While I was attracting the attention of party and government functionaries after my return from abroad, I was steadily broadening my contacts far beyond the campus. It may be that I was becoming less of an arrogant intellectual. Word seemed to spread that I was approachable, and that I welcomed anyone who wished to come around for our evening discussions. Our large house was often crowded with students from the university and from other schools in the region. Occasionally city councilors and local politicians came to join in the conversations. (1962)
No one believed in the “reconquest” of continental China. Taipei’s claim that it represented the mainland provinces was absurd. The Generalissimo’s pronouncements concerning Sinkiang, Outer Mongolia, and Tibet were ridiculous. So too were the attempts to keep alive some semblance of a claim upon Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands. We were not much concerned with all of these. Our interest lay in the unrealistic claims made on behalf of Formosa itself, that it represented China and the “Free World,” and that the island population gave undivided support to the recovery of China. There was no open talk of independence, but in discussing Nationalist China’s position in the United Nations, we felt that someday Chiang’s government would he voted out. The fundamental problem was reform and reorganization in order to create a government tailored to reality.
It was no longer possible for me to be a detached observer, and it was embarrassing to continue to give the public impression that I was one of Chiang’s men. Public prominence had brought in its train great personal difficulties. The ordinary petty academic jealousies generated by faculty politics within my department were compounded by Chinese dislike of administrative subordination to a younger man who was a Formosan. Campus politics were uninteresting and a waste of time. I began to have troubles with a new dean whose family assumed that since he was my superior within the academic hierarchy, my entire family was indebted to him and subordinate to them. When the woman who lived with the dean attempted to meddle directly in our private family affairs, I was compelled to make an issue of it, and this affected our relations upon the campus. At the end of the academic year, July 1962, I resigned the department chairmanship with great relief.
I was free to accept an invitation to undertake a special research project requested of me by the deputy foreign minister, Yang Hsi-kun. Under a one-year Contract I agreed to prepare a paper on Africa. Taipei was seeking to counter Peking’s expanding programs of aid to Africa. The project was funded by an Asia Foundation grant. This project was not so far removed from the situation in Formosa as it might first appear. Part of my report entitled “The Sentimental Basis for Pan-Africanism” was soon published in the Taipei literary magazine Wen-Hsin (Apollo), creating a local sensation. I had commented at length on the African struggle to attain identity, nationhood, and independence. I called attention to the diverse peoples who had been cut off from their own past by colonial rule, and were now seeking to control their own destinies. I had not intended to write a political tract, but when the editor’s prefacing note declared, “That article makes us think of Formosa,” the reading public saw it as an allusion to the local situation and Formosa’s history. It could not have been well received at party headquarters.
Soon after this I attended a cocktail party given by one of my Chinese colleagues, and there I met an American diplomat who laughingly remarked to me that I would he astonished by the thickness of my “Who’s Who” folder in the American embassy files. We had a lively general discussion of the China question and of local politics. Other social occasions led to a dinner at which I met a number of embassy staff members. Several later came to my home where a typically frank American “bull session” took place, ranging over many aspects of the current international political situation. There were other occasions to talk with Americans, and at a public concert I was presented to the ambassador, Admiral William J. Kirk, He knew something of my career and invited me to call upon him at his office for a long talk. Before this could he arranged, he was suddenly recalled to Washington.
I was now often asked to talk to church groups. Hitherto I had been too preoccupied with academic affairs and had not shown much interest in the local Christian community although members of my family were extremely active in it. My late father, my mother, and my sister were officers in the Presbyterian church, an uncle was a pastor, and a cousin would soon become president of the Taipei Theological Seminary. Given my academic background and connections, my appearance at church-sponsored meetings usually drew a considerable audience.
At one of these public meetings, early in 1962, I addressed an audience at the Tainan Theological College. This is the only school in Formosa where all instruction is carried on in the local Formosan dialect (Hollo). I therefore chose to speak in Formosan rather than in the official Mandarin Chinese, and I found myself discussing the problem of Formosan self-determination, speaking more bluntly than ever before in an open meeting.
About this time the deputy secretary general of the Nationalist party, Hsu Ching-chung, had been instructed to found a Japanese-language magazine. It was to be financed by the party and edited on Formosa for distribution in Japan, and it was to be called The Free China Monthly. My friend Hsu asked me to recommend someone for the editorial work at Taipei, someone who could speak and write well in both Chinese and Japanese. Knowing full well that it was a party enterprise, I recommended a young man who for two years had been coming to my house quite regularly to participate in discussions of Formosa’s future.
Hsieh Tsung-min had been brought to my attention by my late friend and colleague Liu. He was the son of a well-to-do family living in central Formosa. Although he had not been at the top of his class as an undergraduate in the law school, he had presented an outstanding graduate thesis in constitutional law under Liu’s guidance. From our law school he had gone on to the only graduate school in political science at that time, the Cheng-chi University. There he made a very favorable impression upon the Chinese faculty who in turn had recommended him for employment as an instructor at the Feng-shan Military Academy in south Formosa. But far from the capital and his stimulating friends, among very dull Nationalist Chinese military instructors, he soon became profoundly unhappy. His deep dissatisfaction was known, and he was about to be fired when I took the opportunity to recommend him to Hsu for this more congenial editorial employment at Taipei.
Among Hsieh’s friends who also came regularly to my home was a young man of Hakka descent, Wei Ting-chao, a farmer’s son of brave and solid personality. He was a competent student who had graduated from our law school. But he then refused to take a job commensurate with his academic training until after he had worked in a coal mine for several months “to gain experience of real life,” after which he became a research assistant at the prestigious Academia Sinica. As the months passed, these two young friends often took the lead in defining and clarifying Formosan problems under Nationalist occupation, often expressing regret that many more people could not share in our discussions. Is seemed to us so reasonable and so easy to make people see the absurdities and injustice of the situation.
We had become tired of talking only among friends who shared a common point of view, going over and over the same ground without moving toward a solution of the Formosa question. That solution could only be found in a reorganization and thorough reform of government and the admission of Formosans to effective participation at every level.
In essence we were reviewing the following principal issues, policies. actions, and institutions:
At last in the early months of 1964 we decided to draw up a summary of our ideas and a statement of our position and problems, something that could be distributed not only to Formosans but to the continental Chinese who were also chafing under party dictatorship and fearful of the future. Hsieh volunteered to draft a statement and Wei agreed to help.
One evening Hsieh appeared at my house with a bulging furoshiki (“wrapping-cloth”) out of which tumbled about 100 pages of manuscript, an exposition of the Rights of Man, beginning with the American Declaration of Independence and the French Revolution. We convinced him at once that we needed something brief, not a dissertation such as this. We needed a concise statement, written in manifesto form.
After intense discussion and many revisions, with Wei’s help we prepared a new draft, a text in good Chinese, that would fit into broadside format about the size of a newspaper page. The principal credit for this document must go to Hsieh. Here were Formosa’s problems set forth in unmistakable terms.
We proposed to call our manifesto Taiwan Tzu-chiu yun-Tung Hsuan-yen (“A Declaration of Formosan Self-salvation”). A brief preamble noted that the people of the island of Formosa wanted to he governed by neither the Nationalists nor the Communists, but by themselves, and that in self-interest and self-preservation the twelve million people must replace Chiang Kai-shek’s regime by a government freely elected and responsive to the public welfare. We then made eight points which can be summarized here:
After elaborating upon these several themes, we summarized our three principal objectives:
In the heart of our manifesto we spelled out our principles. and in doing so effectively defined the shortcomings of the Chiang administration. For example we emphasized the necessity of the principle of democracy and the popular election of the head of state who should not be an idol to be worshipped, nor invested with absolute power nor immune from criticism. He should be a public servant dedicated to public service and subject to control of popular representatives. There must be guaranteed freedoms of assembly, organization, and expression, and opposition parties must be guaranteed legal status. Graft and corruption in government must be eliminated insofar as possible and the treatment of soldiers, teachers, and public employees must be improved. The efficiency of government must be increased, and healthy civil service must be established. The independence of the judiciary must be guaranteed, and all laws that encroach upon basic human rights must he abolished. Illegal arrest, interrogation, and punishment must be prevented hereafter.
We said that the secret police system must be abolished, and the positions and functions of police officers regulated according to democratic principles, and that a law-abiding spirit among the people must be actively, cultivated. Every man and woman should have the right to unrestricted communication, freedom of movement, and travel at home and abroad. The burden of armaments must be reduced to fit needs of self-defense only, and the position and livelihood of retired soldiers must be guaranteed.
We were concerned first with problems of individual freedom and of orderly and just government. Given these we could properly address ourselves to the problems of a distorted economy, unjustly managed for the benefit of the party and army elite, their families, and their friends. By greatly reducing military expenditures, we could develop a budget for long-range planning. Our material resources and manpower were being grossly mismanaged. We proposed to increase national productivity, reduce unemployment, and raise the general standard of living with a view to reducing the gap between the very rich and the very poor. The Chiang regime had managed confiscated Japanese properties and foreign aid subsidies only to benefit itself and its friends, supplying low-wage labor to favored industries and depriving the farmers of a just share of their harvest through the enforced “fertilizer-crop exchange” program. The public was overburdened with heavy indirect taxes.
We concluded our manifesto by declaring that we wanted neither the program of the extreme Right, the Nationalist party program, nor that of the extreme Left, the Communist party program. We appealed for support for a Formosan self-determination movement that would break the hold of the Nationalist party dictatorship, and unite all the people on Formosa in a constructive democratic program. We asked that our manifesto be circulated, reproduced, and quoted at every opportunity.
HAVING AGREED on the final draft after so many months of discussion and indirect debate, we were exhilarated, flushed with a sense of success, but conscious that now we were on a dangerous path. Life seemed to have taken on a new meaning. The obstacles in our path were dwarfed by the magnitude of the effect we hoped this manifesto might have upon the lives of ten million Formosans and upon the refugees living among us. Every thoughtful man and woman on the island was aware of some of these problems. We sought now to bring the picture into sharp focus. We would define the issues for them or at least help the individual clarify her/his problems by defining them. If our manifesto generated debate in every community, it would prepare the way for popular support for any overt attempt to break up the party dictatorship and destroy the stranglehold of the secret police system.
Up to this point our achievement was in intellectual exercise. We had a well-polished text, written in excellent Chinese, but from here on we had to come to grips with the daily reality of a police state, of back-alley spies and secret agents, of the controlled press and radio, intimidation through economic pressures, and all the other devices used by a dictatorship to keep the masses in line. We proposed distribution of the declaration to Formosans and Chinese alike, to all local leaders, businessmen, doctors, teachers, councilors of all ranks and it all levels of the administration, all members of the Legislative Yuan, and military men. If we could suddenly blanket the island with our manifesto, Chiang’s party and secret police would be unable to locate all copies arid unable to suppress the ideas we had set forth. It would prove impossible to arrest everyone found to be in possession of our sheet, and those arrested could prove that they had received them without their foreknowledge or consent. The government would be thrown on the defensive as never before. So we thought.
We decided that we needed 10,000 copies to begin with. The next question was where and how could we reproduce this document.
Mimeographing was technically impractical. Moreover, the manifesto had to look substantial, not like a fly-by-night advertising throw-away. After weeks of discussion we decided that we must print it. Hsieh’s father had recently sent him about 1000 dollars for miscellaneous business investments, and we considered buying a press with this. But we were not skilled printers ourselves, and a press would be very difficult to conceal in a private home. We would have to have the work done in some obscure back-alley establishment.
Hsieh very carefully prepared a “working copy” which we could place in an unsuspecting typesetter’s hands. He removed words and phrases alluding to the Chiang regime substituting references to Mao Tse-tung and Peking which made it superficially appear to be an attack upon the Communists. While this was being done we compiled distribution lists by drawing upon membership rosters of the Teachers Association. the Doctors Association, and similar business and professional lists. Hsieh then asked his typist to prepare mailing labels, ostensibly for the party magazine of which he was now the editor.
Hsieh found a small family business that specialized in typesetting and arranged with the proprietor to set up the text of our “decoy version” of the manifesto. While this was being done he searched about other shops for individual type faces he would need to bring the finished text back to its correct form.
This took some weeks. When everything was ready, Hsieh, a bachelor, rented a room in an obscure hotel in the old and somewhat disreputable Manka section of the city. It was not unusual for men to take rooms such as this for romantic meetings, but no women came to this one. Hsieh’s only visitors were our friend Wei and me. Hsieh wrapped up the heavy boxes of set type and carried them there in a pedicab. Someone on the hotel staff may have noticed his bringing them into his hotel room, for the manager soon found an opportunity to burst in unannounced. The boxes were out of sight, under the bed, and since he saw nothing unusual in the three men talking together, he mumbled an excuse and withdrew. This should have alerted us to take greater precaution; we were on the edges of the Manka underworld here and were ourselves too innocent to realize that every alley had its spies and every hotel its paid informants. A secret police spy network was perhaps the only efficient organization that had come over to Formosa from the continent.
In that hotel room, we completed the substitutions necessary to restore the text to its original form. The next requirement was a supply of paper an order easily taken care of. Hsieh then found a very small. family-owned and unlicensed shop that was furtively printing pornography and hence cautious and vulnerable. The owner agreed to run off our sheets, if we supplied the paper.
Wei and Hsieh took the heavy blocks of type to the shop and saw them locked into place on the printing bed. Leaving Wei to stand guard, Hsieh then hurried across town to bring the paper supply. A very long time passed, the printer became impatient and restless and Wei became worried. At last he left the shop and went to the main street nearby, just in time to meet Hsieh and help him bring in the bulky paper from two pedicabs.
They were astonished, then, when the printer abruptly said that he had decided not to do the job after all. There was a brief angry exchange, but there was nothing to do but to return the paper temporarily to the paper-shop and to carry the set type back to Hsieh’s rooms.
No further moves were made for about ten days. Friends who scouted the neighborhood learned that the printer’s neighbors were saying that some Communists had attempted to print up an attack on the Generalissimo; nevertheless Hsieh continued his search for a press that might take the job. At last he found an old machine with a single owner-operator. This was located in the northeastern part of town, near a small Presbyterian church to which I was expected to go in the following week to discuss the subject of “human rights.” After the usual haggling, the old man agreed to do the job on the following Sunday, the date of the autumn full-moon festival.
On that day Wei helped Hsieh carry type and paper to the printing shop. He wore his military uniform and spoke only in Mandarin Chinese. The two represented themselves as members of a military school faculty who desired to run off copies of an examination paper which must not be allowed to fall into students’ hands. This was not an uncommon practice in Formosa and seemed to rouse no special interest or questions on the part of the old printer.
He was slow, working without an assistant, and the machine was old. It was a long, tedious job, continuing from about nine o’clock in the morning until the middle of the afternoon. Wei stood by watching carefully until noon when he was relieved for a time by Hsieh. A first few imperfect copies were destroyed, but in the end 10,000 acceptable copies were ready. Each sheet, properly handled, could become a stick of political dynamite. After quickly checking through a finished copy and finding it in good order, Hsieh crossed the city by cab to tell me that we were ready for the next move.
Hsieh and Wei paid off the printer, bundled the heavy sheets into two pedicabs, and went to a shabby hotel nearby in which a room had been engaged. Two big empty trunks were carried in, and we stuffed the printed sheets into them. Then leaving Hsieh to rest awhile, Wei and I transported the trunks by pedicab to the home of a student who lived nearby, in the heart of the city not far from the Generalissimo’s high-towered offices, This student-custodian was a girl who did not ask what was in the trunks, We stored them in a fourth-floor storeroom until we could prepare address labels, and mail them all over the island.
Our work done, Wei and I returned to Hsieh’s hotel room to rest, It was early evening. Hsieh napped on the bed while Wei and I sipped tea. I was thinking of leaving soon for an appointment at a Japanese restaurant.
Suddenly there was a pounding at the door. Before I could open it, eight plainclothes police agents burst in, brandishing revolvers and shouting, “Hands up!”
As Hsieh rose from the bed he was knocked to the floor and beaten. We were then made to stand by while the room was thoroughly searched. It seemed an interminable search, and while it was progressing, one of the agents pulled a crumpled copy of our manifesto from his pocket. It was not printed on our good paper. I assumed at once that it had been run off quickly at the first printing shop during that ill-timed moment when Wei had stepped into the street to look for Hsieh.
During the excitement of these first moments of our arrest, we had a last brief chance to speak to one another, agreeing that since everything seemed to be known, we would tell only the truth concerning our activities. We were ordered to be silent, and had no choice but to obey.
Paradoxically we had been trapped by our own underestimation of the police-state organization under which we lived and against which we were in protest. As campus intellectuals we had not truly realized to what extent Formosan life had been corrupted to serve the Chiangs’ purposes. Every petty informer knew he would be rewarded, all printers had been warned to report any unusual job orders, and every hotel-keeper had orders to call police attention to unusual events and behavior. Worst of all, we had assumed the printers to be too dull to take an interest in our secretive operation and not clever enough to see that they could earn something by reporting our activities.
I found myself thinking “How many years must I spend in jail?” Curiously, “seven years” came again and again to mind. I thought of my family — of my wife, my children, and my mother. I thought too of my friends in Formosa and abroad. I later learned that Wei expected torture and death, and that during the course of later interrogations he demanded to be shot at once. I do not know what Hsieh was thinking at that time. He had been roughly beaten, and I doubted if we would see each other again.
At last we were ordered to march out. As we passed down through the hotel lobby we saw the hotel clerk shrink back and a thin woman of twenty-five or thirty years of age hiding her face. I guessed at once that it was she who had reported our presence iii the hotel, and our coming and going with our unusual luggage.
The alleyway and street before the hotel were filled with a crowd eager to see who and what the police were after. They fell back a little to open the way to the police car and a jeep drawn up nearby. Into these we were hustled and quickly driven away. A short ride through the evening streets brought us to a police substation at Round Park, site of the notorious incident that had sparked the uprising of 1947. It was the evening of the Moon Festival, and the moon hung in the eastern sky, round and glowing. There was to be no happy celebration for our friends and our families this night, and for us the future was very dark.