President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday recalled the lifelong struggles of author and “Taiwanese revolutionary leader” Su Beng (史明), who advocated for Taiwanese nationalism, at the opening ceremony of a museum dedicated to Su in New Taipei City’s Sinjhuang District (新莊).
Tsai was accompanied by Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) and Minister of Culture Lee Yung-te (李永得) at the opening of the Su Beng Museum.
The ceremony coincided with the second anniversary of Su’s passing at the age of 100.
Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office via CNA
Tsai thanked the people who helped create the museum, saying that it would help more Taiwanese learn about Su, and encourage them to reflect on Taiwan and the international situation.
Exhibits at the museum feature Su’s belongings, including handwritten manuscripts, published papers and personal items, which officials said are an important heritage for the nation, as he had been exiled for more than four decades due to his efforts to overthrow the authoritarian Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime.
Tsai said she counts herself lucky to have personally met Su in his later years, adding: “I very much cherish my brief encounter with him; it was a moving experience for me.”
Tsai said that during their meeting she carefully listened to Su’s every word, but sometimes could not fully grasp what he meant.
“He mostly spoke in Hoklo [commonly known as Taiwanese], sometimes switching to Japanese and English. Then thinking that I might not understand, he also spoke in Mandarin Chinese,” Tsai said.
“I was quite aware of his feeling of urgency and the earnest seriousness that he wanted to remind me of important issues,” she said. “I could feel that he had great expectations, with a great passion and an optimistic outlook for Taiwan’s future.”
During the ceremony, Tsai also commented on China’s decision to ban imports of wax apples and custard apples from Taiwan.
“Our government has lodged a protest on this decision. China did not comply with WTO rules and has violated the existing bilateral framework on trade,” she said.
The Council of Agriculture would implement measures to protect the nation’s farmers, Tsai said.
The move would follow in Su’s footsteps, as he had always voiced the plight of and hardships experienced by farmers and workers in Taiwan, she said.
“The global situation has greatly changed over the past few years, which presents opportunities for Taiwan. It is also a testing time for the government and Taiwanese to show resiliency and rally together,” she said.
“The government has been working to gain more benefits and international support for Taiwan, while upholding our dignity and not becoming subservient to others,” she added.
“In this historic time, Taiwan has to face many changes. Therefore we should learn from Su Beng, who persisted during his lifelong mission, and took up his struggle with courage and determination all the way to the end,” Tsai said.
Su has been called the “revolutionary leader of the Taiwanese independence movement” and wrote the highly influential book Taiwan’s 400 Year History (台灣人四百年史).
Su was born to a wealthy family in what is today Taipei’s Shilin District (士林) in 1918 as Shih Chao-hui (施朝暉) and studied at Waseda University in Tokyo.
He went to China to fight alongside Communist troops against Japan during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Su later rallied Taiwanese against former president Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) military takeover of Taiwan, and escaped to Japan in 1952, where he was granted political asylum.
Blacklisted by the KMT for more than four decades, Su returned to Taiwan in 1993, becoming one the elder leaders of the pro-Taiwan independence movement, advocating Taiwanese nationalism.
He also headed the Association for Taiwan Independence.
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