Monday, August 30, 2010

Other Important Events

I will use today's blog to describe some important events in Taiwan (other than my Junior High related history) in the early 1950s. As you may know, Taiwan was under Japanese rule for fifty years before 1945. This means that there were two generations of Taiwan-born children who never learned or even heard that they were Chinese as they grew up! When Japan declared their "unconditional surrender" at the end of WWII, the Taiwanese people were not very happy about having to adjust to another ruling authority, this time from China. My uncle, Chen Cheng-chang (陈庆章), was part of the Chinese army sent to recover Taiwan from Japanese hands. He was later assigned to the Station in Zuo-ying as a "company" leader (with a rank of lieutenant colonel) to protect the harbor near Kaoshung with several big canons. Remember? Visiting my uncle, who was my Mom's younger brother, was the main reason we went to Taiwan to start with.

The following summarizes some of the big events which I remember that took place during those few years:

1946: Quite a number of local riots took place, including ones at
Budai, Hsinyin, and Yuan-ling (布袋, 新营、and 员林); these three led to a much bigger riot later.

1947: On Feb. 28th a riot occurred on the whole island; there were a lot of killings and much looting. This was the famous so-called 228 incident.

1948: The Taiwan governor Liu tried to establish his authority.

1949: Marshall Law was declared and Nationalist China started to retreat to the Island.

1950: The KMT (the nationalist party) used high pressure control during the so-called white terror period. Quite a number of intellectuals were killed as "spies".

1955: The American-sponsored three star general, Sun Li-ren (孙立人), was arrested as he was protecting a "spy". No one knows what happened to him even today!

1956: All university level schools started using a uniform "entrance examination", one exam for all universities. Students all had to take this ONE exam in order to gain entrance to a specific department in a specific university. One's entrance to both depended completely on one's grade in this single exam. One could, for example, list first choice as Chemistry Department in National Taiwan University, second choice as Physics Department in National Taiwan University, etc. Then, depending on your exam grade and how you compared with all other students, you would be admitted to one of the choices on your list – or told that you had failed to gain entrance to any. In this case, you would have to try again the following year, as the exam was given only once annually.

This last policy sealed the fate of all intellectuals of our generation. One single exam determined the futures of many young men and women's lives.  

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