Sir Ralph S. Stevenson C.M.G.,
15th March 1947.
(By safe hand)
With reference to my previous despatches on the situation in this district I have the honour to inform Your Excellency that Taipei city and Tamsui are now back to normal as regards appearances, except for the abnormally large number of soldiers on the streets. Business cannot be said to have resumed however, and food is scarce.
2. The bulk of the reinforcements are believed to have moved south, and the prospect for Taichu, now reported encircled, is a dismal one. There will be this difference, however, that whereas the Formosans of Taipei were caught in an optimistic mood over the negotiations on the night of the 8th March, unprepared and so without even the arms which they had, those at Taichu are armed to some degree and can hardly have been unprepared. Wounded soldiers are reported to have been brought into Taipei from the south last night. This only serves to heighten the contrast with Taipei, where I have heard no reports of soldiers being killed or wounded by Formosans during the shooting last week—end.
3. The most likely estimate that I can give of Formosans killed in Taipei during that period is not less than 800, and perhaps as many as 1,000. To these must now be added the victims of executions by shooting, and by beheadings in the streets with Japanese officers' swords (comparatively rare). There is a report that 200 students were shot in Keelung and their bodies thrown into the sea. This figure can hardly be believed, but some bodies are being washed up by the tide. The administration are hunting out "rebels" and the soldiers are doing some looting. Not all uniformed bodies though; Formosan reports give praise to the gendarmes who in a few cases shot looters during the worst days of the capital. Those arrested in connexion with the "revolt" include Wang Tien-ting, a member of the Provincial Political Council and also a member of the Disposal Committee, Lin Mou-sheng, president of the Min Pao, and Sung Fai-Ju, president of the Jen Min Tao Pao. Li Wan-chu, president of the Hsin Sheng Pao was manhandled by a soldier, but a gendarme intervened. Chiang Wei-chuan made good his escape from his home, but his daughter was injured when the police officials who called to arrest him opened fire. The February 28th Affair Disposal Committee was ordered on March 10th to be dissolved, on the grounds that its action had overstepped the limits of political demands and neared a revolt against the fatherland.
4. The 32-point demand presented by the Disposal Committee (please see my despatch no.17) played into the hands of the local government. It is believed that having had prior word of some of the points Chen Yi was able to get a quick promise of aid from the Central Government before the demand was actually presented. As Chiang Kai-shek said in his Memorial Week speech of the 10th March: "the so—called February 28th Affair Disposal Committee suddenly on March 7th presented unreasonable demand such as the abolition of the Garrison Headquarters, the laying down of arms by the national forces, and the organisation of the land, sea, and air forces in Taiwan by Taiwanese. These demands overstep the limits of local administration and therefore cannot be accepted by the Central Government." The two points on which Chen Yi was adamant were the abolition of the Garrison Headquarters and the abolition of the Monopoly Bureau. When the Central Government took exception to some of the demands he had no further cause for worry. Troops that were on the way to Japan were diverted here, thus arriving faster than anyone expected reinforcements to be possible, and Yang Liang-kung, District Supervisor of the Supervisory Yuan for Fukien and Taiwan Districts arrived simultaneously. Within a few hours of his coming the intimidation of Taipei had begun. The policy has succeeded handsomely.The Formosans are dumbfounded. None but the very senior ones can remember anything comparable under Japanese rule.
5. In the Memorial Week speech referred to the Generalissimo stated that the Central Government would send an official of great calibre to assist Governor Chen in the solution of the present affair. This may be Pai Chung-hsi, who arrived here on March 13th.
6. The future outlook for the Formosans is bad. The undeclared war between them and the mainlanders is now a declared war, whatever professions may be made to the contrary. Hence the country will never again be left so unguarded. It follows that all that remains to the Formosans will be the underground resistance of the people of an occupied country. The economic recovery of the island seems indefinitely postponed.
Sir Ralph S. Stevenson C.M.G.,
His Majesty's Ambassador,
I have the honour to be,
Your Excellency's most obedient,