White Terror (Taiwan)

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White Terror (Taiwan)
Part of Chinese Civil War, Retreat of the government of the Republic of China to Taiwan, and Cold War
228 by Li Jun.jpg
The Horrifying Inspection by Taiwanese printmaker Li Jun. It describes the hostile environment in Taiwan shortly after the February 28 incident, which marked the start of the White Terror period
Location Taiwan and other ROC-controlled islands
Target Leftists, political dissidents, intellectuals
Attack type
Politicide, mass murder, political repression, police state
Deaths3,000 to 4,000 executed, not including 228 incident (18,000 to 28,000 killed) or extrajudicial executions [1]
VictimsAt least 140,000 imprisoned
Perpetrators Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) under the Kuomintang (KMT)
MotiveConsolidate rule over Taiwan after retreat from mainland China

In Taiwan, the White Terror (Chinese : 白色恐怖 ; pinyin :Báisè Kǒngbù) is used to describe the political repression on civilians living on the island and the surrounding areas under its control by the government under the rule of the Kuomintang (KMT). [2] The period of White Terror is generally considered to have begun when martial law was declared in Taiwan on 19 May 1949, which were enabled by the 1948 Temporary Provisions against the Communist Rebellion, and ended on 21 September 1992 with the repeal of Article 100 of the Criminal Code, which allowed for the prosecution of people for "anti-state" activities; the Temporary Provisions were repealed a year earlier on 22 April 1991 and martial law was lifted on 15 July 1987. [3] [4]


The period of White Terror generally does not include the 228 Incident of 1947, in which the KMT killed at least 18,000 Taiwanese civilians in response to a popular uprising and also summarily executed many local political and intellectual elites, though the two are frequently discussed in tandem as it was the catalyst which motivated the KMT to begin the White Terror. [5] [6] Martial law was declared and lifted twice during the 228 Incident.

Following the 228 Incident, the KMT retreated from mainland China to Taiwan during the closing stages of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. Wanting to consolidate its rule on its remaining territories, the KMT imposed harsh political suppression measures, which included enacting martial law, executing suspected leftists or those they suspected to be sympathetic toward the communists. [7] Others targeted included Taiwanese locals and indigenous peoples who participated in the 228 Incident, such as Uyongʉ Yata'uyungana, and those accused of dissidence for criticizing the government. [8]

The KMT carried out persecutions against those who criticized or opposed the government, accusing them of attempting to subvert the regime, while excessively expanding the scope of punishment throughout this period. [9] It made use of the Taiwan Garrison Command (TGC), a secret police, as well as other intelligence units by enacting special criminal laws as tools for the government to purge dissidents. [10] Basic human rights and the right to privacy were disregarded, with mass pervasive monitoring of the people, filings of sham criminal cases against anyone who were suspected as being a dissident, as well as labelling any individuals who were not conforming a pro-regime stance as being communist spies, often without merit. [11] It is estimated that about 3,000 to 4,000 civilians were executed by the government during White Terror. [1] The government was also suspected of carrying out extrajudicial killings against exiles in other countries. [lower-alpha 1]

Pro-democracy demonstrations attempted during this period, such as the Kaohsiung Incident, were harshly suppressed. The KMT ruled as a one-party state, with the existence of any other political parties strictly outlawed, resulting in non-existent competitive elections; unapproved tangwai candidates that won elections such as Hsu Hsin-liang would be spuriously impeached and often forced into exile. [12] Even so, such restricted elections were marred by overt voter fraud, most notably during the Zhongli incident.

The ideology, theory and repression ruling pattern of Chiang Kai-shek's KMT's regime in mainland China and subsequently in Taiwan has been compared by some academics and scholars to fascist regimes elsewhere, such as Nazi Germany, [13] with the National Revolutionary Army heavily dependent and inspired by the German military mission during the Sino-German cooperation (1926–1941) until Adolf Hitler decided to withdraw in 1938 to align with Imperial Japan. [14] [15] [16] When Chiang retreated to Taiwan in 1949, his regime refused to establish a parliamentary democracy, but continued a variation of the fascist state in Taiwan. The legacy of authoritarianism and fascism during the White Terror in Taiwan has persisted until today, and political discussions about this topic continues to be highly controversial on the island. [17]

Time period

White Terror
Chinese 白色恐怖
Literal meaningWhite Terror

Since the lifting of martial law in 1987, the government has set up the 228 Incident Memorial Foundation, a civilian reparations fund supported by public donations for the victims and their families. However, there was never a proper truth and reconciliation commission. Many descendants of victims remain unaware that their family members were victims, while many of the families of victims, especially from Mainland China, did not know the details of their relatives' mistreatment during the riot.





See also

Notes and references


  1. See Henry Liu and Chen Wen-chen.
  2. 38 years and 57 days.


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Shih Ming-teh commonly known as Nori Shih, is a statesman and human rights defender in Taiwan and was once a political prisoner for 25-and-a-half years.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chiang Wei-kuo</span>

Chiang Wei-kuo, also known as Wego Chiang, was the adopted son of Republic of China President Chiang Kai-shek, the adoptive brother of President Chiang Ching-kuo, a retired Army general, and an important figure in the Kuomintang. His courtesy names were Jian'gao (建鎬) and Niantang (念堂). Chiang served in the Wehrmacht before fighting in the Second Sino-Japanese War and Chinese Civil War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Taiwan under Japanese rule</span> Period in Taiwanese history from 1895 to 1945

The island of Taiwan, together with the Penghu Islands, became a dependency of Japan in 1895, when the Qing dynasty ceded Taiwan Prefecture in the Treaty of Shimonoseki after the Japanese victory in the First Sino-Japanese War. The short-lived Republic of Formosa resistance movement was suppressed by Japanese troops and quickly defeated in the Capitulation of Tainan, ending organized resistance to Japanese occupation and inaugurating five decades of Japanese rule over Taiwan. Its administrative capital was in Taihoku (Taipei) led by the Governor-General of Taiwan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Taiwan Garrison Command</span> Secret police force in the Republic of China (Taiwan) from 1945 to 1992

The Taiwan Garrison Command was a secret police/national security body which existed under the Republic of China Armed Forces on Taiwan. The agency was established at the end of World War II, and operated throughout the Cold War. It was disbanded on 1 August 1992.

The Hukou incident also known as the Hukou Mutiny was an attempted coup d'état initiated by deputy commander, General Chao Chih-hwa at the 1st Armor Division headquarters on January 21, 1964.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Seediq people</span>

The Seediq are a Taiwanese indigenous people who live primarily in Nantou County and Hualien County. Their language is also known as Seediq.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1987 Lieyu massacre</span> Mass killing of Vietnam War refugees by the ROC (Taiwanese) military

The 1987 Lieyu massacre occurred on 7 March 1987, at Donggang Bay, Lieyu Island, Kinmen, Fujian, Republic of China. ROC military officially denied the massacre, and defined it as an incident of “mistaken killings” (誤殺事件), hence named as the March 7 Incident (三七事件) or Donggang Incident (東崗事件). According to the diary of Superior-general Hau Pei-tsun, nineteen unarmed Vietnamese boat people were killed by the ROC military. There may have been more than nineteen deaths, including several families of ethnical Chinese Vietnamese.

Chen Da (also Chen Ta; Chinese: 陳達; pinyin: Chén Dá; Wade–Giles: Ch'en2 Ta2; b. 1905 (1906?) – d. April 11, 1981) was a Taiwanese folk singer. He was part of Taiwan's folk music scene and worked as an analphabetic creator of lyrics. His spontaneous performances of traditional tunes became an object of study for many scholars focused on the music of Taiwan and brought him to the attention of writers engaged in music criticism including the novelist Wang Tuoh. According to the Journal of Music in China, Chen Da was "the only noted singer of Taiwanese folk singing." Chen Da is also referred to as a singer of "Hoklo folk songs," a synonym of "Taiwanese folk songs."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Huang Rong-can</span> Artist

Huang Rong-can was an artist who created the print The Horrifying Inspection (恐怖的檢查) in the aftermath of the 228 Incident in Taiwan. He was born in Chongqing, Sichuan, and was a printmaker in Taiwan. He is recognised as Taiwan's first Chinese left-wing woodcut printmaker.

In Taiwan, the North–South divide refers to the uneven distribution of resources in regard to political, wealth, medical, economic development, education and other aspects across the country over past decades that has drawn the social and cultural differences between Northern Taiwan and Southern Taiwan today.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Philosophy in Taiwan</span> Philosophy in Taiwan

Philosophy in Taiwan is the set of philosophical traditions in Taiwan, while Taiwanese philosophy is taken to mean philosophical work from the country. Philosophical thought in Taiwan is diverse, drawing influence from Chinese philosophy during Qing rule from the 17th and 18th century, and Western philosophy through the Kyoto School during Japanese rule in the 19th and early 20th century. Taiwanese philosophy took a more endogenous turn during the modern era, with burgeoning philosophical debate regarding Taiwanese Gemeinschaft.

Hou Chi-jan is a Taiwanese director and writer. His works are often related to historical memories.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fujian–Taiwan relationship</span> Relations between Taiwan and the mainland Chinese province of Fujian

The Fujian–Taiwan relations, also known as the Min–Tai relations, refers to the relationship between Fujian, which is located in mainland China, and Taiwan, which is across the Taiwan Strait. Since the average width of the Taiwan Strait is 180 kilometers, Fujian and Taiwan are adjacent, similar in both climate and environment. Although the relationship between Taiwan and Fujian has changed with the development of history, the two places have maintained close relations in terms of personnel, economy, military, culture and other aspects. At present, Taiwan residents are mostly descendants of immigrants from mainland China, of which the southern Fujian ethnic group is the main group, accounting for 73.5% of Taiwan's total population. In terms of culture, language, religion, and customs, Fujian and Taiwan also share similarities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Motherland controversy</span>

The motherland controversy happened in 1936 in Taiwan, then under the colonial rule of Japan. Lin Hsien-tang, the chief of the family of Lin from Wufeng, Taiwan, was openly humiliated by a Japanese gangster in 1936 for he had once called China his motherland. The media propaganda afterwards forced Lin to quit all political positions and moved from Taiwan to Tokyo in order to avoid further controversy. This controversy is believed to be deliberately raised by Japanese military, who tried to warn Taiwanese intellectuals about their Chinese nationalism.

The capture of the tanker Tuapse occurred on 23 June 1954, when a civilian Soviet ship was captured and confiscated by the Republic of China Navy in the high seas near the Philippines and the sailors were detained in Taiwan for various periods with 3 deaths, until the last 4 were released in 1988.

The Yeh Yung-chih incident was a campus incident involving sexual diversity issue in Taiwan. Yeh Yung-chih, a third-grade student of Gao-Shu Junior High School in Gaoshu Village, Gaoshu Township, Pingtung County, was bullied by some classmates because of his gender nonconformity. On April 20, 2000 at 11:42, Yeh left the classroom early to go to the bathroom. He was later found seriously injured and lying in a pool of his own blood. He later died at a local hospital. This incident incited a discussion about gender education in Taiwanese society, which led to the revision of the original "Gender Equality Education Act" to "Gender Equity Education Act" in 2004. The education policy was also altered from a traditional view of sex into a more universal gender equality education system.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Liu Wei (lieutenant general)</span> Chinese lieutenant general

Liu Wei was the commander-in-chief of the Republic of China Military Police (ROCMP) in postwar Taiwan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Enoch Wu</span> Taiwanese politician

Enoch Wu is a Taiwanese policy advocate and former special forces soldier. Wu is the founder of Forward Alliance, a Taiwanese NGO focusing on national security.