Preface to the New Edition
Table of Contents
First published in the United States 1965 by Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
First published in Great Britain 1966 by Eyre & Spottiswoode
167 Fleet Street, London EC 4
(C) 1965 George H. Kerr
Printed in Great Britain by John Dickens & Co Ltd, Northampton
Second edition published in 1992
by Taiwan Publishing Co.
1182 N. Monte Vista Ave., Unit #18
Upland, CA 91786, U.S.A.
Tel: 909-949-1003 Fax: 909-949-8833
(C) 1992 Taiwan Publishing Co.
The permission of Taiwan Publishing Co.
to publish this book on the internet
is gratefully acknowledged.
The Publication of this book is
supported by C. Y. Fund and T. B. Fund of
North America Taiwanese Professors' Association.
Electronic version prepared by Leslie Ling-chin Ruo
11 November 1997
Listed in the On-Line Books Page
A Taste of Freedom by Peng Ming-min
FOR MY FORMOSAN FRIENDS ...
remembering the March Affair, 1947.
The Heart of the Matter
"Our experience in Formosa is most enlightening. The Administration
of the former Governor Chen Yi has alienated the people from the Central
Government. Many were forced to feel that conditions under autocratic rule
[Japan's rule] were preferable.
The Central Government lost a fine opportunity to indicate to the
Chinese people and to the world at large its capability to provide honest
and efficient administration. They cannot attribute their failure to the
activities of the Communists or of dissident elements. The people anticipated
sincerely and enthusiastically deliverance from the Japanese yoke. However,
Chen Yi and his henchmen ruthlessly, corruptly, and avariciously imposed
their regime upon a happy and amenable population. The Army conducted themselves
as conquerors. Secret police operated freely to intimidate and to facilitate
exploitation by Central Government officials. . . .
The island is extremely productive in coal, rice, sugar, cement,
fruits and tea. Both hydro and thermal power are abundant. The Japanese
had efficiently electrified even remote areas and also established excellent
railroad lines and highways. Eighty per cent of the people can read and
write, the exact antithesis of conditions
prevailing in the mainland of China.
vi THE HEART OF THE MATTER
There were indications that Formosans would be receptive toward United
States guardianship and United Nations trusteeship. They fear that the
Central Government contemplates bleeding their island to support the tottering
and corrupt Nanking machine, and I think their fears well founded."
Lieutenant General Albert C. Wedemeyer to the Secretary of State,
August .17, 1947. (United States Relations With China, p. 309.)
PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION
The Taiwan Publishing Co. has chosen a most appropriate time in the
history of Formosa to make this book, Formosa Betrayed, widely available
to those concerned about the future of that beautiful and embroiled island.
An appropriate time indeed, when in Formosa a native Formosan has been
installed as President. This unprecedented political development may signify
for Formosans the beginning of a new era, where their long-held dream of
liberation from their long-reigning oppressors may be realized through
democratization and further social, cultural and economic evolution.
In the process of rebuilding a new democratic Formosa, serious effort
should be made to redress the damage and injustice done to the land and
people of Formosa for the last 43 years. It is essential to re-examine
the various forces which brought about the Formosan's capitulation to an
all powerful dictatorial government. Since the beginning of the Chinese
occupation of Formosa in October, 1945, the ruling party has consistently
maintained a policy of dis-crimination against the native Formosans while
rooting out their sense of identity through the prohibition of public use
of their native language and teaching of Formosan history and culture,
all under the policy of
viii PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION
glorifying China and Chinese culture to the exclusion of Formosa and
its culture, which were deemed to be but an insignificant part of the greater
Chinese panorama. The numerous political slogans used by the KMT Government
to bolster the morale of Chiang's followers since 1949 until today, ranging
from "Fight against Communist Bandits," "Reconquest of the Mainland," "Unification
of China under the Three People's Principles" to "One China, Two Governments,"
etc. are all double-edged, with one edge explicitly or implicitly directed
at the native Formosans in order to ensure their continued submission to
George Kerr, largely through his insightful observation of the tragedy
of the Feb. 28 Incident, 1947 and its aftermath, clearly identified the
forces at work which led to the subjugation of Formosa. His careful, accurate
and balanced reports went to Nanking and thence to Washington, The truth
revealed in those reports, the truth about the KMT's policy and activities
in Formosa, shocked those in government who saw the reports. It is regrettable
that, because of the propaganda counterattack launched by the China Lobby
in the United States, his reports did not gain wider public exposure. It
was only in 1965 that George Kerr managed to publish Formosa
which drew much of its content from those first
hand reports of his observation and encounter in Formosa during and after
the Incident of February 28, 1947.
The content of this volume has given the reader a great deal to learn,
think and reflect upon even 27 years after its publication and 45 years
after the February 28 Incident. George Kerr's insights in the true nature
of Formosa's post-war history were born of his long association with Formosa.
I had known him since his first visit to Formosa before World War 11 when
he had taught English at the Taihoku-Kotogakko, where I was then a student
PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION ix
unfortunately I did not study with him. In his second visit to Taipei
as Vice-Consul of the American Consulate from 1945 to 47, 1 saw him again
and heard a great deal about him from my father, Lin Bo-seng, who frequently
met with him.
I recall vividly my emotional reunion with George Kerr in Honolulu some
19 years after he had left Taipei, with no opportunity for leavetaking,
shortly after the February 28 Incident. He came to see me at the East-West
Center where I was co-chairing with Dr. William Cardill at a conference
on Mental Health Research in Asia and the Pacific. He presented me with
a copy of the recently published Formosa Betrayed and embraced me
while saying "Tsung-yi... I often thought of your father and your family
while writing this book..." "I hope that this book of mine will help the
Formosans liberate themselves and democratize the country, you people deserve
better." His love for Formosa and Formosans greatly moved me and made me
respect all the more this friend of Formosa. His words of you people deserve
better," serve as the best commentary on the content of this book, while
pointing out the long struggle ahead in achieving the goal of democratization
and self-determination. The historical reality of General Wedemeyer's report
as quoted in this volume is perhaps more keenly felt now that change has
began to stir on Formosa: "Chen Yi and his henchmen ruthlessly, corruptly
and avariciously imposed their regime upon a happy and amenable population.
The Army conducted themselves as conquerors. Secret police operated freely
to intimidate and to facilitate exploitation by Central (KMT) Government
Unfortunately, Formosans have suffered the same posture and highhanded
horror tactics of the KMT rulers who have subjugated the Formosans as subordinates
for close to 40 years, 37 years of them under martial law until 1987.
x PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION
The devastating impact of such political oppression on the Formosan
citizens has now become clear to many concerned with the future of Formosa,
as the ill effects have come to affect all aspects of human life including
education, the economy, industrial and technological development, social
security and national identity.
There seem to be two major obstacles to democratization of Formosa:
one if the still fragile political strength of the ruled Formosans who
tend to value temporary safety or seeking immediate material gain for survival
over long-term political struggle which often requires certain sacrifice,
and the other is the tenacious adherence to the old feudal-emperor concept
of the ruling party conservatives.
In this connection I am reminded of the brief note I put down on my
diary after seeing the movie "The Last Emperor." The note simply says,
"A good and interesting movie, but a wrong title." By a wrong title I meant
that Pu-yi was not the last Emperor of China; there have been many since,
although some of them did not have the official title of Emperor. One would
include among them, Yuan Si-kai, Chiang Kai-shek, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.
Each of them certainly behaved as emperor and wanted others to so treat
him. The tradition of authoritarianism of the ruler is still deeply engrained
in the minds of both the rulers and the ruled in Chinese culture. A forceful
example of this can be found as recently as June 4, 1989 at Tienanmen Square.
For the rulers, only glory and power count. Human rights, freedom or equality
or respect for the lives of people have to surrender to the might of the
In the face of similar timeworn attitude and beliefs it will require
an enormous courage and persistent organized effort on the part of the
enlightened public to keep democracy moving ahead in Formosa. Though still
at an early
PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION xi
stage, the Formosans have begun to show increasingly stronger interest
in participating in the political struggle for self-determination, i.e.
to be responsible for managing their own political affairs. They are giving
even clearer expressions of aversion to being treated as second class citizens
and being excluded from any effective voice in the political system. The
hope for democratic political maturation in Formosa appears brighter now
than in the past.
There is another extremely important international perspective bearing
upon the republication of Formosa Betrayed. The world today is being
swept by the storm of "democratization" as dictatorial regimes have been
toppled throughout the world-foremost as seen in the East European countries
and in the USSR. Knowledge of its own all too tragic past may help to open
the tide of democratization in Formosa as well. I have every confidence
that a democratic Formosa will play a greater role in East Asia as an example
for the region and for the world. I sincerely welcome the second edition
of George Kerr's decisive and important work.
Tsung-yi Lin, M.D., F.R.C.P.C,
Professor Emeritas of Psychiatry, University of
British Columbia, Vancouver, B. C. Canada
Honorary President, World Federation for Mental Health.
IN MANY RESPECTS, Formosa is a living symbol of the great American dilemma. Put in simple and straightforward terms, that dilemma is how to fulfill the awesome responsibilities of being a global power, entrusted with the defense of many societies, and at the same time, remain faithful to the principles that constitute our political-ethical creed. There is no easy answer to this riddle. Indeed, no complete answer is possible, and we should beware of those who peddle simple solutions to enormously complex problems. This does not provide an excuse, however, for ignoring the most crucial challenge confronting American society in our times. Indeed, our success our very survival - may well depend upon finding more adequate answers than have been discovered to date.
Some eleven million people live on the island of Formosa, approximately nine million of, them "native Formosans" who were born on the island and consider it their homeland. The older Formosans grew up under Japanese rule, a fact that has had an impact upon many aspects of their culture. Even the younger Formosans, however, tend to think of themselves as possessed of traditions, values, and a way of life distinct from that of the mainland Chinese. The emergence of a Formosan nationalism is thus a natural development, and despite the
many fissures existing in Formosan political
circles, that movement strikes a responsive chord, especially among the
Those who believe that economic determinism
is the key to all political phenomena will not find Formosa a case study
to their liking. In its natural resources, particularly in the fertility
of its soil Formosa has been amply blessed. The Japanese legacy and the
more recent American largess, moreover, have combined to give the people
of Formosa a much higher standard of living than that of most of their
Asian neighbors. In enterprise as well as in agriculture, the native Formosan
has played an active, dynamic role. Refugees from the mainland, until recent
times at least were overwhelmingly engaged in government work, military
service, and teaching While not without its economic problems, Formosa
is among that small number of non-western societies for which an optimistic
economic prognosis is reasonable, particularly if the issue of population
The problems of Formosa are overwhelmingly
political. How long can the Formosans be excluded from any effective voice
in their government in a system that purports to be constitutional and
democratic? How long can the myth be continued that Formosa is China? How
long can the estrangement between Formosan intellectuals and mainland refugees
continue without serious political repercussions? Let no one underestimate
the degree to which the Communists are seeking to take advantage of the
political situation on Formosa. As might be expected, they are playing
both ends against the middle. To the Nationalists, they urge a return to
the motherland, with all past sins being forgiven. To the Formosans, they
promise the rights of "cultural autonomy" and freedom from "the American-Chiang
Kai-shek clique." Presumably, they hope that few Formosans know the true
Communist record in Tibet and
Meanwhile the Kuomintang continues to Imprison
nationalists and dominate the political
life of this island. But as the Nationalist leaders grow older and less
certain of the future, political tension slowly mounts. Cleavages within
Kuomintang circles are sharp and significant. Some mainland refugees would
be prepared to accept and even welcome a truly democratic order. Others
would prefer to depend primarily upon the secret police and the army. The
situation is pregnant with political hazards --and possibilities. Where
should we stand?
Few if any Americans are better equipped
to present new perspectives on the Formosa problem than George H. Kerr.
For some three decades, he has had both a scholarly and a personal interest
in the Formosan people. At various critical periods, be has lived and worked
with them, witnessing their few triumphs and their many tragedies. No one
who reads this book will be unaware of the fact that the author has a deep
sympathy with the cause of Formosan independence. No doubt many of his
facts and arguments will be challenged by those who support different solutions.
It will be impossible to ignore Kerr's case, however; be has marshalled
evidence too well to permit that. I find myself in great sympathy with
his basic theme. Self-determination for the Formosan people is one of those
causes which happily unites our values and our national interests. But
in any case, this work should stimulate some serious thinking about American
policy toward Formosa both by those who agree and those who disagree with
the author's conclusions.
ROBERT A. SCALAPINO
University of California, Berkeley
MY NARRATIVE HERE is based upon thirty years of involvement with Formosan affairs. It began with a period of study in Japan (1935-1937), led on to a three-year residence at Taipei (1937-1940) and to graduate work at Columbia University.
As a so-called "Formosa Specialist" my civilian service with the War Department (1942-1943), commissioned service with the Navy (1944-1946) and again civilian service with the Department of State (1946-1947) gave me opportunities to see Formosa from the Washington or official point of view.
Since 1947 I have been concerned with the Formosa problem in a rather academic way. My lectures at the University of California (Berkeley) and at Stanford University may have been the first attempts to examine Formosa's historic role on the Western Pacific frontier.
In presenting this account I quote extensively from government sources, from the daily press at Taipei, Tokyo and Shanghai, and from personal letters. I am particularly indebted to members of the UNRRA team who were struggling to bring order out of Chinese chaos at Taipei during my service in the American Consulate there.
I have used official UNRRA reports and many private communications from team members. Some prefer to remain
anonymous and some have given me permission to quote directly from their reports, publications and letters. I am grateful to them all and to other members of the foreign community who contributed information incorporated here.
Correspondents still living on Formosa or having family and property there must remain unnamed.
Quotations from Formosan letters which
were written originally in English have sometimes required slight editing
to make the meaning clear without changing the substance. The changes are
indicated with bracketing. Since most of the correspondents were at one
time my students I assume responsibility in editing the texts.
Quotations from Formosan and Shanghai papers are taken from daily press summaries prepared at the American Consulate at Taipei. Files are presently on deposit at the Hoover Institute and Library at Stanford University.
The island is known to the Chinese and Japanese as Taiwan. I have retained this in direct quotations and in the names of most institutions, agencies and publications of which it is a part. Elsewhere I have used Formosa, from the old Portuguese name Ilha Formosa or "Beautiful Island."
Dr. K. C. Wu, former Governor of Formosa, has generously permitted me to quote extensively from his open letters to Chiang Kai-shek and to the National Assembly at Taipei. Dr. Ira D. Hirschy, UNRRA's Chief Medical Officer at Taipei in 1946-1947, has allowed me to use his private letters and his published observations. Peggy and Tillman Durdin arranged for me to read portions of an unpublished manuscript entitled Taiwan and the Nationalist Government which they are preparing for the Council on Foreign Relations at New York.
Edward Eckerdt Paine, Reports Officer for the UNRRA Office at Taipei and former Major in the United States Air Force in China, collaborated with me in 1948, at considerable personal sacrifice, in assembling raw materials for this record of conditions and events in Formosa n 1946 and 1947. 1 thank him here again for his cooperation.
Martha and Robert Catto, my colleagues in the Consulate, shared most of the "official experience" and much of the private adventure at Taipei, and have been good enough to read the present text in manuscript.
Dr. Robert A. Scalapino, who honors me with a Foreword here, is Chairman of the Department of Political Science at the University of California (Berkeley) and author of many significant commentaries on the Formosa Question.
Juanita Vitousek, at whose country place this was first drafted in 1958, has read and re-read the manuscript, making many useful comments. Alice Crabbe has done much of the typing, and George Sasaki has prepared the maps. I am grateful to them.
No one quoted in this record may be held responsible for the context into which I have introduced the materials, or for the interpretations which I have given them.
GEORGE H. KERR
February 28, 1965