン ヲ冀望ス
神武天皇即位紀元2535年 明治08年05月02日東京宮中ニ於テ親ラ名ヲ署シ璽ヲ鈐ス 05月02日

For historical reference, 1875 was the year when the then 3-year-old 光緒Guangxu assumed the Qing throne. Throughout his reign (1875-1908), he was under the close watch of 慈禧太后Dowager CiXi, the de factor ruler of China. This was a period marked by the foreign invasions of Imperial China. In 1895, after the humiliating defeat in the 1st Sino-Japanese war, the Qing ceded Taiwan and its islands to Japan [Shimonoseki Treaty Article 2, item 2: 台湾全島及其ノ附属諸島嶼].

In the appointment letter, Major/Consul Fukushima was charged with the duty of protecting the rights of Japanese citizens including shipping, merchandizing and property, as well as to represent their legal interests and related judiciary matters. Curiously, in the accompanying directive, he was asked specifically to tend to the needs of Japanese nationals of the 琉球藩Ryukyu clan.

First, it appears that Tamsui was chosen as the consulate site, not because of a large Japanese contingent in town, but because Amoy was the traditional trade partner of Tamsui. Unlike the British, however, there was no known Japanese consulate office in Tamsui. As the Brits did in the early days, the consulate business might have been conducted on board a ship. Second, the Japanese who visited Taiwan at that time were not from mainland Japan, they were actually sailors from Ryukyu visiting by accident. They were the hapless victims of the Mu-Dan-Sha Incident 牡丹社事件. In Dec, 1871, 66 Ryukyu sailors were ship-wrecked and stranded in Taiwan; they were ambushed by 排灣 Paiwan Tribesmen leaving only 12 survivors. The Japanese used this Incident as the pretext to mount a retaliatory attack that took place in 1874. Major Fukushima had in fact participated in the intelligence gathering in Taiwan in the year before. And on April 27, 1874, Fukushima as the Japanese Consul at Amoy officially notified Governor General Lee He-Nian of Min-Jer Province閩浙總督李鶴年 the Japanese intent of a military action [while the attack was already underway]. The Qing Court lodged a protest and ordered Lee et al to prepare for war. The latter, however, cited inadequate military strength with no possibility of a victory. Realizing this, the Qing Court, to the amazement of the international community, paid compensation to placate the Japanese. Fukushima's Tamsui appointment would come after the whole affair had concluded, possibly as a reward/promotion. This Mu-dan-she episode can be regarded as a test of the Qing resolve and the prelude to the Japanese take-over of Taiwan in 1895.

Since the 16th century, Ryukyu Kingdom had been a client state of China. In 1871, Japan subjugated this tiny Kingdom, and in 1872, it was renamed 琉球藩. The invasion of Taiwan in 1874 had finally legitimized the Japanese control of Ryukyu Islands because it was done in the name of protecting the safety of Ryukyuites. In 1879, Ryukyu became a permanent part of the Okinawa Prefecture.

On June 7, 1895, another Fukushima, 福島安正(Fukushima Yasumasa) of the Japanese invasion force came to call on Tamsui and administered the town for an important 14 days. His experience, the 淡水新政記 [Chronology of the New Governance of Tamsui], became the official guide on how to rule Taiwan and other conquered lands.

2012年8月18日 星期六

Life in Tamsui 1867

Collingwood (1868) [the sulfur springs are still aplenty in 大屯山 area]

Dr FLS Collingwood published this article "A Boat Journey across the Northern End of Formosa, from Tam-suy, on the West, to Kee-lung, on the East; with Notices of Hoo-wei, Mangka, and Kelung." in the Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society 11 (1867): 167-73.

We have added some notes and also place names in Chinese for easy reference. This article is otherwise a succinct and possibly accurate account of life in Tamsui, 145 years ago:

[P. 167] Tam-suy [淡水] is situated on the north-western coast of Formosa, and possesses an excellent harbour, over the bar of which H.M.S. Serpent, drawing 12 1/2 feet water, passed easily at high water. The entrance is unmistakably marked by two lofty and picturesque hills; that on the left, termed the Kwang-yin Hill [觀音山], having two prominent peaks, of 1720 and 1240 feet respectively; and that on the right, the Tai-tun Hills [大屯山], forming an imposing ridge, of which the summit is 2800 feet high. From land to land, at the entrance of the harbour, is just half a mile; but a considerable spit of sand diminishes it more than one-half. Within the harbour, however, it rapidly increases to three-quarters of a mile and even a mile in width, affording good anchorage for larger vessels. Immediately on the left hand, on entering, is a small Chinese fort [Note: possibly the 白砲臺White Fort, destroyed by the French during the Sino-French war in 1884]; and half a mile higher are the ruins of an old Dutch fort, a square, red-brick, casemated building [Ft San Domingo - 紅毛城], once, no doubt, of great strength, and elevated 50 or 60 feet above the water's edge. The long rambling town of Tam-suy, or Hoo-wei [滬尾], as it is more properly called, commences a little higher; and consists, for the most part, of a narrow street of shops of a poor description, paved with great cobblestones or not at all, and in which pigs of all sizes and barking dogs dispute the passage, which in some places scarcely admits of two passengers passing one another. The Vice-Consul (Mr. Gregory) resides here, as well as three or four other Europeans, engaged in mercantile affairs or employed in the Chinese customs. The consulate, however, is but a poor building for the representative of Great Britain; for the inhabitants, who are mostly coolies, and upon occasion are a turbulent set of rascals, have a prejudice, forsooth, against building houses more than one story high, and no such dwelling exists in Hoo-wei. [Note: These coolies/rascals were actually hard-working men who knew how to enjoy life and how to avoid natural disasters such as typhoon and, at times, earthquakes.]

[Map of Tamsui of ca 1920 - many landmarks such as the sand-bar and Ft San Domingo, were in existence in 1867, also seen and recorded by Collingwood]

There is a very pretentious joss-house in the town [媽祖宮], of which the stone pillars, elaborately carved, represent, with considerable cleverness, fantastic dragons encircling the columns in high relief; workmen being yet engaged in the task. The immediate neighbourhood is hilly [the 重建街 area], having numerous scattered houses; and a large amphitheatre, just outside the town, forms an immense and well-filled burial-ground [Note: this was, still is, the First Public Cemetery], upon which grows abundance of the rice-paper plant (Aralia papyrifera), which is largely exported from this neighbourhood. The soil is very fertile, consisting of a considerable depth of alluvium, in which are numerous angular and rounded blocks of stone, some of very great size.

The inhabitants of Hoo-wei (Tam-suy), as of the other towns in the route, are mostly poor and meanly clad; the males wearing usually nothing more than a pair of short drawers, or some substitute for them; some of the younger children going entirely naked [Note: in the summertime, a fully clothed child playing outdoors = 痱子heat prickles all over his body]. The women and girls, however, are always decently clothed, very few of the female children being even naked to the waist. Bandaged feet are universal among them [Note: Women and girls in Tamsui have always been well-dressed, even now, and the practice of foot-binding was mercifully outlawed during the Japanese Colonial era].

Rice is abundantly produced in the neighbourhood; but its exportation is forbidden by the Government, on pretence that there is not more produced than is required for home consumption; but by a roundabout method, a considerable trade is, notwithstanding, carried on, to the advantage of the Mandarins. Bullocks, goats, and poultry are difficult to obtain; but pigs are [p. 168] abundant, though few who could witness their disgusting habits and foul feeding would care to eat them. Ducks are also plentiful [Note: not ducks, they were red-faced Muscovy].

Collinwood apparently did not have the opportunity to witness this: A sacrificial pig at MaZu Temple - one of many during 大拜拜 - to be prepared after the celebration into appetizing dishes and served in banquets shared by many

An inferior Mandarin resides here, named Lim-ching-fang [林清芳?], but he is subordinate to the Mandarin of the Tam-suy District, of which Hoo-wei is but an inferior town; the chief town being Mangka, or Bangka [艋舺 or 萬華] [Note: Tam-suy Township is now Tamsui District, headed by Dr Tsai Yeh-Wei [蔡葉偉區長], part of the New Taipei City 新北市].

2012年8月8日 星期三

Guan-du Station and Tunnel 1988

A reader has expressed interest in seeing pictures of Guan-du Station and Tunnel. Railroad enthusiasts in Taiwan noting the passing of an era, i.e., the end of the Tamsui Line, have actually recorded the last scheduled train ride from Tamsui [July 15, 1988]. And the photos can be seen here. A couple of them are re-posted below:

This was the Guan-du Station and the Tunnel immediately beyond it. The slope into the Tunnel was real, not an optical illusion.
Guan-du Tunnel with Diesel Engine No R123 emerging from it. This diesel model replaced the original steam engine, the BK24.