This report came out of Tainan instead of Tamsui from the British Consul, R.W. Hurst, late 1895. Hurst is commenting on the state of Taiwan eight months after China ceded Taiwan to Japan. He calls the ceding an invasion. Taiwan’s junior high school social study textbooks label the ceding of Taiwan by China to Japan in the same terms but, for a reason likely related to indoctrination, do not label the arrival of Chiang Kai-shek and his forces after WWII an invasion. Why the British Consul located to Tainan before 1895 has not been told to me. My guess is Britain cleared out of Tamsui when the French and Chinese became hostile there in the 1880s. Taiwan’s junior high school social study textbooks stress aboriginal groups favored Chinese settlers over other invaders, Japan here and the Dutch East India Company (labeled as Holland in those social study textbooks) before, but the Consul does not share the opinion (see his opening comment) and neither do I. Hurst later writes, “The inhabitants of Formosa, a specially timorous race, have under these circumstances have been slow gaining confidence….” Hurst seems antsy too. The first pages of the report on Taiwan follow:
H.M. Consulate, Tainan, 31 December, 1895
I have the honour to forward an Intelligence Report for Tainan for the Quarter ended this day. I have the to be, Sir, your obedient Servant, R.W. Hurst, Consul
Sir E.M. Safow, KCMG, Her Majesty’s Minister, Tokio
Enclosed in Consul Hursts’, Tainan, Sep of 31, Our 1895
Tainan Intelligence Report for the Quarter ended 31 December 1895
The subjugation of the country by the Japanese except as regards the aborigines who are said to be favourably affected towards them may now be regarded as complete.
For the first 2 or 3 weeks after the occupation a veritable reign of terror prevailed among the panic stricken Chinese. In Tainanfu for many days all the shops closed their doors and it would have appeared like a city of the dead, were it not for the conquering army of Japanese, which was much in evidence parading the principal thorough-fares and occupying many houses which the timorous owners in their panic had deserted. Owing to the truculence of the coolies, the camp followers of the invading army, . . .
[MY NOTE: Taiwan was ceded to Japan by China in April of 1895. The Japanese were not invading.]
. . . a congress of the worst class in Japan, which frequently behaved with much brutality towards them, a large number of Chinese abandoned their dwellings, and fled into the interior, whilst others, including a large proportion of the well-to-do classes have sought a refuge on the mainland of China from the unpalatable rule of the alien.
[MY NOTE: These that fled later came to be known as Half-Mountain People. Many returned to Taiwan with Chiang Kai-shek in the 1940s, their fortunes reversed. They were broke. There is talk of their involvement in the drafting of kill sheets used for the 2-28 massacre of Taiwan’s ruling class.]
The dwellings of all unless they were able to produce title deeds were at the mercy of the conquerers, and much misery must have resulted from destitution and exposure. The inhabitants of Formosa, a specially timorous race, have under these circumstances been slow in gaining confidence, which can hardly be considered fully restored.
Soldiers with fixed bayonets are still posted at Tainanfu.
[MY NOTE: I cannot read the next word. The cursive is pretty, but it looks like “coho.”]
. . . [The soldiers with bayonets] pounce down upon any unfortunate Chinese who may pass with his queue coiled round his head, a procedure resented as wanting in proper respect.
Hurst’s Consular Report continues for a few more pages.