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Taiwan

Beijing to hold events marking Taiwan massacre, but some see ulterior motive

Chinese mainland to commemorate incident on the island in 1947 that saw KMT troops crush local uprising, but some view the move as ploy to woo Taiwanese

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2017, 11:42pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2017, 11:44pm

The Chinese mainland will organise activities to mark the 70th anniversary of the 1947 massacre in Taiwan, which has been widely commemorated over the years by the island’s authorities and public.

An Fengshan, a spokesman for the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said the relevant mainland authorities were organising the activities.

The 1947 massacre has been dubbed the “2.28 Incident” in Taiwan. It saw late Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek send troops to the island to crush an uprising on February 28, 1947, by native Taiwanese who were fed up with dictatorial rule by the local KMT government of the time.

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The crackdown lasted for weeks and saw up to 28,000 civilians killed. It still strains the relationship between Taiwanese natives and the so-called outsiders – those who followed Chiang in his retreat to Taiwan from the mainland following his defeat at the end of the civil war in 1949.

Taiwanese observers say the mainland commemoration is a ploy to woo the Taiwanese public, given the worsening cross-strait relations since President Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office in May last year.

But a mainland academic said Beijing was justified in marking the event.

“In Taiwan, it was interpreted as a clash between ethnic groups, namely Taiwanese natives and those who came from the mainland,” said Liu Xiangping, a professor at Nanking University.

The pro-independence camp in Taiwan had used the event to justify a split from the mainland, he said, but it was just as valid for the mainland to point to the tragedy as an argument for harmony across the Taiwan Strait.

Additional reporting by Kristin Huang