At 7:30 p.m. on February 28, the 118th “Cross-Strait Talk” (General 194th), hosted by China Cross-Strait Academy (Hong Kong) and Xiamen Qidataixiang Entrepreneurship Service Co., Ltd., was successfully held at the Tencent Conference with the theme of “The 76th year of the ‘February 28 Incident’！When is this political poker game over?! ”.
February is the shortest month of the year, but in Taiwan, it is always the most tortuous and difficult month. The reason for this is that, for more than 30 years, there has been a big drama between the Green Camp and the Blue Camp on February 28, which has become an annual political cash machine for the Green Camp, and the KMT has often had to respond passively. In the 76th year of the “February 28 Incident”, how will the KMT get out of the vortex? When is this political poker game in Taiwan over?
In this “Cross-Strait Talk”, China Cross-Strait Academy (Hong Kong) specially invited Wu Kuncai, professor of Department of Applied History of National Chiayi University, Wang Liben, Doctor of Department of History of National Taiwan University, Siu Hengchung, Assistant Professor of Beijing Union University Doctor of Peking University, Wang Fengshou, Researcher of Beijing-Taiwan Cultural Exchange Research Center of Beijing Union University and Doctor of Graduate Institute for Taiwan’s Studies of Xiamen University to discuss the topic of “The 76th year of the‘February 28 Incident’！When is this political poker game over?! ”. The discussion would focus on restoring the truth of the “February 28 Incident”, why Taiwan has a variety of interpretations of the “February 28 Incident”, why the “February 28 Incident” became a political cash machine of the Green Camp, and how compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits correctly understand the “February 28 Incident” etc. Luo Dingjun, Secretary General of China Cross-Strait Academy (Hong Kong), served as the host of the meeting.
Wu Kuncai said that 76 years have passed since the “February 28 Incident”, and the problem had already been settled and compensation had been made accordingly. The reason why this matter is still being hyped up and become a topic of dispute is undeniably because of some political reasons, so it continues to be amplified. The DPP has long defined the “February 28 Incident” as the Kuomintang government’s massacre of the Taiwan people, while making no mention of the hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese who died at the hands of the Japanese invaders during the Period of Japanese Occupation. To observe why “February 28 Incident” leads to so many interpretations, we need to first analyze who has a vested interest in the interpretation. For some political figures, there must be different tendencies of interpretation under different purposes. As a matter of fact, Taiwan people should let go and face the past of the older generation with a normal heart. Otherwise, Taiwan will never get out of the tangle of history.
Wang Liben pointed out that we must follow the source of history to find out why the “February 28 Incident” eventually became an island-wide sensation. Chen Yi, who took over as the head of the Nationalist government at that time, had quite complete experience in the military circle. However, the complexity of Taiwan society at that time was far more than Chen Yi had expected. The first is the identity difference of Taiwan residents. Taiwan native people experienced the Japanese occupation era, and at that time many of them went to Japan or the mainland to study. In terms of thinking about political identity, national identity and the future of Taiwan, due to the influence of different backgrounds, they had different views on the future development of Taiwan in the following post-colonial era. The background of the “February 28 Incident” incident was far more complicated than Chen Yi had expected. Although Chen Yi had been known for being clean and capable, he was short of troops and did not respond effectively.
Siu Hengchung proposed that the reference to folk literature of the “February 28 Incident” should also take into account its historical limitations, as well as the narrator’s personal political stance and calculation based on his own interests. To explore the subsequent impact of the “February 28 Incident”, we should not only pay attention to the communication aspect of historical events, but also highlight the influence of social context before and after on historical events. Many Taiwan people regard the “February 28 Incident” as a so-called milestone of transformative justice. In the process of Taiwan’s rotation in office, the governments also had completely different attitudes and practices towards the “February 28 Incident”. The government should return to the historical rational truth. To investigate the responsibility will not cause the situation of ethnic antagonism in Taiwan. Avoiding the problem will only make the transformative justice impassible, which will have an adverse impact on Taiwan’s progress towards a law-ruled human rights society. The Blue Camp and the Green Camp also present different ideological understandings and positions on “February 28 Incident”. In fact, there is still a long way to go before Taiwan can resolve the dispute and achieve true transformative justice.
Wang Fengshou pointed out that after the Restoration of Taiwan, the Kuomintang government had made both mistakes and achievements in its governance of the Taiwan. According to the particularity of Taiwan, the KMT retained many special governance methods, which also gave the local forces in Taiwan an opportunity to rise later. At present, the so-called “Taiwan independence” historical view insisted by the Green Camp adopts a narrative mode based on pathos and ethnic groups. In fact, it is the product of abstractly combining history after pulling it out, rather than restoring historical situations. It is driven more by interests than emotional appeals. In the Period of Japanese Occupation, which was constantly glorified by “Taiwan independence”, the so-called “the Kominka Movement” destroyed Taiwan’s local culture and adopted a reign of terror under police sanctions. In the early period when the Kuomintang government took over, Taiwan society in a sense got the space to release all kinds of potential repressed energy. However, the Kuomintang government at that time, under various reasons, adopted rough governance, which also caused a lot of problems. However, if the periodization of history revolves around the “February 28 Incident” to beautify the previous history of Taiwan and vilify the subsequent history, it is not just a choice of position, but a local beautification based on the expression of interests.
In addition to the wonderful speeches delivered by the guests, the online audience also actively participated in the interactive questions on the topic. The audience asked questions about whether the DPP’s continued manipulation of the “February 28 Incident” could still touch on the feelings of the Taiwan people and how the current Taiwan society should view the spin-off impact of the “February 28 Incident” etc. All the guests at the meeting answered these questions, and the discussion was heated, highlighting the great concern on this issue.
Among them, Wu Kuncai mentioned that the transfer of the old and new regimes will inevitably lead to friction and conflicts. Compatriots on both sides of the Straits should view the “February 28 Incident” incident correctly and rationally, and draw lessons from the historical tragedy and get out of it, so as to avoid the recurrence of the tragedy. Wang Liben pointed out that in recent years, the DPP’s efforts to consume “February 28 Incident” have been reduced because of reduced utility. But the lesson of history is worth bearing in mind: the Taiwan Strait should not become an obstacle to people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, and the two sides should not be provoked by external forces. We should pursue a common goal to build a common national future. Siu Hengchung thought that the “February 28 Incident” is undoubtedly a huge trauma in Taiwan's history. The reason why the memories of history have opposite sides is that the conflicts of interests lead to different visions of the future. It still takes more time for the Blue Camp and the Green Camp to step out of their imagination and move towards the community of collective memory. Wang Fengshou said that the inclusiveness of the DPP is more based on the political mechanism of the exclusionary absorption. Nor has this narrow regionalism led to justice and reconciliation. The so-called integration of ethnic groups is actually a conceptual paradox. If ethnic groups are first divided by definition, it will be difficult to achieve integration again.
At the end of the meeting, Wu Kuncai believed that the precipitation of time will make history present the real side. The study of history will not stop, and the exploration of the future should let go of the past obsession. Wang Liben pointed out that it is the responsibility of the academic community to make “February 28 Incident” conform to historical facts again, and the academic community should use solid historical materials to eliminate unnecessary colors in the interpretation of “February 28 Incident”. Only by constantly building a common vision of the country can both sides have a brighter future. Siu Hengchung proposed that the foundation of democratization lies in national unity and social harmony. We should start from the education of democratic politics and cultivate the modern rationality of Taiwan people, so that Taiwan can move from the stage of national integration to the consolidation of democracy. Wang Fengshou said that only by removing all kinds of messy ideological and political symbols can working people gain due dignity and benefits and social equality and justice. Only by realizing national unity and common progress can the national tragedy since “February 28 Incident” be completely solved.
Through a brief 2-hour online exchange, more than 120 people from both sides of the strait gathered to discuss the topic of “The 76th year of the ‘February 28 Incident’！When is this political poker game over?!”, to promote cross-strait exchanges with practical actions, and make contributions to maintaining cross-strait peace and development.
As the cross-strait exchange activity synchronized with “Cross-Strait Talk” and “Smart Youth Integration in the Four Places”, the Cross-Strait Youth Perspective Forum, which is launched by China Cross-Strait Academy (Hong Kong), is mainly characterized by gathering authoritative scholars and media worker from Cross-Strait and four places. They will listen to the voice of the Strait, pay attention to the hot spots on both sides of Taiwan Strait, take a global vision, and make a new voice based on both sides of the strait and facing the world.