Memorandum on the Situation in Taiwan
April 18, 1947
The Formosan Chinese greeted the surrender of Japanese
authority to the Chinese with immense enthusiasm on October 25, 1945. After fifty years
under Japanese control and intensive economic development they welcomed a return to China,
which they had idealized as the "Mother Country". The richness of the island and
the relatively light population pressure had made rapid economic and social developments
possible. Agriculture, food processing and light industry in the best years produced an
overseas trade valued at U.S. $225,000,000. To improve Taiwan's economic value the
Japanese had raised the general standard of living. Public health standards were high and
literacy widely spread among the masses. Formosans had come to place a high value on
orderly procedures in the courts and on the orderly enforcement and observance of
government regulations, for they found order both profitable and necessary in a complex
and semi-industrialized economy.
With the removal of the Japanese the Formosans looked
forward to a return to profitable trade and an expansion of their already established
industries, with the markets of China ready to receive all that they could produce. The
surpluses which had always gone to Japan would now, they thought, go to China. They
expected to return to control of the properties taken from them by the Japanese through
fifty years and expected a larger share in the management of their own enterprises. Under
pressure of the Japanese overlords who were alien to Taiwan, they had developed an
island-wide sense of social solidarity. They were free of all internal political strife.
The Japanese had rigorously excluded all Communist influence and activity, and had indeed
filled the people with fear, dislike and distrust of Communist doctrines. They revered the
Generalissimo, be1ieved the Three peoples Principles meant new opportunities, and
looked forward expectantly to participation In the Central Government. The year 1946 was
one of increasing disappointment. Though the majority of petty officials, clerks and
office boys of the new Administration were Formosans, they were virtually excluded from
all important government offices and from important administrative posts. The legal
necessity to place all confiscated Japanese properties and enterprises under Government
control led to the creation of syndicates and combines in every field in which the
Japanese had had an interest. Though the Government owns (and must heavily subsidize)
these companies, the salaried and privileged administrators are in a position to squeeze
freely. It is alleged that raw and finished materials and agricultural products find their
way into the hands of unscrupulous officials for their use in private trading and
smuggling Judging from Taiwan's former capacity to produce and the fact that its
enterprises continue, qualified Formosans estimate that published records show only
one-tenth of actual receipts. As an example, it is alleged by persons formerly
connected with the Department of Agriculture and Forestry that fishing boats were
withdrawn from their normal bases in 1940 and were used for smuggling in the interest of
the authorities concerned.
Formosans have been virtually excluded from the higher
levels of economic administration. These persistent allegations of corruption lead them to
place responsibility on members of the Government who appear and reappear in lucrative
posts as Commissioners, members of Committees, and Directors in a manner which
concentrates full control of the total economy in the hands of a clique close to the
There was a progressive decline in Formosan economic
enterprise, especially where there was competition with ex-Japanese interest. Unemployment
among Formosans has progressively increased, either through direct discharge (frequently
to make room for unqualified newcomers) or by the suspension or abolition of various
established enterprises which failed to be profitable under the new management. Whereas
about 50,000 Formosans had been employed normally in industrial work, by January 1947
UNRRA officials estimated that less than 5,000 were so employed. Whereas the top
government officials created a Taiwan Industrial and Mining Enterprises Syndicate with a
capital of two billion Taiwan yen, in which the Commissioners and their associates play
leading roles, the Department of Mining and Industry announced an appropriation of only
eight million Taiwan yen for loans in aid of private (i. e. Formosan) Industrial
enterprises after June 1946.
The Quarantine Service broke down and the Public Health
Service was badly shattered. Cholera epidemics occurred for the first time in about 80
years: bubonic plague appeared after an even longer absence. Educational standards in the
schools were markedly lowered. Friction spread through the schools between Formosans and
mainland students and teachers. Trouble between mainland police and local petty officials
increased. The press was filled with public charges and counter-charges of corruption and
lawless acts among government officers. Formosans claimed that corruption and nepotism
among mainland officials increased rather than abated during the year. The cost of living
soared. Bank of Taiwan wholesale commodity price indices snow advance as follows
from November 1945 to January 1947: foodstuffs 3,328 to 21,058; clothing 5,741 to 24,483;
fuel 963 to 14,091; fertilizers 139 to 37,559; building materials 949 to 13,612 (Pre-war
June 1937 is used as a basis) Prices shot up most rapidly during February 1947. These
figures on the whole reflect the drain of Taiwan wealth from the island, with little or no
return to it.
Although the two rice harvests of 1946 were good, a rice
shortage grew acute in December 1948 and January 1947. The Government instituted a tax in
kind for rice lands, ostensibly to secure an equal distribution, and repeatedly threatened
to use military force to punish private hoarders which it blamed for the shortages. In
fact there is substantial evidence to support the Formosans in their charges that large
quantities of grain were smuggled out or went into private control of officials. It is
popularly believed that the army is shipping unpublicized quantities to the northern front
on the mainland.
Three governmental acts
Against this background of increasing economic and
social dislocation three governmental acts in January and February appear to have
crystallized Formosan resentment toward economic policies and toward individuals in the
(1) Throughout 1946 Formosans sought permission to elect
city mayors and Hsien magistrates, in order to ensure themselves of some
direct control over local police and over economic functions and public services. The
announcement of China's new Constitution was greeted with relief. Prominent Formosan
leaders counseled that demands for local elections could wait until the Constitution would
become effective at the end of 1947. In early January, however, the Governor General
announced that although the Constitution would be effective on the mainland on December
25, 1947, it would be impossible for the Government to allow local elections of mayors and
magistrates in Formosa until December 1949. This had an effect which stirred political
discussion to a new pitch. Formosans state that until they can elect their own
representatives at all levels of local government they will have no security of person;
they cannot control the local police, ensure the enforcement of law nor enjoy security of
(2) On February 1 the Government announced a new policy
for the disposal it auction of certain large categories of Japanese property-principally
real estate abandoned by the Japanese and now occupied by Formosans on a low rental basis.
The announced procedures were such that it was widely believed that Formosans without
great wealth and its influence would be unable to buy real estate which they had believed
would be available, especially in view of the fact that it had been taken from them more
or less forcefully by the Japanese over the course of fifty years.
This announced procedure was interpreted as a threat to
the security of low-income level Formosans who, having lost their former homes during the
war, are not anxious to face eviction from houses now occupied if, as they anticipate, new
mainland landlords should suddenly greatly increase rentals. (Rental is the one item in
living costs which has not risen excessively since 1945, due to the removal of several
hundred thousand Japanese.)
(3) The third governmental act was a February 14
announcement of a series of complex financial and trading regulations which Formosans
believed effectually concentrated monopoly control in the hands of a small group of
officials. It is believed by some observers that these were announced precipitously and
rashly in the belief that the crisis in Shanghai was about to provide an opportunity long
awaited to establish a semi-autonomous economy for Taiwan, giving into the hands of a few
mainland people an absolute control of all external trade and a general control of
internal production and business as well.
As an island people, Formosans have been sensitive to
overseas trade, and after the Japanese surrender they anticipated the reestablishment and
expansion of seaborne commerce. They had proposed to organize their capital for production
and Individual business, out of which they had expected to be taxed in support of the
Central Government and of the local island administration. These new measures seemed to
the Formosans not only a threat to return them to the subservient position they had
suffered under the Japanese, but to threaten to destroy the very means to create wealth
within the island.
THE FEBRUARY INCIDENT
Spontaneous protest and unorganized riots
On the evening of February 27 certain armed
Monopoly Bureau agents and special police agents set upon and beat a female
cigarette vendor, who with her two small children had protested the seizure of her small
cash as well as her allegedly untaxed cigarettes. She is reported to have died soon after
as a result of the beating at police hands. An angered crowd set after the agents, who
shot at random, killing one person before they escaped into a civil police station, Their
Monopoly Bureau truck and its contents were burned in the street, although the agents were
allowed to be taken away, on foot and unmolested. from the police station by military
police called for that purpose.
On the morning of February 28 a crowd estimated at about
2,000 marched in orderly fashion from the area in which the incident had occurred, past
the American Consulate and toward the Monopoly Bureau Headquarters. Placards and banners
announced that they intended to protest the action of special armed agents, to demand a
death sentence for the responsible man1 and to demand the resignation of the Monopoly
Unfortunately, as they made their way across the city, two
Monopoly agents were discovered in a side street molesting a vendor. They were beaten to
death by an angry crowd which was not taking part in the initial demonstration This
happened near the Taipei Branch Monopoly Bureau Office buildings which the crowd began to
sack. Its contents were burned in the streets. Mainland employee were driven out and if
caught were beaten mercilessly. The crowd's anger enlarged to include employees and
property of the Trading Bureau, another monopolistic organization greatly disliked. The
Consul and the Vice Consul observed the orderly gathering before the Monopoly Bureau
Headquarters, where no Monopoly Bureau official would receive the petition which had been
brought about noon. Monopoly Bureau police and a few military police were guarding the
Meanwhile at about one o'clock someone announced to the
radio audience that demands were being made on the Government to put an end to its
monopolies. All Formosans were urged to support the movement.
The parade, meanwhile, left the Monopoly Bureau for the
Governor's office where it was intended to present tile petition for reform. At about two
o'clock it reached a wide intersection adjacent to the government grounds. Without warning
a machine gun mounted somewhere on the government building opened fire, swept and
dispersed the crowd and killed at least four. Two consular officers drove through
the square immediately after the shots were fired. Two of the dead were picked up a few
minutes later by an UNRRA officer.
This shooting was the signal for a citywide outburst of
anger against all mainland Chinese, regardless of rank or occupation. Many were
beaten, cars were burned and in some few cases offices and houses of minor officials were
sacked and the contents burned in the street. It was observed that the Formosans refrained
from looting. One Formosan was found attempting to take cigarettes from a burning heap; he
was forced to kneel and beg forgiveness from the crowd and was then driven away.
Another was severely beaten. Tires and other equipment were observed to
have been left untouched on overturned cars, and remained in evidence until
the Formosans lost control of the city March 9. Martial law was invoked in the late
afternoon February 28. Armed military controls began to appear in the city, firing at random
wherever they went.
At 10 o'clock a. m., March 1, the Chairman of the
Taipei Municipal People's Political Council invited the Council, representatives of the
National and provincial P.P.C. Councils and the Taiwan representatives to the National
Assembly, to form a committee for settling the so called Monopoly Bureau Incident.
It was decided to send a delegation to call on the Governor General,
requesting, among other things, that a committee be formed to settle the problems jointly
by the people and the Government. These men recognized that with the firing on the crowd
at the government building, the issues had become much greater than mere punishment of
Monopoly Bureau agents and a financial settlement for the injured and dead. They urged the
Governor to lift martial law so that the dangers of a clash between the unarmed
civil population and the military would be averted. This the Governor agreed to do at
midnight, March 1, meanwhile forbidding meetings and parades.
On that day busses and trucks, filled with squads of
government troops armed with machine guns and rifles, began to sweep through the streets,
firing indiscriminately. Machine guns were set up at important intersections. Shooting
grew in volume during the afternoon. At no time were Formosans observed to have arms and
no instances of Formosan use of arms were reported in Taipei. Nevertheless, the military
were evidently allowed free use in what appeared to be an attempt to frighten the people
At approximately 5 o'clock, the Governor General broadcast
a message which appears to have increased the anger of the people. He stated that the
Monopoly Bureau incident had been settled by a generous payment of money. Without
referring to the machine gun fire from his own office he accused the Formosans of
increased rioting, but generously promised to lift martial law at midnight.
"There is one more point," the Governor
broadcast. "The P.P.C members wished to send representatives to form a committee
jointly with the Government to settle this riot. This I have also granted. If you have any
opinion, you can tell me through this Committee." (Hsin Sheng Pao, March 2,
While he was broadcasting, members of the American
Consulate staff witnessed a severe clash between armed government forces and unarmed
crowds. Mounted troops had killed two pedestrians near the compound. A crowd gathered. A
few hundred yards away Railway Administration special armed police suddenly opened fire
from within the Administration building and killed two more pedestrians The crowd turned
on any mainland Railway Bureau employee found nearby. Two more pedestrians who looked like
Coolies were shot about 300 feet from the Consulate gates Then as the bodies were carried
off the crowd was observed to assemble again some distance from a mounted patrol near an
intersection. Suddenly, with no warning, a long burst of machine gun fire swept the area.
Some of the wounded and dead were carried past the Consulate gates; it is stated reliably
that at least 123 were felled by this burst and that 25 died. How many of
the injured walked away is not known.
On this afternoon 25 mainland officials from the
neighboring Railway Administration compound took refuge in the Consulate. Although the
crowd observed them enter, no attempt was made to pursue them. They were removed eight
hours later under police guard.
The temper of the populace was uncertain. Inflammatory
handbills and posters began to appear in increasing number. There was a general
demand that the Government of Taiwan must he thoroughly reformed.
At 12 noon March 2 the "Untaxed Cigarette
Incident Investigation Committee of the Taipei Municipal P.P.C." called on the
Governor General, and with this began the attempt to meet and clarify the
fundamental political and economic problems which lay back of the uprisings. The Governor
had with him the Secretary-General, the Commissioners for Civil Affairs, Communications,
and Industry and Mining.
The Governor appears to have been told by the Committee
that there could be no peace as long as roving armed patrols were permitted to sweep the
streets with gunfire and so paralyze all normal activity.
It is believed that if fully determined the people could
have overpowered and ended the patrols which were moving only in the central part of the
The Governor therefore agreed to several "temporary
demands", i.e., stipulations of conditions to be maintained while the people
organized their fundamental demands for reform in government. These included (1) an
agreement that a schedule of fundamental reforms should be prepared for discussion by
March 10, after representatives of the people throughout the island could be consulted;
(2) a promise that the Government would not bring additional troops into the city while
these consultations were in progress; (3) a volunteer youth organization under the
supervision of the Mayor and the municipal Chief of Police (a mainlander) would maintain
law and order temporarily; (4) communications would be restored at once in order to avoid
a food shortage.
The Governor agreed to broadcast at 3 oclock p.m.
and agreed to reduce the armed patrols gradually, meanwhile ordering them to patrol with
rifles and other arms down on the floor of the trucks and busses, for use only if crowds
were found disturbing the peace.
At 2: 30 o'clock the first general meeting of the
Governor's representatives (the Commissioners of Civil Affairs, Police, and
Communications, and the Taipei Mayor) and the Settlement Committee met in the Public Hall,
with a capacity audience of spectators. It was announced that as a result of the morning
conference the Governor had decided to readjust the Committee to bring into it
representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, the Labor Union, student organizations,
popular organizations, and the important Taiwan Political Reconstruction Association which
has been for many months the most outspoken and emphatically nationalist group urging
reform in General Chen's government.
The following temporary demands were formulated:
1. All people arrested in connection with the riots will
2. The Government will pay death gratuities and
compensations to the wounded;
3. The Government will not prosecute persons involved;
4. Armed police patrols will be stopped immediately;
5. Communications will be restored immediately.
While in session the meeting was disturbed by volleys of
shots outside, when the Governor's promised 3 o'clock broadcast was postponed for almost
two hours, it begun to be rumored that he was delaying in hope that troops would reach the
city from the south and he would not he forced to make public acceptance of the demands.
At approximately 5 o'clock, March 2, the Governor again
broadcast, concluding his speech with the statement:
"A committee will be organized to settle the
incident. Besides government officials and members of the P.P.C., representatives from the
people of all walks of life will be invited to joint the committee so that it may
represent opinions of the majority of the people." (Hsin Sheng Pao, March 3,
On the night of March 2, word reached Taipei that
the Governor actually had attempted to get troop to the city. Citizens near Hsinchu city,
however, were reported to have halted the troop carriers by removing rails from the main
From this time (March 3) the confidence of the people
appears to have been undermined. The moderate and conservative element represented by the
Committee members were willing to trust the Government's word and to proceed with
negotiations. The more skeptical elements agreed to support the Committee in its efforts
but at the same time determined to prepare resistance to any military action
which might be set against them.
This delegation, received by five Government Commissioners
and Chief of Staff Ko, urged that the patrols be withdrawn, for they were still firing
wildly in the streets despite the Governor's promises. After long discussion the
Government representatives agreed:
1. All troops to be withdrawn by 6 p. m., March 8;
2. Public order to be maintained by a temporary Public
Security Service Corps including gendarmes, police, and youths;
3. Communications to be restored at 6 p. m.;
4. Military rice stores to be released to avert crisis;
5. Any military personnel making a disturbance to be sent
to General Ko for punishment;
6. Any civilians disturbing the peace to he punished
according to law, on the guarantee of the Committee;
Troops absolutely would not come from the south to the
north. (General Ko is reported to have promised "to commit suicide" if his
personal guarantee were broken.)
Meanwhile, a Taipei City Provisional Public Safety
Committee was organized by the Settlement Committee. Its members were recommended by the
Committee and were to constitute a "Loyal Service Corps." Its effective period
was to end on the day normal conditions were restored in Taipei. Meanwhile, events at
Taipei were known throughout Taiwan. It appears that Formosans became deeply alarmed at
persistent rumors that troops were coming from the mainland, and began to arm themselves
to resist a military occupation, insisting, however, that they wanted reform, not civil
war. Formosans began to take over local administrative posts everywhere held by mainland
Chinese. Government troops offered some resistance but it appears that in many places
mainlanders agreed to relinquish their posts peacefully, as at Hualienkang
(Karenko). The aborigines are reported to be cooperating fully with the Formosan Chinese.
Without prearrangement or preparation, by March 5, Formosan-Chinese were in the ascendancy
or in control throughout the island.
This called for larger organization in order to prevent
ruffians under guise of "1ocal patriotism" from taking advantage of confusion.
On March 4 the Settlement Committee enlarged its representative character by creating 17
subdivisions or local Settlement Committees throughout the island. Circumstances beyond
control forced the Committee to so enlarge its duties, and in doing so it announced:
"We should acknowledge the aim of this action,
that there is no other desire except to demand a reformation of Government" (Hsin-Sheng
Pao, March 5, 1947)
This was without doubt necessary, for the absence of
mainland office-holders from their duties threatened to paralyze the administration.
The Governor and his Commissioners received the
Committee's representatives at 3:30 p.m., March 4 and the Governor took occasion to remind
them that his duties were related to both national administration and local government and
expressed his hope that the people would come forth with more proposals for local
administration. He stated that he had ordered the police and gendarmes not to carry
March 5 was quiet at Taipei. Shops were open and primary
schools resumed classwork. The city appeared to be returning to normal while the
Settlement Committee worked toward a reform program which would remove the sources of
conflict between administration and people.
There was intense popular anxiety, however, for rumors of
impending troop movements grew stronger. It was said that the March 10 date set for
presentation of the reform proposals would be too late. Each rumor strengthened the
arguments of the men who desired to organize resistance and made the task of the
officially recognized Settlement Committee more difficult. In an attempt to clarify its
own position and to strengthen its influence over dissident elements the Settlement
Committee published basic Articles of Organization clearly defining its temporary
A Youth League of considerable potential significance came
into being, stressing as basic principles a desire to make Taiwan a model province
of China and to hasten Dr. Sun Yat-sen's program of National Reconstruction. The founder,
former president of the Chamber of Commerce, Chiang Wei-chuan, said:
"We absolutely support the Central Government but
will eradicate all corrupt officials in this province. This is our aim which I hope every
one of you fully grasp." (Chung Wei Jih Pao, March 6,1947)
Spurred by fears of a military invasion, on March 6 the
Settlement Committee completed its draft of items of reform which the Governor had agreed
to discuss and to refer to the Central Government wherever necessary. The Committee's
executive group acted as sponsors and included four members of the National P.P.C., six
members of the Taiwan Provincial P.P.C., five members of the Taipei Municipal P.P.C. and
two "reserve members". Everyone of these men had received the approval of
the Government as P.P.C. members and represent in fact the most conservative elements in
Taiwan. One is a former Consul General at San Francisco, and ex-Mayor of Taipei.
The reform proposals, made possible March 7, are set forth on pages 15-18 of this
The Armys explicit promise that the Central
Government would not send troops
On March 8 Major-General Chang Wu.tao, Commander of
the Fourth Gendarme Regiment, at 12:00 noon called on the Settlement Committee at its headquarters.
According to the press and to witnesses he made the following categorical statement:
"I can guarantee that there will be no
social disturbances if the people do not try to disarm the soldiers. I want especially to
report to you that the demands for political reforms in this province are very proper. The
Central Government will not dispatch troops to Taiwan. I earnestly entreat the people of
Taiwan not to irritate the Central Government, but to cooperate to maintain order. I can
risk my life to guarantee that the Central Government will not take any military actions
against Taiwan. I speak these words out of my sincere attachment to this province and to
the nation. I hope Taiwan will become a model province after these political
reforms." (Hsin Sheng Pao, March 9, 1947.)
The Landing of Government troops and subsequent
Foreign observers who were at Keelung March 8 state that
in mid-afternoon the street of city were cleared suddenly by machine gun fire directed at
no particular objects or persons. After dark ships docked and discharged the troops for
which the Governor apparently had been waiting. Fairly reliable sources estimate that
about 2,000 police were landed, followed by about 8,000 troops with light equipment
including U. S. army jeeps. Men and equipment were rushed to Taipei. It is reported that
about 3,000 men were landed at Takao simultaneously. Troops were reported continuing to
arrive on March 17.
Beginning March 9, there was widespread and indiscriminate
killing. Soldiers were seen bayoneting coolies without apparent provocation in front of a
Consulate staff residence. Soldiers were seen to rob passersby. An old man protesting the
removal of a woman from his house was seen cut down by two soldiers. The Canadian nurse in
charge of an adjacent Mission Hospital was observed bravely to make seven trips under fire
into the crowded area across the avenue to treat persons shot down or bayoneted, and once
as she supervised the movement of a wounded man into the hospital the bearers with her
were fired upon. Some of the patients brought in had been shot and hacked to pieces. Young
Formosan men were observed tied together, being prodded at bayonet point toward the city
limits. A Formosan woman primary school teacher attempting to reach her home was shot in
the back and robbed near the Mission compound. A British business man attempting to rescue
an American woman whose house was being riddled with machine gun fire from a nearby
emplacement was fired upon and narrowly escaped, one bullet cutting through his clothing
and another being deflected from the steering gear of his jeep. Another foreigner saw a
youth forced to dismount from his cycle before a military policeman, who thereupon
lacerated the man's hands so badly with his bayonet that the man could not pick up his
Anyone thought to be trying to hide or run was shot down.
Looting began wherever the soldiers saw something desirable. In the Manka area, near the
Consulate, a general sacking by soldiers took place on March 10; many shopkeepers are
believed to have been shot.
On March 11 it was reported that a systematic search for
middle school students had begun during the night. School enrollment lists were used. A
broadcast earlier had ordered all youths who had been members of the Security Patrol or
the Youth League to turn in their weapons. Concurrently, all middle school students were
ordered to remain at home. If a student was caught on the street while trying to obey the
first order he was killed; if the searchers found a weapon in his house, he met a like
fate. If a student was not at home his brother or his father was seized as hostage. A
reliable estimate was made that about 700 students had been seized in Taipei by March 13.
Two hundred are said to have been seized in Keelung. Fifty are reported, to have been
killed at Matsuyama and thirty at Kokuto (suburbs of Taipei) on the night of March 9.
From March 8 the Government instituted searches for all
members of the Settlement Committee and for all editors, lawyers and many prominent
business men who had in any way been identified with the activities of the Committee
between March 1 and 8. Wang Tien-teng, Chairman of the Settlement Committee, was seized
and is alleged to have been executed about March 13. Tan Gim, a leading banker, was taken
from his sick bed; Lim Mo-sei, editor of the Min Pao, was seized in the night and
taken without clothing. Gan Kin-en, head of a large private mining interest, was arrested.
Middle school and normal school teachers began to be
seized or to disappear March 14. One teacher who had been deprived of his license as a
public prosecutor after exposing a case of police corruption in early 1946, was taken on
March 15. Another public prosecutor involved in the arrest and punishment of mainland
police officers convicted in court of killing an official of the Taichung Court, is said
to have been literally drugged out of the Taipei Higher Court by the convicted man who had
apparently won release after March 8. A minor accountant in the Taiwan Navigation Company
at Keelung was called out and shot, with the explanation that the Manager did not think
well of him.
On March 13 a tense crowd was observed near the homes of
the Vice Consul and the U.S.I.S. Director; wailing women who came away incoherently said
that two students had just been beheaded. UNSRA personnel observed bodies lying along the
road between their hostel and the city office. Unclaimed bodies were reliably reported to
be lying in the ditches and along an embankment within 2000 feet of the foreign mission
compound. A foreigner reported that on March 10 while at the Army Garrison Headquarters he
observed some 15 well-dressed Formosan-Chinese bound and kneeling, with necks bared,
apparently awaiting execution. On March 14 and 15 many bodies began to float into the
inner harbor at Keelung. Foreigners saw sampans tow them in for possible identification by
anxiously waiting people. It is estimated by a reliable Keelung observer that Some 300
people had been seized and killed there.
After three days in Taipei streets, government forces
began to push out into suburban and rural areas. Mounted machine gun patrols were
observed along the highroads 15 to 20 miles from Taipei shooting at random in
village streets in what appeared to be effort to break any spirit of resistance.
Manhunts were observed being conducted through the hills near the UNRRA hostel. Foreigners
saw bodies in the streets of Tamsui.
By March 17 the order of seizure or execution seemed to
have become, successively, all established critics of the government, Settlement committee
members and their aides, men who had taken part in the interim policing of Taipei, middle
school students and teachers, lawyers, economic leaders and members of influential
families, and finally, persons who in the past had caused members of the Government or
their appointees serious loss of face. On March 16 it was rumored that anyone who spoke
English well, or who had close foreign connections was being seized "for
examination", and that many Japanese technicians in the employ of the Government were
On March 9, the Committee began to publish retractions,
modifications and denials of acts and proposals made during the preceding ten days. Only
the Government's paper, the Hsin Sheng Pao, appeared March 9. On that date the
Taiwan Garrison Headquarters issued the ambiguous statement that "all illegal
organizations must be abolished before March 10 and meeting and parades are
." ., (Communique No. 131, March 9, 1947).
On March 10, General Chen issued the following statement:
"On the afternoon of March 2, I broadcast that
members of the national, provincial and municipal P.P.C.s, Taiwan representatives to the
National Assembly and representatives from the people may jointly form a committee to
receive the people's opinion concerning relief work for the February 28 incident.
"Unexpectedly, since its formation, the committee has
given no thought to relief work such as medical care for the wounded and compensation to
the. killed and so forth. On the contrary, it acted beyond its province and on March 7
went so far as to announce a settlement outline containing rebellions elements.
Therefore, this committee (including hsien and municipal branch committees.) should
be abolished. Hereafter, opinions on political reforms concerning the province may be
brought up by the Provincial P. P. C., and those concerning the hsien and
municipalities. by their respective hsien on municipal P. P. C.s. People who have
opinions may bring them up to the P.P.C.s or to the Government General direct by
writing." (Hsin Sheng Pao, March 11, 1947)
On March 13, it was announced that all but three
government-sponsored papers were banned or suspended for having published accounts of the
uprising and activities of the Committee. The Min Pao press was destroyed
effectively on March 10.
By March 17, the Government forces were pushing down the
main railway lines toward the center of the island. Martial law was rigorously enforced
from 8 o'clock p. m. until 6:30 o'clock a. m.
The Draft Reform Program
Hereafter, events in Formosa and the development of
Chinese administration there may be better understood in the light of the draft reform
program-the so-called 32 Demands-which are here set forth. Though the rioting after
February 27 was spontaneous and the creation of the Settlement Committee an unplanned
event, these requests for specific reforms in local government are rooted in fundamental
economic and administrative problems which must some day be solved.
It must be pointed out that the Settlement Committee,
aware of its responsible official character, was greatly hampered and embarrassed by many
impossible demands made on it by individuals and groups who were not authorized to develop
a reform program for the Governor's consideration. For example, there were published
demands that only Formosan, be allowed to hold arms on Taiwan and that all Central
Government troops be withdrawn. Some extreme threats to individuals in the Government
appeared in handbill and poster form.
Here the Committee's proposals are regrouped as they
appeared designed to achieve (1) equality in government; (2) security of persons and (3)
security of means of livelihood. Certain of the measures were clearly open to compromise
Reforms to ensure equality for Formosans in local
1. A provincial autonomy shall be enacted and shall become
the supreme norm for political affairs in this province so that the ideal of National
Reconstruction of Dr. Sun Yat-sen may be here materialized.
2. The appointment of commissioners shall have the
approval of the Peoples Political Council (after new elections have been held.) The
People's Political Council shall be newly elected before June 1947. In the meantime such
appointments shall be submitted by the Governor General to the Committee for Settling the
February Incident for discussion and approval or rejection.
3. More than two-thirds of the Commissioners shall be
appointed from those who have lived in this Province for more than ten years. (It is most
desirable that such persons only shall be appointed to the Secretariat and to be
Commissioners of the Department of Civil Affairs, Finance, Industry and Mining,
Agriculture and Forestry, Education, and Police.)
4. Unarmed gatherings and organizations shall enjoy
5. Complete freedom of speech, of the press and of the
right to strike shall be realized. The system requiring registration of newspapers to be
published shall be abolished.
6. The Regulations in force covering the formation of
popular Organization shall be abolished.
7. The Regulations governing the scrutiny of the capacity
of candidates for membership in representative organs of public opinion shall be
8. Regulations governing the election of members of
various grades in representative organs of public opinion shall be revised.
9. A Political Affairs Bureau of the Settlement Committee
must be established by March 15. Measures for its organization will be that a candidate be
elected by representatives of each village, town and district, and then newly elected by
the prefectural or city People's Political Council. The numbers of Candidates t be elected
in each city or prefecture are as follows:
(Total 30 figures and allocations here omitted)
The Office of the Governor General shall be converted into
a Provincial Government. Before this reform is approved by the Central Government, the
Office of the Governor General shall be reorganized by the Settlement Committee through
popular elections so that righteous and able officers can be appointed.
(Note: It has been indicated by a Formosan lawyer that the
thought behind this was to provide for the interim period leading to the peace treaties
and the legal return of sovereignty to China, until which time, it is widely held, a legal
Provincial Government cannot be established.)
Reforms to ensure security of person and property:
1. Popular election of prefectural magistrates and city
mayors shall be held before June of this year and at the same time there shall be new
elections of members to all prefectural and municipal political councils.
(NOTE: The reason given for this is the establishment of
control over the police systems and to ensure the supremacy of, and respect for the
2. The posts of the Commissioner of the Department of
Police, and of the directors of all prefectural or municipal Police Bureaus ought to be
filled by Formosans. The armed special Police Contingents and the armed police maintained
by the Railway Department and the Department of Industry and Mining shall be abolished
3. No government organs other than the civil police can
4. Arrest or confinement of a political nature shall be
5. All chiefs of local courts of Justice and all chief
prosecutors in all local courts of Justice shall be Formosans.
6. The majority of judges, prosecutors and other court
staff membership shall be Formosans.
7. More than half the Committee of Legal Affairs shall be
occupied by Formosans and the Chairman of the Committee shall be mutually elected from
among its members.
Measures to ensure a revision and liberalization of
economic policy and a reform of economic administration:
1. A unified Progressive Income Tax shall be levied. No
other sundry taxes shall be levied except the Luxury Tax and the Inheritance Tax.
2. Managers in charge of all public enterprises shall be
3. A Committee for Inspecting Public Enterprises, elected
by the people, shall he established. The disposal of Japanese properties shall be
entirely entrusted to the Provincial Government. A Committee for management of industries
taken over from the Japanese shall be established. Formosans shall be appointed to more
than half the Committee posts.
4. The Monopoly Bureau shall be abolished. A system for
rationing daily necessities shall be instituted.
5. The Trading Bureau shall he abolished.
6 The Central Government must he asked to authorize the
Provincial Government to dispose of Japanese properties.
Reform affecting military administration on Formosa:
1. The military police shall arrest no one other than
2. As many Formosans as possible shall be appointed to
Army, Navy and Air Force posts on Taiwan.
3. The Garrison Headquarters must be abolished to avoid
the misuse or military privilege.
Reform, affecting social welfare problems:
1. The political and economic rights and social position
of the aborigines must be guaranteed.
2. Workmen's protection measures must be put into effect
from June 1, 1947.
3. Detained war criminals and those suspected of treason
must be released unconditionally.
(Note: This is stated as designed to secure the
release of a number of wealthy and prominent Formosans who have been held for more than a
year on general charges of "treason" and "war crimes", who are alleged
to be paying continual ransom to ensure the lives of those detained and to ensure the
security of their extensive holdings.)
Demands which arc subordinate measures or subject to
1. The abolition or unification of the Vocational Guidance
Camp and other unnecessary institutions must be determined by the Political Affairs Bureau
of the Settlement Committee, after discussion.
(Note: An internment camp for persons the Government
decides to make into "useful citizens".)
2. The Central Government must be asked to return funds
for the sugar exported to the mainland by the Central Government.
3. The Central Government must be asked to pay for 150,000
tons of food exported to the mainland, after estimating price in accordance with the
quotation at the time of export.
4. In preparing these proposals for reform the Settlement
Committee believed that it was preparing a basis for discussion with the Governor and
through him with the Central Government. For an examination of public statements by the
Governor and his representatives and from the direct testimony of Committee members, it is
believed that the Committee was justified in considering itself empowered officially to
propose such reforms in administration. These were not put forth as minimum or unilateral
demands; they were clearly understood to be intended as means for reflecting popular
opinion. March 10 was mutually agreed upon as a date for presentation in order that
people throughout Taiwan could contribute their ideas to the Committee.
AFTERMATH AND SETTLEMENT
Public opinion, Nationalism and Communism
However bitter their criticism of local administrative
policy before these uprisings, there can be no question that the Formosan-Chinese have
felt loyalty to the Central Government and toward the Generalissimo. Fifty years under
Japanese rule had sharpened their sense of Chinese nationality and race and in doing so
developed a strong sense of island-wide social unity. Formosans have been ambitious to see
Taiwan become a model province of China. From February 28 until March 9, while Formosans
were in effective control of the island the leaders in the Settlement Committee, leaders
of the Youth Groups and editors of newspapers which have been most critical of the local
government all took great pains to emphasize their fundamental desire to become a model
province in China, proud of their race and nationality and proud to be taking part in the
(For specific reference, see editorials and speeches
quoted in the Chung Wai Jih Pao, March 6; Min Pao, Marchl 6; Hsin
Sheng Pao, March 5; and other Journals of that week.)
Reference has been made earlier to the intense distrust
and fear of communism which was fostered intensively by the Japanese. There are a few
Formosans who have been suspected of interest in overseas communism but they have
always been counted of little importance. Of direct external influence a few communist
pamphlets of mainland origin were found in the autumn of 1946 but they were not especially
designed for Taiwan. So long as the living standard remained at a relatively high level
there was little danger of communist doctrine finding a reception on Formosa. A large
number of Formosans who had been conscripted into Japanese army labor battalions were
repatriated from Hainan Island in conditions of extreme poverty in 1946. They had not been
treated as "liberated Chinese" but as defeated enemies after the surrender.
Failure to find employment on Formosa in the months since has undoubtedly increased their
discontent and made them susceptible to the arguments of any confirmed communists who may
have come back with them.
It may be therefore said with a high degree of assurance
that as of March 1 1947, communism in any form was of most negligible importance on
However, a local form of communism is not only possible
but is believed to be a highly probable development if economic organization collapses
under the pressure of continued military occupation.
The Military commitment and possible economic
If the Central Government chooses to support a policy of
suppression of all criticism of the government and to confirm the authority of present
officials by establishment of military garrisons throughout the island, the cost will be
very high and will not diminish. Firm control will necessitate the maintenance of troops
at all large cities, at all important rail and highway junctions and in the vicinity of
the power plants upon which the normal economy depends. The ports and harbors must
be garrisoned. Almost 14,000 square miles will have to be policed by military
It is not possible before March 17 to assess the truth of
some Formosan claims that large supplies of arms had been seized in the central part of
the island and transported into hiding. The opportunity presented itself and was probably
It is presumed that the Formosans, if oppression
continues, will not attempt a resistance from field positions, but will continue to harry
Government troops, creating a continuous drain upon men and supplies, and will use the
mountainous hinterlands as cover. Perhaps no single province in China involved so little
military expenditure as that needed for Formosa before March 1, 1947. It may now well
become one of the most costly, if economic losses in production and hampered
transportation are added to outright costs.
It is significant that throughout the trouble the local
government has emphasized the fact that the Army represents the Central Government most
directly. Thus, when it began to be clear that the word given by the highest ranking
military officers was to be broken, Formosans begun to lose faith in the Central
Government as well.
With industry in such a precarious condition in February
1947, it must be presumed that the dislocations attendant upon the present trouble and a
military occupation will hasten the disintegration of the industrial structure of Taiwan.
China loses thereby all asset of immeasurable value. This established industrial structure
(including the food processing units which make agriculture so profitable) has a
substructure of semi-skilled local labor. UNRRA investigations have shown that young
Formosans are no longer able to go into industrial schools or apprenticeships as in the
past, but enter the common labor market as they see industry after industry shrivel up a.
capital investment dwindle and small industries close. Unemployment will increase with
acceleration of this trend.
The rice crisis in January indicated that in present
circumstances Formosa may have no immediate food surpluses upon which to draw. The
addition of large numbers of troops, feeding on the countryside, will further diminish
available supplies. Rice and other foods will go into hiding. Sabotage and slow-down
tactics may be anticipated.
The total losses of a military occupation are
incalculable. Prominent Formosan Chineseconservative, liberal, and
extremistsand many young men have been killed or seized or are driven into hiding.
The educational development of the island, especially in the technical schools of middle
grade, will be greatly retarded at a time when China needs every trained men.
Highly qualified mainland doctors and foreign medical personnel predict that the public
health system may break down badly within the year, bringing on a larger scale the cholera
epidemics which appeared in 1946.
A state of near anarchy is a distinct possibility for
Formosa by the end of 1947 if drastic efforts to revise policy and effect governmental
reforms (free of military pressure) are not undertaken speedily. Having known a relatively
high standard of living under the Japanese regime, the Formosans are not going to lose
what they have without a struggle directed against tile forces which they hold
responsible. If the Central Government meets increasing difficulties compounded of
economics and military struggles of the mainland, the Formosans will be tempted to
increase their resistance in proportion.
For eighteen months Formosan-Chinese blamed the provincial
administration and at the same time assured themselves that if the Generalissimo were made
fully aware of conditions he would reform the system in effect on Taiwan. Later it was
assumed that the application of the new Constitution would bring to Taiwan the measure of
self-government needed to restore the total economy to its former high level of
production, to the permanent benefit of China.
There may be a sullen peace achieved by military action,
but it cannot be enforced. Further uprisings of far more serious proportions than these
recent spontaneous outbursts may occur at a time when the over-all peace settlement in the
Far East is underway, and problems are being reviewed for inclusion or exclusion in the
conference agenda. Anyone who wishes to embarrass China will find good material in a
revolutionary situation on Taiwan.
Formosa should be put to work earning foreign
credit for China. Its peculiar character as an industrialized and technically developed
province should be sheltered from the greater economic difficulties found on the mainland.
Taiwan was returned to China as an outstanding economic asset, and example of the advanced
technological economy toward which all other provinces of China are striving. Two years of
concentrated rehabilitation effort in Formosa hereafter will produce permanent assets of
two kinds. Raw materials and products such as fertilizers, cement, foodstuffs and
industrial chemicals will become permanently available to China in increasing amounts.
Others such as tea, camphor, sugar, industrial salt, pineapples and light manufactures can
be directed to overseas markets. A moderate share of the foreign credit so created must be
returned to Formosa for rehabilitation and expansion of state-owned industries and the
expansion of private enterprise. Formosan-Chinese must be admitted to greater
participation in all aspects of economic administration and reasonable profit if the
island is to prosper and to return to the high and constant level of production achieved
in former years. Economic stability and expansion must be founded on a sound political and
social administration. Now is the time to act. To encourage and ensure wholehearted effort
the Formosan-Chinese must be allowed to take a larger part in government at all levels.
Changes in personnel as well as in the structure of the administration must be
thoroughgoing; it is felt that half way measures and palliatives now will only postpone a
larger repetition of the current protests against corruption, maladministration and
autocracy in the provincial government. Formosa can be restored to its former high level
of political allegiance and of economic production by prompt and fundamental reform.
The following developments have been reported as occurring
during the end of March and the first part of April:
The continuing presence of fresh bodies in Keelung Harbor
and other evidence indicate that the elimination of the informed opposition is continuing.
The bodies of at least two men known to neutral sources as having taken no part in any
activities during the recent Incidents have been identified. It is reported at Taipei that
although shots and screams in the night have become less frequent, they continue, and that
there is no palpable difference in the tense atmosphere of the city. Mainlanders generally
are reported to be apprehensive of further trouble, and many of them are said to feel that
Formosan cooperation under present circumstances will be difficult for an indefinite time
in the future. Of serious import is the reported continuous undermining of Taiwan's
advanced economic structure.