25 March 1996: REPLY
This commentary is in reply to James Heartfield's commentary, titled "US
Warships out of East Asia!".
James' view of the current military/political situation in Taiwan is rooted
in his analysis of American expansionism and his opinion that the the Taiwanese
people should not be entitled to determine their own fate because, he asserts,
they are a province of China, and should be ruled by China.
My son's grandparents and their family are native Taiwanese, and consequently,
my view of China's historical treatment of Taiwan is rooted in the lives
and history of the Taiwanese people.
As I have, over the years, learned about the tragic history of the Chinese
occupation of Taiwan, I have come to understand why the Taiwanese people
strongly oppose the Chinese State's attempts to isolate and absorb Taiwan;
why the Holo/Hakka Taiwanese majority has pushed for, and ultimately succeeded
in gaining, a voice in Taiwanese political life through democratic reform;
and why the majority of Taiwanese citizens have sought and welcomed the
support of the United States and regional powers in their efforts to resist
Chinese interference in their domestic political and economic life.
James supports the Chinese State's position that Taiwan is not an independent
country, but rather a part of China, and, consequently, that Chinese threats
against Taiwan are an internal matter, not subject to foreign protest. But,
when one looks to history for support of China's claim to Taiwan, one discovers
instead that China's claims are rooted entirely in its military occupation
of Taiwan and the oppression of its people.
The Holo and Hakka Taiwanese, who constitute the majority of Taiwanese citizens,
have lived on Taiwan throughout its written history. When the Manchus did
manage to exert partial control over Taiwan as a border colony during the
Ch'ing dynasty, they did so by military force, and the native Taiwanese
constantly rebelled against their Chinese oppressors until Taiwan was occupied
by Japan in 1895. At the end of World War II, when the period of Japanese
occupation ended, China once again brutally oppressed the Taiwanese people,
killing and raping indiscriminately. Ultimately, Nationalist government
military thugs killed 18,000 - 28,000 Taiwanese citizens in the infamous
2/28 massacre of 1947.
During the early part of their occupation, the Chinese Nationalist government
outlawed the speaking of native Taiwanese languages and brutally suppressed
discussion of atrocities committed by the Chinese against the Taiwanese
people. As a result, they severed older generations of Taiwanese from younger
generations by taking away their native tongue and forcing parents to speak
a broken form of Mandarin to their own children.
Over the past two decades, as a consequence of the rapid development of
the Taiwanese economy, the native majority have gained economic strength,
and consequently, political power. As a result, the Nationalist government
has been forced to lift its restrictions on speaking Taiwanese (Hoakanese)
and has had to allow open discussion of their historical role as oppressors
of the Taiwanese people. As a result of these changes, most Taiwanese people
have taken a "live and let live" attitude toward Mandariners living
in Taiwan. A common attitude is that one should not hold the current generation
responsible for the crimes of their ancestors. Intermarriage is now becoming
The will of the Taiwanese people has achieved its ultimate expression in
peaceful governmental reform leading to the development of a democratic
nation which will held its first presidential election on March 23rd. Despite
Chinese threats, missile tests, war games, and demonization of Presidential
candidate Lee Tung Hui, the Taiwanese people resolutely supported Mr. Lee.
Mr. Lee, the first native Taiwanese President in Taiwan's history and one
of the people who engineered the democratic reform of the KMT party and
Taiwanese government, won the election with 54% of the popular vote, more
than twice the number of votes of his nearest rivals. Moreover, the Taiwanese
people also showed strong support for the democratic process, with 75% of
the eligible voters casting ballots. The "New Party", which supports
unification with China and is composed of KMT leaders who left to form their
own party when the KMT began to move to the left, won only 15% of the vote.
They only managed to win a handful of parliamentary seats, all in Taipei,
where last vestiges of their power remains.
Through their overwhelming support of the democratic reform of their country's
government and through their support of Lee Tung Hui, the Taiwanese people
have expressed their desire to determine their own destiny despite China's
military threats. This small island nation now stands in opposition to the
enormous power of the Chinese State, which has isolated Taiwan diplomatically,
and now threatens to invade should the Taiwanese people attempt to break
out of Chinese bondage, once and for all.
Urgently, John Reynolds
If you would like to learn more about Taiwanese history, please see the
web page located at http://www.taiwanese.com/protest
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