A Tragic Beginning: The Taiwan Uprising of February 28, 1947

A Tragic Beginning: The Taiwan Uprising of February 28, 1947

A Tragic Beginning: The Taiwan Uprising of February 28, 1947

A Tragic Beginning: The Taiwan Uprising of February 28, 1947

Synopsis

Topics in this volume include: posing the problem; Taiwan under Japanese rule; the establishment of nationalist rule; the uprising; the nationalist's response; and the nature and aftermath of the tragedy.

Excerpt

As we have seen, tensions between Taiwanese and Mainlanders did not escalate in a uniform, linear way. Instead, the Uprising involved a series of violent actions taken by crowds expressing grievances and anger arising from the tensions described in the previous chapter. Erupting like a flash fire, the Uprising was triggered by a street disturbance that attracted crowds, who soon directed their anger at provincial government buildings, persons, and vehicles. the following table (Table 9) presents a brief chronology of the day-to-day events, which lasted roughly two weeks and involved a large part of the urban population.

As the Uprising progressed, a series of meetings and negotiations were held to consider the choice between violent confrontation and conciliation. the first of these meetings began no later than Friday evening, February 28, and involved Governor-General Ch'en I's own Executive Office and other administrative offices; different groups elected the previous April (especially the Taiwan Provincial Council and the Taipei City Council); local organizations, such as those formed in schools or universities or by merchants; and a sequence of newly formed committees, especially the famous "Resolution Committees" (ch'u-li wei-yüan-hui). the meetings were often attended by audiences of a hundred or more angry citizens expressing the rage felt by those in the streets. the process itself often evoked misunderstanding and anger and overcame efforts to conduct negotiations calmly and reach a speedy, peaceful end to the Uprising.

The chief problem was that of finding a common ground between Governor-General Ch'en I's administration and the different groups that more or less spoke for the crowds in the streets. Although Governor- General Ch'en I eventually agreed to a number of the dissidents' basic demands, he could not agree to the more revolutionary ones. Moreover, dissident actions in the streets or in other cities were often at odds with the views expressed in the Resolution Committees. That the demands escalated and took on a revolutionary character is indisputable--and that in itself explains the breakdown of the negotiations.

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