TAIWAN - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

TAIWAN. After the first Sino-Japanese War (1894—1895), Taiwan was ceded to Japan and remained a Japanese colony until 1945 when Japan was defeated at the end of World War II and ordered to surrender the island to the Republic of China controlled by Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang (KMT) party. The military occupation created tensions between the newcomers and the Taiwanese, culminating in the February 28 Incident of 1947, during which the KMT administration in Taipei brutally suppressed the Taiwanese demonstrators who were protesting against its enonomic policies, ushering in the era of White Terror. In 1949 after the KMT lost the Civil War against the Communists, Chiang Kai-shek and his government retreated to Taiwan and moved the capital from Nanjing to Taipei, while continuing to claim sovereignty over the whole of China and planning to take back the mainland from the Communists in three years. Martial law was declared, giving the KMT absolute power to rule the island. The international community continued to recognize Chiang’s Republic of China (ROC) as the legitimate representative of China until 1971 when the ROC lost its seat in the United Nations to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). When Chiang died in 1975, his son Chiang Ching-kuo assumed the presidency. Under his leadership, Taiwan experienced a great economic boom, rising to become one of the so-called little Asian tigers, and political liberalization that resulted in the lifting of martial law in 1987.

The younger Chiang’s handpicked vice president and successor Lee Teng-hui, whose proindependence position later caused his expulsion from the KMT, was the first democratically elected president of Taiwan. Under Lee, Taiwan underwent greater democratization and localization. Laws and practices with a bias against the Taiwanese were changed and local culture, history, and language were promoted to cultivate a Taiwanese, rather than a Chinese, identity. In 2000, Chen Shui-bian, of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was elected president, the first president outside the KMT. At present, Taiwan remains extremely polarized, with the pan-green coalition of parties pushing for official Taiwan independence and the pan-blue coalition of parties favoring status quo or eventual reunification of China.

The first generation of modern Taiwanese literature emerged during the Japanese occupation and conveyed a sense of national pride in addition to anti-Japanese sentiments. Many of the works were influenced by the May Fourth Movement from the mainland. When the KMT lost the Civil War, a large number of intellectuals and writers retreated to the island with the Nationalist government, pumping fresh blood into the literary vein of the island. Mirroring the political divide that gripped the island, Taiwanese literature witnessed a heated debate between the nativists and the modernists, which raged for nearly two decades from the mid-1960s to the end of the 1970s. While the modernists were largely pro-KMT urbanites and intellectual elites from the mainland with Westernized literary sensibilities, the nativists represented the discontented local population and rural consciousness. These two strands competed for supremacy in the literary development of Taiwan and each delivered some remarkable performances. See also BAI XIANYONG; CHEN RUOXI; CHEN YINGZHEN; FEI MA; HU LANCHENG; HUANG CHUNMING; HUANG FAN; HUANG JINSHU; JI XIAN; LAI HE; LAI SHENGCHUAN; LI ANG; LI YONGPING; LIAO HUIYING; LIN HAIYIN; LIN YAODE; LUO FU; LUO YIJUN; MODERN POETRY MOVEMENT IN TAIWAN; NIE HUALING; OUYANG ZI; PING LU; QIDENG SHENG; QIONG YAO; QIU MIAOJIN; SAN MAO; SHI SHUQING; SU WEIZHEN; SU XUELIN; WANG WENXING; WANG ZHENHE; XI MURONG; XIAO LIHONG; XIE BINGYING; YA XIAN; YANG KUI; YANG MU; YU GUANGZHONG; YU LIHUA; YUAN QIONGQIONG; ZHANG DACHUN; ZHANG GUIXING; ZHANG XIAOFENG; ZHANG XIGUO; ZHENG CHOUYU; ZHONG LIHE; ZHONG ZHAOZHEN; ZHU TIANWEN; ZHU TIANXIN; ZHU XINING.