Sunday, September 23, 2007

NYTImes Archived Taiwan Stuff

A friend of mine just sent me this email:

Had a bit of downtime yesterday so I dove into the Times newly liberated archives looking for pre-WWI stories on Formosa. Did I hit paydirt:

A 1904 article on how the Japanese have "transformed the savage island" of Formosa. Lots of good data on opium smoking rates and even a mention of the importance the Japanese put on water management.

An 1867 article featuring first-person accounts of the US Marines' ill-fated punitive expedition in Kenting. A must-read for anyone who's ever hiked up behind the main drag and into the bush. I was blown away by just how close the pirates, er, Paiwan were to successfully luring the party into that series of narrow canyons located to the east of Dajianshan. Alas, poor MacKenzie!

An 1896 article about the newly-acquired Japanese colony of Formosa and its possibilities. Reporting at the time was certainly devoid of the "Beijing regards Taiwan as a breakaway province" rhetoric, wasn't it?

Speaking of, check out some old-school Chinese propaganda on the 1895 uprising.

How about a hilariously condescending story about the aborigines, circa 1895? Here ya go.

An 1885 letter from Rev. George "This Gibraltar of Heathenism" McKay on the expulsion of foreign missionaries during the French campaign that year.

There's even a story in there somewhere where Li Hong-chang says to the effect "Formosa? Y'all can have it for all we care!"

There's lots of good stuff in there.....


Anonymous said...

Good and Yummy material.


Anonymous said...

I have just been through the NYT Sept 25, 1904 piece. Just awesome.

It vouches for Japan’s early and tremendous modernizing policies on Formosa. It confirms what the Japanese-educated Formosans have been claiming all along – that, as colonial policies used to go, it was a benign and enlightened one.

Yes, it yielded huge dividends for Japan, but it also infused the Formosans with pride in their achievements as subjects of their emperor. In time, this pride became the spirit behind Formosa’s long-delayed access to democracy and sovereignty.

The strawberry generation should elicit more talk from their granddads and grandmas. They should learn Japanese from them, too. Taiwanese need to delve into their Japanese past. But no worries there. They are already at it. With gusto.

Thanks to the NYT, your acquaintance and last but not least to you, Michael, for allowing us access to such a gem.

Abrazos compadre. Y arriba, arriba Formosa.¡Arriba!

Anonymous said...

Ever since I was a child, I heard my father spoke of the Japanese era with longing and pride. At one point, I have dismissed it as him being reminiscent of the good old days. Only in the last few years do I see more reports, books about that period. The 1904 NYT article, illustrated with numerical facts, really shows that the Japanese were serious about building up Taiwan as a modern society. Being borne some twenty odds years after the article was written, my father must have enjoyed the result of that modernization and rightfully proud.

SET TV's Talk Show (大話新聞) at 9:00pm lately devoted many episodes on Japanese's contribution to modernization of Taiwan before WWII. It's about time that people are looking more into that part of history and rediscover our past.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the read about the savages that drove the marines back to their ship. Obviously, they were intimately familiar with Sun Tzu's the Art of War...... haha......

Anonymous said...

To Michael C:

We are both sitting at the counter in a Japanese "yakitori" and well into our drinks. And it is assumed that I will foot the bill. So, you, Michael C are listening to me, Jerome, your senior.

I was in my mid-twenties when I spent two years in "Chinese" Taipei from September 1976 to June 1978. As you know, Taipei was under martial law. As a foreigner allowed into Taiwan by the KMT administered ROC, it was next to impossible to get an understanding of what Taiwan was about.

But, I was fortunate to already speak some Japanese. Too, I spent the summer of 1977 in Japan where I lost no time in searching bookstores for things Taiwanese. And, it was in Japan that I got a meaningful glimpse into Taiwan's fate after WWII.

Back in Taiwan that fall, I sought to deepen my understanding by asking my real (Japanese-educated) Taiwanese acquaintances about the period between fall of 1945 and April 1952. Only once did I get a satisfying answer.

In my Taiwanese friend's car, back from a Sunday outing, my friend touched upon 228. He was able to do so because we were safe in the privacy of his car running through open country. The moment his car caught up with the traffic jams on the outskirts of Taipei, he clammed up.

Not to bother you with details, let me write that the Chinese on Taiwan are not interested in Taiwan. Back then in 1977 Taipei, to the “Chinese refugees”, Taiwan was but a stepping stone to a safer haven: the US of A. Back then in 1977 Taipei, they talked of Taiwan as the citizens of a colonial power would of a backwater of their colonial empire. Nothing in this “under-developed” piece of real-estate could compare with the real thing back home.

So, my advice to you, Michael C in nowadays democratic Taiwan, would be to kneel down in front of the familial altar and light up a stick of incense to your father's spirit. Then address your father as follows:

" お父さん(Otosan), ** (your name in Japanese. I can tell your father chose for you a name that could be read in Japanese.)ですよ(desu yo)。分かったよ(wakatta yo)、お父さん。

Goose bumps will run through your back. That's a telling sign that your father has been at your side listening and protecting you.

Always remember your emotion at that instant and forever remain a proud son of Taiwan.