4/22/2010

Badu (八堵), Taiwan to Boise, Idaho


Badu (八堵), Taiwan, originally uploaded by Patrick Cowsill.

Today, I took this shot in Badu (八堵), Taiwan, which is around 30 kilometers north of Taipei, in the mountains that separate where I live from Taiwan's most northern port, Keelung (基隆). 

The 228 on the side of the arch is a memorial to those in Taiwan murdered on the orders of the dictator Chiang Kai-shek and his accomplices in government by lower positioned henchmen (many of whom live in Taiwan to this day - some of their descendants still handle the levers of power to protect them; others, or at least their offspring and grandkids, have carpetbagged off to the West). Witnesses of the 228 massacre (named after the date it started, February 28, 1947), which saw some 30,000 Taiwanese professors, bureaucrats and intellectuals die, claim it was done in a power grab. The Japanese, who were defeated by the Americans in WWII, suddenly vacated Taiwan in October, 1945, leaving so many plum assets that it became hard for the Chinese invaders filling the vacuum to refuse and / or to withstand murdering anyone perceived to be a hindrance to these goals or a possible threat down the road.

If you think I am smoking crack, you might want to look at the statistics from this era. Even though the Chinese invaders occupied only eight percent of Taiwan’s civilian population, they managed to procure almost all of the top positions of the bureaucracy and enterprise leadership created by the Japanese. In fact, 68 percent of all Chinese living in Taiwan were employed in tertiary industries. These individuals found their positions not because they were possessing of, as it has been pointed out, “professional and administrative abilities and energies” but rather “[b]ecause these personal were loyal to the Nationalist government, having largely worked for the Nationalists on the mainland” and so it felt “obliged to take care of them” (I am quoting Jacoby and Wang, see sources below). Wang provides statistics on senior administration positions in 1946, to bring home a point on this trend: 

No. of Posts, Ratios of Chinese to Taiwanese . . .
Dept. Director: 8 or 100:0
VP Dept. Director: 3 or 67:33
Group Director: 42 or 90:10
Sec. Dir. (Central Gov.): 36 or 100:0
Sec. Dir. (Loc. Gov.): 96 or 97:3
Specialists: 87 or 87:13

Wang continues, quoting a Western observer: “the government’s policy is to arrange for as many [Chinese] as possible to work in the government . . . Those who were from [China] want to go back, but at the moment they have to get a job to survive, so it is almost impossible to lay off the redundant staff.” In Wang’s assertion, we can see the possibility that Taiwan did not have the prerequisite highly trained and motivated bureaucracy necessary for developing a public sector or infrastructure, but rather many hangers-on, individuals not interested in developing Taiwan but rather in making a bee-line back to China at the first opportunity. Interestingly, factional in-fighting within the KMT hindered Taiwan from the outset before hinting that the true reason for Taiwan’s epic economic launch was a large pool of labor and the successful establishment of small and medium-sized manufacturing, which occured despite the efforts of the government, not because of its policies.

1. Jacoby, Neil H. (1966). U.S. Aid to Taiwan. Frederick A. Praeger, Publishers.

2. Wang, Hong-zen. (2002). “Class Structures and Social Mobility in Taiwan in the 
Initial Post-War Period.” The China Journal. Contemporary China Center, Australian National University, No. 48, pp. 55-68.


*****

On a different note, I received a long and informative letter from the city historian of Boise. She told me, among other things, Boise's Chinatown was razed by an urban renewal project in the 1970s. Three buildings are all that remain today, two of them are on Front Street, just east of Capitol Boulevard. The other is around the corner on 6th street (this one is now a tattoo parlor). 

I think I may have also discovered, in talking to her, a problem with the U.S. census. It seems it does not distinguish between Chinese and Taiwanese individuals. The Chinese population for the state of Idaho in 2000 was 2,224. That would undoubtedly include some people hailing from Taiwan. For some reason, our government sees Chinese and Taiwanese as the same.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

You know too much and talk too straight-forward; you will be the one certainly eliminated by KMT if you were living in Taiwan before President Lee era. Cho-San

Patrick Cowsill said...

LOL, I am guilty as charged. Cuff me and stuff me.

CreditWarrior said...

Actually, those buildings dedicated to the 'Chinese' in Boise are professional buildings that just have some sort of plaque or small mural outside. There is no gift shop or souveneir shop or anything like that.

Also, I have an acquaintence who is 70+ years old and he said that the immigrants that were considered 'Chinese' in Idaho in the early settlement days (1800's) were from ALL countries in Asia including Korea and Japan.

The influential immigrants in Boise are the Basque from Spain. There is an entire Basque section of downtown Boise that has bars, gift shops, restaurants, museums and even a cultural meeting hall that is all owned and operated by the Basque. There are two Basque festivals that are celebrated here in Boise every year.

To be honest, the impact of the so-called 'Chinese' has been seriously underplayed here in Idaho. I don't know why that is really. They certainly don't celebrate the Chinese New Year here in Boise.

C

CreditWarrior said...

I like your brief and poignant statement here Anonymous (Cho-San). It reveals the biggest difference between the East and the West. While the West is obsessed with uncovering the 'seedy' events of the past and broadcasting them to the world, the East prefers to look forward and focus on the positive aspects of their history and culture.

In the few words you have spoken Anonymous, I can read between the lines. Most certainly, the Taiwanese and the Chinese are fully aware of their 'good' history and their 'bad' history. But the general temperament in the East is that when it comes to the 'bad' history, it is advised to "let the sleeping dogs lie".

I don't pass judgement here Patrick. I just find it both interesting and revealing-- the differences between the East and the West.

C

Patrick Cowsill said...

"'Chinese' in Idaho in the early settlement days (1800's) were from ALL countries in Asia including Korea and Japan." It figures, and I think this kind of attitude comes down to racism.

"While the West is obsessed with uncovering the 'seedy' events of the past and broadcasting them to the world, the East prefers to look forward and focus on the positive aspects of their history and culture." I don't think I agree with this. In Japan, the government has tried to cover up things like forcing women into slavery during WWII, and I don't think they've tried to apologize. Men who should have been tried as war criminals were actually running the country later on.

And how about China? The government there has yet to own up to the Tianamen Massacre. I really don't think this is positive; in fact, it's quite the opposite as victims and their families don't get closure and a path for things like Tianamen to happen again grows wider.

Thanks for the insight on Boise. I think it's a good starting point for looking at the history of Taiwanese immigration to the US.

Patrick Cowsill said...

BTW, did you know that something like 10,000 Taiwanese become Americans every year? To the best of my knowledge, there are less than 100 Americans who have been naturalized here in Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

“To the best of my knowledge, there are less than 100 Americans who have been naturalized here in Taiwan.”

Close to 95% of the foreign students, so called “brain drain generation of 60s” arrived the States and very few of them if any have ever returned to Taiwan though they all promised to the KMT government that they would return home once they have got the advance degrees.
Although Taiwan has developed and progressed from third world country to one of the advanced industrial countries since then, I always wonder; how do those students who have abandoned Taiwan think of those Americans who have naturalized to be the Taiwanese citizens? ChoSan

Patrick Cowsill said...

Hmm. "Those students who have abandoned Taiwan think of those Americans who have naturalized to be the Taiwanese citizens?" I left my country a long time ago, but I never abandoned it. I would guess that a lot of those students who stayed in the US are pulling for Taiwan. I also know that during the 60s, 70s and 80s, Taiwan had a strong independence / democracy movement that was based in the States.

MARC SCOTT said...

Great info Patrick.

I agree with a lot of what you have said.

Taiwans' identity is becoming too incestuous(Chinese Only) and needs a greater diversity of peoples to influence and nurture positive change.

BlArthurHu said...

thanks, this is the first article on the internet that even mentions that Boise ever had a Chinatown. All it has today are a few scattered small Asian/"Oriental" grocery stores on Fairview and Overland, though the two big tech companies are bringing in quite a few people from China and India.

Patrick Cowsill said...

There is actually about Boise's Chinatown called "Chinatown, Boise, Idaho: 1870-1970 by Arthur A. Hart." His other book "Basin of gold: Life in Boise Basin," 1862-1890 should also talk about the Chinese in Idaho, particularly in Idaho City and the Boise Basin area. Idaho City had a larger population of Chinese, especially in the mid- to late-1800s. "Ethnic Landmarks: The Boise City Walking Series" by Todd Shallat also has a brief section on the Chinese is Boise.

All that remains of Boise's Chinatown today is two buildings on Front Street, just east of Capitol Boulevard, and the other is around the corner on 6th street (this one is now a tattoo parlor).

Look for the history of the Chinese in Boise is at the Idaho State Historical Society. Their website is: http://idahohistory.net/ . They have manuscript collections and books that mention the topic.

BTW, the Chinese population in Idaho for the state of Idaho in 2000 was 2,224.

Patrick Cowsill said...

There are some pretty good links here on Chinese settlers in Idaho:

http://farrit.lili.org/node/102