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May 27, 2017

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Lazy, decadent youth shows nothing has changed

Everybody in Taiwan knows who Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水) is. A 12.9-kilometer freeway tunnel passing under Snow Mountain (雪山) linking Taipei and Yilan in Northern Taiwan was opened in 2006. It is named Chiang Wei-shui Freeway. Currently, his likeness is featured on the dime (NT$10) in Taiwan.

Born in Yilan in 1891, Chiang graduated from the Taiwan Medical College, now the National Taiwan University College of Medcine, and founded a hospital in Taipei. He began participating in the movement to establish the Taiwan Assembly in 1920. In 1921 he helped found the Taiwan Cultural Association (台灣文化協會). He was imprisoned for four months in 1923 and again in 1925 for his opposition to the Japanese colonial government. In total, he was jailed more than 10 times.

Chiang then founded the Taiwan People's Party, the first legal political party in Taiwan. It contacted the League of Nations several times to protest Japanese issuance of special permits for opium sales, as well as the Wushe Incident of 1930. The colonial government forced the dissolution of the party in 1931. He died of typhoid in the same year at the age of 40. He is known as Dr. Sun Yat-sen of Taiwan.

Chiang knew full well who his fellow Taiwanese were. So he wrote and published "A Clinical Lecture" (臨床講義) in 1921. The history of a Taiwanese patient (who is none other than himself) he wrote in his book runs:

Age: 27 after nationality changed

Original Nationality: Taiwan Intendancy, Fujian Province, Republic of China

Present Address: Taiwan under the Japanese Governer-General's Government

Location: 120 East Longitude/22.25 North Altitude Occupation: First Gate Guard, World Peace

Heredity: Apparently having blood relationship with the Yellow Emperor, Lord Zhou, Confucius, Mencius, etc.

Talent: Healthy and strong and wise because of blood relationship with the above-mentioned saints and wisemen

Anamnesis (Past Diseases): Healthy, wise and strong-willed in infancy (Koxinga Era); weak, weak-willed and subservient (Qing China Era); recovered a little after living in the Japanese Empire because of imperfect treatment that has failed to cure the diseases suffered for 200 years

Present Disease: moral decadence, greediness, poor spiritual life, ugly custom, imbedded superstition, stubbornly stuck to wrong ideas, desire to make instant profit, depravity and laziness, corruption, meanness, vanity, shamelessness, etc.

Didn't Chiang correctly diagnose a man in the street everywhere in Taiwan of his time? A little bit too harshly, perhaps? He added "Original Nationality" in the medical history of the patient to indicate the people of Taiwan were ethnically and culturally Chinese, though they were all subjects of the Japanese Empire. They were mean, subservient, morally decadent, greedy, superstitious, stuck to wrong ideas, ready to make instant gains, vain and shameless. Yet he wished to liberate these people from the Japanese colonial oppression, because he loved Taiwan and tried what he could to make them free. It's a pity that he could not live to see Taiwan become part of the Republic of China at the end of the Second World War in 1945.

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