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Taiwan Communique: Revealing the Truth of Taiwan’s White Terror Era Ep 63

By Felicia Lin

A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:

 In this episode of the Talking Taiwan podcast, I continue my conversation with Gerrit van der Wees about the Taiwan Communique, and how it revealed the truth of Taiwan’s White Terror Era. Taiwan Communique is a publication that was started in 1980, during Taiwan’s martial law era, a dark period in Taiwan’s history in which there was extreme censorship and the people of Taiwan were denied their civil liberties. For these reasons Gerrit and his wife Mei-chin felt it was necessary to do something to shed light on the human rights violations that were happening in Taiwan.

It is really remarkable to hear how they gathered all of this sensitive information for the Taiwan Communique under these circumstances and in the pre-Internet era. For over 3 decades the Taiwan Communique was one of the most in-depth English-language resources on Taiwan. So I was really excited about doing this interview with Gerrit because I really wanted to acknowledge the lasting contribution of the Taiwan Communique and to let people know that it still remains available online to this day. It is a tremendous resource for anyone wanting to learn about the challenges Taiwan has faced in going from dictatorship to democracy.

Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

  • What precipitated the creation of the Taiwan Communique
  • The Human Rights Day rally on the 10th of December, 1979, which became known as the Kaohsiung incident
  • The origins and formation of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)
  • The election of the first DPP president, Chen Shui-bian
  • How the Sunflower movement (2014) was a reaction to President Ma Ying-jeou’s policies on trade with China and its impact on local elections in 2016
  • The “Green Wave” of 2014 and 2016
  • The Regan administration’s position on Taiwan in 1980
  • The “Gang of Four” (senators in U.S. Congress) who were supportive of Taiwan
  • How the Taiwan Communique reported on the lack of freedom of press treatment in Taiwan, the prison treatment of opposition leaders and other major developments in Taiwan
  • The Taipei Spring of 1991-1992
  • How they collected and gathered information for the Taiwan Communique in the pre-Internet era when phone calls costed $10/minute
  • How the Taiwan Communique went from a circulation of 40 to thousands and was targeted to key policy makers and news media
  • Gerrit’s proudest moment being acknowledged as the editor of the Taiwan Communique
  • The strict censorship of publications and postal mail in Taiwan the 1980s
  • How Gerrit and his wife Mei-chin got blacklisted by the government in Taiwan
  • Gerrit’s current role teaching the history of Taiwan at George Mason University

Related Links:

Taiwan Communique:

The Kaohsiung incident (1979):

The Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA):


About the Host

Felicia Lin is the Host and Producer of Talking Taiwan, a podcast which seeks to introduce you to interesting stories connected to Taiwan and the diverse individuals who make up Taiwan’s global community.

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