Written by Yi-Yu Lai. While the COVID-19 has stopped many individuals from travelling and interacting over the last two years, some cultural exchanges that we never expected to see have emerged during the pandemic. For example, on February 18th, 2022, people in Dongyin, an insular township in Taiwan’s Matsu Islands, had their first online workshop with those from Yonaguni, an island that belongs to Okinawa. Both islands are considered frontiers in their respective countries, and they had many comparable fates throughout history. Therefore, such a cultural exchange between the islands was particularly impressive because it was an activity with the islands as the focal point.
Category: Outlying Islands
Matsu Language: A Language Too Unique To Forget
Written by Kai-Yang Huang. In 2019, President Tsai Ing-wen signed the National Language Development Act and announced its implementation. For a long time, pragmatism has had a significant impact on Taiwan. People believe that by promoting the use of English to become a “bilingual country,” Taiwan will be able to keep up with the rest of the world. Little do they know that what distinguishes Taiwan in the international community is the very distinctiveness of Taiwanese cultures. As a result, the primary principle of promoting natural language as a national language is to re-inherit a local worldview that has been around for a long time. This will strengthen the worldwide competitiveness of Taiwanese college students.
Reaching Beyond Traditional Voting Blocs: Taiwan’s DPP Launches Campaign in the Matsu Islands
Written by Wen Lii. As Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) enters its primaries ahead of the November 2022 midterm elections, DPP candidates in the Matsu Islands face a different challenge: the party has never nominated candidates for local posts in Matsu. The county has long been considered a stronghold for the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). The DPP could potentially nominate ten or more candidates in Matsu at various levels of government, although nominations are yet to be finalised until May or June. The upcoming races will mark a historic first for the DPP’s participation in these local posts in Matsu. This will signal an unprecedented scale and scope for DPP campaign activities in Matsu, with the opportunity to further solidify grassroots support.
Serendipity: Matsu Islands, Taiwan & Me
Written by Tammy Yu-Ting Hsieh. It was not until 1949 that the concept of “Matsu” was first established. Before the civil war in China, this group of islands were mostly the seasonal resting stops of fishermen from the south-east shore of China. Residents on the archipelago can clearly see the outline of Fujian, whereas “Taiwan” was an island they hardly knew nor had any relationship with. But suddenly, in 1949, Kuomintang armies arrived at Matsu Islands, and in no time, Matsu became the frontline of the Republic of China, aiming cannons at the opposite bank, a place they used to call “home.” To put it romantically, serendipity is how the “Taiwan-Penghu-Kinmen-Matsu Community” came to be today. And I tend to think that serendipity also guided me, a descendant of Minnan and Hakka from Taoyuan City, to embark on this back-and-forth journey to Matsu since 2020.
Matsu Migrants in Bade, Taoyuan City
Written by Cheng-Chung Wang. In Taiwan, we rarely see Matsu in the textbooks, maps, or other materials we’ve been exposed to since childhood, let alone how much we know about Matsu people. Some of us may be unaware that there are many descendants of Matsu migrants living around us. Their moving and settling experiences are very attractive stories that deserve to be told.
The “Lost Outlying Island” of the Tachen Diaspora
Written by Kai-yang Huang. As Taiwan’s identity debates are slowly eking towards a consensus, it is essential to also pay attention to the diverse marginal voices of the people of Taiwan. Thus, because discourse about Taiwan as a “maritime nation” is increasingly common, more attention has been paid to marine conservation—for example, the IOC established the Maritime Protection Agency and has preserved traditional fishing techniques (for example, the Marine Science Museum exhibits traditional Han fisheries). For the Tachen diaspora, the ocean has long been an important part of their customs and a poignant reminder of their forced migration from their homeland due to the Chinese civil war and their subsequent migration to the United States. Supposing that Taiwan perceives itself as a “maritime nation.” In that case, these narratives deserve a place in Taiwan’s modern historical understanding.
The Penghu Migrants Behind Kaohsiung’s Post-war Boom
Written by Tshinn-Hun Miguel Liou. Strictly speaking, there’s nothing inherent about the connection between the people of Kaohsiung and Penghu, and the route that many people from Penghu took from Kaohsiung was often more treacherous than the path for those emigrating within Taiwan. However, the consensus linking people from these two places should give pause for thought. So, why is Kaohsiung the first choice for people from Penghu who move to Taiwan?
At the Edge of State Control: The Creation of the “Matsu Islands”
Written by Sheng-Chang Lin. As well as creating Matsu as a region, the Cold War also tied Matsu to Taiwan. Communication had been minimal between the two before the war—Taiwan was a colony of Japan, whereas Matsu was part of Fujian—but not both regions were part of a new post-war state. Especially due to the prosperity on Taiwan Island, migration from Matsu to Taiwan has become increasingly common. Nowadays, the Bade district of Taoyuan City（桃園市八德區） and Keelung City （基隆市）are known for their large Matsu population.
Tao People’s Fight for Environmental Justice and Subjectivity on Orchid Island
Written by Mei-Fang Fan. At the meeting of the Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee in March 2018, the convener of the cabinet-level Fact-Seeking Committee and other committee members urged the government to formulate compensation regulations as soon as possible to compensate the Tao tribe. The Executive Yuan had approved guidelines for the compensation and that a fund management board that includes residents will be established. However, Tao elder anti-nuclear activists said that the Tao tribe rejects the compensation at a protest in front of the Executive Yuan on 29 November 2019.
Remembering Tragic Spirits: The Worship of Nationalist and Communist War Dead in Kinmen
Written by Junbin Tan. would know, Kinmen was the Republic of China’s (ROC Taiwan) battlefront against the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from 1949 to the 1990s. Thus, the residents of Guningtou, a cluster of villages a short drive from Kinmen’s north-western shoreline where one could see Xiamen’s skyscrapers, were first-hand witnesses of battles, artillery bombardments, and decades of militarisation.
Making Narrative out of History: Green Island and the White Terror
Written by Shawna Yang Ryan. Green Island, part of the archipelago of Taiwan, lies roughly 33 kilometres off Taiwan’s east coast. During Taiwan’s martial law period, this was a notorious prison for political prisoners. In my novel, Green Island, the narrator’s father is imprisoned by the KMT for advocating democracy during the transition to KMT rule. Still, the title also functions as a metaphor for Taiwan itself during the martial law era.