1895, A New Film Coming out on Taiwan's Early Republic

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Wednesday October 29, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

A new film, "1895", will be coming out within a month and it will be screened in many theatres in Taiwan. Its title and subject is 1895 - the year that the Republic of Taiwan was established. If you remember, the Manchu Qing Dynasty lost a war with Japan over who would control Korea during that year. In the subsequent Treaty of Shimonoseki, the Qing falsely surrendered all of Taiwan to Japan. Why do we say falsely? The Qing never controlled all of Taiwan; they only controlled the western part of the island. Nevertheless in mock and false generosity, they gave away all of Taiwan to the Japanese. In this process, no one ever asked or told the Taiwanese on the western part that they were being given away. Nor did anyone tell aboriginals who controlled the eastern half and the central mountain range that they no longer controlled their lands.

To resist this giveaway in 1895, the Republic of Taiwan was established and one of its flags was the Yellow Tiger Flag. This Republic lasted a bare six months in the face of the superior Japanese army which had already defeated the Qing. Nevertheless the subject of this film treats the resistance to Japanese rule put forth particularly by the Hakka people in the area near Hsinchu, though resistance to Japan was present over the island and most stringently in the south.

Don't be mistaken, the resistance to Japan was not because those on Taiwan wanted to be a part of the Manchu Empire inaccurately called China at this time. The previous Qing administration that fled to the continent ten days after the Japanese landed might have leaned toward the Qing where their bread was buttered, but the people on Taiwan fought for Taiwan and not for the Qing. The film promises to focus on the Hakka resistance at the time.

For a more detailed analysis of this and the Yellow Tiger Flag, scroll back to my entry of July 14, 2006. It is a way back; the title is "History is Asking Questions, Taiwan�s Yellow Tiger Flag and the Levels of History." This looks to be a good film; hopefully it will continue to dispel the ill-constructed myth that Taiwan belongs to China.