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Taiwan mourns the death of independence activist and academic Su Beng | Taiwan News

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On Friday, September 20, Su Beng, a longtime Taiwanese independence activist, whose first name was Shih Chao-hui (施朝暉), died at the age of 100, just over one month of what would have been his 101st birthday on November 9 by Western calculations. He was pronounced dead at 11:09 p.m. at Taipei University Medical Hospital.

Known as Shi-Ming (史 明) in Taiwan, Su Beng was an iconic figure in the history of the Taiwanese independence movement. historian and political advisor. Su Beng’s name was chosen as the pen name for the book “Taiwan’s 400 Year History”, which he wrote during a period of exile living in Tokyo, Japan.

He was born in the Shilin district of Taipei when Taiwan was still a colony of the Japanese Empire in 1918. Su, who graduated from Waseda University in 1942 with a degree in politics and economics, developed a strong anti-colonial sentiment during the Japanese colonial period. Before the end of World War II, Su Beng would have worked in China with the Communist Party, but he was never an official member of it according to most accounts.


Su Beng at Waseda University in Japan in 1937 (Wikimedia Commons)

After the Kuomintang (KMT) withdrew from Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War, Su also returned to Taipei as a Taiwan independence activist. Su was unhappy with the treatment Taiwanese received from the Chinese Communist Party and the nationalist government led by the KMT.

In 1950, Su created the Taiwan Independence Armed Corps which plotted the assassination of Chiang Kai-shek. This resulted in him being identified as an enemy of the state by the KMT government.

After several months on the run, Su snuck onto a ship bound for Japan and ended up in Tokyo, where he was jailed for a brief period, but was ultimately granted political asylum. Su then opened a noodle shop in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district, where he will remain for decades. During this time, Su returned to scholarship and wrote his book “Taiwan’s 400 Year History”, which was first published in Japanese, then in Mandarin and English.

In 1993, he finally returned to Taipei, where he launched the Taiwan Independence Action Motorcade, which roams the streets of Taipei with loudspeakers, banners and gongs advocating Taiwan independence. As a leading scholar and activist, Su Beng was an influential figure who helped develop a historiography centered on Taiwan as a means of promoting national consciousness among Taiwanese.

For the past few years, Su has served as a senior advisor in the president’s office. Su celebrated her 100th birthday in November 2017 (the traditional Asian method of calculating age includes time spent in the womb) with a large crowd of supporters, including President Tsai and prominent figures from the Progressive Democratic Party (DPP). .

Su was a staunch supporter of the Tsai administration. As he celebrates his centenary, he urged the country to support Tsai’s candidacy for a second term “because it can provide the leadership needed to carry out the reforms Taiwan needs and move towards a free society. and democratic, ”Su said.

Tags : independence activistworld war
Teresa R. Cabrera

The author Teresa R. Cabrera