I was in touch with friends in America who made private inquiries at the State Department. We wanted to be fairly certain that I would be admitted to the country before I made formal application for a visa. The State Department made no commitment, but there was optimism. I was warned that there might be some delay, but that things would be worked out in due course.
Bearing a letter of introduction from Dr. Bernhard, one day I went to the American consulate in Stockholm, completed an application for a tourist visa, and presented it to a vice-consul. He was discouraging: I was a political refugee and unemployed, therefore I could not be considered a genuine tourist. Nevertheless, he agreed to forward the application to Washington. Then on April 24, 1970, two young Formosans attempted to assassinate General Chiang Ching-kuo in the lobby of a New York hotel. My friends became quite pessimistic, believing that now the State Department would be most reluctant to admit me to this country. The department was said to feel that the wounds created by my escape were still too fresh in Taipei and Peking; it was too soon to admit me to the United States.
But the academic year was approaching. We decided to act. On July 31, I presented my formal application for an exchange visa, backed up by the university’s formal invitation. The consulate had been expecting me to come in again, and I was invited to talk with a consul and a lady vice-consul. I began by saying that I understood this was a complicated matter, but that the university and I had to know soon what our course of action should be.
The consul was polite but blunt in letting me know that the embassy would have preferred that I did not request entry. “What is your purpose in applying for a visa?” he asked. I pointed out that the formal university invitation, in his hands, made my purpose clear.
“Are you going to engage in political activity?”
“How do you define political activity?” I asked. I observed that my field had been the study of political science and public law. My life has been devoted to research and teaching. I considered that my professional duties included making known my views on current affairs. I believed this was within the legitimate boundary of my academic work if I went to the United States. Professional comment on political matters would not constitute political activity in my view.
“But if, for example,” the consul said, “a retired ambassador should recommend recognition of Communist China, I would consider that political activity.” He then asked if I would seek out the media people to present my views.
“I don’t know that I will seek them out, but I must say that if they seek me out, I shall not refuse my comment on current affairs.”
Our prolonged conversation took a rather surprising turn when the consul asked if I would allow my name to be used on any letterhead. I replied that was unlikely; I had never done that sort of thing. He then asked me what I would do if my visa were refused. I could only say that I did not know. I said to myself that I would certainly not commit suicide.
My interrogator now pointed to the fine print on the application form. “Perhaps you have noticed that in this article there is a question about criminal record. Have you noticed this?” I replied that of course I had, but that I did not consider my case a criminal one.
He then asked, “Will you please write down the details of your case?” and I replied that it would not be necessary. The American embassy in Taipei had a full file on my case and I was sure they would supply details if they were asked to do so.
The consul seemed somewhat taken aback, saying only, “You must realize that every embassy does its own independent work,” and on this rather embarrassing note he ended our conversation with the observation that the ultimate decision on my application would be made in Washington.
During the next four weeks of that beautiful summer with the Bernhards I began to realize how deeply attached I had become to Sweden and my Swedish friends. I suspect that the Bernhard family secretly hoped in their hearts that it would prove impossible for me to enter the United States. Professor Bernhard had occasion to visit New York and Boston on professional business, and there he sought to solve my financial problem by approaching certain publishers. On returning to Stockholm he urged me to forget about going to the United States. “Stay here and write a book,” he said.
I was not ready to contemplate a serious project, and I was entirely charmed with the atmosphere of Stockholm and overwhelmed by the kindness of my hosts and my Swedish friends. I was being treated like a member of the Bernhard family. We enjoyed good conversation and made many delightful excursions into the beautiful countryside. But from a professional point of view I was ill prepared to make a living. I could not continue to work in a museum, although I found it interesting. Almost everyone in Sweden seemed to speak English, but I could not speak Swedish, which was an enormous handicap professionally.
Six weeks passed and I was still waiting to hear from the American consulate when one September morning the telephone rang before eight o’clock. The voice of the young vice-consul said, “Congratulations! A cablegram from Washington says that you are to get your visa. There is still some paper work, but I suggest you go ahead with your medical check.”
On September 17, 1970, I took my documents to the embassy to receive my visa. This time I was greeted by a different consul in a more pleasant mood, who also congratulated me and made some flattering remarks. He was obviously well informed of my earlier career. As he handed me my completed papers he smiled broadly and said, “Of course you understand you are going to the university to do research and we hope you will not deviate from your original purpose….”
When it became known that, at last, Washington had granted me permission to enter the country and take up my research program at the University of Michigan, the Nationalist government made a strong protest to the American ambassador in Taipei, and Taipei’s ambassador to Washington went in person to the State Department to emphasize his government’s objection.
The “sin of kinship” had its penalties; the board of directors of the Tamsui Institute of Business Administration had steadfastly resisted pressure to force my sister’s resignation as president of the school, but now they were informed that the Ministry of Education would intervene directly and force the change by decree if she did not withdraw voluntarily. She was called by someone in the Nationalist party office who very politely advised her to resign, smoothly alluding to the Thomas Liao case when Liao’s sister was imprisoned and his nephew condemned to death, until he gave up his political activities in Tokyo and returned to an informal captivity on Formosa.
The hint was unmistakable. The church synod under which the college operates arranged to meet earlier than usual, and in December 1970, accepted my sister’s resignation, but refused to yield to a demand that it should be said that she had been removed for incompetence. Concurrently, the wife of a distant cousin, a woman who enjoyed traveling abroad, was abruptly notified that her passport had been canceled, and that she could no longer leave the island.
At the time my visa was granted, I had accepted two invitations, one to speak at a Swedish university and another to address a meeting of Amnesty International being held in Oslo. The first of these I canceled since I prepared to fly to the United States by way of Norway and England. Parting with my Swedish hosts and Amnesty International friends and leaving Sweden was difficult. This was the country that had given me asylum when my life was in danger and these friends had received me with a warmth and kindness it would be impossible to forget.
The Oslo meeting was held in a superbly beautiful ski resort not far from the city. Here I met many London friends, staff members of Amnesty International, and spoke to the conference on behalf of political prisoners throughout the world:
Between those who are punished because they express their conscience honestly in words or in deeds, there seems to be a certain invisible, spiritual tie which binds them closely together despite the time and space which separates them and despite the fact that most of them have never known or seen each other. Such a tie which makes them feel like close comrades-in-arms results not only from the common predicaments in which they find themselves but also and especially from the firm conviction they share regarding certain basic rights, fundamental freedom and human dignity (although their personal positions may differ greatly concerning any particular political or social issue). On the strength of this spiritual and invisible solidarity which exists between these people, may I be permitted to say a few words on their behalf.
First, on behalf of those, like myself, who have already been punished and spent time in prison, but were fortunate enough to survive those unfortunate experiences and have regained our freedom -- on their behalf I wish to say that words cannot express our gratitude to Amnesty International. We owe, to no small degree, our new freedom to this group and it has helped us to rediscover the real value of freedom and liberty.
Second, on behalf of those prisoners who have already been adopted by Amnesty International but are still languishing behind prison bars in many corners of the world — on their behalf I wish to express to you their deep appreciation for what you have done and are doing for them. They know that the efforts of Amnesty International may not necessarily result in their immediate release but these efforts constantly remind them that they are not forgotten. They feel that someone beyond the prison walls still cares about them. This knowledge brings them indescribable consolation and joy, if one can speak of any joy in prison. You give them the only hope to live for, you give them moral strength, you inspire their spirits, and you keep them from completely losing their faith in mankind in spite of the fact that they are living in painful and humiliating conditions of physical and mental torture.
Third, on behalf of those who are imprisoned because of the honest expression of their own conscience but whose imprisonment is not yet known to the outside world and to Amnesty International — on their behalf I wish to convey a desperate cry for discovery and an urgent appeal for whatever assistance could be extended to those who are still living in darkness and despair.
Last, on behalf of those who are in trouble because of the honest expression of their conscience, who are not yet imprisoned but who are in the precarious situation of being subject to arrest at any time — on their behalf I wish to express the hope that the existence of Amnesty International will be some sort of deterrent factor, and its worldwide activities will lessen the danger they are in and will offer them certain protection.
One is unfortunately accustomed to verbally dividing the world in various ways, such as East and West, Christian and non-Christian, capitalist and socialist, free world and enslaved world, developed and underdeveloped, civilized and uncivilized — whatever these words mean. However, I believe many of us have lived long enough and have seen enough to realize how superficial and meaningless this kind of dichotomy is.
If one really has to divide the world into two parts, I think the only significant way to do it is to speak of the part in which the honest and free expression of one’s own conscience is considered as one of the supreme virtues to be exalted and the other part in which the free and honest expression of one’s conscience is considered as an unpardonable crime to be severely punished.
It is my earnest wish that Amnesty International will not only be the guardian of “prisoners of conscience” but also will become the guardian of the very conscience of all humanity itself. On behalf of all those I have mentioned I would like to say thank you again from the bottom of my heart.
I flew from Oslo to Detroit via London and Montreal at the moment of the 1970 hijacking crisis, and at London airport passengers were searched and all baggage taken off for a thorough check. On the afternoon of September 29, I came through customs at Detroit, reentering the United States for the first time in nearly ten years. My last entry had been on a diplomatic passport issued by Nationalist China; this time I traveled on papers issued in Sweden on behalf of a political refugee.
My new life in America began with a very pleasant call on Professor Rhoads Murphey, director of the Center for Chinese Studies in the University of Michigan. He tactfully sought to discover if I planned to become politically active while in the States and if I had any special understanding with the State Department on this point. In other words, had the department exacted any pledge limiting my freedom of speech or action? I replied by telling him what I had told the consular officers in Stockholm. I still considered myself an academic, I expected to do my work in law and political science, and in the course of my work I would undoubtedly comment on current world affairs.
Professor Murphey observed in turn that he saw no reason I should not be as free as any American professor in the same field. I had been invited to Michigan to write on any subjects I might choose, and I had proposed to prepare a study of “Law and the Politics of ‘National Emergency’ in Formosa.” The invitation to Ann Arbor had been issued first in 1968 and had been repeated in the following years when I was under surveillance in Taipei. To some scholars in the Chinese field, Formosa was “only a part of China” and the only part to which they had access for field research. A question was raised: “Will Peng’s presence at the Center for Chinese Studies now jeopardize its delicate relationship with the Nationalist government of Taiwan?” Some center associates suggested that I should be warned not to engage in political activity that might affect the center’s interests, strain its relations with Taipei, or hamper the university’s programs in Formosa. But, after discussion, it was left to individual faculty members to make their views known to me, and in subsequent weeks they did. I found the intellectual atmosphere stimulating, and my research project was soon expanded to cover the international legal history and status of Formosa during the last hundred years.
Soon I began to receive invitations to speak to academic groups, church organizations, public forums on international affairs, and Formosan student meetings. Newspapers and magazines asked for articles concerning the Formosa problem. Using weekends, holidays and inter-session vacations, I traveled across the United States, attending seminars, meeting students, and addressing groups interested in international affairs.
My first trip away from the University of Michigan was to Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, where nearly 300 Formosans held a Formosan Thanksgiving dinner. I was deeply impressed by the enthusiasm and warm spirit of those present. On that occasion I made several new friends with whom I still maintain a close association.
On one occasion I spent ten days at Harvard, then went to the West Coast to visit the California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and the University of California at Berkeley. My position was stated in the public speeches I made in those institutions.
I pointed out that as far as the political situation within and without Formosa is concerned, it is as though time has been suspended for more than twenty years. The political calendar of Formosa still reads 1949, the year when the Chinese Nationalist government went into exile on Formosa. Since then, there has been complete stagnation. The position taken by the Nationalist government remains the same, that is, that it is the only legitimate government of all of China, the Communist victory on the mainland is but a temporary state of Communist rebellion, and that the government in Formosa will soon reconquer the whole of China. It has become a cliche to say that the government in Formosa in the past twenty years has been government by fiction and government by myth — the fiction that this government is the government of the whole of China, and the myth that this government is going to return to China in the very near future.
Domestically, the state of siege and martial law proclaimed in 1949 by the government in Formosa has been maintained down to the present (Ed. Martial Law from 1949-1987) and, according to the government, this state must continue until the day of the Nationalists’ reconquest of all of China — that is, indefinitely. For more than twenty years, the government in Formosa has been practicing what might be called “the politics of national emergency.” Constitutional guarantees have been suspended and demonstrations, petitions, and strikes are forbidden under penalty of death. Ostensibly to combat the national crisis, emergency policies have been adopted, emergency laws passed, and emergency practices established. The peculiarity of the situation is that those emergency measures have often been invoked not to remove the cause of the national crisis, but rather to perpetuate the state of emergency itself, because this is the most expedient means, and perhaps even the only one for preserving the life and power of the regime. The application of the politics of national emergency in defense of Nationalist political myths has had devastating effects on community life in Formosa.
I also noted that the international picture was not much more encouraging. The Nationalist Chinese government, which in fact represented no one, had incredibly been assumed to represent China at all international forums for the past twenty years, to the great detriment of international order. One can say that this government does not represent anyone because, since the people of China clearly rejected it more than twenty years ago, it cannot represent the people of China. Nor does it represent the people of Formosa, because in the past twenty years there has been no general election there on the national level, and eighty-five percent of the population have only three percent of the seats in the national legislative bodies.
I noted also at the same time, a new and rather unsettling tendency developing among some of the enlightened and liberal leaders in various countries. Appalled by the absurdities of the myths of the Nationalist Chinese government, which are certainly an affront to their reason, intelligence, and common sense, and eager to reject them, they sometimes tend to go to the opposite extreme and begin to embrace a new set of myths. These seem to be no more realistic and no more constructive than the old. These new myths are as follows: first, that Formosa has been, and therefore will always be, an integral and inalienable part of China; and second, that in order to bring to an end China’s semicolonial status, in order that China may achieve recognition as a sovereign equal and regain her national self-respect, it is necessary to let her purely and simply annex Formosa.
This is but another set of myths, but the myths are supported and nourished by strong emotional and sentimental feelings. These are several and quite understandable. First, there is the deep and lingering sense of guilt troubling the Western conscience due to the extended period of injustice and humiliation inflicted upon China by the Western powers. Second, there is the resultant urge to atone for this guilt. Third, the West is fascinated and transfixed as it witnesses the dizzying sight of the birth, growth, leap, and convulsions of the new China. Fourth, there is an increasing fear haunting the Western mind, confronted with the prospect of China’s emergence as a major nuclear power. These feelings — guilt, fascination, consternation, and fear — are all justified to some extent. I believe that to react to such feelings by meekly accepting whatever China says and does as good and reasonable is irresponsible. I respect the sincerity and honorable motives of those who tend to embrace these new myths, but I couldn’t help questioning the degree of their understanding of the situation in Formosa. I thought that in reference to these new myths some facts about Formosa should be brought into the open.
The first myth is that Formosa has been, and will have to remain, an integral and inalienable part of China. It seemed to me to be useful to examine this from the perspective of Formosan history and international law. As a noted historian in this field has pointed out, Formosan history is largely the record of a search for self-determination and autonomy. Throughout Formosan history, the descendants of Chinese immigrants who settled on this frontier island have struggled constantly to reduce continental Chinese influence in the island’s affairs, and even to remove themselves from continental control altogether. This is illustrated in a saying known to all historians in this field: “Formosa experiences every three years an uprising, every five years a rebellion.” On the other hand, historically, China’s attitude toward Formosa has not exactly been one of fervent affection. China has always regarded Formosa as a barbarous island inhabited by rebels, bandits, pirates, misfits, and opium addicts -- which it probably was. In the seventeenth century because of the difficulties the island was causing the Chinese government, Peking once even seriously considered evacuating those few Chinese settlers who had by then settled on the island. As late as the latter part of the nineteenth century, when the crews of foreign vessels wrecked offshore from Formosa were massacred by the inhabitants, the Chinese government once took the position that it could not be held responsible for acts committed “outside its jurisdiction.” In 1869, the Chinese government went so far as to allow the head of eighteen aboriginal tribes in Formosa to conclude a treaty with the United States. After her defeat in the Japanese-Chinese War in 1895, China ceded Formosa to Japan. This caused resentment among Formosans, who were angry that China was willing to sacrifice them, and led to an abortive attempt to remove themselves altogether from both Chinese and Japanese control and establish an independent Republic of Formosa. This republic lasted only 148 days, but the incident is symbolic in the history of relations between Formosa and China. Japanese administration in Formosa lasted a half century, during which Formosa was completely cut off politically and culturally from China. Then, at the end of the Second World War, the Nationalist Chinese government took over Formosa, but only four years later, in 1949, Formosa was again politically separated from China, and Formosa and China have been ruled ever since then by different regimes. In other words, the connection between Formosa and China before 1895 was so loose as to be almost nominal, and relations were tumultuous; Formosa was constantly trying to remove itself from continental control. Furthermore, during the seventy-five years from 1895 to the present, there have been only four years of political union between Formosa and China, from 1945 to 1949, and those four years were by no means the happiest in Formosan history. It was during this period, on February 28, 1947, that there was a general uprising of Formosans against Chinese rule, which resulted in the massacre by Chinese troops of over 20,000 Formosan leaders.
Who are the inhabitants of Formosa? Among the fourteen million people on the island, eighty-five percent are native Formosans. To be sure, they are of Chinese extraction, but their ancestors began to immigrate to the island in the thirteenth century. Immigration continued until 1895, when Japanese prohibitions on Chinese immigration to Formosa cut off all contact with the mainland. As a result, they have undergone centuries of experience which is different from that of the Chinese. They have acquired and developed their own personality and identity which is different from that of the Chinese. After the Second World War, over two million continental Chinese have joined in the experience of these native Formosans, and further shaped Formosan distinctiveness. By now the inhabitants of Formosa are about as Chinese as Americans or Australians are British.
Moreover, from the point of view of international law, in the seventy-five years since 1895, when Formosa was formally ceded by China to Japan, there has been no international treaty or act with legal binding force reattaching Formosa to China. The Cairo Declaration of 1943 and the Potsdam Declaration of 1945, which stated that Formosa should be given to China, have no legal binding force. They are merely statements of the common purpose of the war. The Instrument of Surrender signed by Japan on September 2, 1945, which accepted these two declarations, is at most a commitment on the part of Japan to renounce its sovereignty over Formosa at a later time. The Peace Treaty signed between Japan and the Allied Powers in 1951, and the Peace Treaty signed between the Nationalist government and Japan in 1952 merely stated that Japan renounced its rights, claims, and title over Formosa, but nowhere did these treaties specify the beneficiary of the Japanese renunciation. On the other hand, the Atlantic Charter of 1941 stated that there should be “no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned.” Article 1 of the United Nations Charter provides that “the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples” should be one of the basic guiding principles of international relations, and the Charter further stipulates in Article 103 that in the event of conflict between the obligations of the members of the United Nations under the Charter and their obligations under any other international agreements, the obligations under the Charter shall prevail. In view of the foregoing, so far as Formosa is concerned, the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation not only lack legal effect, they violate the letter and spirit of the United Nations Charter and must be regarded as superseded by the latter. Therefore, from the point of view of international law, it can only be said that Formosa was detached from Japan, but has not been attached to any ot her country. That is, Formosa’s international legal status has been undetermined since the end of the Second World War. It is not suggested that international affairs should or could be solved entirely on legalistic grounds, but, given the present international and domestic circumstances of Formosa, the fact that its legal status has not been settled since the end of the war must have some bearing on its future.
Those are the facts which I brought up in reference to the myth that Formosa has been and so will have to remain an integral and inalienable part of China. From these facts one can clearly see the fallacy in this first myth.
As for the second myth, that is, that in order to end China’s semicolonial status, in order that she may achieve international recognition as a sovereign equal, and regain her national self-respect, it is necessary to let China purely and simply annex Formosa. The fact is that now, two decades after the revolution, the new China has ended the old China’s semicolonial status. It has achieved international recognition as a sovereign equal. It has regained its national self-respect. Perhaps the Western conscience needs to be troubled by what the West has done to the old China, but it need not, because of its guilty conscience, accept whatever the new China says or demands. In any event, China’s emotional claims to Formosa have nothing to do with her semicolonial status, her sovereign equality, or her self-respect. They have to do with civil war, with the Nationalist government, and with the maintenance of that government on Formosa by the United States. The truth is that during the early period of this century, when China was desperately struggling to end its semicolonial status, to abolish the unequal treaties and achieve recognition as a sovereign equal, and to regain its national self-respect, Formosa was never the most important issue. China has accepted the fact that Formosa was legally separated from it. Chairman Mao Tse-tung himself has recognized the permanent separation of Formosa from China. It was only after 1949, when the Nationalist government was exiled to Formosa and, supported by the United States, continued to wage war against China, to proclaim its intention to reconquer China, and to disseminate inflammatory propaganda against China — it was only after this that China began to make such emotional claims to Formosa.
Those are the historical facts and realities which I thought should be mentioned in my lectures in reference to the second myth that Formosa be given to China as a price to be paid for the reconciliation of China and the West.
I said, if we discard all fiction and myth and try to see a genuine solution to the Formosan problem, it seems that there are certain basic points which must be taken into consideration. First, it would be unrealistic on the part of the United States to think it can maintain its military presence in Formosa permanently. Second, it would be unrealistic on the part of China to think it can simply annex Formosa as an integral part of its territory. Third, it would be foolish on the part of the Nationalist Chinese on Formosa to think they can maintain their totalitarian rule in Formosa forever. Fourth, in view of Formosa’s geographic proximity to China and their geopolitical relations, it would be foolish on the part of the inhabitants in Formosa to imagine that they can live in a state of hostility with China. Fifth, it would be unfair, to say the least, to the people in Formosa to disregard their particular history, distinctiveness, and identity, which result from their unique history, and to deny their aspiration to govern themselves, to decide for themselves their own destiny. This aspiration is only natural, human, and legitimate. In discussing the possible solutions to the Formosan problem it would seem to be fair and sound to accept the basic proposition that no one can speak for Formosans but Formosans themselves, no one can dictate to them where and to whom they should belong, and no one has the, right to ask them to accept liberation by some outside power, as true liberation can only come from the people directly concerned.
I emphasized that the real solution to the Formosan problem was in the hands of the Formosans themselves; that is to say, Formosans should be allowed to decide their own destiny. Let them decide their own political future for themselves.
I appreciated that it is difficult for the Chinese to understand that modern nation-states are not formed on the basis of biological origin, culture, religion, or language, but rather on a sense of common destiny and a belief in shared interests. There are subjective feelings which rise out of a common history, and are not necessarily related to these objective criteria of biological origin, culture, religion, and language. In modern history, examples abound in which people of similar biological origins and religious, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds constitute separate nation-states because they lack these feelings, and examples also abound in which people of different origins and backgrounds constitute a single nation-state as a result of these feelings of commonalty. No state has the right to claim sovereignty over a territory based only on some biological, cultural, religious, or linguistic affinities with the inhabitants of the territory in disregard of the will of the people themselves.
I urged the Chinese to accept the principle that any group of people, given certain geographical and historical conditions, are entitled to decide for themselves their own political future, and should even be entitled to constitute an independent political entity if they so desire, regardless of their biological, cultural, religious, or linguistic affinities to other political entities.
I also said the Chinese should discard their archaic, almost feudalistic, obsession to claim as a member of the Chinese family anyone of Chinese ancestry, however removed from China geographically or historically.
I asked the Chinese to distinguish ethnic origin, culture, and language on the one hand, and politics and law on the other, and to abandon the idea that those who are ethnically, culturally, and linguistically Chinese must be politically and legally Chinese as well. I asked them to stop vilifying as traitors those who desire self-determination for themselves. I pointed out that if for his own convenience, an individual Chinese becomes a naturalized citizen of another country such as the United States, and this is not regarded as an act of treason toward China — and I believe it should not be so regarded — if this is the case, then neither should the legitimate aspirations, based on historical and political realities, of a group of people of Chinese ancestry to constitute a political entity and create their own nation be so regarded.
I wanted the Chinese to understand that one can be proud of his Chinese ethnic and cultural heritage and still wish to be politically and legally separate from China, in the same way as General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was proud of his German ancestry, was not considered a traitor because he led the Allied armies against Germany.
I thought that if international organizations, and especially the United Nations, still have any reason for being, any significant role to play in international politics, the case of Formosa is precisely one into which they should move to help work out a fair solution.
I observed that those who advocate solving the Formosan problem in accordance with the principle of self-determination have often been identified with the Free Formosa Movement. It is quite clear that Formosans resent the totalitarian repressive regime on Formosa today, that they are not prepared to accept the Communist government in China, and that they want to extricate themselves once and for all from the interminable conflict between China’s Nationalist and Communist parties. So, it is also quite clear that, given a free choice, Formosans would probably choose to constitute a political entity separate from both Nationalist and Communist China.
I knew that in view of Chinese claims to Formosa, some doubt had been cast upon its viability as a separate political entity. But, I said, I believe China constantly vows to liberate Formosa because the Nationalist Chinese regime remains in Formosa, supported by the United States, and continues to proclaim its intention to invade China, intentionally maintaining an inflammatory situation in the Straits of Formosa. This prolongs the Chinese civil war and keeps Formosan-Chinese relations in a state of permanent hostility. But I believe the Formosan people bear no grudge against the Chinese people — on the contrary, they want to live in close and friendly association with the Chinese people. Once the Formosan people free themselves from the Nationalist Chinese regime and form a genuine representative government of their own, I believe they will declare to the world their de facto and de jure severance from past Chinese internal conflict. I believe the new Formosan government will spare no effort to establish close economic, commercial, and cultural relations with China. It may even be willing to explore the possibility of working out with China a formula through which the basic national and foreign policy of the two countries could be coordinated, provided China does not meddle in the domestic affairs of the island and does not interfere with its free social, political, and cultural development. Then Formosa will be able to contribute freely and to no small degree to the economic, social, and industrial construction of China. At the same time, I believe the Formosan people will do their best to maintain close and friendly relations with all countries regardless of their political views.
I hoped that China would realize it could gain more by recognizing and respecting a free Formosa than by forcibly annexing Formosa, that there was no reason why it should insist on conquering Formosa, which it could do only to the great detriment of its own image, prestige, and basic interests. If, as has often been pointed out, the Chinese Communist leaders, despite their often belligerent utterances, are in fact cautious and pragmatic in their actions, I saw no reason why they should not be persuaded to accept the above arrangement, which they would discover in time to be practical, fair, and in the best interests of all concerned. If, after all, China is pragmatic enough to tolerate the existence of Hong Kong, which it could take in three hours, or Macao, which it could take in thirty minutes, and if it is pragmatic enough to leave an independent state like Singapore alone, although it is composed predominantly of ethnic Chinese, I saw no reason why it could not be persuaded to be equally tolerant, reasonable and practical toward a peaceful, friendly Formosa, which could offer it considerable advantage. I was not saying that the status of Formosa is similar in every respect to that of Hong Kong, Macao, or Singapore, but was merely saying that I believe in the basic pragmatism of the Peking leaders, present and future, despite their militant words and revolutionary zeal, and I saw the possibility for negotiation and compromise, once the provocation that the Nationalist Government on Formosa constitutes is removed. I admitted the obstacles and difficulties which lie in the way of a solution to the Formosan problem should certainly not be underestimated. However, there is no easy way out of the Formosan impasse.
My classroom lectures concerned international law, criminal law, and case studies illustrating Chinese criminal procedures. In the semipublic lectures and in meeting with church groups and Formosan students I tried to present a Formosan view of the domestic and international situation as objectively as possible. In question-and-answer periods the subject of Formosa’s future was invariably raised.
All this give-and-take with the American public was exhilarating. Perhaps few in my audience could appreciate what such freedom of speech and assembly means to one who has been arrested, court-martialed, and imprisoned for criticizing an administration. As I traveled, the local reactions of Nationalist Chinese agents revealed certain common patterns in Massachusetts, Michigan, California, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Canada. Apparently the Nationalist agencies in the United States believed they could destroy me by distributing a series of slanderous pamphlets describing me variously as a “Communist,” “adventurer,” “rapist,” “CIA agent,” and “stooge of the United States and Japan.”
When it is announced that I am to appear in public somewhere, these agents release such pamphlets and distribute them to the people concerned a few days in advance. Next there is an attempt to mobilize Chinese students in the area. The Chinese consul for the region then arranges a dinner to which only Chinese students are invited. At the dinner-meeting I am described as a traitor, and the students are urged to protest my appearance, to demonstrate, picket, and disrupt proceedings and discussions in any way possible. Since the same questions are asked by students on each occasion, it becomes clear that the procedure has been worked out without much creative imagination. Some of the questions are fantastic, and one is inevitable: “You say there is no freedom in Taiwan, but if there is no freedom, how did you escape?” My audience laughs when I say that if someone manages to escape from prison, it does not mean democracy or freedom exists there; perhaps it means only that I was smarter than my jailors.
Another invariable comment runs: “You say Taiwan is so bad. Why then could you teach there, be a professor of political science and chairman of the university’s department, and an advisor to the U.N. delegation?” My answer at almost every public meeting has had to be that “I became professor and chairman because of my academic record. I am a student of political science, and the more I examined the situation in Formosa, the more intolerable it became.
Running through all the questions is the moralistic criticism that I was awarded my positions in Formosa as personal favors from Chiang Kai-shek, and that I have now betrayed him. I have to assure my audiences that there is nothing personal in this; had I wanted to enjoy great personal advantage and to become more important at Taipei, I could have done so. On the contrary, I have chosen the uncomfortable life of a political exile.
A third standard question has been, “Are you a Chinese? If you are a Chinese, how can you do this sort of thing? Taiwan has always been part of China!” On this I have to remind my audiences that if historical connection becomes the basis of territorial claims, then England would have a claim upon the people of Massachusetts and Virginia, and Spain could revive claims upon the southwestern regions of the United States. I must remind my audience that seventeenth-century Europeans first opened Formosa to civilization, not China, and that as recently as 1875 the imperial laws of China forbade free migration from China to the island lying a hundred miles distant at sea. Formosa was not declared to be a province of China until 1887, and then only eight years later Peking ceded it to Japan. Formosa was settled by Chinese emigrants who were trying to leave China and make a new life for themselves overseas.
It has been no great surprise to learn that in some instances individual Chinese students have been paid as much as forty dollars for raising these questions.
On one occasion I accepted an invitation to speak at the University of Wisconsin on the topic, chosen by my hosts, of “Political Life in Formosa in the Past Twenty Years.” This was a general subject not connected to the Formosan Independence Movement. The meeting went well from every point of view but when we came to the question-and-answer period, a Chinese stood up to demand that we talk about “my” independence movement. I noted that it was not “my” movement, and that it was not the subject for the evening. If I were invited to do so I would be glad to discuss problems of Formosa’s future as I had already done on many occasions, but I was not prepared to talk about it in an off-hand or fragmentary manner and at this time. Then followed a typical reaction. When this Wisconsin meeting was written up by a Nationalist agent and published in a Hong Kong journal, it was said that I was a stupid fellow; if an American politician refused to discuss America’s future and asked time to think about it, it would be political suicide.
On my tour of the West Coast in February, 1971, I was followed by a Chinese refugee employed in one of the largest West Coast academic research centers. He had taken time out from his proper duties to perform a special job, which was to heckle me. In the question-and-answer period following my presentation at Cal Tech at Los Angeles, he attempted to respond to a question I had put to the audience, but his manner was so utterly absurd and nonsensical, and his English so awkward, that members of the audience laughed, and the pro-Nationalist Chinese among them were visibly embarrassed. He reappeared in my audience, busily taking notes, when I moved on to the University of California at Berkeley, 350 miles away. Then within a few weeks a series of Chinese-language articles began to appear in Hong Kong and in the United States. These carried “inside stories” with such titles as “How I Talked with Peng Ming-min” and “My Meetings with Peng Ming-min.” The content was pure fantasy.
At every announced meeting, some representative of the Nationalist government is present. They are uninvited and have no proper business in the classrooms. At public lectures, Nationalist agents and officials, standing at the doors, attempt to recognize and identify every Formosan who attends. On some occasions, for example, at Stanford, Nationalist photographers have taken pictures of every Formosan who stands to ask questions. This is an obvious attempt to intimidate as well as to identify the suspect Formosan. The academic sponsors at Stanford protested but were met with the challenging retort, “This is a public meeting and a free country, isn’t it?”
Nationalist versions of these meetings have been published in Chinese-language newspapers and magazines in the United States, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, distorting and often reversing the sense of my remarks. Very often they report things that I have never said and it is standard to say that my English was exceptionally poor, my presentations awkward, and my comments on the Taipei government libelous. On one occasion it was said that I was so pressed by my interrogators and so incapable of answering them, that I withdrew from the platform pleading an upset stomach!
Once when I was speaking at the University of Wisconsin on the subject of Formosa’s complicated international legal status, I noticed several local Nationalist agents in the audience, together with a Chinese who had once been my student in Formosa and was known to be a Nationalist employee in the Chicago area. Some weeks later a similar scholastic gathering to discuss the same topic was arranged at the University of Michigan. Notices were not posted about campus until the morning of the event; nevertheless, when the evening session began, I saw this man again in the audience. He was not alone, however, for he had brought with him two militant blacks whose tough appearance and behavior can only have been intended to intimidate me.
As McGill University was celebrating its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary, the former Institute of International Air Law, renamed the Institute of Air and Space Law, celebrated its twentieth year. I was invited to be a guest speaker at the anniversary banquet but when I learned that there was some consternation elsewhere in Montreal because my hosts had asked me to speak on “The Chinese Representation Problem in the United Nations,” I offered to give my place to some other less controversial speaker. The sponsors insisted that I accept, and some of the audience seemed surprised when I confined myself entirely to technical legal aspects of the case. This seems to have been the only public occasion at which the Nationalists did not have an agent present.
Curiously enough, the worst experience I have encountered in public speaking occurred in Canada soon after Ottawa recognized Peking. Although Nationalist Chinese officials had withdrawn, a considerable number of Nationalist student agents remained in Canada. In addressing a scholastic group at the University of Windsor I attempted to explain the uneasy relationship between the great majority of Formosans and the two million continental Chinese now in Formosa. I was suddenly interrupted and challenged as a scholar to cite the book, chapter, page, and exact line on which I could find proof that the number of continental Chinese was two million, not more, not less. There was a physical attempt to disrupt our meeting, and for a moment it seemed as if these agents would actually attack me, The professor who chaired the meeting had to threaten to evict the trouble-makers before some degree of order was restored.
One day I was invited to take part in a luncheon-meeting panel discussion in New York, sponsored by a church organization. Too late and to the embarrassment of my hosts, it was realized that Taipei’s ambassador to the United Nations had also accepted an invitation. We met agreeably enough and shook hands, but then the unhappy ambassador had a miserable time. He would not give direct answers to direct questions, preferring to ramble on about “Communist evil” and “the free world and the slave world.” The chairman rather bluntly attempted to pull him back to specifics and a discussion of the Formosan problem, but without success; he refused to keep to the subject. Some little time later several prominent members of the International League for the Rights of Man sought a formal appointment with officials of the Nationalist United Nations Delegation. The reception was cold, for Taipei’s U.N. office staff was troubled and puzzled by the allusion to the “rights of man,” not quite knowing the purpose of the visit. Delay followed delay, but at last the three visitors were received. When they asked that the ambassador relay to Taipei a request, made on humanitarian grounds, that my family be granted exit permits and allowed to join me in exile, the official who had received them replied rudely and with a show of anger, “Peng is a criminal: He has deserted his family and this is against Chinese morality!” Nettled by this, one of the visitors retorted, “Is it not against Chinese ethics to keep families separated?”
It was a fruitless request. Nothing came of it, and my wife and children remained hostages.
The Chinese embassy in Washington continued to protest to the State Department about my presence in the United States. I am told that every public and semipublic appearance I had made in this country had been listed, and my discussions of Formosa’s legal status and future were condemned as subversive activity. It was intimated that the Formosans in the United States were planning violence within the country; further assassination attempts, for example. I assume that this claim was designed to build up prejudice in the State Department and to jeopardize renewal of my visa. The University of Michigan authorities were told informally that a strong Nationalist protest had been made, and some faculty members passed the word along to me.
I often detect an unwitting romanticism among Chinese residing in America and in Chinese-American publications. They are very critical of Chiang Kai-shek. Until Ping-Pong diplomacy set in, followed by President Nixon’s announced plans to travel to Peking, most articulate Chinese-Americans speaking in public were also carefully critical of Peking. Nevertheless they always talk of a beloved motherland, China. It is an abstraction, and it is to that abstraction that they seem to believe the Formosan people should belong. The fact is all those “Chinese patriots” have themselves chosen a long time ago to live under neither Chinese Communist nor Chinese Nationalist regimes. It seems to me presumptuous for them, now comfortably settled here, to try to dictate to the fourteen million Formosans that they must accept the rule of a government from which these “patriots” have themselves successfully escaped and to which they never intend to return.
My comments sometimes bring the retort that everyone knows both Nationalists and Communists are bad, but that someday all China must be one again, even if we have to wait fifty or a hundred years. I have to point out that it is easy for them, sitting here in America in safety and comfort, to declare that “Formosa must go back to China.” I say let the future be the choice of our children, fifty or a hundred years hence. Formosans are suffering enough now; let them liberate themselves from the present regime and let them enjoy freedom and liberty right now.
There are about ten thousand Formosans living in the United States. They are graduate students and professional men and women for the most part, but even living here they are under great restraint. Harassment can take many forms. Some therefore say nothing, some do nothing more than give anonymous financial support to Formosan organizations. Every Formosan knows that there are Nationalist agents on every major university campus in the United States, watching them and reporting upon their activities. Members of their families at home may lose jobs, and bank credit may be denied their relatives. At worst, their passports may be canceled, forcing them to return to the island or to seek political asylum elsewhere.
This harassment is directed toward Formosans and not simply toward all critics of the Nationalist government. Many Chinese holding Chinese Nationalist passports have dared to be extremely critical of Taipei or to be openly in sympathy with Peking. This is a fact well known to the Nationalist authorities here and in Formosa, but there has yet to be a single case in which passports of such critics have been revoked, for they have not made the mistake of advocating a freedom of choice for the island people.
Taipei has been making great effort to destroy our Formosan identity. In recent years every student leaving Formosa has been individually warned by the garrison command that he must not belong to any Formosan organization of any kind. He is told, “If you want to belong to something, belong to a Chinese organization.” Nevertheless, there are a number of Formosan social organizations at the larger student centers. Those who have become officers of these social groups, presidents or vice-presidents, have had their passports revoked. Meanwhile there are many Chinese social organizations based upon continental regional identities; only Formosan clubs are prohibited.
I sometimes encounter a line of criticism that runs as follows:
You are correct in calling for a drastic change in the Taipei administration, hut the Formosan activists are only interested in a transfer of power from the Nationalist elite to your own elite. The majority of your young leaders are the sons of former landlords, well-to-do merchants, and professional people. You haven’t considered the fundamental social and economic conditions of Formosa. You never talk with equal concern of the interests of the masses. Even if you do wrest power from the Nationalists within Formosa, it will mean little change for the common people.
Such criticism is as unfair as it is uninformed. The movement for Formosan self-determination has not been conceived as a political party movement, but has grown out of universal protest against the exploitation experienced by one and all since 1945. As an organization it has become a symbol of the aspirations of the great majority of Formosans since the tragic experience of February and March, 1947. That experience destroyed popular trust in the continental Chinese and revived the old antagonisms of the 18th and 19th centuries. We insist that the Taipei administration must undergo drastic change, open the government to Formosan participation, and create a framework in which all elements of the island population can compete freely for place within Formosa. The farmers must be relieved of the enormous tax burden that now supports Chiang’s armed forces and so-called “central government of China,” in addition to a necessary government for the island itself. The total population should be free to choose the form of government under which it is willing to live. The island people should not be compelled to accept any one or another regime imposed upon it from outside or by the armed agencies of the present regime.
It is true that the present leadership of the movement is an elite, but an intellectual elite drawn from all economic levels of Formosan life. In many countries there are masses of helpless people who may not even be aware that they are subject to economic and political exploitation. It is the responsibility of the observant, reflective, and articulate elite to make them conscious of the improvement in living conditions to which they may aspire. They must be made aware of their own rights. I have on occasion pointed out that some of the most powerful leaders of revolution have come of the bourgeoisie, Chou En-lai and Chu Teh, for example, or Ho Chi Minh, or the leaders of the American and French revolutions. I have also reminded them of the sacrifices on behalf of all Formosans made by my friends Wei, a farmer’s son, and Hsieh, a businessman’s son.
In March I received the news that Hsieh Tsung-ming and Wei Ting-chao were arrested again, together with Li Ao and other Formosan and Chinese intellectuals. Later I learned that they were charged with attempting to overthrow the government. The prosecutors are asking the death penalty for Hsieh and Wei and a prison term of more than ten years for Li.
Some critics have created a new scenario for their own argumentative purpose. They now attack the Formosan movement for self-determination because Peking chooses to attack it, and charge that the independence movement organization is nothing but a cover-up for CIA operations. The line of reasoning seems to be: The United States sees no more hope for Chiang to hold on, and therefore promotes Formosan independence in order to prepare a fall-back position. American support for independence will enable Washington to maintain the American military presence in Formosa.
Some American radicals and liberals appear to be as bemused by “Great China” as the missionaries of the nineteenth century and the “Friends of China” in recent years who have given such uncritical and emotional support to the Chiangs. In support of the thesis that Formosa must be an integral part of China they are as ardent as the most dedicated Nationalists and Communists. They criticize the Formosan self-determination movement leaders as an elite and ignore the fact that the people of Formosa are mute and have no way of expressing themselves short of violent uprisings.
These Americans are highly intelligent, extremely individualistic, very critical and nonconformist, and almost rebellious towards any established authority. Yet when it comes to the People’s Republic of China, many of them go limp, losing their independent mind and critical spirit, and simply admire and worship whatever China says or does. These are the people who looked, with contempt, on those who were invited by the Nationalist government to visit Formosa, received lavish hospitality and returned to the United States singing the praises of the Nationalist regime. It is ironic that this is exactly what is happening to them in their relationship to Peking. It is hard to comprehend how, while feeling such aversion to any infringement of personal freedom and to any attempt of regimentation in the United States, they could be so full of admiration for the regime in Peking. They are such indomitable fighters for human rights and fundamental freedoms and yet they are so insensitive to the rights of and aspirations of the more than fourteen million native Formosans. One suspects that some of these critics are not totally unselfish; they are eager to be invited to China and to be hailed as champions of the government of one-fourth of the world’s population. To ask for consideration of Formosan interests would jeopardize their chances for the pilgrimage to Peking.
I think we have no need to apologize if Formosan interests happen to run parallel with the interests of any other nation. We only ask that the Formosa question be examined from all sides and as objectively as possible. Truly disinterested and nonpolitical scholarship, it seems to me, would require some investigation of the history, character, and claims of the island people. To us, silence maintained in deference to either Taipei or Peking is a form of negative political activity and a betrayal of objective scholarship.
This may be too much to expect at this late hour. At the sudden apparent thaw in Sino-American relations a number of influential academic specialists began to exhibit certain strong personal and political interests. Those who feared to offend the Nationalists by public discussion of the Formosa question now live in greater fear that such a discussion might jeopardize their hopes and interests in Peking. Very few have had the courage, exhibited by Professor Fairbank of Harvard, to raise the issue of Formosan rights and interests in debates concerning recognition of Peking and the fate of Formosa.
To our misfortune, the term “self-determination” seems to have become an unsavory phrase in the American vocabulary. So much has been sacrificed for so little in Vietnam in the proclaimed interest of “self-determination” in Saigon. The disillusioning one-man race for the presidency there in 1971 provoked outraged editorial comment in the American press from coast to coast, but we search in vain for reference to American sponsorship of Generalissimo Chiang’s lifetime presidency, the pretense of a “central government of China” at Taipei, and the farce of an “elective legislature” formed through a rigged election on the continent in 1947.
President Nixon’s visit to Peking and the debates on the Chinese representation problem in the United Nations underscored once again the tangle of the Formosan issue. On September 18, 1971, the eve of the United Nations Twenty-Sixth General Assembly, which finally voted to seat the People’s Republic of China in the U.N. and expel the Nationalists, the leaders and representative of the Formosan people gathered in New York to express their extreme concern over the future of Formosa. They wanted to speak out on behalf of the great majority of the inhabitants of the island, who are silenced by the present regime there. At the press conference held on the same day, I made the following observations
The following statement was made at the conference.
All the participants in the conference were convinced that whatever decision was made by the United Nations regarding the Chinese representation problem, the Formosan issue would remain unsettled for some time to come.
A month later, on October 18, in New York City and simultaneously all over the world, groups of Formosans chained themselves together in a dramatic attempt to call the world’s attention to their demand for an independent Formosa free from Chinese control — whether Nationalist or Communist. They called for recognition of the People’s Republic of China by the United Nations as full, legal, and rightful holder of the China seat. At the same time they urged the member-states to keep the doors of the United Nations open for the more than fourteen million people of Formosa and to give their support for a freely chosen Republic of Formosa — a future member of the United Nations.
The United Nations vote in October 1971 settled the problem of Chinese representation in the U.N.; it has not solved the Taiwan issue. A long, arduous struggle lies ahead for the Formosan people in the fight for their right to self-determination and their road to freedom.