March 29, 1947 - New York Times

by Tillman Durdin

Formosa killings are put at 10,000

Foreigners say the Chinese slaughtered

demonstrators without provocation

      Nanking, March 28, Foreigners who have just returned to China
from Formosa corroborate reports of wholesale slaughter by Chinese
troops and police during anti-Government demonstrations a month
        These witnesses estimate that 10,000 Formosans were killed by
the Chinese armed forces.  The killings were described as "completely
unjustified" in view of the nature of the demonstrations.
        The anti-Government demonstrations were said to have been by
unarmed persons whose intentions were peaceful.  Every foreign report 
to Nanking denies charges that Communists or Japanese inspired or
organized the parades.
        Foreigners who left Formosa a few days ago say that an uneasy
peace had been established almost everywhere, but executions and arrests
continued.  Many Formosans were said to have fled to the hills fearing
they would be killed if they returned to their homes.

     ****** Three Days of Slaughter ******

        An American who had just arrived in China from Taihoku said that
troops from the mainland arrived there March 7 and indulged in three days
of indiscriminate killing and looting.  For a time everyone seen on the
streets was shot at, homes were broken into and occupants killed.  In the
poorer sections the streets were said to have been littered with dead.
        There were instances of beheadings and mutilation of bodies, and
women were raped, the American said.
        Two foreign women, who were near at Pingtung near Takao, called the
actions of the Chinese soldiers there a "massacre."  They said unarmed
Formosans took over the administration of the town peacefully on March 4
and used the local radio station to caution against violence.
        Chinese were well received and invited to lunch with the Formosan
leaders.  Later a bigger group of soldiers came and launched a sweep through
the streets.
        The people were machine gunned.  Groups were rounded up and
The man who had served as the town's spokesman was killed.  His body  was
left for a day in a park and no one was permitted to remove it.  
        A Briton described similar events at Takao, where unarmed Formosans
had taken over the running of the city.  He said that after several days
Chinese soldiers from an outlying fort deployed through the streets killing
hundreds with machine-guns and rifles and raping and looting.  Formosan 
leaders were thrown into prison, many bound with thin wire that cut
deep into the flesh.

    ****** Leaflets Trapped Many ******

        The foreign witnesses reported that leaflets signed with the name
of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek promising leniency, and urging all who had
fled to return, were dropped from airplanes.  As a result many came back
to be imprisoned or executed.  "There seemed to be a policy of killing off
all the best people," one foreigner asserted.
        The foreigners' stories are fully supported by reports of every
important foreign embassy or legation in Nanking.
        Formosans are reported to be seeking United Nations' action on their
case.  Some have approached foreign consuls to ask that Formosa be put under
the jurisdiction of Allied Supreme Command or be made an American 
protectorate.  Formosan hostility to the mainland Chinese has deepened.
        Two women who described events at Pingtung said that when Formosans
assembled to take over the administration of the town they sang "The Star
Spangled Banner."

Terror in Taiwan

               The Nation, May 24, 1947
	              by Peggy Durdin

On February 27 a policeman of the Taiwan (Formosa) Monopoly Bureau saw a
woman selling smuggled cigarettes on the streets of the capital, Taipei.
When he tried to seize her tray and money, she pulled away, and he struck
her a crashing blow on the head with his revolver butt.  She died at his
feet.  An angry mob gathered, and the police shot into the crowd, killing
one person and wounding others.  Forthwith a year and a half of gathering
hatred for an inefficient, autocratic, corrupt administration exploded
into unarmed demonstrations against the mainland Chinese.

China put down the revolt with brutal repression, terror, and massacre.
Mainland soldiers and police fired first killing thousands 
indiscriminately; then, more selectively, hunted down and jailed or
slaughtered students, intellectuals, prominent business men, and civic
leaders.  Foreigners estimate that at least five thousand Taiwanese were
killed and executions are still going on.

Governor General Chen Yi has turned a movement against bad government into
one against any Chinese government.  Nanking has again demonstrated that
its chief solution for political and economic crisis is force.  In spite
of a curtain of censorship and official misrepresentation, the tragic
events that took place in Formosa in March are well known here.

The Chinese government owns, controls, and operates -- for government profit
and personal squeeze -- almost the entire economy of Taiwan.  one of the
articles whose importation and sale are rigidly controlled is tobacco. Many
Taiwanese street venders sell smuggled cigarettes.  It was in the course
of a campaign against the sale of smuggled goods that the woman was killed
in Taipei.

The rioting which followed was not consciously revolutionary but was against
the hated monopoly police which symbolized for the people the government's
exploitation of their island.  Unarmed processions marched to the government
offices to demand punishment of the policemen, compensation for the dead and
wounded, and dismissal of the head of the tobacco monopoly.  They beat to
death two policemen in front of the tobacco monopoly's office and burned the

stocks of tobacco.  Police guarding the Governor's office raked the crowd
with machine-gun fire without provocation.  

Barricaded in its offices, the government lost control of the city.  Shops
closed.  Transportation broke down.  Mobs of Taiwanese, still unarmed, beat
up a number of mainland Chinese and burned their possessions, though not 
their homes.  Truckloads of police rushed through Taipei's streets machine
gunning the demonstrators while Governor Chen Yi was busily broadcasting
conciliatory promises.  During this period not a single foreigner saw an
armed Taiwanese.

With calculated trickery Chen Yi continued his efforts to appease the 
people while he waited for military reinforcements.  On March 2, over the
radio, he expressed his love for the Taiwanese, and promised that noone
would be prosecuted for rioting, that the families of the dead would be
compensated, and that he would appoint a committee to settle the incident.
This group composed of mainlanders and representative Taiwanese, most of 
whom have since been shot, was to be known as the "Committee to Settle the
February 28th Incident" and was to present to him by March 10 their 
suggestions for the reform of the administration.

Though efforts of the committee Taipei and the near by port of Keelung
became quiet.  Students patrolled the streets, keeping order.  Many of
these students are now dead.

Meanwhile the spark ignited in Taipei had spread down the whole length
of Taiwan.  In the first few days of March the Taiwanese took over the
administration of almost every city.  As far as can be discovered, they
seized control in most instances without the use of firearms.  Violence
was usually limited to beatings, though some officials were killed.

On March 7 Chen Yi's committee handed in its recommendations.  Reasonably
enough, they included the following: that Taiwan be given provincial, not
colonial status; that provincial magistrates and city mayors be elected 
before June; that a larger proportion of Taiwanese be given administrative,
police, and judicial posts; that all special police be abolished and no
political arrests be permitted; that freedom of press and speech and the
right to strike be granted; that managers of all public enterprises be 
Taiwanese; that committees be elected to supervise these public enterprises
and the factories taken over from the Japanese; that the trade and
monopoly bureaus be abolished; that the political and economic rights of
aborigines be guaranteed; that Taiwanese be appointed to as many army, 
navy, and airforce posts in Taiwan as possible; that detained "war
be released (Taiwan was part of the Japanese Empire for fifty-one years);
that the central government repay Taiwan for the expropriated sugar and 
rice; that garrison headquarters be abolished "to avoid misuse of military
might."  These proposals were not presented as an ultimatum.  They were 
clearly a basis for negotiation.  Chen Yi had already agreed to most of the

At noon on March 8 the commander of the Fourth Gendarme Regiment told the
committee that its demands for political reform were "proper," but asked
that it withdraw its demand for the abolition of garrisons.  He said, "I
will guarantee with my life that the central government will not take 
military action against Taiwan."  At this point, although most of the 
island was still in the hands of the people, Chen Yi could have reached
an agreement with them which would have insured the Nanking government's
continued control of Taiwan and the cooperation of the Taiwanese.  He only
needed to move honestly toward reform.  But he had at no time any intention
of establishing peace by compromise.  This was revolt; he would crush it. 
He was obliged to temporize and deceive until his troops arrived.

On the afternoon and evening of March 8, without warning or provocation,
the streets of Keelung and Taipei were cleared with gunfire to cover the
entry of mainland troops.  These reinforcements consisted mainly of the
Twenty-first Division, a Szechuan outfit with a reputation for brutality.
In the next four or five days more than a thousand unarmed Taiwanese in the
Taipei-Keelung area alone were massacred.  A year and a half earlier many
of them had joyously welcomed the arrival of the Chinese troops.  Now
truckloads of soldiers armed with machine guns and automatic rifles shot
their way through the streets.  Soldiers demanded entry into homes, killed
the first person who appeared, and looted the premises.  Bodies floated
thick in Keelung harbor and in the river which flows by Taipei.  Twenty
young men were castrated, their ears cut off, and their noses slashed.  A
foreigner watched gendarmes cut off a young boy's hands before bayoneting
him because he had not dismounted from his bicycle quickly enough.  The
radio advised students who had fled from the city to return to their 
homes, but when they did so they were killed.  Any prominent person was in
grave danger.

By March 14 the killing had tapered off in Taipei.  In other cities the 
terror followed the same pattern.

        The Nation - May 24, 1947

A Flower on a Rainy Night

A flower on a rainy night
A flower on a rainy night
Fell on the ground in wind and rain
Out of everyone's sight
It sighs day and night
It has fallen not to return again.

A flower on the ground
A flower on the ground
Who pays attention to it?
Merciless rain, merciless rain
It has no concern for our future
It is not mindful for our frailty
Covering our destiny with darkness
Causing us to fall from the branch
Out of everyone's sight

Raindrops, raindrops
Lead us into the pool of suffering
Not mindful of our frailty
Covering our destiny with darkness
Causing us to fall from the branch
Out of everyone's sight

[This song was banned on Taiwan because it was considered "too sad."  The
 words were written by Chow Tien-wan and are about the history of Taiwan.
 The music is by Du Yueh-shen, and it was translated by Choan Seng-song.]

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Last modified 3 February 1997