Taiwan and the February 28 Incident: Piecing the Facts Together
Photo Credit: NBC News
By Peter Kien-hong Yu

Taiwan and the February 28 Incident: Piecing the Facts Together

Mar. 22, 2017  |     |  0 comments

The President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, recently commemorated the 70th anniversary of the 228 Incident. Between February 21 and March 7, 2017, I browsed online articles and news reports, published by the Taipei-based Central Daily News and the Hong Kong-based China Review News, related to the incident. A brief sketch of the incident is necessary at the outset.

After the end of World War II, the troops of the ruling Nationalist Party of China (KMT) were initially welcomed by local inhabitants of Taiwan province, but the army’s behavior and the KMT’s maladministration on matters economic resulted in discontent among the natives.

The flashpoint erupted on February 27, 1947 in the city of Taipei, when a dispute developed between an unlicensed cigarette vendor and a Tobacco and Alcohol Monopoly Bureau officer, triggering civil disorder or, to some observers, open rebellion. Violence flared the following morning on February 28, and it resulted in the brutal suppression by the KMT government which killed thousands of civilians. The revolt ended on March 8, after being brutally put down by government forces.1

In February 1995, Lee Teng-hui, in his capacity as the first native Taiwanese president, lifted the taboo on talking about the 228 Incident and addressed the subject publicly. Eight months later, the Memorial Foundation of 228 was set up. In February 1997, Taipei New Park was rededicated as one of twenty-three 228 Peace Memorial Parks, and now houses the National 228 Memorial Museum.

We live in a world of contradictions. Needless to say, all the information, data, and analysis from the above-mentioned publications are contradictory. Some pieces of facts can be noted below:

First, Chiang Kai-shek was the original culprit.

Second, early on, the KMT blamed the Communist Party of China (CPC) for instigating the incident, because the date, 二二八, forms the Chinese character of 共, which means Communist.

Third, Chiang should not be held for the ultimate responsibility, as opposed to the largest responsibility.2 Chen Yi, who was governor of Taiwan province and who in a March 3, 1947 telegram requested Chiang to dispatch at least one regiment of troops, should. This is because Chiang was busy fighting against the Chinese Communists in the civil war on mainland China.

Fourth, the estimation of the number of deaths, both natives of Taiwan and non-natives3, vary. Some sources say as many as 30,000 people died during the bloody period. However, the Memorial Foundation of 228 lists the number of dead and missing as 862, who are qualified to get compensation from the state.4

Fifth, Chen was a bad official, who, for example, tolerated his corrupt subordinates. Yet, some say he was a good official, who was, for example, not thirsty for power.5

Sixth, some descendants of those who suffered from the 228 Incident cannot forgive nor forget, and link the massacre to ethnic discrimination, thereby demanding transitional justice to totally discredit Chiang.

Seventh, in order to demonize China, some activists who are for the creation of the Republic of Taiwan use the 228 Incident as a tool to justify that Taiwan is Taiwan and has nothing to do with China.6 They, in addition to some aborigines,7 also criticized Tsai on February 28, 2017.8

Eighth, members of the CPC were involved. Among them, Xie Xuehong was the most prominent. She organized a group of people, including soldiers of Taiwanese origin who had served in the Imperial Japanese army and aborigines,9 into a troop known as the 27 Brigade. She and Zhong Yi10 led the troop to fight against the KMT. Later, she sought refuge in mainland China. In the winter of 1957, she was criticized ten times by the Taiwan Democratic Self-government League that she founded. One of the charges was that she had betrayed the CPC.11 Some members of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party paid tribute to this lady in the town of Puli in NanTou county, where the last battle of the 228 Incident took place, on its 70th anniversary.12

Ninth, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference13 re-commemorated the 228 Incident in 1973 during the Cultural Revolution upon the approval of Zhou Enlai. More than 1,100 members of the CPC had sacrificed their lives in that incident.14 Some 228 Incident victims still support the People’s Republic of China.15 On February 28, 2017, Beijing again officially commemorated the incident as part of the CPC’s struggle for liberating the Taiwan province, describing it as a landmark of the Taiwan people fighting against dictatorship and getting back their basic rights.

Tenth, the US Office of Strategic Services was deeply involved from December 1945 to April 1946. For example, it interviewed more than 300 local elites, touching upon sensitive matters like the possibility of the trusteeship of Taiwan under the United Nations, and Taiwan independence.16 In this connection, some 300,000 Japanese chose to live in Taiwan after August 1945. Some of them were also involved in the incident, by, for example, aggravating almost half of the food supply on the biggest island of China and triggering inflation.17

Four days before the 70th anniversary, the 228 Memorial Foundation said it had released all the documents under its possession to the public. Later, Tsai said her government will continue to seek the truth. The process, starting from March 1, will take three years to gain the whole picture, which means that the full truth is not possible to be obtained now. Hence, the incident can still be subjected to different interpretations.

I will try, logically, systematically, and coherently, to arrange the ten pieces of facts as mentioned above by applying my one-dot theory.

The Taiji model or everything in the square can be seen in the middle, which is the biggest diagram. It is a dot, if we look at it in the distance. We can parse this diagram in terms of four smaller models, each one of which is but a dot. The first one is on the upper left-hand side. We see a blank circle or a dot. The second model is on the upper right-hand side. Another way of saying it is yin and yang. It is derived from the first model. The third one is at the lower right-hand side, which can expand and contract. It is a version of the second model on the upper right-hand side. Its emphasis is on that small dot, meaning the Confucian zhong yong zhi dao (Middle Way), with he xie (harmony) in mind. And the last model is at the lower left-hand side. It is a version of the third model on the lower right-hand side.

The name for this fourth model is called the crab and frog motion model. In other words, a dialectician would make side-way moves like a crab, and leap like a frog from this crab and frog motion model to that crab and frog motion model. 1 2 3 4 5 is the safe zone spectrum, whereas A B C D E is the danger zone spectrum. A dialectician may stand under 1, which refers to a concept and which is translated as 100%. 3 would be 50%, and 5, 1%. The same logic applies to E, which is 100%; C, 50%, and A, 1%. A dialectician would refrain from entering the latter zone. Creatively, the dialectician can build a new model out of 5 and A, treating 5 as 1 and A, still E.

The methodology of this essay is very simple and straightforward. We just need to line up the ten pieces of facts. For each one, we would intuitively weigh it. If it is very important, we put it at either 1 or E, in the model of 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A B C D E F G H I J. If it is the least important, we place it at either 10 or A in the same crab and frog motion model.

There are at least four models that we can work with.18

From Taipei’s central government perspective, with the KMT as the ruling party. The preliminary match is as follows: Fact Fourth and Eighth can be put at 1; Fact Tenth, 2; Fact Second and Ninth, 3; Fact Third, 4; Fact Five, Tenth; Fact First, E; and Fact Sixth and Seventh, J.

From Taipei’s central government perspective, with the DPP as the ruling party. The preliminary match is as follows: Fact Fourth can be placed at 1; Fact First, 3; Fact Third, 4; Fact 10, 5; Fact Sixth, 6; Fact Fifth, Eighth, and Ninth, 10; Fact Second and Seventh, A.

From those who prefer to create a ROT’s perspective. The preliminary match is as follows: Fact Fourth and Seventh can be put at 1; Fact First, 2; Fact Fifth, 3; Fact Sixth, 4; Fact Tenth, 10; Fact Second, A; Fact Third and Ninth, I; and Fact Eighth, J.

From Beijing’s central government perspective. The preliminary match is as follows: Fact Fourth, Eighth, and Ninth can belong to 1; Fact Third, 3; Fact First, 5; Fact Fifth, 7; Fact Tenth, 10; Fact Second, A; Fact Sixth, H; and Fact Seventh, J.

Several findings and reminders can be mentioned. First, due to different perspectives, all the models are still dialectally competing with one another, with no end in sight. The nodal point should appear someday, meaning both quantitative and qualitative change will surface.

Second, due to different definitions on the same incident, less than 900 were qualified to be called the 228 Incident victims. Yet, the CPC stated that more than 1,100 of its members were sacrificed in the incident. In passing, the following question should be posed: Can those CPC members apply for compensation from Taipei?

Third, within the next three years, will new evidence appear, upsetting everything that is already under the sun? We cannot rule out that possibility.

Fourth, one unique feature in the crab and frog motion model is that, at each time/space sequence when a dialectician makes a move, he or she only thinks of one number or letter. Thus, there would NEVER be contradiction from time/space sequence (1) to time/space sequence (n), which is the last move. That is to say, my crab and frog motion can dissolve all the contradictions, past, present, and future.

Fifth, it is important to periodically conduct public opinion polls, so as to find out how many people are under 1, 2, 10, A, B, J, etc. This kind of poll should be more scientific than other kinds of polls which lack a theory to shore it up, logically, systematically, and coherently.


1. On that day, the Republic of China troops arrived in Taiwan province’s Jilong Port from mainland China.

2. On March 13, 1947, Chiang Kai-shek sent a telegram to Chen Yi clearly prohibiting the government, including the military, to conduct reprisal against the common people.

3. The first batch of mainlanders or A Shan who went to Taiwan after August 1946 numbered about 20,000, and YAN Jiagan was among them.

4. During Imperial Japan’s colonization, some 400,000 native Taiwanese were killed. See http://hk.crntt.com/doc/1045/9/2/0/104592052.html?coluid=7&kindid=0&docid=104592052

5. See

http://hk.crntt.com/doc/1045/8/9/1/104589116.html?coluid=255&kindid=0&docid=104589116&mdate=0224170603 and http://hk.crntt.com/doc/1045/9/2/6/104592654.html?coluid=93&kindid=16471&docid=104592654

6. At a meeting in August 2007, the chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party You Xikun allowed an important resolution text to be passed. It called for, inter alia, making Taiwan a normal country and rectification of the name for the country. A month later, the text was accepted by the party at its annual meeting.

7. See http://www.cdnews.com.tw/cdnews_site/docDetail.jsp?coluid=141&docid=104059498

8. See http://bj.crntt.com/doc/1045/9/2/4/104592428.html?coluid=142&kindid=0&docid=104592428&mdate=0301004843

9. See http://bj.crntt.com/doc/1045/9/0/3/104590327.html?coluid=93&kindid=16471&docid=104590327

10. See http://hk.crntt.com/doc/1046/0/0/6/104600613.html?coluid=255&kindid=0&docid=104600613&mdate=0307010736

11. See http://baike.baidu.com/link?url=F3_5kwq-XgNmzXINSrUM-E36wn3k3Tc7uijKto6CyUxlcwUR2JgbeW1d9pCmjLUUZ25FkR7iOKN9mUw70a


12. See http://bj.crntt.com/doc/1045/9/0/3/104590327.html?coluid=93&kindid=16471&docid=104590327

13. It stopped its function in January 1965. It restarted in February 1978.

14. See http://bbs.hainan.net/post-333-1106371-1.shtml. According to Cai Xiaogan, there were 70 members of the Communist Party of China in Taiwan. See http://hk.crntt.com/doc/1046/0/0/6/104600613.html?coluid=255&kindid=0&docid=104600613&mdate=0307010736

15. See

http://hk.crntt.com/doc/1045/9/4/3/104594368.html?coluid=7&kindid=0&docid=104594368; http://bj.crntt.com/doc/1045/9/0/6/104590653.html?coluid=11&kindid=0&docid=104590653&mdate=0228141010;

http://hk.crntt.com/doc/1045/9/2/7/104592750.html?coluid=7&kindid=0&docid=104592750&mdate=0301002853 and http://military.china.com/important/11132797/20170228/30288308.html

16. See http://bj.crntt.com/doc/1045/9/0/6/104590653.html?coluid=11&kindid=0&docid=104590653&mdate=0228141010

17. Ibid.

18. A doctoral student Zhang Junkai, who is from Taiwan and studying at Peking University, said at least three historical views exist, such as the incident had nothing to do with mainland China; it was a massacre by the Chinese; and the fight against the ruling party at that time was by the pro-Japanese people in Taiwan. See http://hk.crntt.com/doc/1045/9/4/3/104594368.html?coluid=7&kindid=0&docid=104594368

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