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2022.06.28 关于台湾的最佳五本书

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Economist Reads | Taiwan
Our former Asia columnist on what to read to grasp the looming crisis in Taiwan
The best five books for understanding a likely flashpoint
People wear a face mask walk past a Taiwan flag, as Taiwan adds 333 domestic cases and 2 imported cases, in Taipei, Taiwan, 17 May 2021. The capital Taipei and New Taipei have forced non essential businesses such cinemas and book stores to close and rolled out compulsory mask wearing in outdoor areas whilst suspending large activities and encouraging people to receive Covid test and vaccination. (Photo by Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Jun 28th 2022 (Updated Jul 5th 2022)


This article is part of our Summer reads series. Visit our collection to discover “The Economist reads” guides, guest essays and more seasonal distractions.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has drawn new attention to Taiwan’s precarious international position. Just as Vladimir Putin argues Ukraine and Russia are “one nation”, so China maintains Taiwan is now and has always been “part of China”. Unlike Ukraine, however, Taiwan—once known as “Formosa”—has no international support for the idea that it is an independent country. China insists other countries follow a “one-China policy”, according no official recognition to the government in Taipei. China is intent on eventual “reunification” with Taiwan, and has never ruled out the resort to the use of force to achieve this, if peaceful means take too long. Much foreign writing on Taiwan tacitly accepts China’s position, referring to Taiwan as a “renegade province”. But its history is much more complicated and contentious than this implies. These books—four “classics” and an excellent recent round-up—give a flavour of that history, helping to explain why “the Taiwan issue” is so dangerous, and so hard to resolve.

The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China. By Jay Taylor. Belknap Press; 752 pages; $25 and £20.95

The origins of Taiwan’s current predicament lie in the end of the second world war. The island had been a Japanese colony since 1895, but the victorious allies agreed that on Japan’s surrender, it should be returned to China, where Chiang Kai-shek’s ruling Kuomintang (kmt) was about to become embroiled in civil war with the Chinese Communist Party. As it lost the war, it retreated to Taiwan and for decades maintained the fiction that it was the legitimate government of all of China. Alliance with the dictatorship Chiang established there seemed to be one of those embarrassing right-wing entanglements the cold war foisted on America. Chiang himself, with his glamorous wife, Soong Mayling, his cool, austere manner and his comic-book title, “the Generalissimo”, seemed to be somewhere on the spectrum between joke and monster. This enthralling book by a historian at Harvard explodes these caricatured conventional views of both Chiang and the Chinese civil war. The picture that emerges is of a far more subtle and prescient thinker than the man America’s General Joseph Stilwell used to refer to as “peanut”, and Britain’s chief of staff, Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke, dismissed as “a cross between a pine marten and a ferret”.

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Formosa Betrayed. By George H. Kerr. Camphor Press; 520 pages; $19.99 and £15.99

For many young Taiwanese, the Japanese surrender held the promise of “liberation”. But that was not the way it turned out. Chiang’s Nationalist troops behaved like a conquering army and local resentment built up. In February 1947, after the police beat up an old woman selling cigarettes without a licence, local anger boiled over into an island-wide insurrection, put down at the cost of thousands of lives, including many members of Taiwan’s social and intellectual elite. The definitive English-language account of this period was written by an eyewitness, George Kerr, who was an American diplomat. Besides chronicling the kmt’s repression and “white terror”, he also described the thoroughness with which the island was in effect looted, as Nationalist numbers were bolstered by the arrival of 1.5m-2m refugees from mainland China after the civil war there ended in their defeat in 1949. The book, translated into Chinese in 1974, had a huge influence on the small and oppressed Taiwan independence movement that flickered at home and, in particular, among activists who had fled into exile. The events of “February 28th” or “228” colour Taiwan’s politics to this day.

A Taste of Freedom: Memoirs of a Taiwanese Independence Leader. By Peng Ming-min. Camphor Press; 234 pages; $12.99 and £9.99

One of those exiles was Peng Ming-min, who died this year at the age of 98. A member of the fifth generation of his family on the island, Peng was a star student in the last years of Japanese rule, winning a place at university in Japan itself. For all the horrors of the immediate post-war period, Peng did rather well when he went home. He became a respected authority on international law, and won a job advising Taiwan’s—ie, in those days, “China’s”—delegation at the United Nations. But he was still apolitical. This became untenable. How could he lend his prestige to the government’s nonsense about recovering the mainland, and connive in its discrimination against Formosans like himself? In 1964 he and two friends drafted a manifesto insisting “that there is one China and one Formosa”. The knock on the door came before the manifesto was distributed. He was sentenced to eight years in prison but freed to house arrest the following year, from where he achieved an elaborate escape in 1970 via Hong Kong to Sweden. The authorities suspected, wrongly, that the cia had spirited Peng out. Peng did move to America, where he became a prominent international spokesman for Taiwan’s opposition. It came too late for this memoir, published in 1972, but he eventually made a happier homecoming, to a freer Taiwan, in 1992, where he was a losing candidate in the first free presidential election in 1996.

Island China. By Ralph Clough. Harvard University Press; 264 pages; $65 and £54.95

The survival of Taiwan’s de facto independence has always relied in part on its ties with America. Until Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, there was a fairly clear-cut cold-war divide: America backed its wartime ally, Chiang Kai-shek, against a Communist regime in Beijing it shunned, until Mao Zedong’s split with the Soviet Union opened up a chance for America to “play the China card”. Ralph Clough, a China and Taiwan hand in the State Department, provided one of the earliest and clearest explanations of why Taiwan was the “ticking time-bomb” in US-China policy. Published on the eve of America’s partial abandonment of Taiwan (it switched diplomatic recognition to the People’s Republic on January 1st 1979), “Island China” offered a prescient warning. It also provided one of the first and best accounts of the island’s modern history and the social and political tensions beginning to strain the fabric of the kmt dictatorship (led, after Chiang Kai-shek’s death in 1975, by his less rigid son, Chiang Ching-kuo). The divide between the “mainlander” elite whose families arrived in the late 1940s and the “native Taiwanese”, on the island for generations, was to define politics as Chiang Ching-kuo tentatively liberalised.

The Trouble with Taiwan. By Kerry Brown and Kalley Wu Tzu Hui. Bloomsbury; 272 pages; $17.95 and £12.99

That this selection is dominated by books written decades ago is not because not much good has appeared lately—far from it. Rather it is that history and the basic issues remain unaltered and the risk of an eventual confrontation over Taiwan’s future grows even starker. This excellent volume, by a British professor of Chinese studies (yet another former diplomat) and a Taiwanese academic researcher, both provides a good summary of the history and brings the story up to date. It is hard to be optimistic about Taiwan’s long-term future, but the authors do at least try to to avoid the hand-wringing gloom of much commentary. They note how Taiwan is far more than just a geopolitical issue for China. An open, free, democratic society, it offers an alternative vision of Chinese modernity, and hence one that is deeply threatening to the Chinese Communist Party. They argue that, if there is hope, it is in starting to think in a different way about some of the issues that make Taiwan seem doomed by irreconcilable contradictions: about national identity, statehood and sovereignty. “Above all,” they conclude, “the question of what it means to be ‘Chinese’ needs a rethink.”

Our editor-at-large is himself the author of a book, from 1992, on the Taiwan issue:

Taiwan: China’s Last Frontier. Taiwan: China’s Last Frontier. By Simon Long. Macmillan. 264 pages

A history of Taiwan-China relations, written as they were being transformed by the dramatic democratisation of Taiwan on the one hand, and on the other by the global reassessment of Communist rule in China that followed the Beijing massacre of 1989.

He also contributed a chapter to “Taiwan Studies Revisited”, Edited by Dafydd Fell and Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao, Routledge, 2019, a collection of essays by the authors of books on Taiwan, reassessing their earlier work with the benefit of hindsight.

2021年5月17日,在台湾台北,人们戴着口罩走过一面台湾国旗,因为台湾增加了333个国内病例和2个进口病例。首都台北和新台北已经迫使电影院和书店等非必要的业务关闭,并在户外地区推出强制戴口罩,同时暂停大型活动,鼓励人们接受Covid测试和疫苗接种。(照片:Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
2022年6月28日 (2022年7月5日更新)

这篇文章是我们夏季阅读系列的一部分。请访问我们的收藏,以发现 "经济学人读物 "指南、特邀文章和更多季节性的分心。

俄罗斯对乌克兰的入侵引起了人们对台湾不稳定的国际地位的新关注。正如弗拉基米尔-普京认为乌克兰和俄罗斯是 "一个国家 "一样,中国也认为台湾现在是而且一直是 "中国的一部分"。然而,与乌克兰不同的是,台湾--曾经被称为 "福尔摩沙"--没有国际支持它是一个独立国家的想法。中国坚持要求其他国家遵循 "一个中国政策",不承认台北政府的官方地位。中国有意最终与台湾 "统一",并且从不排除在和平手段耗时过长的情况下使用武力来实现这一目标。许多关于台湾的外国文章都默认了中国的立场,将台湾称为一个 "叛逆的省份"。但它的历史比这所暗示的要复杂和有争议得多。这些书--四本 "经典之作 "和一本最近出版的优秀综述--介绍了这段历史,有助于解释为什么 "台湾问题 "如此危险,而且如此难以解决。


台湾目前的困境起源于第二次世界大战的结束。该岛自1895年以来一直是日本的殖民地,但胜利的盟国同意在日本投降时将其归还中国,而蒋介石执政的国民党(kmt)即将陷入与中国共产党的内战之中。由于战争失败,国民党撤退到了台湾,并在数十年间坚持虚构自己是全中国的合法政府。与蒋介石在那里建立的独裁政权结盟,似乎是冷战时期强加给美国的那些尴尬的右翼纠葛之一。蒋介石本人,与他迷人的妻子宋美龄,他的冷静、朴素的态度和他的漫画书头衔 "总司令",似乎是在笑话和怪物之间。这本由哈佛大学历史学家撰写的引人入胜的书揭露了对蒋介石和中国内战的这些漫画式的传统看法。书中出现了一个比美国将军约瑟夫-史迪威(Joseph Stilwell)所说的 "花生 "和英国参谋长、陆军元帅艾伦布鲁克(Lord Alanbrooke)所说的 "松貂和白鼬的混合体 "更微妙、更有预见性的思想家。

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被背叛的福摩萨。作者:George H. Kerr。樟树出版社;520页;19.99美元和15.99英镑

对许多年轻的台湾人来说,日本的投降带来了 "解放 "的希望。但结果却并非如此。蒋介石的国民党军队表现得像一支征服者的军队,当地人的怨恨也在不断积累。1947年2月,在警察殴打一名无证卖烟的老妇人后,当地的愤怒沸腾起来,变成了全岛性的叛乱,以数千人的生命为代价被镇压,其中包括许多台湾的社会和知识精英成员。关于这段时期的权威性英文报道是由一位目击者乔治-科尔写的,他是一名美国外交官。除了记录公里的镇压和 "白色恐怖 "外,他还描述了该岛实际上被彻底掠夺的情况,因为在1949年中国大陆的内战以失败告终后,有150万至200万难民从中国大陆来到这里,使国民党的人数得到加强。这本书在1974年被翻译成中文,对在国内,特别是在逃亡的活动家中闪烁的小型和受压迫的台湾独立运动产生了巨大影响。二二八 "事件或 "二二八 "事件至今仍为台湾的政治增添了色彩。


彭明敏就是这些流亡者中的一员,他今年去世,享年98岁。彭明敏是其家族在岛上的第五代成员,在日本统治的最后几年里,他是一名明星学生,在日本的大学里赢得了一席之地。在战后不久的恐怖时期,彭德怀回国后表现相当出色。他成为受人尊敬的国际法权威,并赢得了一份为台湾--即在那些日子里,"中国"--在联合国的代表团提供咨询的工作。但他仍然不关心政治。这一点变得站不住脚了。他怎么能把自己的威望借给政府关于收复大陆的胡言乱语,并纵容政府对像他这样的台湾人的歧视?1964年,他和两个朋友起草了一份宣言,坚持 "有一个中国,有一个台岛"。在宣言分发之前,敲门声响起。他被判处8年监禁,但第二年被释放为软禁,1970年他从那里经香港逃到瑞典。当局错误地怀疑是中情局把彭德怀弄走了。彭德怀确实搬到了美国,在那里他成为了台湾反对派的著名国际代言人。对这本1972年出版的回忆录来说,这一切都太晚了,但他最终在1992年愉快地回到了更自由的台湾,在1996年第一次自由的总统选举中,他是一个失败的候选人。

岛屿中国。作者:Ralph Clough。哈佛大学出版社;264页;65美元和54.95英镑

台湾事实上的独立生存一直部分地依赖于它与美国的关系。在理查德-尼克松于1972年访问中国之前,双方存在着相当明确的冷战分歧。美国支持其战时盟友蒋介石,反对它所回避的北京共产党政权,直到毛泽东与苏联的分裂为美国提供了 "打中国牌 "的机会。国务院的中国和台湾问题专家拉尔夫-克拉夫(Ralph Clough)对台湾是美中政策中 "定时炸弹 "的原因做出了最早和最清晰的解释之一。在美国部分放弃台湾的前夕(1979年1月1日,美国将外交承认转为对人民共和国的承认),《岛屿中国》提出了一个有预见性的警告。它还提供了关于该岛现代历史以及社会和政治紧张局势的最早和最好的描述之一,这些紧张局势开始使公里的独裁政权(在1975年蒋介石去世后,由其不太严格的儿子蒋经国领导)的结构变得紧张。1940年代末抵达的 "大陆人 "精英和世代居住在岛上的 "台湾本地人 "之间的分歧,在蒋经国试探性的自由化过程中决定了政治。

台湾的问题。作者:Kerry Brown和Kalley Wu Tzu Hui。Bloomsbury;272页;17.95美元和12.99英镑



台湾。中国的最后边疆。台湾。中国的最后边疆。作者:Simon Long。麦克米伦公司。264页


他还为Dafydd Fell和Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao编辑的 "Taiwan Studies Revisited "提供了一章,该书是关于台湾的书籍作者的论文集,在事后重新评估其早期工作。
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