This was the fourth and final gathering for Su Beng hosted by a FAPA-YPG chapter and I've been to them all!
When Su Beng told me that he was going to be visiting the US this summer, I immediately thought it would be a great opportunity for "second generation" Taiwanese Americans to get to know him. Su Beng is more well known amongst the "first generation" Taiwanese- who are defined as the first wave of immigrants from Taiwan who were born there and moved to the US as adults.
It was a mini-reunion with my college buddies HoChie Tsai and Rick Chang who were there that day. Back in the day we were all involved with the Taiwanese American Students Club at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.
Taiwan's 400 Year History books and poster were available for sale at the event.
FAPA-YPG of LA/OC members Arthur Chang and Daniel Lin served as translators for Su Beng at the event.
One of the questions that Daniel probed Su Beng about was: How could the Japanese authorities grant Su Beng political asylum even though he was known have been involved in activities to resist the Japanese?
In 1952 Su Beng had fled from Taiwan by stowing away in a boat exporting bananas to Japan. There he was arrested and taken to a detention center for illegally entering the country. He told the authorities that he had had to escape from Taiwan because he was wanted for plotting to assassinate Chiang Kai-Shek, and therefore in need of political asylum. When the Kuomintang authorities contacted the Japanese authorities, stating that Su Beng was wanted for trying to assassinate Chiang Kai-Shek, this in fact proved that Su Beng was in need of political asylum, so he was released and allowed to remain in Japan.
Su Beng's answer to Daniel's question was simply that Japan has always been a nation that follows the rule of law. With proof that Su Beng was a political dissident, the Japanese authorities released Su Beng and granted him asylum, rather than repatriating him to Taiwan where he would have most certainly been arrested, tortured or suffered an even worse fate.
Su Beng's life is certainly full of contradictions. At the Revolutionary in New York event that I hosted for him, one audience member asked if he thought that the Chinese Communists were not as bad as the Kuomintang, since he had worked undercover with the Chinese Communists and later tried to assassinae Chiang Kai-Shek.
Su Beng's response was that he did not join the Chinese Communist party and had become disillusioned and disgusted with them, which is why he fled back to Taiwan from China in 1949. While he thinks that the Kuomintang were oppressive and unjust during their rule of Taiwan he does believe that the Chinese Communists are far worse than the Kuomintang.
At the DC event hosted by FAPA-YPG, Su Beng was asked why he choose to go to Japan in 1952 and how he could reconcile living there with his anti-Japanese sentiments.
Su Beng responded that at the time he didn't have much choice about where he could go when he fled Taiwan. Japan was the nearest, safest place. He also said that he has nothing against the people of Japan; it was the imperialistic ambitions of the Japanese empire that he was opposed to. Also, since he had been educated during the Japanese occupation in Taiwan and attended Waseda University in Tokyo, it was an easy for him to fit into life there.
At the gathering that FAPA-YPG hosted for Su Beng in Boston there was a debate over how/why Su Beng calls himself a Marxist. You can read one of the participants' opinions on that topic here: http://aboutsubeng.blogspot.com/2011/07/su-beng-taiwans-spark-for-national.html
It's been really interesting to see how very different each FAPA-YPG sponsored gathering for Su Beng has been. It's definitely raised some interesting questions about him and his life. His story is also the story of Taiwan and the Taiwanese people, and the complex relationship and history that Taiwan has had with Japan, and China.
Thanks Arthur and Daniel, you did a great job translating for Su Beng!
FAPA-YPG, LA/OC chapter members: Sally Chen, Ingrid Chiu, Arthur Chang, Daniel Lin, Jerry Liu, Serena Liao and Patrick Yang with Su Beng. Thanks for making this event possible!
A huge thanks to all the FAPA-YPG chapters that coordinated and hosted gatherings for Su Beng, during his 2011 US visit. you helped make him more accessible to "second generation" Taiwanese Americans!