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February 28 Incident

The 228 Incident (二二八事件) or 228 Massacre was an uprising in Taiwan that began on February 28, 1947.

Taiwan had been returned to the jurisdiction of the Republic of China from Japan two years earlier and tensions between the local Taiwanese and the new arrivals from the Mainland had increased in the intervening years. A dispute in February 27 1947 in Taipei between a female street cigarette vendor and an anti-smuggling officer triggered a civil disorder which was put down brutally and with large loss of civilian life by the Republic of China army.

Table of contents
1 Taiwan under Japanese jurisdiction
2 Tension between locals and mainlanders
3 Timeline of the February 28 Incident
4 External Links

Taiwan under Japanese jurisdiction

As settlement for losing the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), Imperial Qing China ceded the entire island of Taiwan to Japan in 1895. Despite sporadic resistences fiercely suppressed by Japanese authorities, Japanese rule in Taiwan was much more humane and less oppressive than in Korea or mainland China. Taiwanese perceptions of the Japanese colonial era are significantly more favorable than perceptions other parts of East Asia, partly because during its 50 years (1895-1945) of colonial rule Japan expended considerable effort in developing Taiwan's economy and raised the standard of living for most Taiwanese citizens to levels far higher than other places in Asia. Family members of the elite were respected. By 1905 the island had electric power.

At the same time, Japanese rule led to a three stage process of colonization of the island, which began as an oppressive paternalistic approach, then a "doka" policy was instituted in which the Japanese considered the Taiwanese to be separate but equal, and the final stage being "kominka", a policy which readied Taiwanese to fight for the emperor. The "kominka" period hoped to teach the Taiwanese the "Japanese Spirit", including compulsory Japanese education and forcing residents of Taiwan to adopt Japanese names. The later period of Japanese rule saw a local elite educated and organized. During the 1930s several home rule groups were promoted as the Taiwanese developed a "Taiwan Consciousness" in contrast to the Japanese and Chinese. Taiwanese eventually pushed for entry into the Japanese Diet. Some Taiwanese youngsters were drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army to fight in Mainland China, the island of Hainan and Southeast Asia.

Nevertheless Japanese colonial approaches distanced the Taiwanese locals from their former mainland counterparts. Many locals were educated poorly in Chinese literacy, some even incompetent in daily communication of the Chinese language. Education in "Japanese spirits" furthered the discrepancy. Consequently the younger generations born during Japanese colonial rule were more neutral and even sympathetic or protagonistic towards Japan whilst most elder populace of Taiwanese locals celebrated the return of Chinese jurisdiction after World War II.

Several nationalistic or anti-Japanese families have moved to the mainland including Lien Heng, the grandfather of Lien Chan, mainly to preserve their Chinese identities.

Tension between locals and mainlanders

Chen Yi, the Chief Executive of Taiwan, arrived on October 24 1945 and received the last Japanese governor Ando Rikichi who signed the document of surrender on the next day.

After Japan's surrender in World War II, Nationalist rule began in October 1945 after the end of World War II. During the immediate postwar period, the Nationalist Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) administration on Taiwan was repressive and corrupt, leading to local discontent. Anti-mainlander violence flared on February 28, 1947, prompted by an incident in which a cigarette seller was injured and a passerby was shot to death by Nationalist authorities. For several weeks after the February 28 Incident the rebels held control of much of the island. Feigning negotiation the Nationalists assembled a large military force (carried on United States naval vessels) that attacked Taiwan massacring nearly 30,000 Taiwanese and imprisoning thousands of others. The killings were both random and premeditated as local elites or educated Taiwanese were sought out and disposed of. Many of the Taiwanese who had formed home rule groups under the Japanese were the victims of 228. This was followed by the "White Terror" in which many thousands of Taiwanese were imprisoned or executed for their real or perceived opposition to the Kuomintang military regime, leaving many native Taiwanese with a deep-seated bitterness to the mainlanders.

Timeline of the February 28 Incident

February 27 2pm: the dispute
February 28: civilians mobbed around the office of chief executive (in front of the rail station) where the securities opened fire at the crowd.
February 28 - early March: mobs controlled Taipei, Keelung, Kaohsiung, Hsinchu, Taichung and Chiayi.
March 2: ROC troops were sent from mainland and wrested the control of the cities though bloody suppression in the following days.
March 17: Pai Chung-hsi, the defense minister of ROC arrived.
March 21: suppression continued in countryside
April 17: a census was conducted
April 22: Government of Taiwan Province was established in place of the Office of Chief Executive and Chen Yi was recalled to mainland. Martial law was declared and lasted until 1987. "White Terror" begins.

External Links