Saturday, December 09, 2017

The DPP's role in relaxing restrictions on cross-strait travel in 1987

I happened to watch the following video today and was interested to hear how the Democratic Progressive Party was involved in the 1987 movement to allow Mainlanders to return to visit family there. Most accounts that I've read, like that of Murray Rubinstein, depict the opening up of opportunities to visit family simply as one of Chiang Ching-kuo's reforms. Other accounts, like that of Shelley Rigger, emphasize the effects of that policy change.* 

This video depicts in more detail the process that veterans went through to gain the right to visit relatives in China. It describes the veterans' agonizing desire to know what happened to their families. As DPP official Yu Shyi-kun, who was a Taiwan provincial assemblyman at the time, says, "In addition to not being able to see family members, they couldn't even write letters to their relatives. So no one knew if they were dead or alive. Can you think of anything crueler than this?" And as veteran Liu Minguo says, "Soldiers have to listen to orders. ... In the military, if you're ordered not to do something, you can't do it. If they say it's white, it's white; if they say it's black, it's black." But according to the video, these soldiers (who became veterans) had to internalize their pain because they knew it was illegal even to express these feelings. (I've written before about how for some soldiers, such pain led to suicide and even murder.) 

According to the video, members of the dangwai ("Outside-the-(KMT)-party," which later became the DPP) decided to help these veterans try to contact their family by allowing them to send letters via their magazine, Progress magazine (前進周刊), and through the mailbox of then-dangwai legislator Xu Guotai. The program says that they helped send 300-400 letters.

After the veterans formed a "Association for the Promotion of Mainlanders to Return Home to Visit Relatives" (外省人返鄉探親促進會) and took to the streets to ask the KMT government to let them visit their families in China, the DPP voted to support the Mainlanders' attempts to return home. DPP politicians persistently asked KMT officials to allow the veterans to go home. But the KMT, most importantly President Chiang Ching-kuo, was afraid that such a policy would play into the PRC's plot to reunify under the Communists.

The veterans began to take to the streets, carrying signs, handing out leaflets, and organizing speeches to let Taiwanese know about their pain and to pressure the KMT to change its mind. On June 28, 1986, a meeting of the Association held in Taipei attracted over 20,000 supporters and officials from the KMT's intelligence bureau. The veterans' tearful songs about going home to find their mothers moved the audience to tears. At this point, according to the video, the veterans' tears and song were finally heard by Chiang Ching-kuo. In October of 1987, the Executive Yuan declared that Mainlanders with family in China could return to visit their relatives.

In the video, Yu Shyi-kun speculates that because the DPP was promoting this policy, Chiang Ching-kuo became concerned that if the KMT didn't pay attention to the veterans' request, it would lose the support of some of its most loyal followers. Tamkang University professor Chang Wu-Ueh (張五岳) agrees that the support of the DPP was vital to publicizing this issue and pressuring the KMT to change its policy.


* I did find a footnote in this 1999 article by Yu-Shan Wu that cites a 1998 book by Kuo Cheng-liang (郭正亮), 民進黨轉型之痛 (The DPP's Ordeal of Transformation, or as Wu translates it, The DPP's Agony of Transition). According to Wu, Kuo argues that "there was a period in the late 1980s of far-sighted pragmatism in the DPP's attitude toward the Chinese mainland. At this time, the DPP exposed the rigidities of the KMT's mainland policy, championed open communications with the mainland, and hoped that by unilaterally recognizing the PRC they would encourage Beijing to respect Taiwan's sovereignty" (568 n. 6).

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Three new books in the former native speaker's library

Haven't written anything here for a few months. Unfortunately, I don't have time to write much now, either. But I got three books in the mail today that I had ordered during the University of Hawai'i Press's big sale last month, and I wanted to share the joy:
The first two books cost only $5 each (and the second is a richly illustrated glossy-papered hardback). The third cost $45, but a total of $55 for three academic books is not too bad in my ... ummm... book.

I've got some other books to work on first (after I finish grading, some writing projects, and any other things that come up...), but I hope to dip into them soon!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A story from One Family, Three Eras: Wu Bai and his Children

I have more to say about this book, but I'm going to start with a rough translation/paraphrase of the second chapter:
Early on in 《一個家族·三個時代:吳拜和他的子女們》 (One Family, Three Eras: Wu Bai and his Children) by 吳宏仁 (Wu Hongren, or Hong Jen Wu), Wu Bai is asked to stay after class by his fourth-grade teacher, Mr. Kimura. Two years older than his classmates, Wu Bai entered the second grade of the Japanese school in rural Tainan at the age of eleven. Although he started late, Wu is strong in math, and after two years of study, his Japanese is also very good. But the problem that Mr. Kimura faces with Wu and some of his classmates is their refusal to cut their queues. The principal at Kimura's school has been pressuring the teacher to force his students cut their queues, but Kimura wants to try reasoning with Wu in hopes that if Wu cuts his queue, his classmates will follow suit.
Mr. Kimura starts out with the standard argument that the queue is symbolic of the Manchu Qing dynasty's power over the Han people. Now, he tells Wu, there are those in China who want to overthrow the Qing (it's 1911) and Taiwan is already Japanese territory, so there is no connection between the Han of Taiwan and the Manchu Qing.
Wu's reply throws Kimura for a loop--he tells his teacher that his father says that even though the Manchus want the Han to grow queues, at least they don't force them to learn the Manchu language; in fact, they have learned and use Chinese. In addition, many Han people have become officials in the Qing state. "The Japanese..." he says, but stops. Kimura suddenly realizes that he is not only facing a teenage boy, but he's also confronting the boy's father. "How could this rural farmer understand these ideas?" he wonders.
Mr. Kimura tries another approach, reminding Wu about how the Japanese men of the Edo period wore their hair in topknots, which Wu agrees looked silly. Kimura goes on to describe how the Japanese men started cutting off their topknots in the Meiji period, connecting that change to Japan's modernization and suggesting that wasting time on one's hair, as the queue-wearing Han were doing, was comparable to opium smoking and foot binding. Though Wu is suspicious of this comparison, he finally decides to cut off his queue, an act which does in fact influence his classmates to cut off theirs.
What Mr. Kimura doesn't know, writes Wu Hongren, is that Wu Bai keeps his queue in his bookbag, taking it out on the way home and fixing it to his head with one of his mother's hair clips. He knows his father doesn't like the Japanese, and Wu Bai doesn't want him to find out. But as luck would have it, within a week his secret is revealed when his younger brother knocks Wu's queue off his head. Surprisingly, Wu's father doesn't get angry; rather, he says, "If you're going to their school, you can't ignore their rules--I understand." After a pause, he continues: "I just want you to remember two things: don't forget who you are, and don't try to deceive me."
Wu Bai reaches to pick up his queue. A thing that was so important earlier now doesn't seem to have any meaning at all.
(From pp. 34-37 of 《一個家族·三個時代:吳拜和他的子女們》 (One Family, Three Eras: Wu Bai and his Children) by 吳宏仁.)

Monday, July 31, 2017

Reflections on disciplinary "linguistic landscape" assignment

It has been a couple of weeks since we finished the "disciplinary linguistic landscape" assignment that I asked students in my summer interdisciplinary writing course to do. I'm starting to put "linguistic landscape" in quotation marks because I'm not sure that in the end that would be an accurate description--I'm not sure the assignment did justice to the concept of linguistic landscape studies. That said, I do think the assignment was a useful entry into the course and to each other. I will have to tweak it the next time I teach the course, though.

We started out by reading the Latour & Woolgar chapter that I mentioned earlier. There are some challenging concepts in that chapter, such as "literary inscription" and "inscription devices," along with the authors' use of the terms "mythology" and "culture." We kind of stumbled around with some of those terms, and I'll probably have to take us more carefully through that chapter in the future (if I still use it). We actually didn't read the entire chapter because I wanted to focus more on the texts and uses of texts in the laboratory rather than getting into the way that papers were published and the kinds of statements used in the publications. (We are getting into that to some extent in the second project.)

After that, I teamed them up with people in different majors--I had an engineer working with a philosopher, another engineer and a finance major, an engineer with a graphic design major, an engineer with an accounting major and a communications major, etc. (we had a lot of engineers in this class!). I think I will keep this aspect of the assignment, though this time it meant that the presentations they did were pretty long--some of them going up to half an hour. The benefits were several:
  • students got to know someone from a different major (which will also be useful once they get to the third project, which is an interdisciplinary research assignment); 
  • they got to see--and look carefully at--spaces that they quite possibly hadn't noticed (or even seen) before; and 
  • they got a chance to compare the kinds of institutional resources (including the physical plant) another discipline might possess. 
One of my goals for this assignment was to highlight the idea that in talking about discplinarity and interdisciplinarity, we're not just talking about theories, perspectives, research methods, etc., but that it's also important to consider how disciplines occupy physical and institutional spaces in a university. Some students were rather shocked when they saw the differences between their department's space and that of their partner's department. (One amusing example was when the communications major, who was working with an accountant and a chemical engineering student, noticed that some of the offices in her department still had the signs of the room's previous occupant on the wall--in one case, the previous occupant was a chemical engineer!)

Challenges and Thoughts about Revision
One of the challenges for this assignment was helping students find a focus for their presentations. As I mentioned in the earlier post, my colleagues expressed concern that students would end up just showing slides of similar and different things that they saw in their departments. To some extent this did happen, and in the future I will probably need to ask them to be more "ruthless" with their picture-cutting during the revision process. I asked them to take as many pictures as possible at the beginning, but we do need to work more on cutting, arranging, and theoretically grounding discussions of the pictures we take.

I might also have to revise my sample slide presentation because it focused on only one discipline--rhetoric and composition, as reflected in the Writing Program in the English Department. It would be easier for them to imagine the assignment if I were to do an interdisciplinary comparison myself. I'll have to decide which discipline to use, though.

Another point about my sample slide presentation that led in unforeseen directions is that although I wanted students to focus on the physical buildings in which their disciplines/majors/fields were situated, I started off with a couple of slides pointing out how the page on the English Department website introducing the Writing Program describes the WP as "an intellectual home for the discipline of rhetoric and composition"--I included that to point out that the WP is depicted as a discipline (rather than, say, a "subdiscipline" or "area" of English studies) and to have a jumping-off point for talking about the way in which the discipline of rhetoric and composition is present (and not present) in physical spaces of the English Department. What I didn't expect was that students would also start off with discussions of their departments' or majors' websites. Some of these were more relevant and focused than others, but the websites' inclusion led to me start thinking about whether or not I should somehow incorporate the virtual spaces of the disciplines in the assignment. I'm hesitant to do that, if for no other reason than that it will make presentations even longer, but I'm still thinking about this.

All in all, I think this was a good assignment, though it needs some fine tuning. I think I'll try it again the next time I teach the interdisciplinary writing course.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

George Kerr: Teacher, sailor, poor man, ... spy?*

The claim that George H. Kerr was spying for the U.S. during his first period in Taiwan (1937-1940) has resurfaced, this time in a 2017 publication by respected historian Chen Tsui-lien (陳翠蓮), 《重構二二八:戰後美中體制、中國統治模式與臺灣》 (Reconstructing 228: The Postwar US-China System, China's Ruling Model, and Taiwan**).

Chen cites three sources that claim Kerr collected intelligence for the US during his time as a teacher in Japanese-controlled Taiwan. The first, Huang Jinan (or N̂g Kí-lâm [黃紀男]), wrote that Kerr was sent to Taiwan by the Central Intelligence Agency as a spy (臥低的間諜). Chen neglects to point out the problem with  N̂g's story: there was no CIA before 1947--even its precursor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) wasn't established until 1942 (the OSS's precursor, the Office of the Coordinator of Information, was established in 1941).

The second source, Wu Hongren's (吳宏仁) 一個家族。三個時代:吳拜和子女們 (which I am still reading after all these months!), says that after WWII, when someone asked Kerr about why US bombers avoided bombing Taipei First High School (台北高校), he admitted that he had been on a mission to collect intelligence about Taiwan during his time teaching there in 1937-40. However, the "someone" (有人) of whom Wu speaks isn't clear (in fact, it could very well be N̂g--Wu doesn't specify that it was a former student).

The third source that Chen uses is an indirect quote from Wang Chengxiang's (王呈祥)'s awful book, 《美國駐台北副領事葛超智與二二八事件》 (U.S. Vice-Consul in Taiwan George H. Kerr and the "228 Incident"). Wang at least points out that Kerr couldn't have been working for the CIA at that time, though somehow misses out on the fact that the OSS also didn't exist yet during Kerr's first time in Taiwan. Wang quotes a University of Hawaii professor, 鄭良偉 (Robert L. Cheng) who wrote (in a comment board post that is no longer available) that Kerr, who was living in an apartment overlooking Pearl Harbor, told Cheng that he often thought about how, with a heart full of righteousness and patriotism that let him overlook any danger, he went to the enemy territory of Taiwan, on the one hand to teach English, and on the other, to engage in secret field work to collect intelligence (滿腹的公義心及愛國心,讓他無視任何危險,前往敵國國境的台灣,一方面教英語,一方面進行秘密的田野工作,收集情報。) One problem with this statement is that in 1937, Taiwan (or even Japan) wasn't "enemy territory" yet, and unless Kerr was being anachronistic or had a bad memory by the time he talked to Cheng, he wouldn't have been motivated by Pearl Harbor in 1937.

The quote from Cheng in Wang goes on to say during the war, Kerr joined the US Defense Department and was sent to Taiwan. At the time he was publicly known as an English teacher, teaching at Taihoku Provincial College (which is now Taiwan Normal University) and many leaders in the Taiwan democratic movement (like Peng Mingmin) were students of his. (Wang notes in a footnote that Peng actually wasn't one of Kerr's students.) Kerr's "secret identity" was that of a  member of US Naval Intelligence. (在世界大戰期間,Kerr以他的專長學識,投入美國國防部。他被派到台灣。當時他在台灣的公開身份是英語教師,任教於高等學校(現在的師範大學前身),許多台灣的民主領袖(如彭明敏)都曾受教於他。他秘密的身份是美國海軍的情報員。) This account is so totally confused that it's hard to imagine it appearing in a serious history book. It appears to be suggesting either that Kerr was in Naval Intelligence before the US entered the war or that he was teaching English in Taiwan during the time that the US was fighting against Japan. Either way, it's not only factually inaccurate--it's patently ridiculous. I seriously doubt that this came from a conversation with Kerr, unless Kerr was having problems with his memory (or Robert Cheng was having trouble remembering the conversation).

Note that I'm not saying that Kerr didn't make use of his knowledge acquired in Taiwan once he did join Naval Intelligence. I'm also not saying that it's impossible that Kerr might have passed some information on to the US government while he was teaching in Taiwan (though I'm guessing that they would have done better to use a "spy" who could actually speak and read Japanese and/or Taiwanese). But there's no real evidence, as far as I know, that Kerr was "sent" by the US government to Taiwan in 1937 to collect information, and the evidence that has been given in Chen's book is not much more than confused hearsay. The rest of her book seems to be well-documented, and I hope it's more believable than this part.

I have another problem with Chen's interpretation of Kerr's motivations for pushing trusteeship and later independence for Taiwan, but I don't have time to get into that. Suffice it to say that in my view, Kerr's motivations were probably more complicated and changing than what Chen thinks. (She seems to believe that he was totally motivated by his loyalty to the US and its interests.)

*I'm using "sailor" loosely here to refer to the fact that Kerr worked in Naval Intelligence during WW2.

**I know, awful translation of the title.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Another book in the former native speaker's library

I started a post last month on the Taiwan Independence Movement, the assassination attempt on Chiang Ching-kuo, and George Kerr's reaction to it, but had to put it aside while we did some family traveling and I had to prepare for my summer class. Now I've started the summer term, so blogging will continue to be light.

I received a book today with a shipment my wife received from Taiwan. (I limited myself to one book--trying to practice self-control):

陳翠蓮,《重構二二八:戰後美中體制、中國統治模式與臺灣》. 衛城出版, 2017.

There are two excerpts posted on the website Thinking-Taiwan (here and here). Also, there's this review of both Chen's book and Hsiao-ting Lin's Accidental State (which I've written about before). The reviewer sees Chen's book as a good complement to Lin's. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Since I'm working on an introduction to a new edition of Formosa Betrayed, I'll probably start with chapter seven of Chen's book, which discusses the US and the 2-28 Incident, there's a section of about 15 pages on George Kerr and his ideas about trusteeship for Taiwan.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Update on the post-publication fate of Formosa Betrayed

About seven years ago I wrote about some of the theories going around regarding what happened to George H. Kerr's Formosa Betrayed after it was published in 1966 (copyright 1965). To summarize, the book was reprinted by Da Capo Press in 1976 in a more expensive "library edition." Some in the Taiwan Independence Movement believe that the book's copyright was somehow acquired by the KMT or some of its members/supporters. Kerr, for his part, was convinced that China scholar John King Fairbank persuaded Houghton Mifflin to sell the copyright to Da Capo Press because Fairbank was pro-China and wanted to marginalize Kerr's pro-Taiwan book.

As I said then, the idea that the KMT bought the copyright doesn't seem reasonable because if they wanted to suppress Formosa Betrayed, it doesn't make sense that they would go to the trouble of putting out a library edition (especially since they're also accused of having their "professional students" in the US steal the book from libraries). Kerr's belief that Fairbank would go to the trouble of convincing Houghton Mifflin to make a deal with Da Capo doesn't make sense for similar reasons.

After going through more of the records in the GHK collection at the Okinawa Prefectural Archives, I've come to the conclusion that Houghton Mifflin never "sold" the copyright of Formosa Betrayed to Da Capo (or the KMT or anyone else); they merely gave Da Capo permission to reprint the book in a library edition, probably because H-M had no intention of making new printings themselves (sales had declined by 1976). In fact, the Da Capo edition assigns the copyright to Kerr.

Here's the language of the relevant parts of the contract between H-M and Da Capo*:
AGREEMENT made this 25th day of February 1976 between DA CAPO PRESS, INC., ... hereinafter referred to as The Publisher, and Houghton Mifflin Company, ... hereinafter referred to as the Proprietor, concerning a work entitled:
hereinafter referred to as the Work.
Now, therefore, for and in consideration of their mutual promises and for other valuable consideration, receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, the parties hereto agree as follows:
1. Proprietor warrants that it is the sole owner of the Work and of all rights granted to the Publisher under this agreement and that the book does not infringe upon any statutory or other copyright, or any right of others whatsoever; also that the book contains no matter which is contrary to law. ...
2. Proprietor hereby grants to the Publisher the sole and exclusive right for the term hereinafter stated [five years, stated in point 3] to publish and sell a hardcover edition of the Work in the English language throughout the United States, its dependencies and possessions, and Canada, and non-exclusively in the Open Market exclusive of the British Commonwealth as presently constituted including the Republics of South Africa and Eire.
9. The Publisher agrees to print on the copyright page of each book the copyright notices as contained in the Proprietor's edition and any new copyright information alsong with the phrase, "reprinted by special arrangement with Houghton Mifflin Company."
10. All rights not specifically mentioned herein remain the property of the Proprietor.  
I'm not a copyright lawyer, but it looks to me as though Houghton Mifflin is keeping the copyright, not selling it to Da Capo.

I'm not sure, though, why the copyright on the Da Capo edition (see the link above) is in Kerr's name. I don't seem to have a copy of Kerr's contract with Houghton Mifflin, so I can't check it to see what they agreed to concerning the copyright ownership. However, the 1965 Catalog of Copyright Entries lists the copyright as belonging to Kerr:

I didn't find any copyright entry for Kerr's Formosa Betrayed after 1965. Nevertheless, after finding out about the deal that Houghton Mifflin had made with Da Capo, Kerr wrote to H-M on 10 May 1982, asking to have "all rights and interests" to Formosa Betrayed reverted to him, as allowed by his contract with the publisher.* Kerr wrote that he had not been notified of the agreement that H-M had made with Da Capo "until months after it had been concluded." After hearing from Da Capo in 1976 and receiving a copy of their edition in 1977, Kerr "heard nothing further on the status of the book" from Da Capo, but after he wrote to them in 1981, he received a check for $29.25 in royalties from H-M based on the sale of 13 copies of the book. As Kerr wrote, "Total sales of thirteen copies over a period of seven years can hardly be considered satisfactory to anyone concerned." Kerr then received another royalty statement in September, 1982 that indicated that seven more Da Capo Press editions had been sold in the previous six months.

As I wrote above, I'm no expert in copyright law, but I wonder if Kerr needed to do all this. Is it possible that he lost possible royalties (no matter how small) by having the rights reverted to him?

*Source of the contract and Kerr's letter to H-M: George H. Kerr papers, Okinawa Prefectural Archives.