The Michigan Daily-Sundt
Turmoil in Taiwan
the sun sets on the
By Dan Oberdorfer
With camera and notebook in hand, Daily staff writer
Dan Oberdorfer joined 11 other college journalists in a recent
trip to Taiwan. The trip was paid for by the China Youth Cor-
poration, an arm of Taiwan's ruling party, the Kuomintang.
Treated to a host of sumptuous meals, government briefings
and tours during his two-week visit, our reporter observed the
politics and the people of this small island-nation.
A group of 10-year-old boys practice during their first year of preparation for
Taiwan's Peking Opera, an acrobatic theatre ensemble. They must study for
eight years before they can perform With a regular troupe.
In the heart of Kaohsiung province, this Taiwanese man squats outdoors to brush his teeth. His
is poor by Taiwanese standards but is equipped with a television set.
()NLY 2000 YARDS from the coast
of mainland China, perched atop
a green tower on the Taiwanese
island of Quemoy, thunderous
loudspeakers drone popular mandarin love
songs day and night. The love songs, sup-
posedly banned by the Peking government,
are intended to plant the seeds of sedition in
the music-starved Communists.
At Quemoy, the two natural enemies are
separated by a thin cold, choppy strait. The.
Communists blare their own propaganda
from loudspeakers tucked behind a deserted
white-sand beach on their side of the water.
But as both sides furiously wrestle for
control of the airwaves, the uproarious
commotion echoes too loudly-preventing
either antagonist from deciphering what the
other is saying.
When I stood in the middle of this
acoustical circus, I stared somberly over
the water toward mainland China, and I
thought how odd it is that the 30 years of con-
frontation, frustration and deep-seated
hatred between these two "Chinas" has
resulted in such a ludicrous sideshow.
At a government briefing, however, I was
told that the governments of the Republic of
China (ROC-Taiwan) and of the Peoples
Republic of China (PRC-mainland China)
still remain in an official state of war.
The Taiwanese government is the same.
one which fled the mainland after being
defeated by Mao Tse-tung's forces in 1949. It
still claims sovereignty over the mainland
and is dominated by the party which once
governed there, Chiang Kai-shek's par-
tisans, the Kuomintang (KMT). This despite
the fact that Taiwan's population is com-
prised of only 15 per cent exiled mainlan-
ders. The KMT has never won complete ac-
ceptance from the native Taiwanese, who
are now cautiously agitating for propor-
But the external threat posed by Com-
munist China rather than internal politics of
the island still dominates Taiwanese affairs.
And so Quemoy, which is 90 minutes by
plane from the capital Taipei and perilously
close to the Peoples Republic maintains
massive military fortifications.
Some 40,000 Taiwanese troops are
stationed there, many of them fulfilling a
mandatory two-year enlistment
requirement. And during our brief, one day
stay on the island, we were shown countless
concealed bunkers, ditches, camouflaged
huts, and long-range firearms. General Liu,
a lanky, square-jawed mainlander who ac-
ted as our guide, took us through a multi-
miled, intricate tunnel system under one of
Quemoy's giant stone mountains.
Though a government officer said the
troops serve as a deterrent to Communist
invasion, the last large-scale military con-
frontation between the two nations occurred
20 years ago. Today, even the most casual of
observers will note that the tense, explosive
atmosphere which formerly clouded
Quemoy has given way to an intense game
of propaganda and diplomacy.
THE TAIWANESE no longer
bombard the mainland with mili-
tary-artillery. But early most
afternoons a group of about 30
soldiers, clad in bright orange uniforms,
let fly a batch of propaganda balloons
.which are carried by the trade winds,
sometimes as far as the mountains of Tibet.
Strapped to each of the huge helium-
filled balloons is a Chinese "care package"
containing a moisture-proof food packet, a
tooth-brush, and of course, a handful of
propaganda leaflets. "On holidays, the
Taiwanese might even include a radio, so
the mainlanders can tune into one of
Taiwan's propaganda radio stations, a few
yards of brightly colored cloth, and a blow-
up bath toy for the kids.
. The date for our visit to Quemoy was
carefully scheduled so that we missed out on
another of the military's odd tactics. Every
other day, the Taiwanese and the Com-
munists exchange about 70 rounds of shells,
loaded with leaflets instead of lead pellets.
The progaganda shelling is harmless but the which meet head-on in a very narrow alley.
symbolism remains clear-it means war, If the drivers of the two cars are Americans,
Chinese style. they will quite naturally get out and argue
A column which appeared recently in the -until one or the other of the drivers is forced
Washington Post helps capture the to back away. But if the two drivers are
situation. The column recounts a story told Chinese, they'll argue to no avail, return to
by a Taiwanese politician about two cars their cars, and then sit and wait. One will
he thought of communism, and he repeated
bone-chilling stories he had heard of torture
and poverty on the mainland. But the sub-
ject which interested him the most was
Taiwan's thriving economy. He had been a
peasant before moving to Taipei 25 years
ago, so he was grateful for the opportunity
to run his little restaurant. "If I were living
under their rule," he said, "I would have to
do what they told me to."
Government officials also are quick to
point to Taiwan's tremendous economic
growth and stability. At one government
briefing-we attended dozens, each begin-
ning with a one-sided movie and ending with
a similarly biased talk-the government
spokesman told us that the average
Taiwanese today consumes 20.3 per cent
more food and purchases 4.8 times as much
clothing than the Taiwanese of 20 years ago.
Eighty-eight per cent of Taiwanese families
own television sets, he continued, and the
"Generally it is c
owned by the
member. The no
against any maj
when they do, tI
closed. The Ta
example, was si
as Taiwan's qi
treatment of pa
popular with yo
few students ha
and Lenin, and
coming out of
'Th o ugh Taiwan is well (
becoming a developed natioi
case for democracy "it is not.
government's "Well-to-do" program has all
but eliminated poverty in Taiwan ...
Taiwan, the bureaucrats say, is a model
province for the rest of China. They smile,
and call it a "showcase for democracy."
Though Taiwan is well on its way to
becoming a developed nation, "a showcase
for democracy"- it is not.
There is no press freedom, for example.
Reading material is restricted to prevent
the general public from being exposed to
communist propaganda. The line between
propaganda and criticism of the gover-
nment, however, is very thin indeed. -
"In Taiwan, the obligation of the press is
to correspond to national policy when it is
correct," said one of the editors of Taiwan's
referred to as
to "protect" Ta
side effects w
ily available i
home, the gove:
to sensitize the