The history and politics of Taiwan's February 28 Incident, 1947-2008

Date

2021-01-13

Authors

Kuo, Yen-Kuang

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Abstract

Taiwan’s February 28 Incident happened in 1947 as a set of popular protests against the postwar policies of the Nationalist Party, and it then sparked militant actions and political struggles of Taiwanese but ended with military suppression and political persecution by the Nanjing government. The Nationalist Party first defined the Incident as a rebellion by pro-Japanese forces and communist saboteurs. As the enemy of the Nationalist Party in China’s Civil War (1946-1949), the Chinese Communist Party initially interpreted the Incident as a Taiwanese fight for political autonomy in the party’s wartime propaganda, and then reinterpreted the event as an anti-Nationalist uprising under its own leadership. After the rapprochement of Mao’s China with the United States in the 1970s, both parties successively started economic or political reform and revised their respective policies toward the February 28 Incident. Moreover, the Democratic Progressive Party rose as a pro-independence force in Taiwan in the mid-1980s, and its stress on the Taiwanese pursuit of autonomy in the Incident coincided with the initial interpretation of the Chinese Communist Party. These partisan views and their related policy changes deeply influenced historical research on the Incident. This study re-examines both the history and the historical accuracy of these partisan discourses and the relevant scholarship on the Incident, and further proposes to understand this historic event in the long-term context of Taiwanese resistance and political struggles.

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Keywords

Taiwan, the February 28 Incident, Chinese Nationalist Party, Chinese Communist Party, Democratic Progressive Party

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