I was received by an excited, joyful, and tearful family. My mother, wife, children, and my brother in Taipei were all there, together with my lawyer who tactfully took his leave after a few minutes. The house was filled with flowers. The family had been notified late that afternoon, with strict instruction not to advertise the fact that I would be released.
We talked throughout the night. My brave and able mother told me of how the deal was made, the drawing up of the humiliating statement of repentance and the conclusion of the agreement that led to my release.
All the morning papers announced that I was home. My lawyer released a statement saying that I had “repented” and received clemency. Every government and party propaganda organ announced with great pride that I had “confessed” to my misdeeds and had been pardoned. Implicit in much of this was the idea that Chiang’s critics, the intellectuals and the Formosan malcontents, had at last seen the virtues of the Leader. Clearly the regime thought it had won a great victory.
Because of its basic insecurity the regime felt the need to humiliate and punish the Generalissimo’s critics, and thus confessions and repentance became an important part of the policing technique. It did not seem to realize that confessions signed under any form of physical or psychological duress are not only worthless but damage the regime that extorts them. For example, Taipei would not be able to understand why, of late, the leading leftist intellectuals in Europe and America have condemned the Castro regime for extorting a blatantly false “confession” from the Cuban poet Herberto Bodilla Lorenzo. In this “confession” he was made to describe himself as “ignoble, unjust, cowardly, treacherous, and lying.”
A few days after my release from prison, the Canadian Broadcasting Company called from Montreal and tried to do a telephone interview as a part of its program, “This Hour Has Seven Days.” Since I was aware that all our conversations were being recorded by the security agents in Taipei, I did not feel free to talk.
What should I do with my life now? I soon discovered that I was under surveillance. My house was watched and I was followed wherever I went. I had received no reply to my letter to the university president asking to be kept on the staff. There was not even an acknowledgment that the letter had been received. My contract was not renewed and my relationship with the university had come to an end. Nevertheless we were still living in a university faculty house and no move was made so far to evict us.
Two or three days after my release my wife and I paid a courtesy call upon President Chien of Taita. At the door I began by saying at once, “Thank you for your concern,” but his reply was chilly and evasive. We quickly took our leave and that was the last I saw of him.
I was anxious to learn how my family had fared throughout the months I was in jail. A jeep had been stationed nearby for a time and police watched the house, noting who entered; but after two months it had been withdrawn. Investigators called on my wife now and again, but my family had not been harassed in any way. Fortunately my son and daughter experienced little trouble once the initial shocks had faded. They were lonely, however, for friends, who had normally come to the house, decided that it was wise to stay away.
For me and for my family those next few months provided a test that sorted out the true friends from the false. The jeep always stationed near our gateway cast a chilling shadow over our lives.
On the city streets some of our acquaintances ignored us or turned away to avoid an encounter. My Formosan university colleagues stayed away. Of the students, some who had come often to our home, who had flattered me and boasted of our acquaintance before my arrest, now began to deny that they had been associated with me off campus. Some even went so far as to ask the school to strike my name from their records as an advisor or teacher.
All this hurt. I felt isolated and lonely, but fortunately this frustration was offset to a degree by my admiration for those who dared come to visit, who risked possible danger to their own lives and careers. Some students quietly found occasions to meet my wife and ask for details and to express friendship and concern. Some boldly came with gifts of books and fruit. The true friends soon became apparent. I made no move to resume old associations, leaving others to take the initiative.
Soon after my release from prison, General Ning held an elaborate banquet for me, to which General Wang Shen and other high officers close to Chiang Ching-kuo in the military establishment were invited. Nothing serious was discussed during the evening. They simply congratulated me on my release and wished me the best in my “new life.”
Although I was now technically free to travel within the island without permission, it was at once evident that I would be under surveillance at all times. If I went out by taxi, a jeep followed; if we dined in a hotel or restaurant in town, agents took tables nearby and dined there, too. If I went by train to Kaohsiung to see my family, plainclothesmen were nearby.
For some weeks I remained quietly at home, reading all the periodicals and books I had missed during the prison months, and recording some of the thoughts I had mulled over during enforced idleness. For a time I clung to the illusion that I would be recalled to the university, where I really wished to be. One day, Staff Officer Wang appeared bringing with him a Mr. Kao, an ex-Communist who was now the deputy chief of the Sixth Section at party headquarters. They had come, they said, to discuss my future, and proposed that I accept a job as a research associate in an institute for study of Chinese Communist affairs. I would be reasonably well paid, and I would receive a good house as part of the salary.
I rejected the idea. Perhaps, they assumed that I had been willing to buy my way out of prison by a “confession of guilt” designed to appease the Generalissimo, and that I would seize this opportunity to gain security by working for the party. I made it very clear that I would not consider it. Nevertheless, they lingered on in my house for nearly two hours, advancing every argument to overcome my objections. At last, to end the irritating discussion, I observed with some heat that I would rather peddle my books in the street than work for them. They took their leave. The deputy chief then wrote an official report complaining that I had been most uncooperative and rude.
In the following months I became aware of the predicament in which the Presbyterian church of Formosa found itself. Before 1945 the number of Christians in Formosa, although comparatively small, formed an important minority, almost an elite leadership group, exercising an influence far exceeding their numbers in the total population. Through the churches, the schools, and the mission medical services, Formosan attention had been drawn to the Western world for a century. Late in the Japanese era the Presbyterians came under heavy pressure, for they continued to use the Formosan dialect in the mission schools and church services, and resisted attempts to impose emperor-worship and the Japanese state religion, Shinto, upon Christian converts. From 1945 until 1949 the Christian community was relatively undisturbed, but from 1950 to 1965 the situation was altered. On the one hand everything was being done by the government to revive extravagant traditional Chinese folk-customs, so long condemned by the missionaries and discouraged by the Japanese. This was done in an attempt to recover and strengthen popular ties with continental China. On the other hand many missionaries and diverse Christian sects were brought into Formosa under quasi-official encouragement. Karl Rankin, the first American ambassador to serve at Taipei, boasts in his memoirs that during his ambassadorship the number of missionaries and their family members rose from a mere thirty in 1950 to more than 700 in 1957
By 1965 a great change was taking place. Nationalist policy clearly suggested that local Christians, especially the long-established and well-organized Presbyterians, were now considered a liability. The government proposed to obliterate all sense of Formosan identity. It demanded that Mandarin Chinese be used in the schools, and it required the introduction of the cult of Sun Yat-sen worship with its elaborate associated demonstrations of respect for Sun’s successor, the Generalissimo.
For some time the Presbyterian church in Formosa had been a member of the World Council of Churches, with headquarters in Geneva. When certain members of the World Council began to advocate recognition of Peking, the Nationalist leaders were furious. When the government demanded that the Formosan church sever its connections with the world organization, the Presbyterians stubbornly refused. The moderator of the Formosan synod was summoned to the garrison command and told that he must work for withdrawal. Church officers and members were continually harassed. Several Japanese pastors visited Formosa and upon returning to Japan published a volume of essays in Japanese, giving impressions of the island and of the church organization and programs. At their invitation a moderator of the Formosan church synod prepared a brief introduction. Soon after the book was published in Japan, he was arrested and on being taken to Security Headquarters was shown a copy of the book. One of the visiting Japanese clergymen had written some unflattering remarks about the local situation in which the church found itself. The frightened pastor, under threat, signed a “confession of guilt.” He was then told that the government henceforth could prosecute and imprison him at any time on the basis of this signed document. He must now campaign to force the Presbyterian church in Formosa to withdraw from the World Council of Churches. My Cousin, the president of the Taipei Theological College, was called upon by agents of the Investigation Bureau and given similar orders. When five Formosan ministers accepted an invitation to visit Japan, their passports were picked up and canceled as they were about to board the plane at Taipei.
During this time the church leadership was deeply embarrassed by the presence of a visiting fundamentalist preacher from the United States, the Reverend Carl McIntire. This guest attended church meetings at which the World Council membership was being discussed and at each of these he loudly prayed for the “speedy recovery of China by Chiang Kai-shek” and urged the Generalissimo to begin the invasion.
Under such diverse pressures the Formosan church was forced to yield, and at last, with great reluctance, voted to withdraw from the World Council of Churches.
My sister, Peng Hsu-yuan, had been president of a church-sponsored college at Tamsui. She has never been a political activist, but during the months of my enforced idleness and of pressure upon the church in the World Council membership affair, her school was also subjected to government concern. One day two groups of garrison security agents appeared at the Tamsui campus. While one group waited outside, the other slipped in quietly to tack up posters that read “Down with President Chiang Kai-shek! Up with the College President!” Then the second security squad rushed in with a great tumult, to tear down “subversive posters” which were then used as evidence to discredit the school and my sister.
Surveillance continued but followed an erratic course, sometimes severe and close, and sometimes lax. I could only guess that this reflected in some degree the attitudes of the officers giving directions to the subordinate agents who were always near my gates.
One day in early 1966 a car drew up at the gate and a man came to the door to hand in a card identifying him as “Secretary of the Youth Corps.” He had come at Chiang Ching-kuo’s order he said. Although General Chiang was very busy, he happened to be free at three o’clock that afternoon, and wondered if I were free too. He would like to invite me to his office to “hear my advice.”
This surprising invitation was couched in the most polite terms. I instinctively felt some danger; I had learned that my earlier refusal to accept an invitation from Chiang Ching-kuo had generated prolonged discussion on the university campuses. Now was this stranger with the printed name-card actually presenting a genuine request? Or would I disappear if I once entered the car he offered to send for me? I felt that I should not refuse a second invitation, so I told him that I would not need a car, but would present myself at the Youth Corps offices at three o’clock.
I told my wife where I was going and at the appropriate time called a cab and crossed the city. I was received by Chiang’s secretary, Li Huang, a smooth talker, who asked me to be seated but made no move to take me on in to his employer. For an hour he carefully briefed me on all Youth Corps activities, making a great effort to demonstrate how liberal the corps and its officers were, and how eager to help students. I had little to say. Again I was amazed at the ease with which they thought that, after a taste of prison, I might now be brought around to sympathize with their party program and perhaps even be persuaded to a degree of collaboration. At last he rose and said, “I will see if the general is ready.”
He went into an adjoining room, returned, and said, “Yes, he is awaiting you.”
By this time I had glimpsed young Chiang sitting at his desk and in the seconds before I actually entered his office I saw him rising, carefully adjusting his collar and coat. He stepped forward from behind his desk, smiling cordially and bidding me be seated. I had never met him, and a hint of surprise may have crossed my face when his first words were, “I haven’t seen you in a long time.” “How are you?” he said. “How is your health? And how is your mother?” He had never met her, but by now the story of her effort to have me released and her vigorous protests were certainly well known in all government offices involved in my case. He even asked about my sister, the president of the Tamsui Institute of Business Administration, who was in trouble just then.
After a moment or two of small talk he remarked gravely, “Many persons have been deeply concerned about you.” I was tempted to remark that he was in an excellent position to know, when he said, “Have you any difficulty? Can we help you?” I promptly said, “Yes. I haven’t started to work again. Frankly, I want to return to Taiwan University to teach.”
There was a flicker of embarrassment before he turned to Li Huang to ask, “Does President Chien know of this?” It was Li’s turn to be embarrassed; he gave a noncommittal answer, saying, “We’ll discuss this with him.”
I came away from this rather easy and informal twenty-minute conversation with quite mixed reactions. Chiang Ching-kuo seemed much less gross in appearance than the impression conveyed in his photographs. There was a warmth in his questions that had been altogether missing in his father’s clipped, conventional remarks. The pattern was the same: “What can we do for you?” but he conveyed more sincerity. It was hard to reconcile the public image with the private one, or to believe his show of humane concern for students when I knew so well what was going on in scores of prisons throughout the island, all of them under the jurisdiction of this man.
I knew that there were continuing discussions of my future, for an old and influential party man named Tao Hsi-shen talked with my lawyer from time to time. I had been warned that Tao was an indirect and crafty man, a manipulator employed as go-between in many of the factional disputes that Chiang Kai-shek exploited with such a masterly hand. On one occasion Tao came to see me. After an hour’s rambling talk he came around to the point. In the United States and England Mr. George Kerr had published a book entitled Formosa Betrayed, a detailed eyewitness account of the manner in which our island had been handed over to Chiang Kai-shek’s control pending a treaty transfer of sovereignty and then exploited ruinously by the Generalissimo’s government and his family. This American consular officer described the Formosan demands for reform in 1946 and 1947, the incident of February 28, 1947, and the bloody reprisals that followed when the Generalissimo sent in 50,000 Chinese troops. The book was banned in Formosa, but copies were circulating privately, and were to be found in the American servicemen’s libraries of the USO, the air force, and the army. He complained, “That book attacks our government. Someone must write a refutation. The truth must be published.” I had read it and thought it a remarkably accurate record of what happened in Formosa during the period 1945 to 1947, but I pretended now not to know what Tao was talking about. He dropped the subject, and I learned later that the best the government could do was to compel Thomas Liao to write a letter protesting Robert Turnbull’s favorable review of the book that had appeared in The New York Times.
A little later, Tao proposed through my lawyer that I join the Institute of International Affairs. This had once been a division of the Defense Ministry, but had been technically detached and made, in name, an independent corporation. The board chairman and principal officers were high party officials, and it was almost exclusively subsidized by the government. This was Chiang Ching-kuo’s “think tank” devoted to the study of communist affairs and to analyses of the international situations. Now they wanted to make me a member.
The director of the institute, Professor Wu Chung-tsai, came to visit me one morning. He was exquisitely polite, and after some desultory conversation, he handed me the formal appointment to the institute. A matter of face was involved; I could not toss it back to him then and there, and so I merely said very earnestly that he must understand I know nothing about Communist affairs. Both of us knew that my acceptance would be a public relations triumph for the party. When he had sipped the last cup of tea and bid me good-bye, he left the appointment paper lying on a table.
I allowed some weeks to go by and then called on him one evening at his home, returning the document together with a letter formally declining the appointment. The matter ended there.
About this time I discovered that my arrest had made me taboo at the American embassy. Formosans have always been baffled by Washington’s relations with Taipei and by the extraordinary concern shown for the sensibilities of the Generalissimo while appearing to ignore the demands and aspirations of the Formosans. No American official living in Formosa can be unaware of the suppression of civil liberties. Before my arrest I knew several embassy officers and often had occasion to see them. Ambassador Kirk had asked me to come in to talk with him. Now, after my release, I discovered that I was altogether cut off. In 1966 a number of prominent Formosans and Chinese, including members of the Legislative Yuan, invited the current ambassador to dine with them to discuss the general situation. The ambassador accepted and the date was fixed. Then the embassy sent a secretary to request a list of the persons to be present. There were about ten names in all, mine among them. On the next day the secretary appeared again to say, awkwardly, that the ambassador would be embarrassed if I were present. I therefore had to withdraw so the party could be held as planned.
The problem of employment was becoming critical. I was thoroughly unhappy with my prolonged and enforced idleness. I finally had to accept the fact that I would not be able to go back to the university. My mother laughed at me, saying, “How can you expect them to allow you to corrupt youths there again?” When the suggestion arose that it might be arranged for me to do research at the Academia Sinica, I agreed to accept it. What then took place is obscure. The ad hoc committee on my case was involved and also some security organs. They appear to have written formally to the Generalissimo asking if it were all right for me to work at the Academia Sinica. Apparently his answer was no, for nothing came of it.
During the same period, the Canadian Association of International Law, through its president, commissioned me to write a legal paper. I knew all my former colleagues and associates in Canada were apprehensive about my professional and personal life. By this kind gesture they wanted to boost my morale and gave me some financial support. I was deeply moved by the concern and thoughtfulness extended to me by those friends in Canada, whose memory had remained so dear to me.
I was kept under light surveillance during late 1965, but in 1966 a drastic change took place. My case was transferred from the garrison command in the Ministry of Defense to the Investigation Bureau (I. B.) of the Ministry of Justice. The I.B. organization may be compared with the Gestapo in Nazi Germany. It is quasi-independent and very powerful. Every member of government knows that his I.B. dossier is on file if the president should want it, and every private citizen who draws attention upon himself may be sure that the I.B. takes careful note. The lines of authority come directly from the Generalissimo, and the allegiance of every agent must be to him without question. Through the I.B., Chiang keeps check on every branch of his civil government. It is the most hated and feared agency in the dictatorship.
The rivalry between the garrison command investigative agencies and the I.B. is old and keen. Chiang exploits this skillfully. As I have noted, there were men in high government positions who thought I should be destroyed, that I should have been summarily shot soon after my arrest. Other influential persons argued that this might provoke deep resentment among Formosans and that I should be reeducated, won over, and used to strengthen the regime within the island. My rude rejection of every offer from the party proved that the lenient policy had failed. I had said that I’d rather be a peddler in the streets than serve in the party. Now the reactionaries in the apparatus could argue that the garrison command had failed in handling my case.
The directors of all security organizations, about ten in number, met regularly to coordinate their work. The meetings were chaired by the Generalissimo and final decisions were made by him. I assume that the decision to transfer my case from one agency to the other was made at one of these meetings.
A senior official in the Investigation Bureau, Wang Kan, a section chief, invited me for dinner through my friend the historian Li Ao, and at dinner he opened the conversation with the remark, “We are sorry the garrison command handled your ease so badly and were unable to find you a place. When Dr. Hu Shih was alive, I was assigned to protect him (i.e., to watch his every movement), and as you know, these military men are awkward persons. From now on we are going to look after you.”
My contact with the garrison command completely ceased thereafter. General Ning, Staff Officers Wang and Wei, and all the others had lost face. As the months passed I observed a marked contrast between the personnel and general character of the two rival organizations. Men like Ning reflected something of the old Chinese tradition of military men employed by and subordinate to, the scholar-bureaucrat in the imperial system. They were straightforward, doing their duty sincerely, holding the literary man and the literary tradition in great respect. They might consider the cultivated literary man somewhat eccentric, complicated, and difficult to understand, but he represented China’s literary tradition and the great Chinese past. In contrast, I came to feel that the I.B. was staffed by the worst elements in the government. The agency that did Chiang’s dirty work attracted the most unsavory types, crafty, extremely devious, overly clever, and never to be trusted.
Wang Kan of the I.B. office came to see me very often, for he was now working with Tao Hsi-shen on the problem of placing me. The director of the I.B., a legendary person named Shen Chih-yeh, invited me to dinner. He was perhaps the most feared man in Formosa, and the one most trusted by Chiang Ching-kuo. He is reputed to have been trained to infiltrate Communist organizations, and to have spent more than ten years in the Communist apparatus, enjoying Mao’s confidence and rising to high levels before returning to the Generalissimo.
The I.B. had converted a Japanese-style house into a clubhouse. A car was sent for me, and as we drew near, I noticed a plainclothes agent idling at the corner and others attempting to conceal themselves behind telephone poles along the street. I was greeted with elaborate courtesy by Shen, a short, thin, nervous, but not particularly impressive man. My friend Li Ao was also there as a guest, and with obvious flattery Director Shen repeated that he was honored by our presence. After polite conversation and tea we were ushered into the dining room for an elaborate dinner. I noticed at once that the conventional ceiling had been replaced by panels of perforated bagasse-composition board that had become so familiar to me in my several prison cells. I looked at Li Ao, looked up at the ceiling, and laughed to myself, when Director Shen began urging us to speak frankly. “Please talk freely … any criticism of the government. It must be improved …,” and so on. Our hosts made an obvious attempt to convince us that the I.B. was not political but concerned principally in detecting and eliminating corruption, no matter how highly placed the investigated person might be. When the dinner ended, we were returned to our homes. Not much of substance had been said by either host or guests. On leaving the club, I again noticed a plainclothes agent hiding behind the telephone pole near the gate.
People began to be more relaxed in meeting us, as the months passed, and many came to talk with me about the current situation. The Chinese who filled every significant office and controlled the government were becoming fewer year by year. Their sons and daughters were going abroad, principally to the United States, and it was well known that their parents were carefully investing funds overseas in the family’s interest. Time seemed to be on the Formosan side.
Political activists came to my home quite openly. These were principally university graduates, city councilors, and school teachers, who wanted to run for elective offices and to work toward reform within the system. The government was criticized, of course, and the more vicious officeholders and practices were often cursed, but these men did not talk of violent revolution. They wanted to alter the government step by step, through legal means, and sought the most effective way to run as nonparty candidates. They discussed how to form a solid opposition front when campaigning for office.
A nephew of Su Tung-chi, Mr. Wu, was one of the most admired and highly respected members of this group. One day he brought with him Chen Kuang-yin, introducing him as one of his best friends. Chen came from a small place in central Formosa and was unknown to any of the Taipei men. We noticed that he was very quiet, and assumed that this was because he was only a high school graduate, of limited background. One day he came alone to tell me that he was going to Japan to see some of the political activists there. I wished him a good journey.
He returned about one month later, and said that he had met some exiled Formosans in Tokyo, including Su Ben, the author of the book, Four Hundred Years of Taiwanese History. He brought greetings from the men in Tokyo, he said, and delivered to me copies of various Independence Movement publications. He laughed when I said it was remarkable that he had managed to smuggle them in. He then pulled out of his pocket and handed to me a device which I knew actually to be a toy then sold in many Japanese department stores for only 450 yen (about $1.60). It was a tiny battery-operated radio which enabled one to broadcast to one’s wife in another room, or to the neighbors across the fence. He then handed me 200,000 Japanese yen, saying that my friends in Tokyo wanted me to accept it as a gift. I handed it back to him, saying that I had no need of it. When he left that day, he took the money with him but left the publications and the toy.
A few days later he returned, saying that he was going to Japan, this time to investigate the manufacture of certain types of vinyl bags which he desired to produce in Formosa. He asked if I would like to write a letter of introduction to Su Ben. I observed that I had never met Mr. Su and he had, and therefore he needed no introduction from me, but he replied that a letter would nevertheless be helpful, since he had met Su only in a superficial way. Since Su had many contacts in Japanese business circles, a letter from me would give Su a better reason for introducing him to men who might be helpful in the business he proposed to undertake. Su and I were well known to one another by name. With some reluctance, I wrote a note in Japanese in which I said briefly something to the effect that “The bearer is a serious young Formosan. Please help him in any way you can.” In signing I used the name Makiyama and asked the bearer to explain to Su Ben that it was from me.
One morning in early March 1967, Chen rushed into my house, apparently in great fright. He said that our friend Wu had been arrested. “On the evening of February 27,” he said, “I spent the whole night in Wu’s home helping him mimeograph a leaflet to be distributed next day (the anniversary of the 1947 uprising). On the next morning we filled our pockets with these and took the train southward. I got off at a station near Taichung and Wu went on. It is the last I have heard of him.”
In the next few days all of us were intensely worried. I was aware that my every movement was being watched, and that the house was under renewed close surveillance. Members of our group came to me to ask, “What shall we do?” One by one they were being picked up. Some were being followed wherever they went, and all were being watched. Chen came again and again, saying that he must do something for Wu’s family. Wu had left some debts, so he went about collecting money from various friends who were eager to help Wu’s wife. One day he came to say that one of our friends wondered if they should not run to the American embassy to seek asylum. I said, “That is of no use. They’ll push you out, for they are not interested in our problems. Tell them all not to be frightened, and not to show fright by acting unnaturally, for that might incriminate them.” When he came yet again that evening, I feared for his safety, and suggested that I should go out for a short walk. The agents watching the house would follow me, and he could slip out the back door and leave unnoticed, which he did.
About two weeks later Wu’s family received a postal card from him, postmarked Hsinchu, saying, “Because of urgent business, I must go away for a while. Don’t be worried.” We had to assume that, under arrest, he had been compelled to write this, a deception, in order to lull his friends into a sense of security so they would not attempt to hide or to leave the island.
To our surprise nothing further happened until midsummer. Surveillance continued. Wherever I went, a jeep followed at a distance. Sometimes I was followed on foot, and if I turned back suddenly, the agents dodged and tried to hide. Sometimes agents posing as students, carrying books and notebooks, followed me on and off the buses, but if I stared at them hard, they turned aside or pretended to leave. Occasionally I was tempted to turn suddenly with my camera as if to take their pictures. They always dodged or hastened away.
One day I saw an American car draw up before my gate. As the watchful agents pushed forward, a huge man, carrying a bundle of papers, stepped out. He ignored the guards and came on to my door. It was Professor Mark Mancall of Stanford, an old acquaintance who had come to Formosa on earlier visits and now came to see me. We made a luncheon date for the following day. When I went into the city to the Ambassador Hotel on the following morning, the agents followed me. In the hotel dining room they stood at a distance, and we thought it possible that they carried recording devices to pick up our conversation. Professor Mancall left Formosa that afternoon, and soon thereafter he was notified that his visa had been canceled.
In midsummer 1967, the number of political arrests increased. Some of the victims tried to hide but were usually found and picked up. A rumor spread that an armed uprising was planned, and that there was written proof that I was involved. It was said that a document had been found, signed by me, concerning this alleged plot. I was baffled. It was absurd; what had I ever written that could possibly be interpreted in such a way?
By the end of the year most of my political friends had been arrested, and my own relatives were beginning to feel the pressure. My brother in Taipei, for example, was denied a business loan because of our relationship although he had always been entirely apolitical. Soon after Chiang Ching-kuo came back from a visit to Japan, the I.B. section chief, Wang Kan, called on me to say that Director Shen would like to invite me to dinner again, and in passing, dropped a hint that Chiang must have brought back some information concerning the Independence Movement activities at Tokyo. A week later he came again with a firm invitation, fixing a date and the time at five o’clock in the afternoon.
On the appointed day Wang Kan came to pick me up. Two rather sinister-looking I.B. officials greeted us at the I.B. club-house, apologized that Director Shen had an urgent meeting and sent his regrets that he could not welcome me, but added that he might be able to join us later in the evening. From the coarseness of their speech and manners, I assumed that neither of them had had much education. We were ushered into an anteroom in which stood a brightly decorated Christmas tree. I made some light remarks about it. After a few minutes of idle conversation one of these men suddenly became very serious and businesslike.
“Now, we have some questions to ask. Have you ever written a letter to the Independence people abroad?”
“Are you sure you have never done so?”
“I am sure.
“All right.” Rising, he went into another room, quickly returned with a brown manila envelope, and took out a piece of paper. It was my note, written in Japanese, addressed to Su Ben and given to Chen. “Is this not your writing?”
“Yes, it is, but it was a note of introduction, not a letter.”
“Do you know Su Ben?”
“I have never met him.” I explained what had taken place, but my interrogator paid little attention.
“Did you not know that this man is a Communist who lived in Yenan? That he was a close friend of Liu Shao-chi? And that he is on the most wanted list of this government?”
“I knew nothing of these things.”
“But haven’t you received 200,000 yen from Chen together with a broadcasting device and some forbidden publications?” He named the precise date and hour at which Chen had called on me.
“Certainly, Chen brought these things to me, but I refused to accept the money, I destroyed the publications, and the device is a toy sold cheaply everywhere in Japan.”
“You know that money was supposed to be for your political activity.”
“I returned the money, which Chen said was a gift sent to me. The toy is something sold for 450 yen in every big store in Japan. I receive all sorts of unsolicited publications, and those I destroyed.”
My interrogator made it plain that he did not accept my explanation. “You are in touch with the Japanese group. You know that we have arrested many of your friends in this past year. All of them have confessed that they have been plotting sabotage, bombings, and assassinations. And they have all confessed that you are the ringleader. Some of them now denounce you, saying that you led them into this trouble, and that it is unfair that they should be punished if you are not to be punished. They say they have only done what you told them to do. We know that you are the idol of youth on this island, but you are only corrupting youth. You are a demagogue. You are a source of evil!”
Throughout this tirade, growing shriller with each passage, Wang Kan remained quite silent, leaving us every now and then to go to a telephone somewhere nearby. He seemed to be reporting on the progress of this interrogation and the denunciations. The older of the two hosts was relatively moderate in his comments, leaving it to the one who seemed to be his subordinate to make these angry accusations and disparaging remarks.
The exchange, or more accurately this diatribe on their part, went on for at least two hours. At the beginning I tried to explain that these young men, now under arrest, had come to me to talk of legitimate political activity, that they wanted to run for elective office and to oppose the one-party system. I repeated again and again that I had never heard any talk of plots, bombings, sabotage, or assassinations. I lost my temper, and shouted, “You can make anyone confess anything you want them to. I know! I have seen it done!”
They had the last words, of course, and they were revealing. “We are not afraid of any foreigners,” one shouted, “and do not forget that we can kill you. We can destroy you at any time, as you must know!”
During all of this Wang Kan went in and out; I assumed that he was asking for instructions. The scene seems to have gotten out of hand, and these rough agents were apparently carrying the interrogation and threats much farther than had been anticipated. At last Wang broke in to suggest that we go into the next room for dinner.
We took our seats and wine was served. The atmosphere was, to say the least, chilly. I thought probably I was to be arrested on the spot. When the dinner came to an end, we returned to sit by the sparkling Christmas tree and to have a cup of tea marking the end of the evening. It was almost midnight when they decided to break it up.
Wang Kan rode with me in a strained silence for most of the way. As we neared my house I saw my wife hurrying along the street. She had become extremely worried, and had set out on foot to the I.B. clubhouse. I called to her from the car, we picked her up, and were soon at home. Despite the hour and the circumstance, Wang came in. He was embarrassed and obviously upset. He would be held to account if those rough characters had revealed too much of the agency’s real attitude toward me. I was angry and reckless. It was possible that some of our group, under fearful pressure, may have repudiated me and even made up tales of plots and plans for violent action, but I also knew that others would be as steadfast and honest as Hsieh and Wei had been. I began to believe Chen had really been sent to trap me, to give the I.B. an excuse finally to eliminate me from the scene.
I turned on Wang rather harshly, saying, “You were present all the time. Are these reasonable men? They are like animals, yet they hold important places in your organization. I am prepared to be arrested again. Anything but this kind of treatment!”
He brushed this aside, embarrassed, and then after a few conventional remarks, he left.
I said to my wife, “We must be prepared, for I shall be arrested again,” and in the light of what I had to tell her of the evening, she agreed. The next day I called on my lawyer, told him the story, and said that I was prepared to be picked up any day. I then wrote two long notes, one in Chinese and one in English, explaining what had happened. Giving them to my close friends, I asked them to make them public if I should be arrested.
As I have said, my lawyer was a member of the Legislative Yuan, and a few days later he encountered the I.B. Director Shen in the legislative offices. When an opportunity came to speak privately, the lawyer told Shen what I had told him of my experience and that I was extremely angry. Then, he remarked to Shen that even if the charges were true, it was no way to treat me, for the results would be precisely the opposite of the Investigation Bureau’s and the government’s desire.
On Christmas Day (Ed. 1967?), a few days later, Wang Kan appeared at my door, bringing two huge packages of gifts, apples, coffee, and other rather expensive fruits and candies prepared appropriately for Christmas.
“These,” he said, “are gifts from Director Shen, with apologies for the recent misunderstanding on the part of his subordinates. He had not intended that they should treat you in that way. He sends his apologies and regards.” An acquaintance, seeing the gifts later in the day, laughingly said, “Do you suppose we dare eat these things?”
On the one hand, Director Shen had made an apologetic gesture, but on the other surveillance was increased. My guards made no effort to remain inconspicuous or to dodge behind trees or telephone posts, or into doorways. On the contrary, whenever I walked out, they surrounded me on all sides, crowding close. They were no longer following me, but were now escorting me whether in the street, on buses, or in the train. Once when I had taken a taxi from the station to my brother’s home in Kaohsiung and had dismissed the cab, the driver returned to the house ten minutes later and asked to see me. He did not know me by sight or name, but had come back to warn me that I had been followed. He said he thought I must have a personal enemy, for he had been stopped as he left the house and had been asked questions he could not answer. He had not realized that he was talking with I.B. agents, and paled when I told him.
One day I tried to take pictures of one of the men, but instead of running away, he rushed forward, seized my camera, and threatened to hit me. He refused to return the camera, so my wife and I went to the police, reporting a robbery. That evening it was returned to us by an embarrassed policeman who explained that a “five-year-old child had found it in the street.” The film had been removed.
One day a rather bold and brave American friend came to see me. The appearance of any foreigner nearby excited the guards. When he left, the guards began to follow him. He broke into a run and quickly outdistanced the agent who tried to catch him. On one occasion the Academia Sinica sponsored a Social Science Conference. About a dozen American scholars were invited to participate. As the day for the conference approached, my custodians became extremely uneasy. They feared that I might attempt to meet the Americans, or that some visiting scholars might attempt to look me up. Even the ordinary police were instructed to watch me closely, and Wang Kan of the I.B. made it a point to visit me daily to make sure that I was at home during the conference meetings. He told me one day that the American embassy proposed to entertain the visitors, and that the I.B. knew that I would be invited. He advised me firmly not to accept, but no invitation was forthcoming.
Friends who were teaching at the University of Michigan brought my name to the attention of the university’s Center for Chinese Studies at Ann Arbor. Soon a Michigan professor visiting Formosa found occasion to discuss with me the possibility of my going to Michigan. In 1968 I received an invitation, issued jointly by the Center for Chinese Studies and the University of Michigan Law School. At about the same time I also received an invitation to return to McGill University Law School. These invitations were heartening to a man so long isolated from academic life.
Difficulties rose immediately when the government learned of these invitations. Through my lawyer, through Tao Hsi-shen, and through representatives of the party and Investigation Bureau I was pressed to decline them. In effect each agency politely but firmly urged me not to apply for a passport. There was no need to apply, they said, since I would not be permitted to leave Formosa. A request to do so would only embarrass the authorities.
There was a further difficulty. Every applicant for an exit permit must supply guarantors for one’s “correct thoughts” and “good behavior” while abroad. Those guarantors may not be close relatives such as one’s wife, brother, father, or cousin. They must agree in writing to be answerable for one’s behavior and thought while abroad, and must “accept punishment” if one does not live up to the government’s expectations. The terms are vague, but this pledge is exacted of every person applying for passport and exit permit. Under the circumstances I could ask no one for such guaranty and was obliged to reply to Michigan and McGill with expressions of thanks and regret, and a brief explanation that I could not even apply for permission to leave the island.
Upon issuing the invitation, Michigan had sent along a form to be filled out. Among other items of information it asked for a statement of the research subject I might propose to take up. I had suggested that I would like to make a comparative study of laws concerning political crimes. Obviously my letter enclosing this form had been intercepted and scrutinized, for soon thereafter, I am told, the Chinese embassy in Washington asked the University of Michigan what the invitation was all about.
In the face of this, I was doubly appreciative when the university renewed the invitation in 1969. By this time I was under closer surveillance, and I was again warned not to apply for a passport. Under the circumstances, however, I decided that I would apply in any case. There was little prospect of a change of government attitudes, but it seemed important to me to establish a record of the government’s refusals. In smuggled letters I told friends overseas what I proposed to do, saying that this had to be my last attempt to leave Formosa legally. Meanwhile these friends abroad were attempting to bring some pressure to bear upon Taipei. Ian McPherson in Canada arranged for the Canadian Association for International Law to cable Chiang Ching-kuo urging him to allow me to go abroad to pursue my profession. The Swedish section of Amnesty International likewise cabled, and other foreign friends used every means at their command to press the Nationalist authorities.
At last I found one brave man who was willing to become my guarantor and to sign and seal the written forms required of him on my behalf. Taking in hand my application for a passport and exit permit, together with the other necessary supporting documentation, I went to the proper government office. A clerk accepted the papers in routine fashion and said that I would have an answer in about two weeks’ time, and although I left the office with no hope of success, I had a curious feeling of elation. At last I was putting the government on the defensive in this matter.
When after a fortnight I returned to that office, the clerk smiled knowingly and politely told me that my application was now being considered by a higher authority. A month later I received a formal letter saying simply that my request for an exit permit had not been granted. Before my application was formally rejected, the matter was discussed at a joint meeting of security organizations presided over by Chiang Kai-shek. When the negative decision was made on my request, Chiang reportedly remarked that attention should be paid to my daily life. My close friends were approached by security agents, and party officials began making inquiries about personal and financial aspects of my life. The instruction apparently went, through ubiquitous party organs, even to the primary school my daughter was attending. One day her teacher called her and asked how her father had been doing, and what his financial situation was. My friends and my ten-year-old daughter were perplexed by this sudden show of concern about my private life.
The surveillance continued. I protested and sometimes was very rude to Wang Kan on the telephone. I protested to my lawyer and I protested to Tao Hsi-shen. Now even visitors who came to the house were being questioned. This harassment even continued through the days of the Lunar New Year of 1969, when there is usually some relaxation. Under instruction, Wang continued to come to see me, though I was aware that he disliked doing so. On the New Year I said to him, “Even on Quemoy and Matsu Islands the Nationalist forces have ceased firing for five days at this time of the year, and the Communists have done likewise. Obviously your treatment of me shows that the Nationalist government and party consider the Formosans a greater threat than the Communists.”
I still had some friends who had private contact with secret police sources. They warned me that I was now really insecure, and that anything might happen, arrest or an “accident” contrived by those who wished to be rid of me. On the other hand, it was recognized that such an “accident” or my arrest might deepen public animosity. I was told that the security agencies had determined that in the event of a public disturbance of any kind, three men would be destroyed at once. They were Henry Kao, the present mayor of Taipei, Kuo Yu-shin, an outspoken non-K.M.T. member of the Provincial Assembly elected by a solid constituency in I-lan, and me. The three of us were referred to in security documents by a coded sign, three concentric circles.
Surveillance agents were working three shifts around the clock. My wife was being followed more often and much more closely. In our neighborhood, as elsewhere throughout the city, there were dirty little vendor’s shacks at the street corners. They had been put up illegally by ex-servicemen, but the government did not disturb them. One near our gate virtually became headquarters for the agents who were assigned to keep watch on me. The vendor’s wife was also a prostitute, we learned. She had developed something like a clubhouse for these bored men. They borrowed chairs from her, and as they sat smoking and reading newspapers, she sometimes brought soup, tea, and towels for them.
After a few weeks had passed, I began to notice that the I.B. agents often were not there in the evenings for long periods of time. Occasionally I managed to slip out and away from home without being followed.
From time to time I was overcome by a feeling of desperation. It was not human to live like this, unemployed, and aware that each week the circle of friends with whom I could meet became more limited. I felt suffocated in such isolation, with the threat of arrest hanging over me from day to day and hour to hour.
Wang Kan’s obligatory visits became an irritation. The liberals in the party still hoped to make a deal, still hoped to persuade me to come over to them and identify myself with the party in the public eye. They continued to talk of finding me a position. Wang urged me to make a deal, pointing out again and again that I could have regular hours and duties on almost any terms. This would settle the problem, he said, and would mean an end to the surveillance that was causing me so much distress.
I decided, instead, that I had to escape.