2015年12月25日 星期五

Cheng Zhi-Long honored in Tainan

Source: here
Koxinga's father, Cheng Zhi-long 鄭芝龍 (1604-1661), finally is honored in 鎮門宮. This temple overlooks 鹿耳門 (Lakjemuyse), where Koxinga's fleet sailed through at high tide into Taibay and quickly surrounded Ft Provincia (1661). This tiny temple has two bare-footed Dutchmen as its gate keepers, or door-gods (see a previous post, here).

For almost four hundred years, 鄭芝龍 has been portrayed by historians as a pirate and a traitor, a one-sided erroneous description that has persisted to this day. Within the Cheng Clan, Koxinga's falling out with his father over the loyalty to Ming Emperor was also a factor. In fact, in Tainan, the seat of power of the Ming Cheng Kingdom, memorial to 鄭芝龍 is nowhere to be found.

We now know that 鄭芝龍 was forced to yield, not by the military might of the Qing, but by a great famine at that time when it was no longer possible to maintain a sizable force without confiscating foodstuff from the general public. Not wishing to do that and after a life-time of fighting enemies from within and without China, he was truly tired looking forward to a peaceful resolution. Only he himself was detained at a meeting with Qing officials. And three of his sons and daughter-in-laws were later ordered to Beijing. All were put to death in 1661. After learning the demise of his father and brothers, a crestfallen Koxinga passed away soon after.

In this temple in Tainan, the father finally took his rightful place with his son Konxiga and his wife Lady Weng.

2015年12月9日 星期三

Rennovation in Tamsui

MaZu Temple on Chung Cheng Road
Contributing reader ChoSun is wondering what the green cover over the MaZu Temple is for (above). Well, it is to prevent falling roof tiles from hitting the passersby. Behind the cover, a scaffolding has been erected for construction workers. The project involves resetting roof tiles and more important, straightening out the front part of the temple which is leaning towards the street, in danger of toppling over. This structural damage was from an unexploded 500-lb bomb dropped by an American F6F on Oct 12, 1944, and the impact had shifted the ground.

It also means MaZu herself has finally given the long-sought-for divine permission for the work to proceed.

2015年11月11日 星期三

Tamsui Aboriginals

Source: here
Our friend Dr Ken Hong shares this post 從「馬尼拉手稿」看16世紀的雞籠人與淡水人 by 陳宗仁. This「馬尼拉手稿(Manila Manuscript)」began by describing the journey from the Americas to Manila of Governor General of the Philippines, Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas and his son Luiz Pérez Dasmariñas. It also had a rich documentation of aborigines of East Asia. The stories of the manuscript ended in ca 1590.

The picture above, from the Manuscript, has a headline that reads Tamchuy 淡水. It is framed by local flora and fauna. And an aboriginal couple is depicted in astounding detail. Besides garments and weapon, the female is holding a golden skull, apparently her victim and prized possession, which, according to the Manuscript, commanded respect from tribesmen for her bravery.

Around 1630, Dominican Fr Jacinto Esquivel was preaching in Tamsui area, he noticed the continuing headhunting practice of a nearby tribe, the Kabalan 噶瑪蘭, even after other local tribes had made peace among themselves.

There is no surprise here as the Taiwanese are familiar with the aboriginal head hunting which last into early Japanese rule. What's interesting is the participation of females in beheading the enemies, apparently in battles.

Most intriguing is the town's name 淡水, pronounced Tamchuy in Hoklo. This tiny town of ours was apparently well-known to people in Hokkien even in ca 1590.

2015年10月2日 星期五

Cheng Zhi-Long in Taiwan 鄭芝龍在台灣

Chinese junks 戎克船
It is interesting, actually disturbing, to see the history of Taiwan constantly being re-written to cater to political needs. Some now claim 鄭芝龍Cheng Zhi-Long, Koxinga's father, had never set foot in Taiwan; therefore, Koxinga's staking a claim of his father's land in his communication with Coyet was illegitimate.

However, it is known that in his youth, Cheng was recruited by the Dutch and worked at Ft Zeelandia as a linguist specializing in Portuguese. During his stay, he apparently learned how the Dutch ruled over the Han and the Aborigines, administered the colony, and how they managed their privateering enterprise, especially in dealing with Min pirates. He then left Taiwan, reportedly without a formal resignation, to take upon the ocean-faring trade, in part imitating the Dutch East India Co ways, soon to command a fleet of 400 junks that sailed up and down the Western Pacific Ocean, from Japan, China, to SE Asia.

Source: Tonio Andrade, "Lost Colony", Princeton Univ Press (2011), pp 26-28

2015年9月3日 星期四

The surrender of Ming-Cheng Kingdom

The surrender of the Tung-Ning Kingdom was not as straightforward as commonly known, i.e., a simple capitulation announcement from Koxinga's grandson and heir 鄭克塽Cheng Ke-Shuang. As in Koxinga's negotiation with Coyett, Cheng Ke-Shuang must also deal with 施琅Shi Lang, the Ming-Cheng turncoat.

In Shi's report to the Qing Court, he stated,

"…查鄭克塽年尚幼樨,未諳大體,操縱指揮,權皆出于劉國軒、馮錫範二人。茲特令朱紹熙回台灣傳諭,果真心投誠,必須劉國軒、馮錫範來臣軍前面降,將人民土地悉入版圖。其偽官兵遵制削髮,移入內地,聽遵朝廷安輯。…(dated Aug 3, 1683, or 康熙Kang-xi 22nd year, double 6th month, 11th day)

In other words, Shi blamed everything on Liu Guo-shian and Feng Shi-feng, the true power behind Cheng. Both of them must therefore openly surrender. The Ming-Cheng people and land would be ruled under Qing. All officers and soldiers would shave their head in the Qing style and moved inland.

On Sept 17, 1683, Cheng issued the first report/announcement, namely,



He professed young and ignorant having been raised by his grandfather and father, and conceded the heaven-mandated benevolent rule of the Qing emperor. And that he was really just a minion who would now pledged his most sincere loyalty to Qing.

Shi, however, was a practical man, on Sept 19, 1683, he again reported to the Qing Court, that


The seals (chops) of the Ming-Cheng officials including the Yan-Ping kingship had been received.

After this, on Oct 5, 1683, Cheng Ke-Shuang surrendered a second time:



His request of relocating back home to Hokkien was denied and together with his family, were held hostage in Beijing. His loyal followers, most were seamen, were banished to various penal colonies in mainland China to die.

2015年8月14日 星期五

70 years after the war

News from Tokyo: "Emperor Akihito in a New Year statement on Thursday stressed the importance of learning from World War II.

“I think it is now extremely important that at this opportunity we fully learn from the history of this war… in thinking about the way Japan should be in the future,” Akihito, 81, said in a statement released by the Imperial Household Agency.

And on 1/5/2015, "The Abe Cabinet will uphold the general stance on history of successive prime ministers, including the Murayama statement," he said, referring to a 1995 apology made by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on the 50th anniversary of the war's end.

A new (Abe) statement will be issued on Aug 15.

Here it is:

Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Cabinet Decision

On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, we must calmly reflect upon the road to war, the path we have taken since it ended, and the era of the 20th century. We must learn from the lessons of history the wisdom for our future.

More than one hundred years ago, vast colonies possessed mainly by the Western powers stretched out across the world. With their overwhelming supremacy in technology, waves of colonial rule surged toward Asia in the 19th century. There is no doubt that the resultant sense of crisis drove Japan forward to achieve modernization. Japan built a constitutional government earlier than any other nation in Asia. The country preserved its independence throughout. The Japan-Russia War gave encouragement to many people under colonial rule from Asia to Africa.

After World War I, which embroiled the world, the movement for self-determination gained momentum and put brakes on colonization that had been underway. It was a horrible war that claimed as many as ten million lives. With a strong desire for peace stirred in them, people founded the League of Nations and brought forth the General Treaty for Renunciation of War. There emerged in the international community a new tide of outlawing war itself.

At the beginning, Japan, too, kept steps with other nations. However, with the Great Depression setting in and the Western countries launching economic blocs by involving colonial economies, Japan's economy suffered a major blow. In such circumstances, Japan's sense of isolation deepened and it attempted to overcome its diplomatic and economic deadlock through the use of force. Its domestic political system could not serve as a brake to stop such attempts. In this way, Japan lost sight of the overall trends in the world.

With the Manchurian Incident, followed by the withdrawal from the League of Nations, Japan gradually transformed itself into a challenger to the new international order that the international community sought to establish after tremendous sacrifices. Japan took the wrong course and advanced along the road to war.

And, seventy years ago, Japan was defeated.

On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, I bow my head deeply before the souls of all those who perished both at home and abroad. I express my feelings of profound grief and my eternal, sincere condolences.

More than three million of our compatriots lost their lives during the war: on the battlefields worrying about the future of their homeland and wishing for the happiness of their families; in remote foreign countries after the war, in extreme cold or heat, suffering from starvation and disease. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the air raids on Tokyo and other cities, and the ground battles in Okinawa, among others, took a heavy toll among ordinary citizens without mercy.

Also in countries that fought against Japan, countless lives were lost among young people with promising futures. In China, Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands and elsewhere that became the battlefields, numerous innocent citizens suffered and fell victim to battles as well as hardships such as severe deprivation of food. We must never forget that there were women behind the battlefields whose honour and dignity were severely injured.

Upon the innocent people did our country inflict immeasurable damage and suffering. History is harsh. What is done cannot be undone. Each and every one of them had his or her life, dream, and beloved family. When I squarely contemplate this obvious fact, even now, I find myself speechless and my heart is rent with the utmost grief.

The peace we enjoy today exists only upon such precious sacrifices. And therein lies the origin of postwar Japan.

We must never again repeat the devastation of war.

Incident, aggression, war -- we shall never again resort to any form of the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes. We shall abandon colonial rule forever and respect the right of self-determination of all peoples throughout the world.

With deep repentance for the war, Japan made that pledge. Upon it, we have created a free and democratic country, abided by the rule of law, and consistently upheld that pledge never to wage a war again. While taking silent pride in the path we have walked as a peace-loving nation for as long as seventy years, we remain determined never to deviate from this steadfast course.

Japan has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war. In order to manifest such feelings through concrete actions, we have engraved in our hearts the histories of suffering of the people in Asia as our neighbours: those in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, and Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and China, among others; and we have consistently devoted ourselves to the peace and prosperity of the region since the end of the war.

Such position articulated by the previous cabinets will remain unshakable into the future.
However, no matter what kind of efforts we may make, the sorrows of those who lost their family members and the painful memories of those who underwent immense sufferings by the destruction of war will never be healed.

Thus, we must take to heart the following.

The fact that more than six million Japanese repatriates managed to come home safely after the war from various parts of the Asia-Pacific and became the driving force behind Japan's postwar reconstruction; the fact that nearly three thousand Japanese children left behind in China were able to grow up there and set foot on the soil of their homeland again; and the fact that former POWs of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia and other nations have visited Japan for many years to continue praying for the souls of the war dead on both sides.

How much emotional struggle must have existed and what great efforts must have been necessary for the Chinese people who underwent all the sufferings of the war and for the former POWs who experienced unbearable sufferings caused by the Japanese military in order for them to be so tolerant nevertheless?

That is what we must turn our thoughts to reflect upon.

Thanks to such manifestation of tolerance, Japan was able to return to the international community in the postwar era. Taking this opportunity of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, Japan would like to express its heartfelt gratitude to all the nations and all the people who made every effort for reconciliation.

In Japan, the postwar generations now exceed eighty per cent of its population. We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize. Still, even so, we Japanese, across generations, must squarely face the history of the past. We have the responsibility to inherit the past, in all humbleness, and pass it on to the future.

Our parents' and grandparents' generations were able to survive in a devastated land in sheer poverty after the war. The future they brought about is the one our current generation inherited and the one we will hand down to the next generation. Together with the tireless efforts of our predecessors, this has only been possible through the goodwill and assistance extended to us that transcended hatred by a truly large number of countries, such as the United States, Australia, and European nations, which Japan had fiercely fought against as enemies.

We must pass this down from generation to generation into the future. We have the great responsibility to take the lessons of history deeply into our hearts, to carve out a better future, and to make all possible efforts for the peace and prosperity of Asia and the world.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when Japan attempted to break its deadlock with force. Upon this reflection, Japan will continue to firmly uphold the principle that any disputes must be settled peacefully and diplomatically based on the respect for the rule of law and not through the use of force, and to reach out to other countries in the world to do the same. As the only country to have ever suffered the devastation of atomic bombings during war, Japan will fulfil its responsibility in the international community, aiming at the non-proliferation and ultimate abolition of nuclear weapons.
We will engrave in our hearts the past, when the dignity and honour of many women were severely injured during wars in the 20th century. Upon this reflection, Japan wishes to be a country always at the side of such women's injured hearts. Japan will lead the world in making the 21st century an era in which women's human rights are not infringed upon.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when forming economic blocs made the seeds of conflict thrive. Upon this reflection, Japan will continue to develop a free, fair and open international economic system that will not be influenced by the arbitrary intentions of any nation. We will strengthen assistance for developing countries, and lead the world toward further prosperity. Prosperity is the very foundation for peace. Japan will make even greater efforts to fight against poverty, which also serves as a hotbed of violence, and to provide opportunities for medical services, education, and self-reliance to all the people in the world.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when Japan ended up becoming a challenger to the international order. Upon this reflection, Japan will firmly uphold basic values such as freedom, democracy, and human rights as unyielding values and, by working hand in hand with countries that share such values, hoist the flag of "Proactive Contribution to Peace," and contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world more than ever before.

Heading toward the 80th, the 90th and the centennial anniversary of the end of the war, we are determined to create such a Japan together with the Japanese people.

August 14, 2015

Shinzo Abe

Comfort Women

There is an ongoing heated debate on high school history textbook framework in Taiwan. One of the contested issues is for the description of comfort women, whether they were volunteers or were forced into service during the Pacific War.

Prostitution in Taiwan has never been a voluntary profession. This is a matter of course to all Taiwanese. In fact, folklores abound with heartbreaking tales of young ladies forced into it, sometimes by their own poverty-stricken heavily-in-debt parents. It is safe to say that no Taiwanese women would knowingly or willingly enter prostitution let alone one that serviced the military. What did transpire during the Pacific War was often the ignorance, promise of higher pay, and patriotism that had lured these naïve girls away from their families.

On July 14, 1999, a lawsuit against the Japanese Gov't seeking compensation for 9 Taiwanese Comfort Women was filed with the Tokyo District Court. One of the plaintiffs, a Ms Kao, was from Tamsui. For posterity, the entire complaint of Plaintiff Kao is quoted below.

A brief summary here: Ms Kao was born in Tamsui on Sept 17, 1921, whose father passed away when she was 3, and mother, when 15 years old. She worked as a washwoman and a seamstress as her mother did. And at age 15, she also sang at Gang-san-lao (a house of ill-repute) and lived with her sister's family.

On one visit to Town Office in 1938 - to enquire how to adopt a daughter in the future, Ms Kao, then 17 years old, noticed a man recruiting workers for the Japanese military stationed in Canton, "easy job with good pay". All together, 18 girls signed up, reported to duty at Taipei Station and left for Keelung to sail to Canton, China.

It was in Canton, the girls were utterly surprised to learn that they in fact had been recruited as comfort women. Much coercion then ensued. 

In the next few years, Ms Kao traveled with the military to Singapore, deep in Burma and then Rangoon with no hopes of escape. In 1947, she ended up in Viet Nam waiting to be shipped back to Taiwan when all her worldly possession was confiscated by a "westerner" leaving only 5 dollars on her.

So, after 8 long years, totally broke, Ms Kao finally returned to Taiwan. Of the 18 girls started out, only 4 survived the war. She was eventually married and raised a family while trying to recover from the miserable wartime suffering to this day [note: 1999].


一 原告 高寶珠

1 招集される前の生活


2 徴集時の状況

 (1)  一九三八年一七歳になったとき原告高は、将来のことを考え


(2)  台北の駅には一八人くらいの女性が召集されており「ほくろ


3 「慰安婦」とされた時の状況

(1)  広東からトラックで到着したところは金山寺という場所で、

(2)  その後、軍隊の移動に伴われ、香港から陸軍の船でシンガポ

4 ビルマの「慰安所」での生活

(1)  ビルマに着いてからは、軍隊のトラックに乗せられ山奥まで


(2)  「慰安所」は、台湾のおばさんとお姉さんと呼んだ女性二人


5 ラングーンへの移動と慰安所での生活



6 敗戦と帰郷




7 帰郷後の生活


2015年7月25日 星期六

Gunboats in Tamsui

The presidential gunboat in Tamsui (courtesy of Prof LY Tseng)
Gunboats in Tamsui were never a rare sight, historically they arrived from China, England, France, and Japan, in both war and peace times. Even Steve McQueen's the Sand Pebbles (1966) was kind of there. Nothing really surprises us until the recent realization that two were actually reserved for CKS's personal use.

Tamsui-lang who grew up in town in the 60s still remember seeing a small gunboat moored near the piers behind Tamsui Post Office. It magically disappeared whenever a typhoon visited only to re-emerge from somewhere afterwards. Little did we known that it was part of CKS's "escape" plan.  And it was not only one but two gunboats. According to this site http://60-250-180-26.hinet-ip.hinet.net/taiwan/4425.html:

海軍配合總統府侍衛室的要求, 於1960年春在淡水河口編配一支快艇隊以供萬一蔣介石總統緊急需要時, 可自士林官邸趨車直奔淡水巡防處碼頭登艇, 開赴外海轉乘來接駕之座艦. 當時建造了兩艘交通艇, 並編制"定海"號為座艇, "鎮海"號為副艇. 兩艇規格不明.
Translation: At the request of the Presidential Guards, the Navy commissioned a speedboat team in the spring of 1960 to serve CKS in case of emergency. CKS was to be driven directly from his official residence in Shilin to a gunboat stationed at the coast guard docks in Tamsui and the boat was to ferry him to a presidential warship awaiting at high sea. Two such transfer boats were built and christened DingHai and ChengHai, respectively, with the latter designated as the backup. The specs of these two gunboats remain unknown.

Judging from the part of GuanYin Mountain appearing in the background, the gunboat in the photo above was most likely the DingHai, hiding inside the then restricted zone of the Customs Wharf. The one parked in the back of Tamsui Post Office for all to see was the smaller ChengHai.

This contingency plan of course was never put in action; although it was certainly far more elaborate than that for the first and only president of  the Republic of Formosa, 唐景崧Tang Jing-Song. Who, on June 6, 1895, sneaked from Taipei to board a German passenger ship Arthur anchored in Tamsui Port and sailed off to Foochow, leaving the Taiwanese behind to fend for themselves.

2015年7月23日 星期四

Light House in Tamsui 1796

Located inside the MaZu Temple in Tamsui, on the left wall in the main hall, there is a stone tablet commemorating the building of Tamsui Overlook Light House:

Light house memorial tablet (1796)
The entire inscription is shown below. Not only the purpose of the project, it also recorded that all ships presently in port contributed one Spanish silver dollar each to the construction, and a fee of 40 cents would be collected from each entering ship to pay for light house upkeep. Notice at the end, the names of the donors all contain the character "觀":


仝立望高樓泉廈郊出海戶尾街董事 茲為設立守望以便利涉事 窃惟淡江港口係諸舡出入要津之所 其東北勢旁 有假港一處 每遇黑夜沙汕障蔽 莫辨真假 前經一二舡隻悞認假港 致遭不利 爰是邀同船戶相議 捐資建立望高樓一座 在假港水涯 付與
福佑宮住僧度西倩工守護 每夜明燈 照應諸船 由燈下南勢進港可保無虞 其建立費項 業經在港諸船允捐銀壹大元外 再到本港者 每次出銀四錢 以為守樓工資油火等費 願我同人 玉成其事 捐金不替 則眾生無迷津 而諸船皆利涉矣

嘉慶元年端月 日公立

黃從觀 歐居觀 林格觀 林騧觀 林疑觀 林詹觀 林鎮觀 紀意觀
王由觀 林禎觀 紀恭觀 朱相觀 黃經觀 高二觀 洪的觀 傅球觀
林景觀 洪德觀 陳評觀 紀暨觀 薛鎮觀 傅橙觀 周古觀 紀草觀 王仕觀

觀 was a salutation, equivalent to 官 (Master/Sir). For example, the first one on the list 黃從觀 was from 黃x從, x was removed to make room for 觀. In other instances, 觀 was simply added after the full name. This form of salutational address is no longer in use in the Chinese language, however.

2015年7月20日 星期一


PRC map of Greater Xiamen including Xiamen Island
Throughout Chinese history, names of places are often changed to conform to new civil administrative systems imposed by new rulers/conquerors. This is a geographical identity cleansing on an unimaginable scale. Xiamen Island (廈門島) is no exception. Xiamen is of course known to the West as Amoy.

Xiamen Island was known as 嘉禾嶼 during the Song Dynasty and 中左所 during Ming Dynasty. It had been part of the TongAn Prefecture (同安縣). During the Song Dynasty, TongAn was made up of 11 Li (里) which became 44 Du (都) in Yuan Dynasty, and 37 Du in Ming. The 11 Li's were named 長興, 同禾, 民安, 從順, 翔鳳, 感化, 歸德, 仁德, 安仁, 積善, and 嘉禾. And 嘉禾里 was the original name of Xiamen Island.

The ancestors of some Tamsui-lang were from 嘉禾里 or Xiamen Island, while others, the rest of the old TongAn Prefecture (here). Not to be out-done, the PRC has also re-districted these areas and lumped them into the City of Xiamen (above), adding even more confusion.

2015年7月16日 星期四

Merchants in Tamsui

Prof 曾令毅Tseng Ling-Yi of Tamkang University has just posted the following:

A quick translation: A stone tablet can be seen in a temple near Yin-Zhuang Road (below). The land nearby originally belonged to the Aborigines, later taken over by the Han people complete with deeds. In 1867, merchants contributed funds to build this earth-god temple. On the tablet the names of donor corporations, locally from Tamsui and other prominent families from Taipei, were recorded...

A local "吳鶴記Wu He Ji" was mentioned as one of the donors and three of the Wu family members appeared on the tablet (lower right):

同治六年 (1867)
The donation was made in 佛銀, Spanish silver dollars, common currency at that time (one 佛銀 = 0.67兩紋銀silver tael x 8880 = NT$5949.60).

A real estate transaction contract from dated 1879 (GuanXu Year 5), mentioned 吳鶴記, a cropped section here:

Wu Family collection
Indeed, as Prof Tseng has pointed out that the middle Qing era has witnessed the development of Tamsui, the interaction between the Han ad the Aborigines, and the mercantile activities before Tamsui became a major sea port.

2015年7月9日 星期四

Oyster Lady

The Oyster Lady (1964), the first movie in CinemaScope
in full color produced in Taiwan
Up and down the west coast of Taiwan, oyster-farming can be found almost everywhere, most notably in JiaYi, Tainan, Yunlin, and Changhua. About 50% of oysters in Taiwan are produced in TungShi 東石 in Jiayi. It has a long history as well, for example, in Tainan, part of Ft Zeelandia was built with cement made with oyster shell ashes. In HenChun, there is a oyster shell island in 大鵬灣 formed from discarded oyster shells over the past few centuries.

Harvesting oysters
Eating oysters raw is not in the Taiwanese culinary culture. In Tamsui, oysters have always been prepared as clear soup. In the now demolished Grand Rotary 圓環 in Taipei, oyster pancakes with or without eggs mixed in the batter were served. These oysters were all small in size. Even today, the most seeded jumbo Clausen Pacific oysters are allowed to grow for only 6 months to one year, as opposed to 2-4 years in north America, before harvesting. Catering to the consumers' preference aside, the giant variety never tastes good anyway, in fact, the flavor is all wrong. Restaurants advertising Taiwanese cuisine in the US also serve 蠔仔煎, albeit with jumbo ones. After a few tries, the verdict is often a "Don't bother".

Oyster pancake/omelet, usually served with a ketchup-like 海山醬
Oysters grown in Tamsui River in Tamsui are now too polluted to eat. The same small oysters with the same distinct flavor, however, can still be found in Sendai, the 宮城三陸牡蠣 Miyagi Sanriku Kaki, This photo shows an example, second from the left, the smallest one:

From left to right: 能登岩牡蠣, 宮城三陸牡蠣, 宮城福貴浦牡蠣, 北海道厚岸牡蠣
Taiwan has 18 varieties of oysters. The taxonomy is best left to the experts, we the consumers only need to know where to get and how to eat them. Charcoal-grilled oysters on the half-shell washed down with Taiwan Beer are most definitely more satisfying than oyster soup. Even better, they can be found in 鹿耳門 in Tainan (where Koxinga's fleet sailed through in 1661 before the first battle against the Dutch) - no need to travel to Sendai. 

2015年7月5日 星期日

Beautiful Duckling

Beautiful Duckling
Beautiful Duckling (養鴨人家) is an award-winning movie that premiered in 1965. The storyline is based on a loving relationship between farmer Lin and his adopted daughter Little Moon (小月). In the background was naturally the ducks - with duck breeding woven into the plot.  So what kind of ducks were in the movies? Answer: brown Tsaiya (菜鴨).

Tsaiya in fact comes in two colors: brown is the oldest that came from southern China, and white, bred from male muscovy and female tsaiya under strict protocols (officially known as Yilang white duck, 宜蘭白鴨). The brown tsaiya is raised mostly for its eggs, and white, for meat.

The red-faced black muscovy is the ferocious territorial kind. Its meat has a distinct flavor often used in the preparation of the ginger-duck-soup (薑母鴨) (below), a winter-time favorite for the Taiwanese. White muscocies were introduced from Australia in 1962, later also from the Netherlands and the US, and in 1984, France.

The lovely Peking duck, originally from northern China, was imported to Taiwan in 1954. Then there are the hybrids: male Peking + female tsaiya = kaiya (改鴨), and male muscovy + female tasiya = mule duck (土番鴨), bred for speedy maturation and increasing weights.

Consumption of duck eggs gradually shifted to chicken eggs after the introduction of large-scale chicken farming into Taiwan in 1961. These days, just like in the US, duck eggs are hard to find in supermarkets. And because of the elevated fatty contents of duck meat especially the skin, it has also fallen into disfavor for some consumers (even though there has been no evidence linking duck fats with cardiovascular diseases). The challenge now is how to breed ducks with lean meat.

2015年6月28日 星期日

Giant African snails Part 2

Giant African snails also ended up in Okinawa Prefecture 沖縄県 having been brought in from Taiwan in 1932. Initially, the snails were confined in a lab for breeding experiments, some, however, had escaped during the Battle of Okinawa. As in Taiwan, the snails were intended as food source for the army, as least for those stationed in Amami 奄美 (Ogasawara 小笠原 appeared to have imported its own from Java).

Because of the severe food shortage immediately after the war, giant African snails became a protein source of desperation. They were ditched as soon as the food situation improved, however. The Okinawans also did not have a snail-eating custom. So the snails were simply let go that had resulted in an explosive growth as they had no natural enemies in Okinawa.

The outbreaks in Ogasawara Islands and Okinawa became so bad that traveling cars regularly crushed them on highways. Worse, damage to agriculture was enormous. So snails by the truckloads were collected and destroyed. Then in 1969, cases of eosinophilic meningoencephalitis were reported in Okinawa. Extermination of the snails, carriers of the parasite Angiostrongylus (Angiostrongylus cantonensis), started post-haste.

By 1985, routine removal in Okinawa Prefecture had seen a decline of the snail population, although not totally gone. Curiously, in Chichi-jima 父島 of the Ogasawara Islands, the snails totally disappeared in around 1989, even though those on Haha-jima 母島 remained alive and well. Cause of the Chichijima snail depletion was unknown, possibly owing to the arrival of some new predators.

[Source: http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/milasol1224/1612520.html]

2015年6月26日 星期五

Giant African snails Part 1

Giant African snails (非洲大蝸牛, Achatina fulica) can be found pretty much everywhere in Taiwan. These are not indigenous to Taiwan at all. There is a long history of how they got here.

Record shows that it was Prof 下條 久馬一 (Shimojyo Kumaitsu) of Imperial Taihoku (Taipei) University who first introduced these giant snails in 1932 from Singapore; they were to be bred as a protein source.

Prof Shimojyo actually had impressive credentials in infectious diseases: he graduated from Imperial Tokyo University, then became a professor at Kanazawa University specializing in typhus research before moving to Taiwan. He also headed Taiwan Tropical Research Institute and was pivotal in the formulation of leprosy managing policy. Unfortunately, snails were not his forte. The idea of snails as a food source did not work out so well at all. It might have been because of the complicated processes required to remove the slime (for the curiously minded, a good post on how to prepare the snails can be found here). The biggest problem is, however, that the African Giant Snails are carriers of 廣東住血線蟲 (Angiostrongylus cantonensis), a parasite that can cause eosinophilic meningitis. The infection rate of the parasites is a very high 50%. Even though they can be destroyed by heat at >60C, the usual quickie stir-frying is, however, ineffective. It is therefore best not to use the snails as food.

As a result, the abandoned African snails were free to roam and procreate since, consuming everything green in their paths.

You'd think this is a lesson learned. Well, not really. In 1980, another snail, the 福壽螺 (Pomacea canaliculata), was introduced from Argentina. Again, abandoned as a protein source, these pests now invade rice fields all over Taiwan causing tens of millions of dollars in crop loss, and efforts in eradicating them have not been successful thus far.

2015年6月21日 星期日

The Black Flag Army

Liu Yong-Fu's grave robbed again (6/18/2015)
News report on 6/20/2015: the grave of Liu Yong-Fu (1837-1917, 劉永福), the famed hero of the Sino-French war, is robbed again (above). His grave is located in a small village in GuangXi Province in China (廣西欽州市欽南區沙埠鎮沙寮村).

Indeed, Liu had commanded his Black Flag Army, and at the invitation of the Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, had successfully fought off the French invasion of IndoChina in 1873 and again in 1883 in the Sino-French war.

In 1894, Liu was dispatched by the Qing Court to take charge of the defense of Taiwan. He re-organized the Black Flag Army with enlistees from the two Canton provinces totaling about 8,000 men who were stationed in Tainan area. When the Qing ceded Taiwan to Japan in 1895, the Japanese military arrived in Taiwan and moved swiftly from Keelung to Taipei but ran into stiff resistance in Hsinchu area. From this point on southward, every single victory was hard won. The biggest prize in southern Taiwan was of course Tainan and the Japanese attacked the city from both the land and the sea with a force of 90,000. Two army groups approached from both the north and the south with 15,000 men landed in Putai after heavy bombardment from 3 warships, Naniwa, Yoshino, and Kaimon. Other warships also destroyed Qing gun forts along the seashore in this area.

Facing the overwhelming force and the refusal of the Qing to send help, Liu decided to sue for peace. It was in fact a conditional surrender which was declined by the Japanese on Oct 8th and again on Oct 12th. In the middle of the night of Oct 19th, Liu and his son 劉成良 (commander of Kaohsiung gun fort) with staffers 陳樹南 and 柯王貴 boarded British merchant ship Thales and sailed away abandoning the Black Flag Army. On Oct 22, the leader-less Army, still well-equipped, congregated on the beach, not knowing what to do except to surrender to the Japanese.

It is known that on Oct 23, only 5,100 soldiers were shipped to Kinmen (no record of if they had safely arrived). Between Oct 22-23, about 1,000 were massacred by the Japanese for refusing to hand over weapons and personal belongings, and another 116 died from starvation.

This was the true legacy of Liu Yong-Fu in Taiwan.

2015年6月9日 星期二

The Diary of Philip Meij Part 2

A 17th Century illustration: Koxinga (r) sentencing Hambroek to death
from 風中之葉:福爾摩沙見聞錄 by Lambert van der Aalsvoort
The appearance of Koxinga remains unclear to this day. Philip Meij might have been the only one who gave a somewhat detailed first-hand description of Koxinga. Besides large teeth with gaps inbetween them, Meij had also noticed Koxinga‘s big and black eyes that darted around, his sparse beard that reached down to the chest, and that he spoke/barked with a severe and agitated voice 【translation of the diary in Chinese: "他眼睛又大又黑,那對眼睛很少有靜止的時候,不斷到處閃視...鬍子不多,長及胸部。他說話的聲音非常嚴厲,咆哮又激昂"】.

Since the names of Koxinga's generals spelled in Dutch were based on Hokkien, the latter was probably the language used by Koxinga in daily conversation (in addition to Mandarin官話 and Japanese). 

Perhaps the most interesting aspect is that Meij saw a bearded Koxinga that seems to confirm that portrayed in paintings commissioned (allegedly) soon before his death in 1662. In the Cheng Family tradition, men are always clean-shaven and mustaches/beards are kept only when in mourning of parental deaths. It now appears that Koxinga was still remembering his mother Lady Wen's untimely demise.
Koxinga playing Go (artist unknown)
Meij night have also exaggerated Koxinga's eyes. In the portrait of a middle-aged Koxinga (above), his were the classical phoenix's eyes (鳳眼), not "big and dark" that usually depict bandits and criminals. 

2015年6月5日 星期五

The Diary of Philip Meij Part 1

Koxinga (in white) as recalled by Philip Meij
Philip Meij was a land surveyor employed by the VOC, trapped inside Ft Provincia when Koxinga's fleet entered Tai Bay on April 30, 1661 (for more, see here). He was released and left for Batavia with Coyett and remnants of the VOC on Feb 9, 1662. During this 9-month period, he worked for Koxinga not only in land surveys but also in translating letters from Koxinga to Coyett. Most importantly, Meij had written a company report based on his daily recalls after his safe return to Batavia. This diary complements, although is far more informative than Coyett's memoir of the siege of Ft Zeelandia, as it recorded activities unknown to Coyett. In addition, major events described in the diary also in most part agree with those archived by the Cheng court scribe 楊英Yang Ying, and the account of a near-contemporary historian 江日昇Jiang Ri Sheng. Meij's Dairy was translated from archaic Dutch into Chinese by 江樹聲Jiang Su-Sheng and published as 梅氏日記 in Taipei in 2003.

The diary told of the many unsuccessful attempts by Meij to reach Ft Zeelandia, the fate of the surrendered Dutch men, women, and children, the iron-fist rule of Koxinga, and the Ming-Cheng interaction with the Aborigines.

On May 5, 1661, while negotiating the surrender of Ft Provincia, Meij noticed 16 Aboriginal VIPs waiting outside of Koxinga's tent. They were the chiefs from 5 clans of previous Dutch colonial subjects, now all dressed in blue mandarin robes embroidered with gold and silk threads. Clearly, Koxinga was on good terms with Aborigines in the greater Sakam area. Not all Aboriginal tribes were friendly, though.

Some activists in Taiwan now decry the genocidal atrocity perpetrated on the Aborigines by Koxinga (and later his son Cheng Jing). This was not without provocation, however.

The major problem for Koxinga in the battle against the Dutch was the lack of enough food for his soldiers. He might have underestimated Coyett's resolve in defending Ft Zeelandia to wait it out for rescues from Batavia. A long siege must base on sufficient provisional reserve and Koxinga had great difficulties in getting re-supplied from his home base in Hokkien. The strategy was then changed to assigning his soldiers farming duties. Each military unit of 1,000-1,200 men was given a territory to build a town in the center and garrison forts in the periphery. There were also strict orders to leave current land ownership of both Han and Aboriginal undisturbed. And the land to be developed must meet certain farming standards complete with irrigation canals. Meji's surveyor skills were put in good use to erect the boundary markers of each territory. Along the way, for about 180 km north of Ft Provincia, Meji reported seeing men in groups of 100 busy planting sweet potatoes for immediate needs while getting the fields prepared for rice growing for the next season.

Of Koxinga's force, 11,000 to 12,000 men were sent to the north and 6,000 to the south leaving only 300 guarding Ft Provincia, now Koxinga's command center, and 5,000 to enforce the siege of Ft Zeelandia.

Both the north- and south-bound forces quickly ran into Aboriginal hostilities. To the north, the Prince of Middagh (大度王) lured the Cheng frontier army into a false sense of security and murdered 1,400 to 1,500 of them in their sleep, the rest escaped into sugarcane fields and were smoked out and killed as well. Also lost was 陳澤Chen Ze who defeated Capt Thomas Pedel and his 120 musketeers on the beach of 北線尾Baxemboy. To the south, according to Albrecht Herport (an artist-soldier, either a German or a Swiss, working for the VOC), 700 to 800 soldiers were killed by the Aborigines after being surrounded; of the 5,000 Han and some straggler Dutch civilians in this area, most would also die of starvation and disease.

Meij recalled the Cheng soldiers "using their heavy weaponry and shamelessly asked for hospitality from the Aborigines". Some modern-day historians would point to this passage as evidence of maltreatment of the Aborigines while it might simply be a hunger-driven behavior. Regardless, the Ming-Cheng Kingdom would later mount punitive actions against these murderous Aborigines.

2015年5月11日 星期一

Swatow 1895-1937

Very few people in Taiwan know of the adventures of teachers from Taiwan who worked in Swatow (汕頭, Shantou or Suátao) for a time. This is now reported by 曾齡儀 Tseng Lin-yi in her PhD dissertation, "A Cross-boundary People: The Commercial Activities, Social Networks, and Travel Writings of Japanese and Taiwanese Sekimin in the Shantou Treaty Port (1895-1937)" (2014). Dissertations and Theses, 2014-Present. Paper 119 (here).

And the Abstract in part: "This dissertation explores Japanese imperial history in East Asia and focuses on a group of “cross-boundary people”—Taiwanese sekimin ([台灣籍民] Taiwanese who registered as Japanese subjects) and Japanese—who went to the treaty port of Shantou in southern China during the period between 1895 and 1937. The starting time point (i.e., 1895) corresponds to the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, by which Japan acquired Taiwan as a colony and informal privileges in Chinese treaty ports. The ending time point (i.e., 1937) corresponds to the decline that Shantou’s Japanese community experienced owing to the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War on July 7, 1937."
Wedding photo of 鄭嘉昌 and 潘瑾, courtesy of the Cheng Fanily
One of the Taiwanese teachers at Swatow’s Tōē (東瀛) School was Mr 鄭嘉昌 (Jia-chang Zheng) who later married his fellow teacher Miss 潘瑾, and together, they raised 3 children during the family's stay in Swatow from late 1920s to early 1930s before returning to Taiwan. In June, 1939, Swatow was occupied by the Japanese and in July 1941, the Zheng family moved to Swatow again with Mr 鄭 appointed by the Taiwan General Gov't as a linguist. He later joined the Yoshimura Trading Co and became a successful businessman.

The recall of life in Swatow by the eldest daughter Miss 鄭美華 (Mei-hua Zheng) is astoundingly complete and vivid, readers are encouraged to have a close look (pp 178-185).

The Zheng/Cheng Family was from Tamsui. After the war, Mr 鄭嘉昌 became the Principal of WenHua (文化,1945-61) and Tamsui (淡水, 1961-69) Elementary Schools, educating Tamsui children for nearly a quarter of a century.

2015年5月8日 星期五

Parade announcement

To celebrate MaZu's birthday, the annual parade will be held on May 8 (Friday). No automobile or motorbike traffic will be allowed between 9AM to 9PM, from HuanNan Bank to Mackay sculpture (i.e., this stretch of Chung Cheng Road). Temporary parking along the Golden Coast is available before 12 noon. Your cooperation is much appreciated.

2015年5月6日 星期三

1950s Part 9: Santa

Dec 17, 1958, was when Santa Claus made his first appearance in the subtropical Taiwan:

The lone Santa in a pedicab attracted so much attention that a new group of Christmas shoppers suddenly emerged. No one knew who let loose this Santa sans reindeers. Regardless, he would soon become part of Taiwan pop culture, despite the fact that most houses were not equipped with a fireplace, let alone a chimney. Cut-out cardboard pictures of Santa together with poinsettia plants would proliferate, popped up everywhere in December. And of course, no one knew why poinsettia was part of Christmas celebration.

Eventually, the Gov't in 1963, resurrected a disused holiday, National Constitution Day行憲紀念日, so that Dec 25 became a day off for all. That is until the year 2001 when public servants started enjoying a 5-day workweek and the extra holiday was called off, reserved only for Christians and private businesses.

[Photos from Taipeimarc]

2015年5月2日 星期六

1950s Part 8: Rare friends

In the entire history of US-Taiwan inter-relations, Gen Dwight Eisenhower remains the only US President that had ever officially visited Taiwan (1960). Less noted were tours by US VPs, among them, Richard Nixon (1953), Hubert Humphrey (1966), and Spiro Agnew (1970, 1971). To the common folks, pomp and circumstances always trump diplomatic intrigues. After spending hours waiting in the sun, just to catch a glimpse of and enthusiastically cheer for the visiting heads of state, life is good, afterwards.
An embroiderer in a shack, refugee from China, pinning his hope of
returning home on Eisenhower and CKS 
In the 1950s, trips to Taiwan taken by heads of state were, however, rare. And among the most prominent were two monarchs from far far away, the Shah of Iran Pahlavi (1919-1980) and the Lion King of Jordan Hussein (1935-1999).
Shah of Iran 伊朗國王巴勒維陛下 and CKS, May 14, 1958
The history of the ancient Persian Empire is familiar to most school children in Taiwan. The Achaemenid Persian Empire (550–330 BC) was often regarded as the equivalent to Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) in both scope and grandeur. A visit paid by the Emperor reigning from the Peacock Throne therefore had generated a huge buzz. We were also all fascinated by tales of the Shah's coronation and reception, and the romance between the Shah and his queen(s). The fact that the Shah was actually meeting Taiwan's need for international support further endeared him to the people of Taiwan.

The Shah's itinerary in Taiwan was quite extensive. Arriving at SongShan Airport greeted with military honor, His Majesty met with dignitaries in Taipei on the first day (May 14). The next day, he went to Taoyuan to tour the Shihmen Dam, to HsinChuang to chat with a farming family, then attend a banquet in his honor at the Presidential Palace. Next day, a review of military exercise followed by visits to military bases in southern Taiwan before retiring to Kaohsiung Grand Hotel. The whole May 17 was scheduled for tours of industry and the National Palace Museum in Taichung. Then off to SunMoon Lake to spend the night at 涵碧樓 with dinner and a special Peking opera show, hosted by VP Chen-chen. The Shah returned to Taipei on May 18 and gave a reciprocal banquet honoring CKS and Mme Chiang. He left for Japan on May 19 and was sent off with military honor again at SongShan Airport.
King Hussein 胡笙國王 with CKS, March 9,1959
Almost a year later, an Arab king came calling. Tales of the Arabian Nights were also well-known to the children of Taiwan - even though most if not all had ever met an Arab before. King Hussein's tour of Taiwan set off unbounded imagination very quickly. And the title, the Lion of Jordan, instantaneously conjured up an image of a fearless fighter. That was exactly what the respect shown King Hussein by the people of Taiwan. His Majesty arrived in SongShan Airport to great fanfare before arriving at the Grand Hotel for a brief rest prior to starting the itinerary, which was as busy as that for the Shah of Iran. Most notable was that at the time, the first Islamic mosque was being built in Taipei (清真寺 on HsinSheng S Road) and King Hussein actually paid homage to the mosque, albeit still under construction, much to the delight of all Muslims in Taiwan.

People in the know always condescendingly told us that it was really all quid-pro-quo. That would not be surprising in the cynical world of international diplomacy. Nonetheless, even six decades later, we still remember this, "A friend in need is a friend indeed".

[Photos courtesy of Taipeimarc]

2015年4月30日 星期四

1950s Part 7: New minorities

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:
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]