Taiwanese Communist Party
|Founded||5 April 1928|
|National affiliation||Japanese Communist Party
Communist Party of China
|Taiwanese Communist Party|
The Taiwanese Communist Party (Chinese: 臺灣共產黨 or 台灣共產黨; Japanese: 台湾共産党) was a revolutionary organization active in Japanese-ruled Taiwan. Like the contemporary Taiwanese People's Party, its existence was short, a mere three years, yet its politics and activities were influential in shaping Taiwan's anti-colonial enterprise. For a brief time after World War II individual members continued to play a role in anti-Kuomintang activities, most notably in the aftermath of the February 28 Incident in 1947.
The party was officially formed on April 5, 1928. Its planning went back to as early as 1925, when Moscow-trained Taiwanese students began to contact like-minded individuals in China and Japan. By late 1927 Comintern had instructed Japanese Communists (organized since 1922) to draft political and organizational charters (綱領) for a "Japanese Communist Party, Taiwanese National Branch". Following the draft, Lin Mu-shun and Hsieh Hsueh-hung secretly met in Shanghai with seven others – of whom three represented the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese Communist Parties, respectively – to form the nascent organization.
In 1931, Comintern elevated the group's status from party branch to that of a full-fledged party directly answerable to it.
Organization and ideology
Organizationally the 1928 charter subjected the Taiwanese Communists to the Japanese party. Politically it described the "Taiwanese nation" (Taiwan Minzu) as those descendants of Koxinga's army and later settlers from southeastern China. Both Koxinga and the Manchu rulers established a feudal system, which in its view began to disintegrate with the introduction of 19th century Western capital into the island. The Republic of Formosa represented a revolutionary movement of feudal landowners, merchants and radical patriots, but one doomed to failure given the immaturity of the native capitalist class. It saw Taiwan's capitalism as utterly dependent upon its Japanese counterpart. The proletariat revolution would be driven by the "contradiction" between the dominant Japanese capital and the native (and poorly developed) capital and rural feudalistic elements. The goal of the party was to unite the workers and the peasants. Toward that goal the party would use the left-leaning Taiwanese Cultural Association as a platform and legal front, as well as expose the "lies" of the Taiwanese People's Party, which had been moving toward the left under Chiang Wei-shui's leadership.
Although Japanese Communists had been entrusted with the task of guiding the Taiwanese branch, massive repression in Japan proper, starting in 1928, left the Taiwanese adrift. Some leftist students were also forced to return to Taiwan. Leadership fell to Hsieh Hsueh-hung to re-organize in light of the development.
The party sought to organize workers in as-yet unorganized key industries, including the transportation sector and mines in northern Taiwan. Party cadres were sent to work and propagandize in the logging ranches of Yilan and the mines in Chilung, with mixed success. In Taipei the party led a failed strike by print workers. In the island's south cadres sparked a strike by railroad workers in Kaohsiung. Overall, however, the TCP was neither as active nor as successful as the Alliance of Taiwanese Workers (affiliated with the Taiwanese People's Party).
The party had more success organizing peasants. Earlier a bottom-up farmers' movement had spread rapidly in 1925, leading to the creation of the island-wide Taiwanese Peasants' Union. The TCP was able to cultivate its faction within the Union and by late 1928 the Union had openly declared its support for the Communists. At that time the Great Depression of 1930 was seen by many Communists worldwide as a sign that the proletariat revolution was on the verge of exploding. Japan's war efforts in China had also bogged down. By 1931 the TCP-led Peasants' Union was secretly training farmers (many of Hakka ethnicity) in preparation for armed struggle to form a soviet – one that some believed would soon elicit support from the Communist Party of China. A leak allowed the authorities to liquidate a key group, putting a halt to the plan.
From its inception the TCP had plans to infiltrate the Cultural Association, already left-leaning after a group of moderate and conservative leaders had left in 1927. It was a convenient platform that could serve as a legal front. The third congress (1929) saw the Communists succeed in electing several cadres to the Association's central committee. They proceeded to purge the leadership of the remaining conservatives and non-TCP leftists, particularly Lien Wenqing.
Between 1931 and 1933 authorities arrested 107 TCP members, who were sentenced to terms up to fifteen years. A few died in prison.
Factionalism within the party
Initially the party had been under the sway of the Japanese theorist Yamakawa Hitoshi, who advocated uniting the workers, peasants, and the petty bourgeoisie to form a mass party. Comintern also initially favored Communists uniting with "bourgeoisie forces" to wage an anti-imperialist war of national liberation. The TCP's 1931 charter, however, reflected new assessment that downplayed the revolutionary potential of the bourgeoisie. Class struggle was to be the priority. Hsieh, who had been leader up to this point, was opposed to the new turn. She and her supporters were forced out of the party.
Post-World War II
There is no evidence that surviving members of the party managed to re-constitute the TCP after Japan's surrender to the Allied Forces. However, during the two-year period between 1945 and the aftermath of the February 28 Incident, individual Communists (most notably Hsieh Hsüeh-hung) resumed activities. The Kuomintang's repression of Communists led them to flee to the Mainland, where they merged into the ranks of the Communist Party of China. Some of them formed the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League in November 1947. Communist activities subsequent to the Nationalist "retrocession" to Taiwan, in 1949, were therefore directed under the auspices of the Communist Party of China.
Recent attempts at forming a Communist Party
After the lifting of martial law in 1987, attempts have been made to re-establish a legal party of the same name. However, these applications to the Republic of China Ministry of the Interior were rejected on the grounds that Article 2 of the Civic Organization Law forbids civic organizations and activities from promoting communism. Later, Labor Party was founded in 1989, it has a historical link with the Taiwanese Communist Party.
The Communist Party of China, too, has shown no recent interest in promoting communism on Taiwan, and as of 2005, most of its efforts are directed at promoting Chinese nationalism on Taiwan and this has led to increasingly warm relations with the Pan-Blue Coalition. Nevertheless, in 2000 one Dai Chung, a Taiwanese resident, self-proclaimed a "Taiwan Province branch" of the Communist Party of China without applying for official status as a political party and without any support or interest from the Communist Party of China.
- Yang, Bichuan. 1987. Jianming Taiwanshi (A concise history of Taiwan), Diyi Chubanshe, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.