An investigative study conducted by the Executive Yuan into the February 28 Incident, an incident that no one had dared mention before the end of martial law and that had caused social unease in Taiwan, was to be used by the government as a reference in the settlement of the aftermath of the February 28 Incident.
Therefore, in January 1991, the “February 28 Incident Research Group” was established with eight members, Chen Chung-Kuang, Yeh Ming-hsun, Li Yunhan, Chih Ching-Teh, Chang Yu-fa, Marvin Ho, Chen San-ching and Lai Jeh-hang, and with Chen Chung-Kuang and Yeh Ming-hsun as conveners and Lai Jeh-hang as chief writer. Apart from Lai Jeh-hang, the group also invited four other professors, Huang Fu-san, Wu Wenxing, Huang Xiuzheng, and Hsu Hsueh-chi, to join the writers panel. Chen Mei-fei, Chien Jung-tsung and Fang Huifang were part-time researchers, respectively assisting Huang Fu-san, Huang Xiuzheng and Yeh Ming-hsun, the so called “Working Team.”
The above-mentioned authors conducted archive and literature research and oral history recording in accordance with their academic conscience and non-partisan positions.
Although the research period was only one year, they were able to gain access to first hand materials from the government and to interview hundreds of witnesses before systematically and objectively analyzing the incident in its entirety.
When it came to the collection of material, in addition to sourcing from the existing archives of the Taiwanese government, researchers also went to China and other countries to collect relevant data of high value, including documents concerning the February 28 Incident donated by George H. Kerr to Stanford University’s Hoover Institution Library and Archives, Tamsui Consulate documents provided by the Public Record Office of the United Kingdom, documents provided by the Second Historical Archives of China in Nanjing, etc. The material obtained by the research team can be counted as some of the richest among all overseas and domestic research programs in relation to this topic.
After the publication of the February 28 Incident investigation report on February 22, 1992, it was generally accepted by the public in spite of disagreements over some details.
Referring to further information, the authors edited and supplemented the original report and had it published by China Times Publishing Co. on February 20, 1994. This was how “Research Report on the February 28 Incident” came into being.
There is no doubt that “Research Report on the February 28 Incident” is the primary source that people should refer to if they wish to understand this incident. However, a total of 504 pages can be quite burdensome for members of our busy modern society. The “Conclusion” chapter of the report, which spans from page 405 to page 412, provides a brief description and review of the February 28 Incident, allowing readers to understand the cause, progression and aftermath of the incident. Therefore, the Memorial Foundation of 228 especially chose this chapter as the core of this article, which is divided into eight sections and supplemented with footnotes to strengthen the clarity of the main text. Footnotes are all quoted from the “Research Report” except where specified otherwise. It is expected that readers of this article can gain a comprehensive idea of the February 28 Incident within an hour. Of course, if you wish to understand the entire incident in more detail, you should refer to the original report.
The February 28 Massacre1 took place less than a year and a half after the end of the Second World War. The background of the incident is extremely complicated and cannot be explained in terms of only one factor. First of all, fifty years of Japanese colonial rule led to a general lack of understanding of both the political system and societal circumstances of China. Therefore, disillusionment with the new regime became apparent before the end of 19453. Secondly, on the political front, the system of the Chief Executive’s Office was beset with many defects and problems, including the corrupt and ineffective behaviors of government officials5 and soldiers6, unfair distribution of political resources7, etc. On the economic front, improper policies for controlling the economy8 resulted in an industrial slump8, hyperinflation9 and severe unemployment10. On the societal front, Taiwanese veterans who served in the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy11 could find hardly any employment opportunities after returning from the battlefields and ended up destitute, which resulted in the gradual formation of an undercurrent of anti-government sentiment. In addition, the obstinate personality of Chief Executive Chen Yi12 made it impossible for him to understand the feelings of the Taiwanese people, which resulted in the deterioration of the relationship between the government and the people. The above-mentioned factors contributed to a premonition of an imminent crisis among people of insight13 well before the Chief Executive’s Office became aware of it14.
Outbreak of the Massacre
The February 28 Massacre resulted from the misconduct of contraband investigators and police and military police authorities in regards to contraband tobacco confiscation15, which gave rise to mass petition and protest and strike actions from laborers and shopkeepers in Taipei on February 2816. An incident in which guards shot at protesters at the headquarters of the Taiwan Province Executive’s Office the same day17 meant the unrest was further exacerbated and became unstoppable. The petition for punishing the perpetrators was turned into a fight against the Taiwan Province Executive’s Office18. Conflict between Taiwanese locals and people from other Chinese provinces was thus provoked19. Resistance and conflict spread throughout the whole island in no time, transforming an originally quite simple public security incident into a political movement. Local leaders took advantage of this opportunity to demand total reform. Military conflicts broke out in some areas after insurgents took control of weapons that belonged to the military and police20.
Escalation of the Conflict
Taipei City was in the eye of this political storm before it engulfed the whole island. The February 28 Incident Settlement Committee in Taipei and its branches in many municipalities were the main actors in the political turmoil. During this period of turbulence, certain government officials who were already despised by the local people before the conflict quit their positions and escaped one by one, which meant that even those government officials who were willing to maintain the public order and cooperate with the February 28 Incident Settlement Committee were forced by the changing situation to temporarily hide away for their safety. The February 28 Incident Settlement Committee in Taipei and its branches in other municipalities all bore heavy responsibility for gathering public opinion, maintaining the public order and promoting political reforms, as well as communicating with the Chief Executive’s Office22. This meant that at times they almost replaced the function of the Chief Executive’s Office and local governments23. However, there were divergent opinions and conflicting policies within the February 28 Incident Settlement Committee and there were no unified administrative guidelines for its local branches to follow, which resulted in its failure to fully perform its function of pacifying the political situation.
After the outbreak of the incident, conflicts at different places were intensified, which gave the opportunity for the Chinese Communist Party and its allies to interfere politically. For example, Hsieh Hsueh-hung and Yang Ke-huang directed the Taichung area insurgence of the March 2 Incident24. Hsieh Hsueh-hung not only convened an “assembly of citizens” to take advantage of the power of demonstrators in completely taking over official institutions of the Taichung City Government, but also mobilized young people and students to organize the 27 Brigade25, which was a militarized force striving for the complete democratization of Taiwan. The path of armed uprising was thus created beyond the parliamentary approach adopted by the Settlement Committee.
The Chiayi area showed different characteristics from other places following the March 2 Incident26. First of all, local people formed an armed group and joined the military operation attacking an armory near Lantan Lake and Shueishang Airport27. Most of the participants in these actions were not professional soldiers. Secondly, many people in the Chiayi area supported these uprising actions. Because of this, Mayor Sun Chih-chun believed that the intensity of the battle and the casualties of civil servants and teachers were possibly the highest among all municipalities in Taiwan.
From March 3, Kaohsiung had experienced social unrest triggered by furious locals, who took increasingly drastic actions as time went by and later besieged the 105 Military Hospital and the headquarters of the Kaohsiung Military Police Corps28. Peng Meng-Chi, the commander of the Kaohsiung Military Fortress, believed that the besiegement already constituted a rebellion and was ready to resort to military crackdown. On March 6 at around 2 p.m., Peng Meng-Chi detained the delegates of the opposition and suppressed the uprising with a swift military operation30, which although stabilized the tumultuous situation in Kaohsiung, resulted in casualties inside the Kaohsiung City Government building31 and outside the railway station32. In the village purging that came afterwards, 1500 suspected “criminals” were arrested, some of whom were even executed in public. This is said to be one of the important reasons the trauma of the conflict could not be properly healed for a long time.
Reaction of the Government and the Settlement of the Incident
After the incident had spread and escalated, Chen Yi, who understood the insufficiency of his government’s military strength33 and strived to maintain his powerful position, originally intended to downplay the severity of the situation and focus on resolving the conflict with a political approach. At first, the civil society leaders who had participated in the operation of the February 28 Incident Settlement Committee were only concerned with the murder that had occurred in a contraband cigarette operation34. However, the Chief Executive’s Office did not handle it well, turning the original simple petition of prosecuting the murderer into a political reform movement that took advantage of the groundswell of public anger to gradually increase its demands from the government35. Due to the loose nature of the February 28 Incident Settlement Committee’s organizational structure in Taiwan, the Central Government believed that the Committee was engaged in treasonous activities, which constituted an excuse for military crackdown in the eyes of public security agencies. Why did the government suppress the social unrest militarily? Existing archives, various literature and oral history records that the Central Government’s response was deeply influenced by the opinions of those who dominated politics in Taiwan. At the beginning of the incident, Chen Yi and Ko Yuan-fen, who were in charge of the administration and military in Taiwan, did not understand the uniqueness of Taiwanese society, believing that the requests proposed by the Taiwanese people and the February 28 Incident Settlement Committee were unreasonable and disingenuous. As a result, the authorities in Taiwan employed divide and conquer tactics40 and infiltration strategy to try to de-escalate the crisis on the one hand; while constantly exaggerating the severity of the conflict so that they could demand more troops from the Central Government for military crackdown on the other.
As shown in government archives, the chairman of the Nationalist Government Chiang Kai-shek did not advocate a military crackdown at first, instead simply agreeing to dispatch a strengthened corps to Taiwan. The intention was to relocate troops back to where they were originally stationed to prevent the situation from worsening in Taiwan. Later, after Chiang Kai-shek received requests from Chen Yi and intelligence agencies, he changed his attitude to characterize the incident as an insurgency organized by rebels, ignored the petitions from Taiwanese civil society41, and decided to send in troops to clamp down on the resistance movement42. The military crackdown could be roughly divided into two main parts: armed raids and “village cleansing.” Due to the thorough planning and military deployment by the Chief Executive’s Office and the deliberate exaggeration of the actual situation of the rebellious movement, the armed raids were far more effective than initially expected. Except for some residual resistance from the 27 Brigade in central Taiwan, confrontations rarely occurred in other parts of the island44. However, when executing the military crackdown in various regions, the government army engaged in retaliatory behavior, resulting in innocent casualties and the shooting of suspects on the spot without trial45.
The military crackdown was followed by “village cleansing,” the main objectives of which were to arrest suspects46, confiscate weapons, check on residents, process those who turned themselves in47, and collect “Guarantees to Report Outlaws” from households. All of the above-mentioned tasks were fulfilled in time. However, in reality, many suspects were falsely incriminated or reported by revengeful individuals. Military police and police authorities rushed to arrest and interrogate these suspects without first obtaining sufficient evidence, which resulted in many cases of miscarriages of justice. There were also some convicted criminals who bribed their way out of charges or were helped free from jail by some people with special connections. Some unscrupulous soldiers and police took advantage of the opportunity to blackmail, extort and rob civilians of their personal possessions, causing public resentment to boil. There is little doubt that this was because the military authorities at the time failed to effectively prevent wrongdoing and control the situation, and failed to enforce effective discipline on soldiers. The military authorities should be held responsible for a great number of innocent causalities.
The February 28 Massacre is one of the greatest tragedies in Taiwanese history48. This tragedy can be looked at from two different perspectives. For Taiwanese people who fell victim to the massacre, it was ironic that it was not at the hands of imperialists during the Japanese colonial period that they perished, but at those of a military crackdown by a regime that came from the “ancestral land” to which they had always hoped to return49. They may have criticized the government or advocated for Taiwanese autonomy, actions far from treasonous in their minds, but they were executed by the authorities anyway. Most of the executions occurred after not first being subject to public trial, and secret executions, after which the bodies were carelessly disposed of, were no exception. These practices should have no place in a civilized society. Many victims who did not even participate in the anti-government movement were accidentally shot dead on the street by soldiers. From the perspective of the Chinese immigrants who came to work in Taiwan after the Second World War, although corruption and malfeasance were not uncommon in the army and the public service, not every single recently immigrated Chinese official was corrupt. However, in this incident, some recent immigrants from China became scapegoats, were injured or killed after being blindly attacked by furious mobs. Even though the number of these casualties was not as high as the Taiwanese victims, these attacks so horrified some of the recently immigrated public officials and teachers that they eventually left Taiwan. Cases like this widened the schism between both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Without doubt, those who beat up new immigrants from China, attacked government institutions or airports, or even committed homicide should be subject to legal prosecution. Therefore, not everyone who was injured or killed in the February 28 Massacre was an innocent victim, and must be differentiated.
Civilian Casualties and Victims of the Massacre
The first group of victims were those officially determined guilty. Since the government regarded the February 28 Incident as treasonous, it was inevitable that anyone who took part in the organized insurgence and rioted would be included in the so-called “blacklist”51 before they were arrested and sentenced. However, an investigation shows that many malpractices were discovered in relation to the identification of who was involved and the application of due process of law. Firstly, most participants believed that they had not had any intention of overturning the regime and only advocated the reform of Taiwanese politics. It was not surprising that people who were convicted of “attempting to subvert the government” could not accept the government’s justifications. Secondly, some of the victims were arrested secretly and the cause of their death could not be confirmed. Was it an execution that was carried out after the trial in accordance with the conviction? Or was it revenge instigated by their enemies? The families of the victims did not know the answers and hence have lived in sorrow since the massacre. In 2007, a report investigating responsibility for the massacre was published, confirming that Chiang Kai-shek, the chairman of the Nationalist government at the time, should be mainly held responsible for the losses of the February 28 Incident.
The second group of victims were those who did violate martial law. It was understandable that the Nationalist government declared martial law because of the civil war. However, Taiwanese compatriots had not experienced the rule of martial law in the past and did not understand what martial law was. Many local people who did not speak the national language Mandarin or other local languages of China were shot dead on their way to school or work during curfew hours, simply because they did not understand the soldiers’ verbal warnings. The way these people were treated was extremely unjust and unpardonable.
The third group of victims were those killed by immoral soldiers53. After the founding of the Republic of China in 1912, the country had been torn apart by incessant military conflicts. Eight years of fighting against Japanese invasion had a particularly great impact on military education, resulting in failure to reform the military administration and an ill-disciplined army. Therefore, countless wrongdoings and malfeasance54 emerged during the military crackdown in Taiwan. The most common was using one’s position in the government to revenge for something personal. Some people were killed because of disagreements; others were murdered after being robbed of their possessions55. Although commanders of the government’s army tried to educate their soldiers and correct their behaviors56, illegality was still hard to eradicate. In addition, due to policies of rewarding those who reported suspects secretly57 or identified gangsters58 to the government, many innocent people were also unjustly treated due to some personal grievances and wrongly killed in the end. Some people were deliberately set up and put to death by the government, such as those victims who died in Yuanshan on March 8, 1947.
Compensation at the Time
Soon after the social unrest had ended and public order restored, the Chief Executive’s Office launched a compensatory program60 at the end of March, giving relief funds to government officials and teachers and their dependants and domestic workers who had experienced loss of life and property, and helping them to overcome the hardship in their lives. However, this job was not done satisfactorily. There were many reasons for this, including a) the compensatory program was only targeted at government officials, teachers and their dependants and domestic workers, and it did not cover the losses that the general public experienced; b) not all of the compensatory program was reasonable, resulting in some people who endured great losses but only received a disproportionately small compensation, and some people who experienced not much loss but applied for an exceedingly large compensation; c) due to the scarcity of the relief fund, some ill-intentioned government officials and teachers pretended to raise funds from the general public (especially wealthy people), but actually they were extorting money for their personal use61. This left an extremely bad impression on Taiwanese people. Furthermore, because not many government officials or teachers were compensated, the general public and the families of victims thought that the government had not started any compensatory program dedicated to the losses of either Taiwanese people or immigrants coming from China after the Second World War. Therefore, many people requested that the government should draft the compensatory measures as soon as possible.
Comment and Analysis on the Key Figures
The purpose of this report is to illustrate the truth of the incident. There is no intention to hold anyone accountable. However, the actions that several key figures took in the incident cannot be ignored.
Although Chen Yi intended to promote good governance upon arrival in Taiwan62 and was trying to use political measures to resolve the crisis at the beginning of the February 28 Incident63, he requested the central government to dispatch troops for suppressing the social unrest after realizing that he no longer could control the development of the situation64. After the troops landed in Taiwan, Chen Yi, as highest official in charge of the military administration in Taiwan, could not effectively ensure the behaviors of soldiers and policemen who carried out the crackdown were within the bounds of lawfulness66, resulting in things such as “police and soldiers from the Taiwan Garrison Command resorting to retaliatory measures67 to beat up and arrest rebels” and “the ordering of the special force of the military police stationed in Taiwan to secretly arrest the National Assembly members”68. Chen Yi’s approach targeted people who were not involved in the incident, causing panic and resentment among the Taiwanese population. However, in the wake of the incident, he only acknowledged that it was all his personal failure and refused to admit that the policies he adopted were at fault, which of course cannot be forgiven by the Taiwanese people.
Ko Yuan-fen, the head of staff of the Taiwan Garrison Command back then, believed that the February 28 Incident Settlement Committee was a conspiracy to weaken the role of the government, therefore he adopted policies of infiltration and divide and rule when dealing with the committee, hoping to punish its members after the incident escalated70. It was clear that Ko Yuan-fen was ill-intentioned from the very start. Pai Tsung-hsi, the defense minister who represented the government to pacify the Taiwanese people71, pointed out72 that Ko Yuan-fen’s attitude in dealing with the incident was “he would rather kill ninety-nine innocent people than leave one real rebel at large.” The result was many innocent people were killed in the military crackdown, triggering widespread panic among the Taiwanese population. Because of this, Pai Tsung-hsi believed that “Ko Yuan-fen was a reckless and impatient person who abused his office, made many mistakes in dealing with the incident, and refused to reflect on his failure because of his stubborn nature.” Pai Tsung-hsi, therefore, suggested that Ko Yuan-fen needed to be dismissed from his position as severe punishment in order to appease the public’s anger.
Peng Meng-chi, the Commander of the Kaohsiung Fortress Headquarters at the time of the incident, suddenly resorted to military crackdown at 2 p.m. on March 673, preventing the social turmoil from escalating. From the perspective of the government, Peng Meng-chi had achieved greatly. However, from the perspective of Kaohsiung citizens, Peng Meng-chi’s decision to indiscriminately machine-gun local people, causing great casualty in local communities, made his status disputable.. After the incident, to people’s surprise, Peng Meng-chi was promoted to head of the Taiwan Garrison Command, which caused deep fear and uneasiness among Taiwanese people.
What Chang Mu-tao, the head of the 4th Military Police Regiment, did at the time was very controversial. He first invited Wei-Chuan to mediate the disputes between the government and the public and encouraged him to join the Settlement Committee to proceed with divide and rule tactics. Secondly, when the reinforcement troops of the government’s army landed in Taiwan at midday on March 8, Chang Mu-tao continued to lie to the members of the Settlement Committee that if the public did not try to disarm soldiers, the government would not adopt any military operations against Taiwanese people. Chang’s intention was to reduce their vigilance, so that people who originally wanted to escape would stay where they were. Therefore, these people became easy targets for the soldiers after the reinforcement troops landed. In addition, Chang Mu-tao’s military police subordinates also arrested many people at many different places after the rule of military law was declared, causing a lot of controversy. When Pai Tsung-hsi, the defense minister, came to Taiwan to try to appease the Taiwanese public, he once ordered that all the arrests should only be carried out by the Taiwan Garrison Command. However, military police corps continued to arrest civilians75, which showed that Chang Mu-tao’s defiance of the order of his superior was very blatant.
Furthermore, intelligence workers in Taiwan were also believed to have misled the government. After the outbreak of the incident, the National Bureau of Investigation and Statistics and the Central Bureau of Investigation and Statistics76 both exaggerated the seriousness of the incident, claiming that some people were not purely advocating political reforms, but were conspiring to rebel against the regime, seek Taiwanese independence, and overturn the government. They also exaggerated the casualty of their mainland Chinese compatriots and the number of people who joined the riots. Therefore, Chairman Chiang Kai-shek was convinced that the situation was dire and thus organized the 21st Division to clamp down on the social unrest in Taiwan. Although Chairman Chiang had reiterated that soldiers should not engage in any form of retaliation against Taiwanese people, his subordinates did not listen to his order.
Without doubt, Chiang Kai-shek played an undeniable role in the settlement of the February 28 Incident. Chiang Kai-shek, as the head of the country, was certainly responsible for sending troops to clamp down on insurgencies. However, we cannot ignore questions such as whether or not the decision of military crackdown was made in due process, and whether there were any abuses in delivering the decision. Judging from literature from different sources, what the Settlement Committee did was only to demand a high level of autonomy for Taiwan as a whole, and there was no intention of rebelling against the central government. Unfortunately, Chiang Kai-shek was preoccupied with military operation in the Chinese Civil War and did not have time to verify the intelligence he received. He also blindly trusted Chen Yi and accepted his request for more enforcement troops in Taiwan. All of the above-mentioned inevitably led to a conclusion that Chiang Kai-shek was culpable due to his oversight over this matter. Even if Chiang Kai-shek understood the truth afterwards, the historical mistakes could not be overturned. Furthermore, it was also a shame that some soldiers did not avoid retaliation against the locals and committed breaches of discipline during the military crackdown. Although Chiang Kai-shek repeated his emphasis on military discipline and banned retaliatory activities77, he could not prevent misconducts from happening. In the aftermath of the incident, government officials of Taiwanese heritage such as Qiu Nian-tai and Tsai Pei-huo suggested the government to punish those who were guilty of dereliction of duty so that the public’s anger could be appeased. But Chiang Kai-shek did not accept the proposal and left the historical trauma undealt with for a long time, which was further evidence of his lack of consideration.
The February 28 Incident is indeed one of the major tragedies in the history of modern Taiwan, and is the result of the interaction of many factors. In the previous 50 years of Japanese colonial rule, the Japanese had deliberately designed an isolation policy that created a schism between the Taiwanese people and China. Moreover, with the deliberate implementation of Japanese education, the ideas and values of the Taiwanese people had become obviously different to the Chinese mainlanders. On the other side of Formosa Strait, the Chinese officialdom and population were also extremely unfamiliar with the situation in Taiwan. Overwhelmed by the deteriorating situation of the anti-communist warfare on the Chinese mainland, the Nationalist government was unable to pay as much attention to Taiwan as it should have. And the Chief Executive did not consider the public opinions on the island and chose to suppress Taiwanese people’s political rights. Moreover, officials’ incompetence and widespread corruption deepened the public’s dissatisfaction with the government. Given Taiwan was severely damaged during the Second World War78, the fact that the Nationalist government was unable to support Taiwan’s reconstruction79 and complete the restoration in the short term80 due to its turbulent political situation and incessant warfare against the Chinese Communist Party in China was not generally understood by the Taiwanese people. Therefore, the outbreak of the tragedy was caused by both subjective factors and objective factors, which were not something that could be fully controlled by the Chief Executive.
Following investigative studies conducted by many parties, an approximate outline of the truth of the February 28 Incident can already be drawn. Unfortunately, an accurate number of the casualties in the incident could not be ascertained after thorough collection of information, interviews, and statistical analysis. During the interviews, our research fellows could deeply feel the trauma and sorrow that the families of the victims have experienced for decades. Their helplessness, grief, and expectations are not only difficult for us to forget, but also something that the Taiwanese authorities should not ignore. We must not forget history as it can guide us in the future. We should learn the sorrowful lessons of this tragic incident and prevent the future occurrence of such a dramatic schism. It is hoped that the Taiwanese authorities do not avoid accountability for the inappropriate crackdown, and do give compensations to the innocent victims of the February 28 Incident. Meanwhile, we also hope people from all walks of life can understand the special situation of the time, that the trauma inflicted by the tragedy can be soothed with forgiveness and peacefulness, and that a better future can be together worked toward.
- The time frame of “Research Report on the February 28 Incident” spans from February 27, 1947, when the conflict around contraband tobacco occurred, to May 16, when the “village purging” ended. [Foreword]
- Due to the long-time censoring of information, Taiwanese people who lived under Japanese colonial rule did not know much about their Ancestral Country. Because of this, Taiwanese people tended to compare the governance of the Chinese Nationalist government, which extended its rule to Taiwan after the Second World War, with the Japanese colonial government, especially when it came to military, political, economic and societal aspects. Seeing the stark contrast between the two regimes, Taiwanese people started to feel that newcomers from their Ancestral Country were worse than the Japanese and feelings of contempt and disdain were thus rooted in their minds. In addition, the schism between Taiwanese locals and people from different provinces of China was further widened because some people from the Chinese mainland cajoled Taiwanese women into fake marriages, and the lifestyles, values and ethics of the newcomers conflicted with those of the locals due to incompatible social backgrounds and a lack of modern knowledge. Taiwanese people’s expectations of this regime that came from their Ancestral Country were too high, and their general disappointment was soon followed by widespread contempt. (Page 27)
According to the Taiwan Province Chief Executive’s Office Organization Act, the Chief Executive’s Office was entrusted by the Central Government to manage its administrative affairs. The Chief Executive had the power to mandate and supervise departments of the Central Government in Taiwan and to issue office orders and separate regulations within the scope of his responsibilities. At the same time, he also assumed post of commander-in-chief of the Taiwan Garrison Command. It can be seen that the Chief Executive’s Office system was a form of centralized leadership which placed the judicial, legislative, military, and administrative powers of Taiwan province in the Chief Executive himself. The Chief Executive was appointed by the Central Government, which was different to the directorial system used in other Chinese provinces. The implementation of the directorial system in all provincial governments meant that the members of directorial boards and chairmen were all senior ranking officials; while all the people working for the departments of the Taiwan Province Executive’s Office (such as Departments of Secretariat, Civil Affairs, Education, Finance, Agriculture, Forestry, Industry and Mining, Transportation, Police and Accounting) and secretary-generals were all contracted staff members of the Chief Executive himself. In addition, an organic law committee, propaganda committee and assessment and design committee were also set up in Taiwan. The system of banking and currency was also different to China. Chen Yi believed that the Taiwan dollar and Taiwanese financial institutions should maintain their own original systems and the current legal tender of China should be prevented from circulating in Taiwan, so that “Taiwan could avoid the consequences of hyperinflation which was out of control in the Chinese mainland provinces caused by the over-issuing of the legal tender.” Therefore, Chen Yi proposed that “the priority was to maintain stability by issuing an independent New Taiwan dollar so that prosperity could be achieved in Taiwan without being affected by the serious depreciation of legal tender used on the mainland.” Before Chen Yi came to Taiwan, his proposal was approved by President Chiang Kai-shek, who later personally instructed Soong Tse-ven to implement Chen Yi’s idea. Because of this, four banks and two financial entities (Central Bank, Bank of China, Bank of Communications, Farmers Bank, Central Trust of China and General Post Office) that originally intended to set up branches in Taiwan were not allowed to do so. The Ministry of Finance also issued Regulations Concerning the Currency Exchange Between Taiwan and the Mainland, which stipulated that “no banks except the Central Bank and those that are endorsed by the government are allowed to undertake currency exchanges between the Taiwan dollar and the legal tender of China.” (Page 6) Many Taiwanese people believed that the financial arrangement of the Nationalist government treated them as if they were being colonized, and they felt discontented with the government. (Page 4)
- Government officials not only did not serve the citizens on weekdays, but also put on official airs or acted irresponsibly and inattentively when they were approached. These drawbacks dramatically contrasted the diligence and efficiency of officials from the Japanese colonial period. (Page 20) A lack of political efficiency and an overly bureaucratic manner were things that Taiwanese people had not experienced during the Japanese colonial period. Within one year and a half, it became evident that the Taiwan Province Executive’s Office was outperformed greatly by its Japanese predecessor. Newspapers often reported that government officials were involved in scandals like going to bars, lack of discipline and corruption. For example, on February 22, 1947, Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News published an editorial opinion piece “On the Problem of Corruption,” which not only disclosed a stunning number of corruption cases, but also pointed out the fact that many government officials frequently attended ballrooms, tea houses, restaurants and casinos in the cities, showing that there were too many unnecessary employees in the government, as well as the fact that people’s impression of government officials was very poor. Corruption cases were not limited to general officials. Prosecutors, court presidents, and even teachers were found to be corrupt. Soldiers not abiding by the law or not paying when shopping or traveling was very common, and there was even public looting. Many of these corruption cases exceeded 10 million Taiwan dollars in amount. (Page 21)
- The troops stationed in Taiwan had a poor reputation. Soldiers often “forcibly borrowed money, raped women, and shot and wounded people. It was not uncommon to see soldiers buying five-dollar eggs with only one dollar. Disputes in the markets were commonplace.” Robbery and theft were also commonly seen. (Page 23)
- During the Japanese colonial period, it was difficult for Taiwanese people to gain fair political treatment for administrative, professional and technological advancement. After the Second World War, many Taiwanese people harbored the fantasy of an autonomous Taiwan and believed they should be able to self-rule from then on. To the contrary, among 18 directors and deputy directors from nine important departments of the Taiwan Province Executive’s Office, only one deputy director was from Taiwan. Among 17 mayors of cities and counties, only Taipei Mayor You Mijian, Hsinchu County Mayor Liu Qiguang, Kaohsiung Mayor Huang Zhongtu (formerly Lian Mou), and Kaohsiung County Mayor Xie Dongyu (formerly Huang Daping at the time of the February 28 Incident) were Taiwanese, but they were all Puànn-suann-á, meaning officials of Taiwanese heritage who had returned from Chongqing, the former capital of the Chinese Nationalist government, and were not welcome by Taiwanese locals. What made Taiwanese people even more upset was the treatment of “unequal pay for the same work” and the difficulty associated with becoming employed by the government or public institutions. (Page 19)
- Foreign trade is extremely important to the economy of an island region. If an island region does not rely on foreign trade, it must have a considerable amount of resources. Because Taiwan was not considered to be resource-rich, it still needed to trade with the world. However, Chen Yi did not seem to understand the situation. After he arrived in Taiwan, he began to implement a controlled economy… Although he knew that this would invoke opposition from businesspeople, Chen Yi believed that this economic policy was for the benefit of the public, not for private interests.
“What Chen Yi wanted to pursue was not to fatten the pockets of a few people but to gradually deal with the livelihood issues facing Taiwanese people in terms of food, clothes, and amenities.” Chen Yi’s attitude showed his longing for socialist ideas, which, coupled with his obstinate and stubborn character, resulted in considerable criticism and condemnation of his economic policies. This became one of the catalysts triggering the February 28 Incident. (Page 7)
Because of the uniqueness of Taiwan’s administrative arrangement, the Taiwan Province Executive’s Office did not welcome influences from outside the island. This mentality was evident in the rejection of Chinese banks seeking to operate in Taiwan, including the above-mentioned “four banks and two financial entities” and other private banks, which “brought a halt to the operation of any private trade enterprises except the ones run by government officials and police.” This situation also caused the government banks on the Chinese mainland to use “the currency exchange problem” as an excuse to adopt a blockade policy in retaliation against Taiwan, which made Taiwan become self-isolated. As a result, ferry and air tickets were not allowed to be sold, Taiwanese customs lost tax revenue, and ships were not permitted to leave ports, impeding the transportation of goods to the outside world. In addition, the controlled economy policy implemented by the Taiwan Province Executive’s Office, which in reality amounted to the dominance of the government in trade business and an unpredictable exchange rate, demotivated businesspeople. Because of this, shipping and selling goods in Taiwan became difficult, which resulted in a self-isolated situation in which foreign goods could not reach Taiwan and Taiwanese goods could not ship overseas. (Page 25)
On January 10, 1946, a Taiwanese compatriot petitioned the Executive Yuan that “the Central Government should abolish government-run trade enterprises and any other similar intermediary institutions that compromised the free market and revoke all types of military laws to lighten the load on the people.” This showed that the people were dissatisfied with Chen Yi’s policy of a controlled economy. (Page 22)
- (Chen Yi) not only set up the Monopoly Bureau to continue the monopoly system that the Japanese colonial government had implemented in Taiwan, but also controlled the Trade Bureau that managed transportation to and from Taiwan. His regime monopolized almost every aspect of the island’s trade and industries, hindering the development of private enterprises and causing discontent and disillusion among locals. Therefore, these two institutions became the target that reform-minded people sought to abolish during the February 28 Incident. (Page 26)
- The economic crisis in Taiwan was mainly caused by inflation and soaring prices, especially food prices. Taiwan was originally known for its production of rice. During the Japanese colonial period, crop production dropped dramatically “due to the war…” Soon after the Chinese Nationalist government extended its rule to Taiwan in 1946…Taiwan experienced a serious food shortage that was evident in the rocketing price of rice, such that some people at the time believed that the price level in Taiwan was higher than that in any province of China. Famine broke out in many places, and social unrest even occurred in rice production areas, such as in Taichung and Tainan. More and more people lost their jobs over time. Daylight robbery and burglary were everywhere. (Page 23)
From October 1945 to December 1946, Taiwan’s price level had inflated more than a hundredfold. The problem of food prices was particularly serious. (Page 25)
600 grams of rice originally sold for only 1.5 Taiwan dollars. However, in early 1946, the price for this much rice had already risen to more than 10 Taiwan dollars. On February, 1947, the price reached 32 Taiwan dollars per 600 grams. This was not something that Taiwanese people had experienced before, so they were particularly angry about the food price crisis. (Page 8)
- About 100,000 Taiwanese servicemen…enlisted in the Imperial Japanese Army or Navy. (Page 118)
- Surrounded by immoral staff, Chen Yi trusted his subordinates too much and was too permissive with them. Chiang Wei-chuan, the then chairman of the Taipei Chamber of Commerce, once criticized Chen Yi in person, saying that he resided in the deep end of the palace surrounded by corrupt officialdom and a few opportunists who claimed to be the bridge between the government and the people but who knew nothing about society or the people, resulting in a situation where public opinions were blocked from reaching him. (Page 12)
- Less than three months after Taiwan fell under the rule of the Chinese Nationalist government, many Taiwanese people were already criticizing Chen Yi for his inappropriate approach in Taiwan. In early 1946, the situation in Taiwan had deteriorated dramatically, causing concerns in China and the West. Mintai News Agency urged the government to pay more attention to the problems in Taiwan. Millard’s Review from Shanghai published the article “Taiwan moving 50 years backward,” saying that “in five months Taiwan would become the ‘Ireland’ of China.” In early 1946, a report presented by the U.S. Consulate in Taiwan to the U.S. ambassador to China and the U.S. Department of State, wrote, “Taiwan is already on the verge of an armed rebellion.” By early 1947, many acute observers had already realized the graveness of the situation. For example, the Taiwan correspondent of a Shanghai magazine The Observers predicted on February 2, 1947, just before the February 28 Incident: “Taiwan is in the middle of a crisis. The situation is precarious. At any time, disturbance or rebellion could occur here.” It was clear that many people in China and the West had already seen that Taiwan was on the brink of social upheaval. (Page 10)
- In the aspects of politics and the economy, Taiwanese people were greatly disappointed by the government. Nonetheless, Chen Yi, who sought to gloss over the domestic problems in Taiwan, still managed to send the government army stationed on the island to the Chinese mainland to crack down on communist activities, which left Taiwan in a militarily vulnerable position. Because of this, radicals were made to believe that they could definitely overturn Chen Yi’s regime and fearlessly encouraged ordinary people to rebel against the government. (Page 25)
- The February 28 Massacre was triggered by an accident regarding contraband tobacco confiscation near Chien-Cheng Circle. An outline of what happened in the incident is as follows. At about 11 a.m. on February 27, 1947, the Monopoly Bureau received an intelligence that around 50 boxes of matches and tobacco had been smuggled in through Tamsui Port. Later, six contraband investigators, Yeh Te-ken, Chung Yen-chou, Chao Tzu-chien, Liu Chao-chun, Sheng Tie-fu and Fu Hsueh-tung, along with four policemen from the local police squad, were sent by the bureau to Tamsui, where they only confiscated five boxes of smuggled goods. Soon after, another intelligence showed that the rest of the smuggled goods had been shipped to somewhere near Tianma Tea House, situated on Taipei’s Nanjing West Road (formerly known as Taiheicho, on the current Yanping North Road). This area was renowned for being the largest destination of contraband. The investigators and policemen first went to Hsiao Hsiang Yuan (which was near Taiheicho) for dinner, so that they could proceed with their investigation nearby. At 7:30 p.m., they arrived at Tianma Tea House to discover that the contraband sellers had already left, except for Lin Chiang-mai, a 40-year-old widow who was selling both legal and smuggled cigarettes, which were soon confiscated along with the cash she had. Lin Chiang-mai practically knelt down to beg the investigators and said: “If you confiscate all my belongings, I will have no money to buy food. You should at least return my cash money and the cigarettes produced by the Monopoly Bureau to me….” However, the investigators ignored her request. At the time, there was a crowd of bystanders, many of whom also started to implore the investigators on her behalf. All of a sudden, Lin Chiang-mai frantically grasped at one of the investigators, not letting him go. Seeing this, another investigator, Yeh Te-ken, hit her head with the barrel of his gun, making her head bleed profusely. Witnessing the violent scene, the crowd of bystanders burst into anger and surrounded the investigators, passionately shouting, “A-suann (a derogatory name for Chinese Mainlanders) are too unreasonable,” “These pigs are monstrous” and “Return the cigarettes.” As soon as the investigators realized they had got themselves into trouble, they tried to escape from the crowd chasing close behind. One investigator called Fu Hsueh-tung pulled his trigger in an attempt to escape, but he accidentally shot Chen Wen-si, a fellow citizen who had been watching the incident in front of his house, who died the next day. Investigators escaped to Eirakuchō (Xinin) Police Station before they went to the Police Headquarters right next to Zhongshan Hall. The angry protesters smashed the glass windows of the investigators’ truck and pushed it over on the roadside. Later they surrounded the police station, demanding the murderer to be handed over and brought to justice. After Li Chiung, a member of the Standing Committee of the Monopoly Bureau, and Yang Tzu-tsai, the leader of the fourth group of the sales department, learned of the conflict at about 9 p.m. they rushed to the conflict site, where their truck was attacked by around 100 protesters assembled there. Li and Yang quickly went to the Taipei City Police Station, where a crowd of about 600 to 700 people followed them. Li and Yang promised the protesters that they would punish the investigators, but the crowd insisted that they should hand over the criminals. Li and Yang, accompanied by the director of the Taipei City Police Station, had no choice but to send the six investigators to the Military Police Corps. However, the people were not satisfied with the measure, demanding the six investigators should be arrested immediately. Seeking an excuse to pacify the crowd, Li and Yang kept saying that they were “not authorized to reply to the request because the laws clearly stipulated how to punish the perpetrators and penalize the wrongdoing,” but they were not understood. After the protesters learned that the investigators had been sent to the Military Police Corps, located to the opposite of the Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News office, they moved to surround the building, demanding the criminals be handed over. The regiment leader Zhang Mutao firmly denied the request and ordered a platoon of military police soldiers get into shooting position. Seeing this, the protesters hid in the arcade of the Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News office. Chou Chuang-chih, who had witnessed the whole situation, remembered that Wu Chin-lien, the Chief Editor of the Japanese version of Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News, had walked outside to see what was going on out of curiosity before he saw and greeted Chou Chuang-chih smilingly. Chou asked him, “Do you have gongs?” Wu said, “Yes.” He went back to the office to fetch copper gongs. Soon after a rainstorm, the gongs were banged loudly and the protesters went on surrounding the Military Police Corps again. There were also some young people shouting out loud “Taiwanese people must get revenge” and “People who don’t get revenge are not Taiwanese” while banging their gongs on the streets overnight. Some people went to ask Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News to cover the conflict. The Chief Editor Wu Chin-lien declined the request, saying that the Propaganda Commission of the Taiwan Province Executive’s Office had ordered the newspaper not to report on the incident. In response, the protesters threatened to burn down the newspaper with gasoline, which forced Li Wanju, the chief executive officer of Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News, to talk to the protesters. Soon after Li Wanju agreed to publish the news, protesters started to leave the site. The next day, Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News reported on the conflict using number five font size in approximately a hundred words. (Page 48) Following the news coverage, the injuries and killings caused by the anti-contraband operation ignited public anger that had been simmering for over a year. The outraged people went to burn cars and surround the police stations and Military Police Corps, requesting the government execute the perpetrators. Not satisfied with the response from the government, the mass of protesters remained on the site not wanting to leave, which culminated in intensified conflict the following day. (Page 51)
- On February 28 at 9 a.m., protestors continued to bang their gongs on the streets to announce a shutdown of all commercial activities, as the injuries and killings that had occurred in the anti-contraband operation had not been resolved. Citizens and shops immediately joined the strike and one after another shut their doors. A group of protesters marched to Taihei-cho Ni-chome Police Station, where the police station director, Huang, attempted to stop the rally. Remembering that Huang had been very abusive to the people living in his precinct, the protesters started to attack him and smashed the windows and belongings of the police station. As time passed, more and more people joined the rally, and, at about 10 a.m., they broke into the Taipei branch of the culpable Monopoly Bureau, located in Honmachi (today’s Chongqing South Road), to discover a few contraband investigators inside the building. The protesters believed one of the investigators to be the murderer from last night, so they beat him and a policeman to death and injured four other people. They also took the matches, tobacco, alcohol, car and seven or eight bicycles that were stored in the building out to the street and burned them. The fire had not died off completely by the next day. By that time, there were about 2000 to 3000 people watching nearby. Military police and police were sent there in no time, but they did not dare deal with the conflict and eventually left… At midday, the protesters moved to the Monopoly Bureau headquarters located near the South Gate, where they continued to demand the punishment of the murderer. But military police and police authorities had already prepared themselves for the coming protesters so that only windows were broken… Because the protesters’ request was not accepted by the Monopoly Bureau headquarters, they later headed to the Taiwan Province Executive’s Office…The factory near the South Gate that belonged to the Monopoly Bureau was also damaged by the protesters, which showed how fierce the public resentment toward the Monopoly Bureau was. (Page 51)
- Around 1 p.m., a rally of about 400 to 500 shouting, chanting protesters was led by the banging gongs to march from Taipei Railway Station to the headquarters of the Taiwan Province Executive’s Office. It was said that many people who had suffered the consequences of the market rice shortage followed the march to the headquarters, hearing that rice was being given away there. As a result, the march seemed to become a formidable force, until it was obstructed at the Zhongshan Road intersection by well-equipped soldiers with rifles pointed at the protesters before they reached the square of the headquarters. In no time, waves of bullets forced the protesters to escape, leaving some people wounded or dead on the road. This was the Executive’s Office Guard Shooting Incident, which was a key factor in the exacerbation of the whole situation. (Page 52)
- After the shooting outside the headquarters of the Taiwan Province Executive’s Office, large-scale confrontation became inevitable. The clash between Taiwanese locals and new immigrants from China that had been intensifying since the end of the Second World War was turned into violent conflict. While Taiwanese locals were fighting against the government, they also initiated a series of violent actions, “Attack A-suann,” targeting the new Chinese immigrants. At around 2 p.m. on February 28, the protesters gathered at Taipei Park (now known as the 228 Peace Memorial Park) before they occupied the Taiwan Radio Station to broadcast to the whole island. While on air, they accused the government of corruption and criticized its forced rice exportation policies and the economic turmoil, as well as urged the public to ostracize the corrupt officials for the sake of self-preservation. However, it is said that the transmission station in Banqiao boycotted the uprising so that the radio proclamation was not passed on to the rest of the island and the message only circulated in the Taipei area. Whether true or not, Taiwan being small in territory meant that its relative ease of travel and communication did not hinder the conflict that occurred in Taipei on February 28 from spreading to the rest of island, where the request for punishing the perpetrators was heightened to a political struggle movement. At 3 p.m., seeing the dire situation, the Taiwan Garrison Command announced the imposition of martial law and sent armed police and soldiers to patrol the streets and machine-gun civilians. Nevertheless, protesters continued surrounding the Monopoly Bureau headquarters, Railway Police Bureau and Department of Transportation and other government agencies, where many civilians, including students, were killed in the conflict with police and soldiers. According to a “briefing” from the Taiwan Garrison Command, more than 1000 people gathered at the General Post Office refused to be dispersed by police and soldiers in the afternoon, and the ensuing clash resulted in the injury or death of about ten people. (Page 54)
- Taiwanese people also vented their anger at the new immigrants from China, indiscriminately making reprisals against innocent people. Cheng Hwa Travel Agency and Tiger Brand’s Yong An Tang, both located at former Honmachi, suffered the first blows. Not only were their windows smashed, their belongings were also moved out to be burned in open fires. At about 5 p.m., Sin Tai Company, the largest department store in Taipei run by the Sakaecho Trade Bureau, was also broken into and its products were taken out for public burning. Anyone who seized the chance to steal would be beaten up. People who were driving cars or trucks were asked to leave behind their vehicles, which were later pushed to Taipei Railway Station and Chien-Cheng Circle and burned. According to data, more than ten vehicles were set on fire. In addition to wreaking havoc, Taiwanese people also indiscriminately attacked new immigrants from China. In Honmachi, Taipei Railway Station, Taipei Park, Sakaecho, Eirakucho, Taiheicho and Wanhua, many new Chinese immigrants were reported to have been attacked by locals for no obvious reason. Hsinchu County Mayor, Wen-bo Chu, and the director of Taipei City Government’s Department of Land were both publicly humiliated and beaten up. It is generally believed that these series of riots against new Chinese immigrants were unleashed by an explosion of pent-up anger accumulated in the one year and a half since the end of Second World War. Innocent low-ranking civil servants and their families, and Chinese businesspeople who came to travel or do business in Taiwan, became scapegoats of the public indignation. Many appalling violent acts were also reported… Wang Yi-ting, who served at the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration back then, witnessed these acts himself. But he said in most cases the attacks were done with bats or rod, and he did not see people using samurai swords. Not many assaults were carried out against women or aged people. Rape was not commonly reported. It was said that at least 15 newly-immigrated Chinese people were beaten to death and some others were paralyzed in wooden bat attacks. (Page 55)
- Zhang Mutao, the leader of the Military Police Corps, also pointed out that the situation in Taiwan was reaching the stage of “treasonous uprising,” with local governments completely losing their ability to control. Many police stations and army battalions around Taiwan were disarmed by the rioters, who took away at least 4000 firearms in total. Zhang accused Chen Yi of “seeming not to understand the severity of the situation and of still trying to paint an illusion of peace.” (Page 203)
- To reflect public opinion, the Taipei City Council invited Taiwanese members of the National Assembly, the Taiwan Provincial Assembly and the National Political Council to attend the inaugural conference of the Contraband Cigarette Murder Investigation Committee at 10 a.m. on March 1 at Zhongshan Hall. During the conference, a resolution was passed to delegate Huang Chao-chin (the speaker of the Taiwan Provincial Assembly), Chou Yan-shou (member of the Taipei City Council), Wang Tien-teng (member of the Taiwan Provincial Assembly) and Lin Chung (member of the National Political Council) to meet the Chief Executive and make several requests, including the abolishment of martial law, the release of civilians who had been arrested, the refraining of police and soldiers from shooting people, the organization of a settlement committee consisting of both representatives from the government and civil society, and the above-mentioned requests to be broadcast by Chen Yi to the whole population of Taiwan. Chen Yi accepted all the requests and thought that the Committee would be better renamed the “February 28 Incident Settlement Committee,” which is how the organization came to have this name. (Page 57)
The February 28 Incident Settlement Committee on the one hand was trying to strengthen its function, while at the same time to promote itself. On the afternoon of March 6, the Settlement Committee hosted its inaugural conference at Zhongshan Hall chaired by Wang Tien-teng. In the conference, two people from the National Political Council (Lin Hsien-tang, Chen Yi-song), four from the National Assembly (Li Wanju, Lien Chen-tung, Lin Lien-Chung, Huang Kuo-shu), five from the Taipei City Council (Chou Yan-shou, Pan Chu-yuan, Chien Sheng-yu, Hsu Chun-ching, Wu Chun-lin) and six from the Taiwan Provincial Assembly (Wang Tien-teng, Huang Chao-chin, Su Wei-liang, Huang Chun-ching, Lin Wei-gong, Kuo Kuo-chi) were elected as standing members. Hung Huo-lien and Wu Kuo-hsin were placed on the waiting list. (Page 66)
- On March 7, Chen Yi sent a letter to the Settlement Committee saying the many disputes and competing opinions among all parties in civil society should be discussed and integrated by the Commission before it presented proposals to the Chief Executive’s Office. (Page 70)
- From March 3 to 5, municipal branches of the February 28 Incident Settlement Committee were set up one after another across Taiwan, which indicated that the power of the Chief Executive’s Office had been undermined. (Page 66)
- On the morning of March 2, Taichung locals gathered at the Theater of Taichung to…join a civic assembly. Yang Ke-huang, a faculty member from the private Chienkuo Polytechnic School, hosted the meeting, and made a presentation on the origin of the incident in Taipei and the people’s petition activities, as well as explained the political movement in Taipei and the requests made by the protestors. Later, the attendants unanimously chose the principal of Chienkuo Polytechnic School, Hsieh Hsueh-hung, to be the chairperson of the assembly. After assuming this position, Hsieh “described in detail the repressive rule by Chen Yi and the political atmosphere in Taiwan after the end of the Second World War, emphasizing that if Taiwanese people wanted to liberate themselves from the agony, they must unite to end the one-party authoritarian rule of the Chinese Nationalist Party and immediately implement the democratic autonomy of Taiwan. To achieve this, they must join the heroic resistance of the people of Taipei. They must struggle and fight for total victory regardless of the sacrifice that must be made.” After Hsieh finished her speech, Wu Yong-chang, representing the Taiwan Political Construction Association, and lawyer Chang Feng-mo also gave speeches, which were considered to “be subversive to the government and provocative of the anti-newcomer sentiments in the Taiwanese population.” At about 10 a.m., the attendees of the event decided to demonstrate on the street to show their support for the movement. Protesters turned on the sirens of fire engines to call on the people of Taichung to join the active resistance in this revolution. In no time, Taichung was shaken by the wave of uprising to the point that extreme tension could be felt everywhere in the city. (Page 84)
- On March 6, Hsieh Hsueh-hung, who wished to thoroughly pursue her political agenda, decided to continue her resistance activity. She mustered around 400 young students to form the 27 Brigade inside the 8th Troop. Hsieh Hsueh-hung assumed the role of the brigade chief commander and appointed Chung Yi-jen and Tsai Tieh-cheng to be captain and chief of staff respectively. Important cadre members included Yang Ke-huang, Li Chiao-sung and Gu Rui-yun. The core troops consisted of the Puli Combat Team, headed by Chung Yi-jen’s trusted aide Huang Hsin-chin; the Taichung Commercial School Combat Team, headed by Ho Tsip-huai and Tsai Po-hsun (with some communists as its team members); the Taichung Normal School Combat Team, headed by communist Lu Huan-chang; the Public Security Team, headed by Huang Chin-tao; and the Chienkuo Polytechnic School Combat Team, headed by Li Bing-kun. In addition, members also included farmers who had been enlisted by the Japanese Army; students from Yanping College; former second-lieutenants and engineers from the Japanese Army, and some people who voluntarily joined the fight. The establishment of the 27 Brigade was a manifestation of armed struggle against the local governments. “This militia represented an armed struggle alternative to the parliamentary route of the Settlement Commission. Among all the military resistance forces in central and southern Taiwan, the 27 Brigade was the one that endured the longest.” (Page 91)
- On March 2 at 3 p.m., a couple of dozen young people from Changhua and Taichung headed south to Chiayi Railway Station and Chiayi Fountain Circle. Among them, a rifle-carrying man whose age was about 30 or 40 was shouting on the street, urging his fellow citizens to burn down Mayor Sun Chih-chun’s official residence. Seeing the dire situation, Mayor Sun jumped over the wall, having decided to seek refuge at the local military corps. Unfortunately, a large crowd of protesters followed him behind, appearing as a dangerous threat to the mayor’s life. He was fortunate to encounter two City Council members, Lin Bao and Lin Wen-shu, who helped him get to the headquarters of the military police corps.
When Mayor Sun Chih-chun was trying to escape, actions like attacking newcomers from China, surrounding police stations, and taking over weapons could already be seen occurring on the streets. Because police officers had started to leave their posts one after another, the city center was in chaos. At 5 p.m., Mayor Sun Chih-chun tried to contact the garrison on the phone and asked Chiayi City Council Speaker Chung Chia-cheng to maintain the public order. On March 3, the day the assembly of citizens was convened, Chiayi City’s branch of the February 28 Incident Settlement Committee was established with Chen Fu-chih (director of the Chiayi branch of the Preparatory Office of the Three People’s Principles Youth Corps) as director and combat commander, and Li Hsiao-fang as secretary. Different groups and teams in the Committee were set up under its supervision. (Page 105)
- After a couple of hours of negotiations, Chiayi City’s branch of the February 28 Incident Settlement Committee decided to take over the radio station and broadcast its voluntary soldier recruitment message across the whole of Chiayi City and other places in Taiwan. Responding to this appeal, many people from Budai, Puzi, Yanshui, Jiali, Liujiao, Fanlu, Douliu, Taichung, Puli and Tainan Technical College came to Chiayi to join the movement. Under Mayor Sun’s request, Luo Di-guang, the commander of the battalion (1st Battalion, Independent Regiment, 21st Division) stationed at Tomoncho sent his soldiers to crack down on the uprising activity in the city center, which made the development of the situation more uncertain. Given that the powerful weapons held by the government army could easily cause significant casualties, the Chiayi Settlement Committee delegated City Council members to negotiate with the military police corps with the aim of solving the conflict in a peaceful manner. However, both parties could not agree on the terms of a peaceful settlement.
On the same day, about 3000 volunteers who came to Chiayi to join the resistance force started to attack the Military Police Corps, Lantan Lake 19th Armory, Shueishang Airport and Tomoncho Battalion. On March 3 at 9 p.m., the Chiayi City Government was taken over by the resistance force and all police officers who were recent immigrants from China retreated to Tomoncho under the guidance of Police Chief Lin Tian-gang. (Page 106)
- On March 3, “hundreds of villains” who had come down from Taipei were brought to the city center on trucks, and students from Tainan Technical College also arrived in Kaohsiung. This was the beginning of Kaohsiung’s version of the February 28 Incident. At first, a platoon of the government army (1st Platoon, 7th Company, Independent Regiment) stationed at the 105 Military Hospital was attacked. At the same time, about 400 to 500 people were gathering at Yancheng attempting to attack the military corps. The beating up, humiliation and robbing of new immigrants from China and their businesses was heard of from time to time. The city center of Kaohsiung was in the grips of a severe public security crisis. In the evening, Police Chief Tung Pao-chao sought refuge at the Military Fortress after his car was set on fire by protesters. Before dawn, the police station’s telephone line was cut off and its weapons were taken away. Many Taiwanese police officers fled with their guns. Some went home directly, no longer willing to be responsible for maintaining the public order. Some joined the resistance force. (Page 115)
- On March 6 at 9 a.m., Kaohsiung City Mayor Huang Chung-tu and six other people, Peng Ching-Kao (City Council speaker), Tu Guang-ming, Fan Tsang-rung, Tseng Feng-ming, Lin Chieh (Lingya District mayor) and Li Fo-hsu (director of Taipower Kaohsiung Office) ascended the mountain to the Military Fortress Command in desperation. According to Huang Chung-tu, when he was planning to ask the Military Fortress Command about what the crackdown approach should be, tens of people broke into the City Government Office with guns, knives and grenades, and verbally abused him. The head of the group Tu Guang-ming put forward some illegal requests in an attempt to make unacceptable demands from the government army. He forced the city mayor and City Council speaker at gunpoint to take some members of his group to the Military Fortress Command… After the seven people entered the reception room of the Fortress Command, Commander Peng Meng-Chi walked in through another door. They sat at a round table. The mayor and speaker sat next to Commander Peng, while the other five people sat in front of him. The mayor later produced “nine peace clauses” to the commander. Commander Peng Meng-chi did not intend to negotiate, but to buy some time. He angrily bashed the table with his hand and shouted “ridiculous,” before asking soldiers outside the room to come in to search each of the seven people. According to Peng Meng-chi, Tu Guang-ming was found to have a gun and Fan Tsang-rung and Tseng Feng-ming were both found to have grenades. Tu, Fan and Tseng were arrested immediately, while the others waited in the reception room watched by guards. (Page 117)
- Under the guidance of Peng Meng-chi, his troops were divided onto three routes: one passed through Jianguo 3rd Road; another marched straight down from the Fortress Command on Shoushan, passed Gushan 1st Road and the Dagong Road Bridge, and arrived at the Kaohsiung City Government; the other went past the level crossing and entered Wufu 4th Road. Every route had three squads, consisting of about 100 soldiers in total per route. (Page 119)
- The military group that was ordered to attack the Kaohsiung City Government building on the afternoon of March 6 was the one led by Chen Guo-ru. Seeing that machine guns were installed on the building, the government army confirmed that those who occupied the Kaohsiung City Government building were insurgents. Because of this, the military group did not follow the order of firing a warning shot in the air. Instead, soldiers threw grenades into the building and shot anyone they could see, which meant that the insurgents could hardly resist the attack and suffered significant casualties. There were 50 to 60 people who lost their lives, including City Council members Hsu Chiu-tsung, Huang Tzu, and Wang Ting-shih… When City Council member Chiu Tao-te stepped into the Kaohsiung City Government building, the floor was covered with corpses and blood as thick as sludge. (Page 119)
- The troops tasked with the mission of attacking Kaohsiung Railway Station and Kaohsiung Senior High School were led by Ho Chun-Chang (3rd Battalion, 21st Division). The attack was divided into two routes. When the troops arrived at the railway station, a graduate of Kaohsiung Senior High School, Yan Tsai-tse, was leading his fellow students at Chang Chun Hotel to shoot the coming soldiers in an attempt to disperse them. Knowing the inferiority of his side, he risked his life to rush out of the hotel. When Yan Tsai-tse was shot and critically wounded, people in front of the railway station soon started to flee. Some hid in the underground passage, where the military later indiscriminately fired, leading to many deaths and injuries. (Page 119)
- In terms of military capacity in Taiwan, there was only a total of 5251 soldiers (an independent regiment and an engineer battalion from the 21st Division and three corps at the Fortress Command) stationed on the island before the incident. The three corps at the Fortress Command had 1532 soldiers; the engineer battalion responsible for protecting the area to the north of Taichung had 517 soldiers; the independent regiment responsible for protecting the area to the south of Chiayi had 2500 soldiers. The headquarters of the Taiwan Garrison Command could only maneuver soldiers from one battalion of the independent regiment, which only had approximately 700 soldiers. A military capacity this weak was not sufficient for the mission of guarding the Taipei area. (Page 201)
- On March 6, Wang Tien-teng read a report regarding the truth of the February 28 Incident over broadcast radio to a domestic and foreign audience, hoping to eliminate doubt on all sides. The main content of this report was to clarify that the goal of the Settlement Committee was “not to prevent compatriots from other provinces from participating in the improvement of Taiwanese politics, but to remove corrupt officials and strive for political reform in Taiwan.” In the report, solutions to the aftermath of the incident were proposed, which included seven articles regarding the “handling of the current situation” and 25 articles regarding “core solutions” (consisting of three military and 22 political solutions). This was the famous “32 Demands.” The full proposal is as follows:
- A: On the handling of the current situation
- The troops of the government army stationed in various places in Taiwan should immediately order their soldiers to temporarily disarm themselves and hand over their weapons to the joint custody of the Settlement Committee local branches and local military corps, so that further bloodshed can be prevented.
- After the disarmament of the troops, local public order shall be maintained by military police, unarmed police officers and civil organizations.
- When there is no threat from government army troops, no armed fighting is permitted anywhere. If there is a corrupt official, whether he is from Taiwan or other provinces of China, the only action that can be taken is to report him to the Settlement Committee, which will ask the military police and police authorities to arrest the corrupt official. He will be strictly prosecuted according to the law. No one is permitted to resort to any extrajudicial punishment.
- Any suggestions regarding political reform can be written down in a list before being submitted to the February 28 Incident Settlement Committee, which will work on a total resolution.
- It is highly advisable that the government should suspend all military operations immediately in Taiwan. The Central Government should not be asked under any circumstances to dispatch troops to Taiwan. Any attempt to solve the incident militarily will only bring more bloodshed, resulting in international intervention.
- Before the political problems can be fundamentally resolved, every governmental policy (whether it is military or political) must be discussed with the Settlement Committee. This will prevent people from doubting the sincerity of the government, and avoid any kind of misunderstanding.
- Regarding this incident, the government should not hold any member of the public accountable. In the future, there is no excuse for the government to arrest anyone involved in this incident. Victims of this incident should be preferentially compensated.
- B: Core solutions
- a: Regarding the military
- Troops with inadequate education and training are absolutely not allowed to be stationed in Taiwan.
- The Central Government can dispatch officials to conscript Taiwanese soldiers for the purpose of protecting Taiwan.
- Before the end of the Civil War on the Chinese mainland, any form of conscription in Taiwan is strongly opposed except that which is meant for protecting the island in order to prevent Taiwan from being implicated in the warfare.
- b: Regarding political reform
- A self-government act should be legislated as the foundation of Taiwanese politics in order to realize the ideas Sun Yat-sen formulated in his Fundamentals of National Reconstruction.
- City and county mayors should be democratically elected before June this year. Re-election of city and county council members should be held at the same time.
- Candidates for directorships of departments in the Taiwan Provincial Government should be approved by the Taiwan Provincial Assembly, which will be called the “Taiwan Provincial Council” after reorganization. The re-election for the members of the Taiwan Provincial Assembly should be held before June this year. For the moment, candidates for department directorships should be suggested by the Chief Executive before they are reviewed by the February 28 Incident Settlement Committee.
- More than two thirds of positions for department directors in the Taiwan Provincial Government should be taken by people who have lived in Taiwan for at least 10 years (it is recommended that the same logic be applied to the departments of Secretary General, Civil Administration, Finance, Industry and Mining, Agriculture and Forestry, Education, and Police).
- The director positions of the Police Department and all municipal police stations should be given to Taiwanese locals. The provincial Police Squad, Railway Police and Industry and Mining Police should be abolished immediately.
- At least half of the members of the Legal Affairs Commission should be Taiwanese locals. The chair of the commission should be elected from among the members.
- No other authorities except police authorities can arrest suspects.
- Military police can only arrest suspects affiliated to the army.
- Any politically-motivated arrest and incarceration is prohibited.
- The rights to freedom of unarmed assembly and to freedom of association with others should be absolutely protected.
- The rights to freedom of speech, publication, and strike should be absolutely protected. The application registration system for newspaper publications should be abolished.
- The Civil Organization Act should be repealed immediately.
- The regulation regarding the verification of candidates’ qualifications in legislative elections should be repealed.
- It is recommended that the legislative election procedure at all levels should be improved.
- Uniform progressive taxation should be implemented for all income tax. Besides luxury tax and inheritance tax, no other additional taxes should be imposed.
- All the director positions of state-owned enterprises should be taken by Taiwanese people.
- Democratically elected monitoring committees should be set up in all state-owned enterprises. The responsibility for dealing with any remaining Japanese-owned properties should be entrusted to the Taiwan Provincial Government. When nationalizing the factories and mines previously owned by the Japanese, administration committees should be set up and more than half of the committee members should be Taiwanese.
- The Monopoly Bureau should be abolished. Rationing of life essentials should be implemented.
- The Trade Bureau should be abolished.
- The Propaganda Commission should be abolished.
- The president and chief prosecutor positions of all district courts should be taken by Taiwanese people.
- More than half of judicial officers, such as judges and prosecutors, should be Taiwanese citizens. (Page 66)
- A: On the handling of the current situation
- On the afternoon of March 7, the Settlement Committee held a plenary meeting, in which the original 32 demands were passed along with 10 additional demands. Among these 10 demands, two demands about military affairs and eight demands about political affairs completed the so-called “42 Demands.” The additional demands are as follows:
- The armed forces in Taiwan should recruit as many Taiwanese citizens as possible.
- The Chief Executive’s Office should be reorganized into the Taiwan Provincial Government. Before this proposal is endorsed by the Central Government, the February 28 Incident Settlement Committee’s Political Affairs Bureau should be responsible for the re-organization and the recruitment of judicious and talented people for the future government.
- The Political Affairs Bureau should be set up under the Settlement Committee before March 15. One candidate will be chosen by the representatives of each township before he can be elected by the municipal legislative councils. The member quotas for each municipality are as follows: two for Taipei, three for Taipei County, one for Keelung City, three for Hsinchu County, one for Taichung City, four for Taichung County, one for Changhua City, one for Chiayi City, one for Tainan City, four for Tainan County, one for Kaohsiung City, three for Kaohsiung County, one for Pingtung City, one for Penghu County, one for Hualien County, and one for Taitung County, making a total of 30 (actually 29).
- The Political Affairs Bureau will be in charge of reviewing and authorizing the abolishment and merging of labor camps and other unnecessary institutions.
- The processing of Japanese-owned properties should be entrusted to the Taiwan Provincial Government.
- The Taiwan Garrison Command should be abolished so that military power is not abused.
- Aboriginal people’s political and economic rights and interests should be protected.
- Labor protection law should be implemented on June 1 this year.
- Taiwanese prisoners of war and traitor suspects who are imprisoned should be released immediately with no conditions attached.
- Taiwan should be reimbursed the estimated value of 150000 tons of sugar previously given to the Central Government. (Page 70)
- On the one hand, Chen Yi agreed with the demands made by the Taiwanese legislative representatives that the Settlement Committee should be set up as a joint effort of the government and civil society. On the other hand, Chen Yi, Ko Yuan-fen and Chang Mu-tao contacted Chiang Wei-chuan in an attempt to sabotage the unity of the Settlement Committee’s leadership. National Bureau of Investigation and Statistics (NBIS) agent Hsu Te-huei became the leader of the Chung Yi Service Squad and the head of the Public Order section of the Settlement Committee. The head of the NBIS Taipei Branch Lin Ting-li was appointed by the Taiwan Garrison Command as leader of the Yi Yong Squad, which was set up for the mission of “dividing the unity of rebels and using the power of the people to attack them. Behind the scenes, factions of the Chinese Nationalist Party, the government and the army were allegedly competing with each other for greater power. The party-directed intelligence agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation and Statistics (CBIS) accused Chiang Wei-chuan and Wang Tien-teng of being political opportunists who continued fanning the flames of public fury. Ko Yuan-fen, who represented the NBIS, the Central Government’s military intelligence agency, criticized Chiang and Wang for both being bullies recently recruited by the party’s headquarters. In the early days of the Settlement Committee, its members were predominantly from the Chinese Nationalist Party. However, the party’s office in Taiwan did not try to guide the development of the Settlement Committee. Instead, it chose to watch it decline and fall from the sidelines. As a result, under different influences, the Settlement Committee continued to increase the magnitude of its requests, which later became justification for the Chief Executive’s Office decision in favor of military crackdown. (Page 201)
- According to Su Sin, who later defected to the Chinese Communist Party, the “32 Demands” was drafted by left-wing youth surrounding Wang Tien-teng, such as Pan Tsin-sin, Hsiao You-san, Tsai Ching-jong and Su Sin. Their participation in the drafting was endorsed by the underground leader of the Chinese Communist Party in Taiwan… Chen Yi-song, a former member of the National Political Council, said that there were indeed left-wing young people drafting for Wang Tien-teng, but Taiwanese Communist Party members tended to exaggerate their contributions during the February 28 Incident after they defected to China, so the credibility of their claims is questionable. According to a member of the NBIS who investigated the Tsai Hsiao-chien communist spy case, the Chinese Communist Party had a very limited influence in Taiwan at the time and the Taiwanese Communist Party was not the same thing as the Chinese Communist Party. (Page 69)
- It is said that when the “32 Demands” was proposed, intelligence officers from the NBIS and the CBIS, such as Bai Cheng-chi and Lu Bo-hsiung from the CBIS and Hsu Te-huei from the NBIS, were present. The additional 10 demands, which were used as an excuse for military crackdown by the government, were deliberately suggested by the NBIS and CBIS employees present at the meeting. For example, the 29th political demand that “Taiwanese prisoners of war and traitor suspects who are imprisoned should be released immediately” was suggested by Wu Kuo-hsin, National Assembly member and secretary of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s special branch of Taiwan Railways, and was passed with a cheering crowd. It was also heard that there were originally only 12 demands and the other 32 demands and additional 10 demands were passed by an applauding crowd made up by members of the Constitutional Association. (Page 71)
- On March 8, the Settlement Committee released a statement overturning the resolution passed the day before, saying that too many people participating in the meeting had resulted in the passing of 42 impetuous and inappropriate demands, such as “abolishing the Taiwan Garrison Command and demilitarizing the government army. Demands like these were on the verge of a rebellion against the Central Government and were not in line with the public opinion of Taiwanese people.” (Page 72)
- After the outbreak of the incident, it is said that Liou Chi-Kuang advocated a compete military crackdown and Ko Yuan-fen (the chief of staff of the Taiwan Garrison Command), Chen Ta-yuan (director of the investigative department of the Taiwan Garrison Command), and Lin Ting-li (the head of the NBIS Taipei Branch) suggested “using the people’s power to fight against the people’s power.” On February 28, Ko Yuan-fen ordered intelligence officers to investigate and monitor the major figures inside the Settlement Committee. The Chief Executive’s Office understood the government army was not strong enough to deliver a military crackdown and, instead of oppression from outside, the best way to suppress a social movement was to infiltrate the movement to divide and destroy it from within. The Chief Executive’s Office soon adopted the latter strategy, taking advantage of Chiang Wei-chuan’s Taiwan Political Construction Association to weaken the power of the Settlement Committee by infiltrating it with intelligence officers waiting for an opportunity to undermine its operation. From February 28 to March 1, the commander of the 4th Military Police Regiment wrote to Chiang Wei-chuan twice, urging him to “clear up the mess.” On March 1, Ko Yuan-fen also wrote to Chiang Wei-chuan, inviting him to help with the precarious situation. This showed that the Chief Executive’s Office had already planned a strategy for infiltration and sabotage of the Settlement Committee. (Page 59)
- On March 3, the Settlement Committee resolved to telegraph Chairman Chiang Kai-shek, informing him of the truth of the whole incident. On the same day at 4 p.m., a telegraph was sent in the name of the Taiwanese People’s Congress, accusing the Chief Executive’s Office of allowing soldiers and police to randomly attack civilians and shoot innocent people, of causing public anger among the Taiwanese population, of being permissive of government misconduct and unlawful business, and of ignoring complaints from the Taiwanese people. In the same telegraph, the Taiwanese People’s Congress also urged the Central Government to send high officials to investigate in Taiwan so that public anger could be soothed, and demanded local autonomy soon be implemented in Taiwan. On the same day, Li Kuang-wei, the chairman of the Taiwanese Compatriot Association in Shanghai, submitted a request to Chiang Kai-shek, demanding him to seriously investigate the incident, to punish those who were politically and morally responsible for the incident, and to restore Taiwanese people’s trust in the government by purging corrupt officials. All the above showed that Chiang Kai-shek not only fully grasped the intelligence and opinions regarding the incident, but also understood the feelings and expectations of Taiwanese people. (Page 203)
- After Chen Yi announced the implementation of martial law in Taiwan over radio on March 10, the military crackdown was in full swing. (Page 211)
- On March 15, the government army was advancing toward Puli, narrowing the encirclement… The 27 Brigade was in the very disadvantaged situation of not being able to communicate with the outside world after two major external traffic routes were blockaded. Soon, Chen Ming-chung was delegated as the head of a guerrilla force that was divided into three columns to attack the government army stationed near Sun Moon Lake. At the same time, Huang Chin-tao, head of the Public Security Team, led a squad safeguarding the Wu-niu-lan Bridge in order to prevent the government army from attacking from the back. The guerrilla force engaged in a fierce battle with a troop of the government army (4th Company, 2nd Battalion, Regiment 436) near Sun Moon Lake, which resulted in severe casualties in the government army and forced it to retreat to Shuili. However, running out of ammunition, the 27 Brigade’s guerrilla force also suffered a massive casualty toll. The next day (March 16), soldiers from two battalions of the government army (2nd and 3rd Battalion, Regiment 436) engaged in another fierce battle with Huang Chin-tao’s squad at Wu-niu-lan Bridge. At first, the squad took advantage of a good location to heavily ambush the government army, causing mass causalities. Due to a lack of sufficient firepower and battle experience, Huang Chin-tao’s squad gradually found itself in the dire situation of being besieged by the encroaching troops of the government army. Huang Chin-tao had no choice but to break through the blockage with another fighter, escaping to seek help from the headquarters of the 27 Brigade. But after arriving at the Puli Martial Arts Hall, where the 27 Brigade’s headquarters was based, chaos and panic reigned among the rebels, and fewer than 20 people were willing to help. In the evening of the same day, faced with a besiegement that made it impossible to replenish weapons and ammunition and to communicate with other resistance forces, the 27 Brigade could not keep on fighting and decided to temporarily disband. Some of its members joined Chen Tsuan-di’s guerilla force in Meishan, Chiayi; some just returned to their homes. At around 11 p.m., after the members had buried their weapons, the 27 Brigade was officially disbanded. (Page 221)
- On March 14, the government army stationed in Chiayi City started to attack Douliou, battling on the street with the remains of Chen Tsuan-di’s guerilla force (a public order team that was led by the director of Douliou Township Chien An Hospital, Chen Tsuan-di, and was not part of the 27 Brigade). Outnumbered by its rivals, Chen Tsuan-di fled with his guerilla force to Meishan, Chiayi. On March 16, the government army (8th Company, Regiment 436) pressed to the east of Meishan, where it battled fiercely with about 200 remaining insurgents. The battle ended with 10 guerillas being shot dead and with 20 rifles, two machine guns, one grenade launcher and one mountain gun being captured. Two days after the battle, another company of the government army (7th Company, Regiment 436) also engaged in a tense fight with approximately 100 guerillas, killing about 60 insurgents, arresting 12 and capturing a load of ammunition. On March 19, Chen Tsuan-di retreated to the mountainous area with his troops in preparation for long-lasting guerilla warfare, taking away all the weapons, ammunition, food and bullock carts that belonged to the nearby residents. Chen Tsuan-di urged those who joined the resistance from other places to hide in the mountains for a year-long operational plan. On March 20, the 21st Division and the 22nd Division were concerned about the remaining rebels hiding in the mountains, so a company (8th Company, Regiment 436) was sent to Meishan, from which the remaining guerillas were forced to flee, leaving behind a load of weapons and ammunition after several hours of fierce battle.
Due to its intimidating terrain, the Meishan and Changhu areas were easy to defend but hard to attack. Later, even though the government army had sent troops to these areas and killed many of the remaining guerillas, it could still not eradicate the insurgents. Even after Wei Tao-ming assumed the role of chairman of the Taiwan Provincial Government on May 16 and announced the lifting of martial law as well as the end of “village cleansing,” and after the Taiwan Garrison Command turned the areas designated for military crackdown into security areas, the remnants of Chen Tsuan-di’s guerilla force were fighting in Meishan and Changhu. (Page 221)
- By March 21, the Keelung Military Fortress had more or less completed the military crackdown mission. According to data, from February 28 to March 10, the weapons and ammunition that it captured from the rebels consisted of six light machine guns (all required fixing) and 139 rifles (most required fixing). During this period, the Fortress used: 34643 rifle bullets, 39897 light machine gun bullets, 5183 pistol bullets, 9592 heavy machine gun bullets, 549 grenades, and 35 pieces of pounder ammunition. The ammunition used in the operation consisted of as many as 100000 bullets, which shows that the military crackdown by the Keelung Military Fortress was extremely severe. Given the amount of ammunition used, it is unlikely that the number of casualties was only about 100 people. The true number is still awaiting investigation. (Page 237)
It would seem that the Keelung Military Fortress allowed its soldiers to execute suspects as they wished in their own designated areas. Examples include: Kuo Chang-yuan and six others, who were murdered in front of the Toucheng Matsu Temple; the Badu Railway Station Massacre; the executions of Chen Cheng-yue, Chang Yun-chang, Chao Tong (all three from Luodong), Yang Yuan-ting (from Keelung), Hsu Jih-sheng, Hsu Chia-chang, Hsu Shih-ming, Chien Te-fa, Chen Chin-pi, Tian Wen-kuan and Shi Chin-jong (all seven from Jinshan). The families of the victims confirmed that these individuals were publicly executed without due legal process, which means that no list of the suspects or reports were left, making it hard for the general public to believe the official death tolls. When soldiers raided the streets, anyone who did not escape in time was shot dead on the spot or detained without a legitimate reason. However, those who were willing to use money or valuables to bribe the soldiers were set free. Many people were tortured and tormented to death. Six Taiwanese compatriot organizations in Shanghai summarized the news reports and hearsay in a joint statement, writing: “Soldiers in Keelung penetrated people’s feet with metal wires and tied them up in groups of three or five. If it was just one person, he would be put in a sack before being thrown out to sea. It was recently reported that floating bodies were visible on the sea surface near Keelung.” And: “Soldiers in Keelung cut off the ears, noses and genitals of about 20 young students before stabbing them to death.” Many interviewees said they had also witnessed horrible scenes like those described in the statement while trying to find the bodies of their family members. (Page 237)
- According to the summary report presented by the Taiwan Garrison Command in November, 1947, there were 1800 suspects arrested. (Page 261)
- On April 30, 1947, the Taiwan Garrison Command released a report indicating that 3022 people had turned themselves in. (Page 261)
- The February 28 Incident is the most tragic massacre in Taiwan’s history, with thousands or potentially tens of thousands of casualties. The victims ranged from elites to common people. Countless numbers were murdered without any justifiable reason, which has resulted in a widespread unforgiveness held by victims’ families and society toward the incident. This unfortunate event caused by manmade factors has led to the Taiwanese independence movement, the rise of left-leaning ideologies and conflict between people who already lived in Taiwan before the war (and their offspring) and people who moved to Taiwan from China after the war (and their offspring). The consequences of the incident have seriously impacted the harmony and future development of Taiwanese society. (Preface 2)
- The last words of Kuo Chang-yuan, the director of Yilan Public Hospital, were: “The land I was born to is not my ancestral country, where I shall return after death. Death and life are decided by Heaven, about which I do not have any second thoughts.” (Lee Shiao-feng, Taiwanese elites who disappeared in the February 28 Incident, p.170.)
- The organizations that victims joined included the Settlement Committee, Taiwan Political Construction Association, Taiwan Autonomy Youth Alliance, Three People’s Principles Youth Corps, newspapers, and communist groups. It goes without saying that the organizations that were most greatly impacted by the incident were political ones, especially those that had previously criticized politics or taken part in political activities. (Page 266)
- According to the Name List of Criminals that Chen Yi presented to Chairman Chiang Kai-shek on March 13, 1947, there were 20 fugitives that participated in the February 28 Incident, who were Wang Tien-teng (member of the Taiwan Provincial Assembly), Hsu Cheng (lecturer at Yanping College, member of the Working Committee of Taiwan Province of the Chinese Communist Party), Lee Jen-kuei (Taipei City Council member), Hsu Chun-ching (Taipei City Council member), Tan Him, Lim Bo-seng (professor at National Taiwan University), Sung Fei-ju (the director of People’s Herald News), Ai Lu-sheng (the founder of the Great Light Post), Juan Chao-ji (the General Manager of Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News), Wu Chin-lien (the Chief Editor of Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News), Liao Chin-ping, Huang Chao-sheng (Taipei City Council member), Lin Lien-Chung (member of the Taiwan Provincial Assembly), Wang Ming-chao (a staff member of the Taiwan Province Railway Management Commission), Si Kang-lam, Lee Ruei-han (lawyer), Lee Ruei-feng (lawyer), Chang Kuang-tsu (the head of gangsters in Taipei), Horiuchi Kinjo (a technologist at the Industrial Research Institute), and Uesaki Torasaburo. According to the official archive, Chang Kuang-tsu, an influential gangster in Taipei, was indicted for being the culprit who instigated the killing of people from other provinces and led his subordinates to assist in the rebellion. Horiuchi and Uesaki were believed to be Japanese spies. The other 17 people on the list were targeted for conspiring in the rebellion. These 17 people went missing after being arrested by the government’s army soon after it entered Taipei on March 9. The majority of these 17 people joined one or two political organizations. Six of them, Wang Tien-teng, Lee Jen-kuei, Hsu Chun-ching, Liao Chin-ping, Huang Chao-sheng and Lin Lien-Chung (Taichung), joined the Settlement Committee. Seven of them, Wang Tien-teng, Lee Jen-kuei, Tan Him, Wu Chin-lien, Liao Chin-ping, Huang Chao-sheng and Si Kang-lam, joined the Taiwan Political Construction Association (and some also joined the Settlement Committee at the same time). In addition, Wang Tien-teng also joined the Three People’s Principles Youth Corps and assumed the role of director at the Taipei Branch of the Corps in Taiwan. On March 11 and 13, respectively, Chen Yi declared the Settlement Committee and Taiwan Political Construction Association were illegal organizations, before he ordered them to disband and indicted their members for participating in rebellious activities. However, whether or not these two organizations were actually involved in rebellious activities was not put on trial, meaning the due process of law was lacking. Moreover, almost half of the people on the list, Hsu Cheng, Sung Fei-ju, Ai Lu-sheng, Juan Chao-ji, Wang Ming-chao, Lee Ruei-han and Lee Ruei-feng (eight in total), did not belong to the above-mentioned political organizations. The so-called “rebellion” was also unclearly defined (Page 267). According to the archive, only Tan Him was put on trial and sentenced to the death penalty among the above-mentioned fugitives (Page 271).
- Chen Yi urged the public to restore education and economic activities. However, some obedient students went back to school and were accidentally killed by soldiers. Many Taiwanese people who were milk delivery workers, newspaper delivery workers, telecommunication workers, vegetable vendors and rickshaw-pullers, were also accidentally killed just because they did not understand the regulations of martial law……According to interviews, the main reason these people were killed was because most Taiwanese people had not experienced the rule of martial law before and did not understand it and because the majority of Taiwanese people did not speak Mandarin and could not communicate with soldiers (Page 294).
- The corrupt political atmosphere also led to unscrupulous government officials taking the opportunity to retaliate against private individuals for personal reasons. One of the most sensational examples was the murder of Wu Hong-chi, a High Court judge, and seven other people…….At midnight on March 15, multiple gunshots were heard near Nangang Bridge. The next morning, the bodies of Wu Hong-chi and seven other people were discovered near the bridge (Page 295). The official explanation said that “an assassination group was formed by gangsters in the city of Taipei, dedicated to killing military officers, people from other Chinese provinces and the officials of Taiwanese background who used their power to abuse other people. This group has started its actions and possibly killed those eight people who died near Nangang Bridge……” There was also an unofficial explanation of the assassination group: it was based at the addiction rehab center on Baoan Street and formed by gangsters who were hired by the regime……to kill dissidents. Both the public and Wu’s family believed that Wu died as a result of personal vengeance……Wu was honest and forthright. He often criticized the wickedness of the legal system and often chastised his colleagues for their wrongdoings, which might have offended some people. The prosecutor whose surname was Wang was believed to be suspicious. Wu’s wife claimed that on the name card that her husband left behind, a character “Wang” had been clearly etched out using a nail, which seemed to be a hint that the prosecutor Wang was the murderer (Page 297). The murder of Ong Iok-lim was probably triggered by a personal vengeance from a government official. Ong Iok-lim was the first prosecutor of Taiwanese background during the Japanese colonial period. After the Second World War, Ong Iok-lim worked as a prosecutor at the Hsinchu District Prosecutors Office……Ong Iok-lim was a man of integrity and impartiality by nature who had prosecuted many corrupt officials. Among them, the most famous was the Hsinchu City Mayor Kuo Shao-tsung who was involved in the misappropriation of milk powder donated by the United States. As soon as Ong Iok-lim found that the culprit of this scandal was the Hsinchu City Mayor Kuo Shao-tsung, he went to arrest him. Unexpectedly, the director of the Hsinchu City Police Department ordered his fellow policemen to encircle the prosecutor and take away his arrest warrant. Afterwards, Ong Iok-lim’s superior was surprisingly injudicious and wanted to hold him accountable for the loss of the arrest warrant. Outraged by this treatment, Ong Iok-lim resigned from the post of prosecutor and became a teacher at Jianguo High School in Taipei. It was said that after the arrival of the additional government’s army, Kuo Shao-tsung took the opportunity to revenge himself and sent police to Taipei to arrest Ong Iok-lim and executed him. (Page 299)
- During the February 28 Incident, Taiwanese people not only fought against the Chief Executive’s Office, but also attacked immigrants who had moved from China after the Second World War. Because of this, the Nationalist government’s army took retaliatory actions against Taiwanese people. The recently arrived troops from China were known for their lack of discipline and ethics, which was evidenced by endless instances of unfathomable crimes. The archive of all sorts of news coverage and interviews proves that the government’s army started its indiscriminate massacre in Taiwan after landing in Keelung on March 8. The Taiwan Garrison Command at some point even gave its clerical workers pistols and authorized them to pull the trigger for self-defense. The Nationalist government’s army was also ordered to kill all traitors and rebels. Some soldiers even showed off their shooting skills by targeting civilians. When the government’s army entered the city of Taipei, anyone who did not speak Mandarin was shot dead, which resulted in the streets being scattered with corpses from March 8 to 13 (Page 294).
- For example, on March 10, somewhere on Changchun Road in Taipei came a group of soldiers who wanted to rob people of their money, watches or personal belongings. Surprisingly, their unlawful behaviors actually resulted in the death of many local people. (Page 295)
- On the morning of March 11, the Nationalist government’s army declared the rule of marital law after it entered Tainan. When soldiers were checking pedestrians near the railway station, Tu Ping-chang (a private from the 7th Company of the 3rd Battalion, Independent Corps of the 21st Army) confiscated without authorization a few thousand Taiwan dollars and a watch from a Taiwanese person’s pockets. When the deputy leader of the battalion noticed the wrongdoing, he not only returned the money and the watch back to that Taiwanese person, but also stripped Tu Ping-chang of his private’s uniform and executed him on the spot (Page 255).
- In order to fully accomplish the mission, the Taiwan Garrison Command further published a reward and punishment notice, which stipulated that anyone who reported criminals or informed the government of people secretly owning weapons would be rewarded a prize that ranged from 1,000 to 10,000 Taiwan dollars; while anyone who hid intelligence and did not report to the government would be prosecuted for being a conspirator (Page 214). Therefore, some ill-intentioned people (both Taiwanese and recent immigrants from China) took the opportunity to get rid of their enemies and get some money (Page 303).
- The heads of villages were forced to report a certain number of gangsters in their home villages. If not, they would be severely punished. This led many village heads who were frightened by the potential punishment to randomly report innocent villagers, resulting in many unnecessary deaths, such as people from Beitou District (Page 303). Some village heads who did not want to engage in such unethical practice were killed. Yu Chu-gen, a village head from Jinguashi, Ruifang, was one of the victims. After the Nationalist government’s army entered Jinguashi, he was forced to hand in guns and a list of gangsters from his village. Yu Chu-gen refused to give in, saying that “our village is very peaceful and simple and has never taken part in the incident.” In the end, he was tortured to near death before being executed (Page 306).
- It is said that the Yuanshan Massacre on March 8 was orchestrated by Ko Yuan-fen and executed by Lin Ting-li and Hsu Te-huei. According to Liao, the deputy leader of the Chung Yi Service Squad, he had brought more than a hundred students to Yuanshan to take over guns, which would be used for maintaining public order. However, after encountering gunshot from soldiers, these students tried to surround the soldiers and poured water on them. The students’ actions may have infuriated the soldiers, who took revenge on them in the evening of March 8. More than a hundred students were killed. The next morning on March 9, Ko Yuan-fen took Yang Liang-kung to the square in front of the Yuanshan Army warehouse to identify about a hundred (or about twenty according to a different source) corpses of the so-called rebels that the Nationalist government’s soldiers claimed to have killed the previous night. It was said that Yang Liang-kung was suspicious of Ko Yuan-fen’s claims and said to his colleagues that it was very strange that only high school students who were about 18 or 19 years old were killed and there were no signs of fighting nearby (Page 210).
- In order to compensate the government officials and teachers that belonged to the Chief Executive’s Office and its subsidiary departments, the Chief Executive’s Office announced nine articles of Compensatory measures dedicated to compensate government officials and teachers of the Chief Executive’s Office and its subsidiary departments for their losses in the February 28 Incident. The complete content of the measures was as follows:
- Article 1: The compensation or relief for the losses endured by government officials and teachers of the Chief Executive’s Office and its subsidiary departments is undertaken in accordance with these regulations.
- Article 2: The range of compensation and relief is limited to death, injury and loss of personal belongings.
- Article 3: The deceased is given a single payment of 200,000 Taiwan dollars as relief for the funeral expenses. This article is also applied to the spouse, direct blood relatives, and servants.
- Article 4: All medical expenses for the injured are reimbursed at the actual cost upon production of a hospital receipt. Those who have not been hospitalized for further treatment and have been certified by his or her direct superior can receive a relief fund of 5,000 Taiwan dollars if it is a minor injury and 50,000 Taiwan dollars if it is a serious injury. The seriousness of the injury is evaluated as stipulated in the Criminal Code. This article is not applicable to those whose medical expenses have already been paid by the government. This article is applicable to the spouse, direct blood relatives or servants of government officials.
- Article 5: Relief for the loss of personal belongings is primarily focused on clothing and bedding. If there is a loss of clothing, the relief fund is 10,000 Taiwan dollars for a set of clothes and the number is limited to two sets, one for summer and one for winter. The relief fund for bedding is 20,000 Taiwan dollars for a set and the number is limited to one set.
- Article 6: Those who have experienced particularly severe injury or loss of personal belongings can be granted special relief funding after their competent authority provides the details of the injury and possession losses for further approval on a case-by-case basis.
- Article 7: If the issuance of relief funds that are mentioned in Articles 3, 4, 5 and 6 for funeral expenses, for compensation, or for the loss of personal belongings falls under the responsibility of provincial level departments, it should be reimbursed by the provincial government; if it falls under municipal level departments, it should be reimbursed by local governments; if it falls under state-owned enterprises, it should be reimbursed by the enterprises themselves. All the issuance of relief funds should be accompanied by receipts that will be submitted to the Chief Executive’s Office for future reference.
- Article 8: Applications for relief funds must be verified by the section chiefs and the heads of the departments of all the levels above. If there is any fraudulence, the managers of all the levels who have attested the authenticity of the application will be severely punished.
- Article 9: This regulation is in effect from the date of announcement. (Page 370)
- On June 15, 1947, all Taiwanese newspapers published a letter written by Yang Liang-kung, the Control Yuan’s investigator responsible for the Fujian and Taiwan area, demanding that the Taiwan Provincial Government ban all municipal government officials from requesting donations from private individuals and civil organizations, and that local councils should be prevented from using any excuse to seek donations from the public, which is perceived as extortion in reality. Many government officials used their own position to frame private individuals who did not cooperate. Therefore, the Taiwan Provincial Government ordered that all officials from all departments could not use the losses in the February 28 Incident as an excuse to seek donations from the public. If any officials continued to use their positions to extort money from the public by threatening to frame them, they would be severely punished. The evidence above shows that government officials at the time did use the February 28 Incident as an excuse to extort money from the public. (Page 397)
- When Chen Yi arrived in Taiwan on October 24, 1945, he rested a bit at Songshan Airport before he announced his policies, saying that he “came to Taiwan to make contributions, not to be a government official. I have confidence in building Taiwan and resolve to launch political reform and eradicate corruption and bad governance. I demand the cooperation of all Taiwanese compatriots in working on the construction of a new Taiwan.” (Page 4)
- At the beginning of the incident, Chen Yi did not take a tough stance on it, partly because there were not sufficient soldiers stationed on the island to respond to the social unrest and partly because he as Taiwan’s Chief Executive did not want any scandal to undermine his political status and prestige (See Footnote 21 for more details). Therefore, it was likely that Chen Yi was trying to play down the seriousness of the conflict or even gloss over it. (Page 202)
- However, the later development of the situation was not expected by Chen Yi. It turned out that the political discontent and economic despair that Taiwanese people had put up with for about a year had already reached a tipping point. The Settlement Committee realized it could take advantage of the public’s anger and thus announced a series of demands consisting of political and economic requests, which were found unacceptable by Chen Yi. One of the reasons was that the institution of the Chief Executive’s Office with all-encompassing power was designed and proposed by Chen Yi. Now Chen Yi’s administration was on the brink of total disintegration, dealing a heavy blow to his political prestige and status. (Page 202)
- On March 6, Chen Yi prepared a detailed report on the incident for Chairman Chiang Kai-shek and appointed Lee Yi-chung, the director of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s Taiwan Province Division, to fly to Nanjing on March 7 to present it in detail to Chiang in person. The letter particularly emphasized that after the outbreak of the incident, the “treacherous party” (Chinese Communist Party) members, pro-Japanese gentry from the former colonial time, and hooligans had taken the opportunity to stir up anti-Chinese and anti-government sentiments. They seized firearms from the army and police and besieged local government buildings, which “showed that it was less an ordinary mass movement than well-planned, well-organized rebellion.” Therefore, it should be of no doubt that participants needed to be severely punished. Chen Yi believed that “if he had eradicated the pro-Japanese gentry and had strengthened the armed force in Taiwan when he first assumed the office, the incident would not have deteriorated to the current situation.” In order to mitigate the damage caused by the incident and solve the problem completely, Chen Yi proposed a few measures: firstly, in terms of politics, the government should change the feudalist ideology harbored by a majority of Taiwanese people, as well as restructure the Chief Executive’s Office into the Taiwan Provincial Government and experiment with democratic elections of county and city mayors, so that Taiwanese people could have more trust in the government. Secondly, “the affiliates of the treacherous party must be forcibly annihilated and must not be allowed to exist.” Chen Yi believed that only after the well-trained, two well-equipped divisions of the government’s army were dispatched to Taiwan could the government have sufficient strength to deal with the treacherous party members and to exterminate the rebellious attempts to gain Taiwanese independence…The reason many members of Taiwanese intelligentsia were arrested and murdered one after another during the military crackdown could be understood from this letter. (Page 204)
- According to the archive, Chairman Chiang Kai-shek and Chen Yi were opposed to the retaliatory policies. On March 10, Chen Yi told Hsu Shih-hsien, the director of the Department of Martial Law, and Ko Yuan-fen, the Chief of Staff, that many soldiers were found to have humiliated Taiwanese people and leaders of platoons and companies must constantly keep a watch on their soldiers to stop these sorts of behaviors. On the same day, Ko Yuan-fen also requested his subordinates to follow this order. On March 11, Hsu Shih-hsien made a report, saying that since the declaration of martial law, a total of 135 civilians had been arrested. Problems were usually found after interrogation, meaning that the “real reasons these people were arrested were extremely different to the reality.” The suspects were either seriously injured or robbed of their belongings by soldiers while being escorted. Therefore, Hsu Shih-hsien suggested Chen Yi should make distinction between good and bad people to avoid implicating the innocent. He also urged Chen Yi to order his subordinate soldiers and officers “not to recklessly retaliate against local people,” which showed that things like indiscriminate arrest, killing and robbery were not uncommon at the time. This was also confirmed by victims during oral history interviews. (Page 300)
- According to the report that the Military Police Command and Central Bureau of Investigation and Statistics presented to Chairman Chiang Kai-shek on March 12, the retaliatory operation was soon started after the government’s army arrived in Taiwan on March 9 and 10. The Investigation and Statistics Department of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s branch in Taiwan also suggested the government should seize the opportunity to eradicate the rebels and sent the list of wanted people to the Taiwan Garrison Command. On the evening of March 10, the government started to purge the “traitors in the cities.” (Page 213)
- Chen Yi ordered the Military Police’s Special Investigations Branch in Taiwan to secretly arrest Lin Lien-chung (member of the National Assembly), Lin Kuei-tuan, Lee Ruei-feng, and the most wanted fugitive Tseng Bi-chung. Chiang Wei-chuan had already absconded. (Page 214)
- During the night of February 28, Ko Yuan-fen, the Chief of Staff, also wrote in his diary that “the outbreak of this incident was, of course, incited by some traitors from within. However, we failed to take much precaution to avoid it because of our political unpreparedness, lack of sufficient attention to the mass movement, and the failure to manage and lead the crowds, all of which were the biggest mistakes that our party and our army had ever made.” (Page 200)
- On March 4, Ko Yuan-fen wrote in his diary that “after careful consideration, I have decided to prepare militarily as soon and thoroughly as possible. I will resort to military crackdown immediately after evidence of their treasonous behaviors is released.” (Page 201)
- On March 28, Pai Tsung-hsi instructed six measures for dealing with the aftermath of the February 28 Incident. 1) In terms of people who have been arrested, the government is required to provide a list during Pai Tsung-hsi’s visit containing the responsible agencies and number and names of people it has incarcerated or executed. Except for those who have committed serious crimes, those who have been incarcerated should be treated leniently. 2) In terms of arresting criminals, only communists and culprits of the incident can be arrested, responsible agencies can only arrest people after they are directed to do so by the Taiwan Garrison Command, and suspects should be put on trial as soon as they are arrested. 3) In terms of dealing with students, all students need to go back to school immediately. After resuming school, students cannot be arrested unless they are communists. If they are found of any misconduct, they will be punished by school authorities in accordance with school rules. 4) The crackdown operation should be carried out by city and county government staff members and assisted by the government’s army. 5) Injured government officials and teachers and civilians who do not have clothing and food should be aided urgently. 6) Military discipline should be strictly maintained. (Page 215)
- Peng Meng-chi, Recollection of the February 28 Incident in Taiwan Province, Page 45. (Page 413)
- After Peng Meng-chi dispatched troops to conduct the military crackdown in the afternoon of March 6, he telegraphed Chen Yi, who later scolded him, saying that the problems in Taiwan should be solved politically instead. Chen Yi said to Peng Meng-chi that he should be held accountable for the deterioration of the situation in Kaohsiung in the last few days as he had acted recklessly. Chen Yi ordered Peng Meng-chi to retreat all his troops back to the battalion and wait for further notice within two days after the reception of the telegraph. After Peng Meng-chi successfully clamped down the resistance in Kaohsiung, he sent another telegraph to Chen Yi, explaining the reason behind his military operation and requesting permission to execute Tu Guang-ming and the other two leaders of the local rebellion. After this telegraph was sent, the Taiwan Garrison Command replied immediately, saying that Peng Meng-chi should be complimented for his appropriate handling of the situation and granting approval for his execution requests. The reason Chen Yi changed his attitude was because he wanted to placate Peng Meng-chi who was in charge of the military crackdown in southern Taiwan. (Page 229)
- At midday on March 8, Chang Mu-tao, the leader of the Military Police Corps, met with members of the Settlement Committee, saying that “the political reforms demanded by Taiwanese people were legitimate and the central government would definitely not dispatch troops to Taiwan.” Chang also urged the Taiwanese compatriots “not to provoke the central government” and swore on his life that the central government would absolutely not launch any warfare on the island (Page 72). In fact, during the incident, Ko Yuan-fen, Chang Mu-tao and other intelligence workers had already made all kinds of preparations in Taipei to accommodate the imminent military operation. The enforcement troops had already landed in Keelung in the afternoon of the same day (March 8). (Page 206)
- On March 31, the Taiwan Garrison Command followed Pai Tsung-hsi’s instructions to notify all the troops on the island that they could not arrest suspects without receiving an order from the Command and that if they had to arrest someone urgently, they needed to inform the Command as soon as possible. However, on April 4, the 4th Military Police Regiment sought permission from the Taiwan Garrison Command to perform its tasks as it wished based on the legal authorities of military police as military prosecutors and judiciary police. (Page 216)
- On March 1… before dawn, the Central Bureau of Investigation and Statistics received an urgent telegraph from its investigative office in Taiwan reporting the February 28 Incident. After that, the Bureau received urgent telegraphs twice a day. Yeh Hsiu-Feng, the director of the Central Bureau of Investigation and Statistics, suggested Chiang Kai-shek to send three well-trained army divisions to Taiwan. The Central Bureau of Investigation and Statistics deliberately exaggerated the seriousness of the incident. For example, it claimed in its telegraph on March 5 that most participants of the rebellion were samurais that had been employed by the Japanese army from overseas and that there were approximately 120,000 of them in Taiwan. (Page 203)
- On March 12, the Military Police Command and the Central Bureau of Investigation and Statistics reported to Chiang Kai-shek that Chen Yi arbitrarily retaliated against Taiwanese people after the landing of the enforcement troops. On March 13, Chiang Kai-shek telegraphed Chen Yi urgently, saying, “please strictly forbid all the military personnel from engaging in retaliation or you will be prosecuted for insubordination.” Chiang’s tone was extremely stern and severe. On the same day, Chen Yi also sent an urgent telegraph back to Chiang, saying even though he had already banned military personnel from retaliation, he would continue to firmly remind his subordinates. On March 14, Chen Yi once again ordered all the military personnel not to engage in any retaliation. Although the same message had been repeated again and again, retaliation against local Taiwanese people was still common in the military, which was very baffling. (Page 300)
- At the end of the Second World War, Taiwan was constantly bombed by the Allies, resulting in considerable damage to Taipei, Keelung, Hsinchu, Chiayi and Kaohsiung. For example, Keelung, which was bombed 25 times from October 1944 to the end of the war in 1945, was most severely bombed as it was in the fortified region. “The total bombed area was 3,051,000 square meters and 56 percent of the city was damaged. 5,056 buildings were ruined in the bombing and 9,030 buildings were estimated to have stood before the war, which means 56 percent of the buildings were damaged.” In addition, the roads and waterways were also damaged to a similar degree. Manufacturing, mining, and electricity facilities were among the most seriously damaged. In terms of electricity, before the takeover of the Nationalist government, the power supply had already dropped to about 30,000 kWh, which was less than one third of that in 1943. Also, the acquisition of raw materials was not easy and talents were hard to find. Therefore, in the early days of the new regime, the Chief Executive’s Office was planning to ask Japanese industrial and mining technicians to stay in Taiwan to maintain production activities. However, after the objection of the U.S. government, they had to be repatriated. This was why the production level was difficult to restore to the pre-war status in the short run. (Page 5)
- As the Chinese Civil War was constantly escalating, a nationwide economic crisis broke out. The rise in prices, disorder in society, and widespread panic among the Chinese population were reasons the central Nationalist government could not dedicate itself to properly managing Taiwan. (Page 27)
- After the war, the whole world was working on reconstruction from the debris. Inflation was haunting the globe, and China was no exception. The Taiwanese economy was increasingly unstable after being implicated in the escalation of anti-communist warfare in China. Back then, Taiwan encountered various problems, including insufficient industrial raw materials, damage to production capabilities, a lack of transport facilities, fiscal difficulties, and an inability to replenish the loss of technicians. (Page 23)