White Terror (Taiwan)
In Taiwan, the White Terror (Chinese: 白色恐怖; pinyin: báisèkǒngbù) was the suppression of political dissidents following the 228 Incident.  The period of martial law lasted from 19 May 1949 to 15 July 1987, 38 years and 57 days. Taiwan's period of martial law had been the longest period of martial law in the world at the time it was raised, but has since been surpassed by the Syrian half-century martial law, which lasted from 1963 to 2011.
The White Terror period
The term "White Terror" at its broadest meaning refers to the entire period of 1949 to 1987. In this period, around 140,000 Taiwanese were imprisoned during this period, of which about from 3,000–4,000 were executed, for their real or perceived opposition to the Kuomintang (KMT, Chinese Nationalist Party) government led by Chiang Kai-shek. Most actual prosecutions, though, took place in 1950–1952. Most of those prosecuted were labeled by the Kuomintang as "bandit spies" (匪諜), meaning spies for Chinese communists, and punished as such.
The KMT imprisoned mostly Taiwan's intellectual and social elite out of fear that they might resist KMT rule or sympathize with communism. For example, the Formosan League for Reemancipation was a Taiwanese independence group established in 1947 which the KMT believed to be under communist control leading to its members being arrested in 1950. The World United Formosans for Independence was persecuted for similar reasons. However, other prosecutions did not have such clear reasoning; in 1968 Bo Yang was imprisoned for his choice of words in translating a Popeye comic strip. A large number of the White Terror's other victims were mainland Chinese, many of whom owed their evacuation to Taiwan to the KMT. Often, after having come unaccompanied to Taiwan, these refugees to Taiwan were considered more disposable than local Taiwanese. Many of the mainland Chinese who survived the White Terror in Taiwan, like Bo Yang and Li Ao, moved on to promote Taiwan's democratization and the reform of the Kuomintang. In 1969, future president Lee Teng-hui was detained and interrogated for more than a week by the Garrison Command who demanded to know about his "communist activities" and told "killing you at this moment is as easy a crushing an ant to death." Three years later he was invited to join the cabinet of Chiang Ching-kuo.
Fear of discussing the White Terror and the 228 Incident gradually decreased with the lifting of martial law in 1987, culminating in the establishment of an official public memorial and an apology by President Lee Teng-hui in 1995. In 2005, President Ma Ying-jeou addressed a memorial service for the White Terror in Taipei. Ma apologized to the victims and their family members on behalf of the government, and expressed the hope that Taiwan would never again experience a similar tragedy.
- White Terror (disambiguation)
- White Terror (mainland China)
- History of Taiwan
- Political status of Taiwan
- Politics of the Republic of China
- Period of mobilization for the suppression of Communist rebellion
References and further reading
- English language
- Chen, Ketty (Winter 2008). "Disciplining Taiwan: The Kuomintang’s Methods of Control during the White Terror Era (1947-1987)". Taiwan International Studies Quarterly 4 (4): 185–210.
- Kerr, George H. (1965). Formosa Betrayed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Taiwan Library Online
- Sylvia Li-chun Lin, "Two Texts to a Story: Representing White Terror in Taiwan", Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Spring 2004
- —— (2007). Representing Atrocity in Taiwan : The 2/28 Incident and White Terror in Fiction and Film. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231143608.
- Rubinstein, Murray A. (2007). Taiwan: A New History. Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe. ISBN 9780765614957.
- Schafferer, Christian (2003). The Power of the Ballot Box: Political Development and Election Campaigning in Taiwan. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books. ISBN 0739104810.
- Tsai, Shih-shan Henry (2005). Lee Teng-Hui and Taiwan's Quest for Identity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1403970564.
- Chinese language