Hunt for 228 ‘truth’ a political exercise

By Joe hung

Both Taiwan and China deliberately celebrated the Feb. 28 Incident of 1947. In Beijing, the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League (TDSL), one of China’s nonfunctioning eight democratic parties, held a government-sponsored discussion meeting three days ahead of time to mark the 70th anniversary of the incident, kicking off a new peaceful offensive to force President Tsai Ing-wen to accept the “1992 Consensus.” In Taipei, Tsai declared last Thursday she would do what she could to find the truth behind the incident, in which thousands of innocent people were massacred in Taiwan during the suppression of spontaneous islandwide riots, and identify the “chief culprits” responsible. Beijing ordered the TDSL to conclude that the incident was an uprising of the people of Taiwan against the despotic rule by the then-Kuomintang (KMT) government to win back their basic rights and was a part of the struggle for liberation of the Chinese people. In the conclusion, it was declared that the current Taiwan independence and secession forces had distorted historical facts to stoke the feud between native Taiwanese and Chinese mainlanders in order to politically polarize Taiwan. The incident, in a nutshell, was described as a patriotic and democratic movement for self-rule by Taiwanese compatriots — an exemplification of their glorious tradition of Chinese patriotism and not a revolution for independence.

Tsai, on the other hand, received at the Presidential Office representatives of bereaved families from abroad of the victims of the massacre. She also announced that her administration would pursue the quickest possible amendment of the Classified Dossier Act and the Political Party Act to facilitate the search for the truth of the 228 Incident and identify the chief culprits, because “one cannot imprudently say, ‘let’s forget past history and the ravages we have suffered.’”

All classified information shall be made public to help find every one of the guilty parties and, if possible, punish them for the sake of uphold transitional justice. This includes the liquidation of all the “ill-gotten assets” of the KMT, of course.

Corrupt and Incompetent

The incident dramatically changed the relationship between native Taiwanese and Chinese mainlanders. Right after the retrocession of Taiwan to the Republic of China, the people of the island province rejoiced in their return to the motherland, looking forward to a better life — something they had been deprived of under Japanese colonial rule.

They were soon absolutely dissatisfied, however. Life got worse under the corrupt and incompetent rule of Governor General Chen Yi. Then, on Feb. 27, 1947, a widow cigarette vendor was beaten by a Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Monopoly Bureau agent while pleading for leniency after the mainland Chinese-made cigarettes she was selling were confiscated. She was injured, bleeding from her cheek. Onlookers became a mob and attempted to attack the agent and his five mates. One of them fired a warning shot, which accidentally hit and killed a man who had come out of his home to find out what the commotion was all about.