CHAPTER XII

THE NEW DEAL

 

 

When Chen Yi was finally removed, the new Governor, Dr. Wei Tao-ming, former Chinese Ambassador to Washington, gave promise of better things. The National Government at Nanking had had a thorough report of the rebellion made out by the Minister of National Defense, General Pai Chung-Hsi, and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek had given a blanket approval to recommendations made by the General.

Published statements on April 26th indicated that Dr. Wei's administration policy would hinge on co-operation between the mainland Chinese and the Formosans. The Monopoly and Trade Bureaus were to be abolished "to prevent capitalistic exploitation and manipulation of local productive enterprises". At the same time, in order to improve Formosa's economic conditions, Formosans were to be encouraged to form corporations in industrial enterprises.

The Island's agriculture was also to be rehabilitated and public land was to be distributed among Formosan farmers. Steps were to be taken to relieve unemployment.

About the same time Formosan delegates in Nanking submitted to general Wei a long list of recommendations for a new deal and this included -

(1) To cease the purge in Formosa.

(2) To release all arrested persons.

(3) To dismiss all officials appointed by Governor-General Chen Yi, regardless of whether they were Formosans or mainland Chinese.

(4) To form a Committee of Investigation on the reason for the riots.

(5) To lift the ban on the press.

In Formosa the Formosans looked upon the promises of Dr Wei as the usual Chinese window-dressing. They pointed out that, even with the best will in the world, Dr. Wei had the odds very much against him. The chief difficulty would come from the Chinese bureaucrats in Formosa who had been waxing fat under the old regime. The Formosan delegates were really being realistic when they asked for a clean sweep of Chen Yi's appointees. No other jobs in China could be as lucrative as those connected with the Island's economy. The abolition of the Monopoly and Trade Bureaus would throw many of them out of work, and they would put up a strong opposition to resist any drastic attempts that Dr. Wei might make in this direction. The introduction of Formosans to responsible posts would reduce the chances of re-employment for these displaced officials and it is understandable that they would bring all the pressure possible to prevent any drastic change being made. In fact, it has been suggested that some may even be expected to take active steps to sabotage his administration. Unfortunately, my connection with Formosa practically ceased about mid-October, by which time the new administration had not produced any very striking changes. When it was pointed out to Formosans that there were now Formosans in responsible offices, they countered with the statement that, although that was correct, many of them had lived so long on the mainland as to be almost entirely mainland Chinese in their outlook. They were also willing to admit that useful reorganisation was being carried out at top levels, but the old injustices inherent in the Chinese system of government by exploitation of the governed still remained. Life was still insecure. They were still bullied and harassed by officials. Even as late as October 1 had an example of this. I had occasion to inspect lumber equipment in the mountainous district in the interior, and our return back to the town was compelled to take place much later than expected, so that a quarter-past midnight found us approaching a large bridge. On the side of the approach we noticed several lorries drawn up, but continued on our way. Near the bridge we were stopped by some soldiers who adopted a very truculent attitude, which was not mollified when my interpreter explained that we were on Government business. Considerable haranguing went on, and it appeared at one stage as though we were going to be forcibly pulled from our vehicle. However, my interpreter recognized the insignia of the soldiers and informed them that he knew their Commanding Officer, giving the Officer's name. The effect was magical. Bows, apologies and ingratiating smiles immediately replaced the hostile, aggressive attitude, and we were permitted to continue our journey home. Apparently the reason for stopping us was that no traffic was allowed to pass over that bridge after midnight. The local opinion was that the authorities were afraid of gun-running.

Right until the time that I left, the people were roughly pushed and shoved by the police, especially in queues at the railway station barriers. There was no discrimination in the rough handling, in age or sex. People complained they were never treated so badly, even under the Japanese.

Similarly, even as late as June a hotel in which I was staying was literally broken into by the police at three o'clock one morning. True, they knocked violently once and the proprietor called down. But they were too impatient to await his arrival and broke the door down and noisily, with shouts and tramping, searched all the rooms but mine. Apparently it was just a routine inspection of the hotel, still looking for rebels.

At an earlier date I had been awakened in an hotel at the early hours of the morning and had been asked to show my credentials. But I could understand that, as it was not long after the rebellion.

At the end of August, too, I was staying with two other UNRRA officials in Taichu and we were subject to considerable annoyances by the police. So much so that we complained to the Mayor. After apologizing, he explained that there was a report that there were three Communists in the Island disguised as a professor and two students, and it was thought that I was the professor and my companions the students.

The temper of the people has not been changed. Whether Dr. Wei will be successful still remains to be seen, but the people are in no mood for half measures. They want democracy. They want to govern themselves. They want justice. In fact, they want what we have come to call "the four freedoms".