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Legendary revolutionist Su Beng places hope on younger generation

2017/11/05 22:15:42

Su Beng (史明, center)

By Shih Hsiu-chuan, CNA staff reporter

Establishing Taiwan as an independent state is a dream the legendary Su Beng (史明) once said would not come true in his remaining life, but he also said that it will be realized someday "without a doubt."

And the key to carrying out the dream, as he often says to younger generations, is nothing but "perseverance on the path" which he has been exemplifying throughout his life.

Born into a wealthy family in 1918 under Japanese rule, Su Beng, whose given name is Shih Chao-hui (施朝暉), attended college in Japan in 1937. Unlike most Taiwanese with similar backgrounds opting for the medical career, he studied politics and economics at Waseda University in Tokyo.

Su Beng said that in his childhood, he had spent time with Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水) and Lin Hsien-tang (林獻堂), Taiwan democracy pioneers and anti-Japanese activists who were close to his father, and that has sowed the seeds of his anti-colonial perspective.

As Waseda University was steeped in progressive spirit, Su Beng became a fully committed Marxist. He was drawn into the study of 20th century capitalism and the tide of social class ideology that further deepened his resolve to reign in Japan's imperialistic expansion.

Upon graduating from Waseda University in 1942, Su Beng went to China to join forces with the Communist Party of China (CPC) in the fight against Japan. He stayed in China for about seven years working as an undercover to spy on Japan and then engaging in the warfare against the Kuomintang (KMT) during the Chinese civil war.

But according to Su Beng, he was disillusioned with the CPC when he was in China because he had witnessed the "use of extreme brutality and inhumanity" by the CPC against the KMT. The rhetoric the CPC had adopted was "faux Marxism," Su Beng said.

Su Beng noted that he had averted the CPC's bid to recruit him. He eventually made his escape to Taiwan in 1949, only to find that the nature of the KMT regime, as shown in its crackdown on dissidents, was "no different from that of the CPC."

In 1952, Su Beng fled to Japan after his plot to assassinate Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) was discovered and the KMT regime labeled him as a communist.

He had since been in exile in Japan, where he had stayed for 41 years before he managed to sneak back to Taiwan in 1993 at the age of 75.

During his stay in Japan, Su Beng, with the help of his girlfriend Hiraga Kyoko whom he first met he in Beijing, started "New Gourmet," a food shop that sold dumplings and noodles, as a way to make a living and also as a base to train independence activists from Taiwan.

As Chiang Ping-lun (江昺崙), who had assisted in the book "The Oral History of Su Beng," noted, Su Beng could have lived a rich life with the money he earned from the shop, but he chose to use the money to fund activists engaging in the Taiwan independence movement.

Since the Taiwanese Independence Association (TIA) was established in 1967, more than 1,000 people have reportedly involved themselves in the underground trainings, including making explosives.

In the 1970s, some of the TIA's activists had carried out two anti-government arson attacks in Taipei and in Kaohsiung separately, in addition to a plot to kill Chiang Ching-Kuo (蔣經國).

While running the noodle shop, Su Beng began to work on the Japanese language version of "Taiwan's 400 Years of History," which came out in 1962, followed by the Chinese version in 1981, that recounts Taiwan's history since the first settlement by Han Chinese in Taiwan.

Chen Fang-ming (陳芳明), retired professor of Taiwanese literature, once noted that the book is of great importance because it is written from the perspective of Taiwanese people and from a leftist perspective, not from the perspectives of each colonial ruling regime.

The Marxist historian and veteran Taiwanese independence first used Su Beng, which literally means "historically clear" in Hoklo, as his pen name for the Japanese language version, to underline the importance of getting a clear understanding of history.

Educating young people about history has been one of his missions after returning to Taiwan, including rewriting his books into versions for elementary and high school students, resting his hope on the younger generation that they will some day make his dream come true. 1061105