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Home Editorials of Interest Articles of Interest Taiwan’s 228 Museum reopens in time for anniversary of 1947 massacre

Taiwan’s 228 Museum reopens in time for anniversary of 1947 massacre

As Taiwan’s most somber holiday approaches, the 228 Museum has reopened following an extensive remodeling.  The 228 Museum is a quiet place of contemplation in a popular Taipei city park.  The Museum exhibits showcase the horror of the 228 Massacre, which began on February 28, 1947.

On February 27th, the day before the 1947 massacre began, tax collectors from the occupying Republic of China regime mercilessly beat a cigarette vendor because she wasn’t paying taxes to the ROC from her sidewalk sales.

The next day, on February 28th, a spontaneous uprising against the Chinese over harsh occupation treatment began and several ROC buildings were ransacked.  The ROC response was swift and terrible with bullets and bayonets.  The insurrection grew after the shooting of Taiwanese protestors and the Chinese governing authorities fled to the hills.

Chiang Kai-shek ordered battle-hardened Kuomintang troops to Taiwan to quell the revolt.  The massacre began even before the Chinese troop ships docked as deck gunners fired onto the docks.  The next month was the bloodiest in Taiwan’s history as the Chinese Nationalists engaged in ethnic cleansing atrocities.  

Today, the 228 Museum is located in a former Japanese radio station and is staffed with volunteers.  Visitors move through the museum in silence or with hushed voices, stunned by what they see.  Nearby a 228 monument is a quiet place of reflection.

For years under martial law, imposed by dictator Chiang Kai-shek, it was illegal to talk about the 228 Massacre in an effort to hide the war crimes committed against the Taiwanese people by the Republic of China occupation forces.

The United States, by treaty, is the “principal occupying Power” over Taiwan and landed ROC troops on the island in October 1945.  Because of the Cold War, the United States allowed Chiang Kai-shek to set up an exile government on the island after he was driven from China in 1949.  Taiwan has been caught in a “strategic ambiguity” ever since and its international status remains unresolved.

ROC President Ma Ying-jeou was on hand to cut the red ribbon reopening the museum and has tried to soften the role of his KMT party for the crimes.  This year’s 228 anniversary is particularly difficult for many Taiwanese as the Republic of China in-exile celebrates its 100 years of organization and seeks to impose the Chinese centennial on the people of Taiwan as their own holiday.

Source: Michael Richardson - Boston Progressive Examiner

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Experts told a conference in Washington on Wednesday that to avoid war over Taiwan, Beijing and Washington must change their current policies.

“China must renounce the use of force against Taiwan or Washington must declare clearly, unequivocally and publicly that it will defend Taiwan against Chinese attack,” said Joseph Bosco, who served in the office of the US secretary of defense as a China country desk officer in 2005 and 2006.

The US, China and Taiwan urgently need a “declaration of strategic clarity,” he said.

Quoting former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, Bosco said that while ambiguity was sometimes the lifeblood of diplomacy, it could not be maintained indefinitely.