On February 28, 1947, the arrest of a cigarette vendor in Taipei led to large-scale protests by the native Taiwanese against the corruption and repression of Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese Nationalist government, which had come over from China after Japan’s defeat by the Allied forces in 1945. Following the protests, troops that Chiang’s government secretly sent from mainland China rounded up and executed an entire generation of leading figures, including students, lawyers, and doctors. Scholars estimate that up to 28,000 people lost their lives in the turmoil. During the “White Terror” of the subsequent years, the Nationalists ruled Taiwan under martial law, which ended only when democratization set in during the mid-1980s. The “228 Incident” remains a defining event in the political divide that exists in Taiwan today.
On February 22, the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies (CNAPS) and the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA)
hosted a discussion with leading experts and examined the importance of the “228 Incident” to the understanding of present-day Taiwan, and the process of reconciliation on the island. Chen-Wen Yen, executive director of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, moderated the first panel looking back on this historic event. CNAPS Director Richard Bush moderated a second panel focused on moving forward.