Friday, 24 August 2012

Formosa Betrayed

In the second week of July2012 I experienced a moving film Formosa Betrayed described as a political thriller and which exposes the treatment of the indigenous people of the of the Islands of Taiwan in the South China Sea and which has remained a football between the Communist and anti Communist forces of the mainland.

The factual history of the Island is that following the victory of the Communists on mainland China in 1949 the then government of China moved to Formosa claiming sovereignty over all China and Mongolia establishing in effect a military dictatorship on the country and suppressing the rights and interests of the indigenous people. As with many other people around the world the USA in particular was prepared to tolerate the abuses of human rights, the political imprisonment and the killings because the state was Anti Communist, and other Western nations followed suit. However since the democratisation of the country and the introduction of the freedom of the press, health care and public education as well as economic development which makes the country with a powerful economy and high per capita income, only 22 minor nations and the Vatican state formerly recognise the Government. Of the 22 there are several nations of significance in central and south America including Haiti, El Salvador, Panama, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

Portuguese sailors named the Island Formosa, Beautiful Island, in the sixteenth century. It is understood that the forefathers of the indigenous people did originate from China as farmers 2000 BC followed by the Dutch East India Company and the Spanish with the islands subsequently proving a battleground for the French in their war against China. The Japanese moved in in 1894 to 5, The Japanese rule developed the country attempting to assimilate the population in the 1930‘s with the consequence that that tens of thousands of locals served in Japanese Military during World War II and which helped to colour the view of the mainland Chinese subsequently. Japanese bases and industrial centres on Taiwan were the subject of heaving USA bombing.

After the war the mainland power put down resistance from the ingenious people with brutal ferocity with an estimated 18000 to 30000 civilians executed in the educated and management classes. hen the Communists gained ascendancy an estimated 2 million mainlanders, comprising the government and military with families increased the population by a quarter bringing with them gold and art treasures and foreign currency reserves. Martial law was imposed and lasted four decades. An estimated 140000 civilians were executed often tortured for being suspected communist sympathisers although in truth as in all such situations anyone who challenged or criticised officials put themselves and their families at risk. It was not until 2008 that the extent of the horror was admitted and regretted although no compensation, restitution or formal investigation into the crimes has been initiated.

It was not until the deaths of Chiang Kai-shek and his son that an indigenous born subject came to power and progressed democracy and liberalization. The leading coalition party in government agreed that Taiwan should have a separate identity from China but with 64% favouring the status quo with less than 20% seeking full independence and 5% wanting unification.

This then is the background to the 2009 USA film Formosa Betrayed when an FBI agent is sent to Taiwan after a Taiwanese Professor is murdered at University covered by Chicago. In 1981 Professor Chen Wen-Chen of Carnegie Mellon University. He returned to this beloved homeland with his family but was held in custody over his comments about the totalitarian nature of the regime and was found dead without explanation to the cause. In the film the FBI agent is sent to Taiwan and is with a cover story which attempted to link the Professor to criminal gangs responsible for his death.

The FBI agent is treated as an honoured guest but given the run around but with the help of local journalist and others begins to uncover the truth about the nature of the totalitarian state and USA complicity which also involves the Chinese Mafia as well as the Kuomintang. The film also uses the assassination of Journalist Henry Liu in California by Chinese gang members under the direction of the Kuomintang secret service. He had become a naturalised USA citizen.

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