Photograph of Lien c. 1914
|Born||February 17, 1878
Taiwan County, Taiwan Prefecture, Taiwan under Qing rule
|Died||June 28, 1936
Shanghai, Republic of China
|Cause of death||Liver cancer|
|Other names||Lian Wugong (連武公)
Lian Yatang (連雅堂)
Lian Jianhua (連劍花)
|Known for||The General History of Taiwan|
|Relatives||Lien Chan (grandson)
Sean Lien (great-grandson)
Lian Heng (Chinese: 連橫; pinyin: Lián Héng; Wade–Giles: Lien Heng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Liân Hêng; 1878–1936) was a Chinese historian, politician, poet, merchant, editor of a pro-Japanese newspaper, and advocate of the opium trade in the island of Taiwan. He authored the General History of Taiwan. Some have claimed that he contributed to the creation and spread of a unified and strong Taiwanese cultural identity through his historical research and works of poetry. But as a journalist he was also a supporter of the Japanese, in particular their expansion of the opium trade into Taiwan. In this regard he worked in opposition to the Taiwanese People's Party and medical associations across Taiwan, as well as the New People Society in Tokyo. For this, he was ostracized by cultural circles and expelled by the Oak Tree Poetry Society, Taiwan's top poetry club. "Feeling that he had no footing among the Taiwanese people," Lien took his family and left for Shanghai. Lian is also known for being the grandfather of Lien Chan, former Chairman of the Kuomintang, and great-grandfather of Sean Lien, the Kuomintang candidate for mayor of Taipei in 2014.
Lian Heng was born on February 17, 1878 in Taiwan Prefecture, Qing-era Taiwan (modern-day Tainan, Taiwan). Lian grew up in a prosperous merchant family, the third son of Lien Yung-ch'ang. Lian's ancestors originated from the city of Longxi County (now part of Longhai City), Fujian Province. The family had moved to Taiwan at the end of the Ming Dynasty as they were adamantly opposed to Manchu intrusions into China and the later foreign Qing dynasty. Born to a well-off family, Lian received an education in traditional Chinese fashion, learning Chinese characters, poetry, and the Confucian Classics. Lian gained an early interest in Chinese and Taiwanese culture and history from stories told him by his father and private tutors. With this exceptional schooling, Lian quickly developed into a young scholar-poet.
Life under Japanese Rule
Lian Heng was 17 when Taiwan came under Japanese imperial rule as a result of the Qing defeat in the 1894 Sino-Japanese War. The island falling to Japanese control in the following Treaty of Shimonoseki and the death of his father in the same year had a great effect on Lian. Lian felt as little connection to the foreign Qing China as he did to the new Japanese Empire, and he soon began research on the ancient history of China.
In 1895, Lian traveled to his ancestral home of Fujian Province to conduct research, in particular on the works of the poet Du Fu. Two years later in 1897, Lian's studies led him to Shanghai, a hub of progressive thought and western ideas. Due to illnesses and death in the family, he returned to Taiwan, where he began to create a genealogical record of the Lian family.
Life and Work
On returning to Taiwan in 1898, Lian Heng married Lady Shen Ao and continued his studies of Chinese classics, history, and the Japanese language. In 1899 Lian was recruited as editor-in-chief by the Tainan News Daily. Working as a journalist, Lien was exposed to the ideas of nationalism, and wrote articles and poems on his disillusionment with the Qing's backward policies and inaction.
In 1905 Lian and his family moved to Xiamen where he formed his own newspaper, the Fuchien Daily. Lian and other intellectuals such as Lo Hsiu-hui and Hu Tien-p'eng wrote articles supporting the Tongmenghui and other Anti-Manchu revolutionary causes. As a result of his revolutionary activities, the government deemed his newspaper a radical threat to the Qing. Feeling disheartened with the political situation in China, Lian and his family returned once again to Taiwan.
Back in Taiwan, Lian devoted himself to the cause of writing the history of Taiwan. Through his studies of mainland Chinese history and culture, Lian realized that the Taiwanese must also awaken in themselves a love for their own distinct heritage, language, and nationalism in order to withstand foreign oppression. Lian searched the island for archaeological and written remains of the earliest settlers of the island in order to gather information. Lian also became involved in Taiwanese political movements such as the Assimilation Society and Taiwanese Cultural Association. On moving to Taichung in 1908, Lian was offered a job as editor for the Taiwan Daily. With the help of fellow intellectuals, scholars, and writers such as Liang Qichao, Hung Hsu, and Lin Hsien-tang Lian gathered necessary primary sources.
General History of Taiwan
In 1921, Lian Heng published the Taiwan T'ung-shih (General History of Taiwan) covering Taiwanese history from the Sui Dynasty up until the Japanese occupation. The work was a culmination of Lian's extensive research and the most comprehensive collection of Taiwanese history up until that time.
The work begins with the poignant line, "A country may be destroyed, but never its history".
Lian divided the General History of Taiwan into three sections: 1. The Annals 2. The Records and 3. The Biographies. The scope of Lian's work was immense, covering subjects spanning from historic migrations of Han Chinese from the mainland to Taiwan, famous women of the island, the reign of Koxinga, pirates, and the common people. At the beginning and end of each section, Lian gives his own analysis and interpretation on the topic, modeling the style used by Sima Qian on his Records of the Grand Historian. Lian used the General History of Taiwan as a way to interpret historical events and their importance in the formation of a national Taiwanese identity.
Death and Legacy
After completion of the General History of Taiwan, Lian Heng continued to encourage Taiwanese nationalism through political activism, poetry, and journalism. Lian died in 1936 at 58 years of age.
Lian's poems and historical works inspire in the Taiwanese a national sense of culture and spirit. His General History of Taiwan is to this day a remarkable view into the island's rich and diverse history. His poems and works were also later compiled into a collection in 1992 called the Lien Ya-t'ang hsien-sheng ch'uan-chi.
- Wu 2005, p. 17.
- Ku, Er-teh (6 February 2004). "The book that built the Lien family". Taipei Times. p. 8. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
- Goddard 1963, p. 114.
- Wu 2005, p. 22.
- Harrison 2006, p. 801.
- Wu 2005, p. 24.
- Wu 2005, p. 25.
- Goddard 1963, p. 115.
- Wu 2005, p. 26.
- Wu 2005, p. 27.
- Wu 2005, p. 28.
- Wu 2005, p. 32.
- Lai 1991, p. 16.
- Wu 2005, p. 33.
- Wu 2005, p. 34.
- Wu 2005, pp. 37-38,40.
- Goddard 1963, p. 116.
- Wu 2005, p. 44.
- Wu 2005, p. 46.
- Goddard 1963, p. 119.
- Goddard 1963, p. 158.
- Wu 2005, p. 29.
- Wu, Shui-Hui (2005). Lien Heng 1878-1936 : Taiwan's Search for Identity and Tradition. Indiana University. ISBN 978-0-933070-53-0.
- Harrison, Mark (2006). "Lien Heng (1878-1936): Taiwan's Search for Identity and Tradition (Review)". The China Quarterly. Cambridge University Press. JSTOR 20192683.
- Goddard, William G. (1963). The Makers of Taiwan. China Publishing Company. OCLC 1941644.
- Lai, Tse-Han (1991). A Tragic Beginning: The Taiwan Uprising of February 28, 1947. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-804718-29-5.