All through history people have been escaping, though it’s often called migration in the drier text books. It amounts to the same thing; escaping starvation, giant sloths, glaciers, or men with sticks and stones. Taiwan has been tied to this notion of escape since the Stone Age. Taiwan has long been a land of refuge.
18 000 years ago during the last ice age ocean levels were low enough that Taiwan would have been reachable on foot but probably way too cold to live in. People would have run here to escape only to freeze to death. A pattern will emerge here in a second.
About 10 000 years ago, Taiwan was probably being settled by Austronesians, who would go on to become Formosan Aboriginal People. They came from all over the Southern Pacific, escaping angry volcanoes and weather gods, hungry sharks, and starvation, only to end up bullied, harassed and slaughtered by the Chinese, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, and then the Chinese again. This wasn’t the only place that it happened, ..happens.
The Chinese first came in real numbers in the 16th century as the Ming Dynasty crumbled. The last remnants of the Ming came to Taiwan, Penghu, and Kinmen with Cheng Chen Kung and sought a place to regroup and rebuild. The Ming continued on Taiwan for nearly 20 years after it had been exterminated on the mainland. The Ching Dynasty hit Taiwan in 1683 and lots of previously escaped folks died. Everybody else got ponytails.
Then the Ching held Taiwan for over two hundred years. Then they gave it to Japan in exchange for Japanese gains in Manchuria, where the Manchu Ching came from. Again the people of this island were bullied, harassed and slaughtered. Some of the folks created Republic of Formosa, the first in Asia, in 1895. It lasted 2 weeks and then it was crushed by the Imperial Japanese Forces.
In 1947 when the tide started to turn in the Chinese Civil War the KMT began to send more troops to this most western outpost of the empire. This lovely time was the beginning of the White Terror, which most people forget about on 2/28, every year.
Then two years later, Chiang Kai Shek himself came here with nearly two million refugees, mostly soldiers, ending the ambiguity. Four roughly six hundred years, or ten thousand, depending on who you believe, the Chinese had been escaping to Taiwan and finally China came here. And many more of the previously escaped perished horribly.
George Orwell talked about the need for escape too, you know, in Animal Farm and in 1984. In Animal Farm the animals escape the farmer into a worse hell of their own creation. In 1984 the Winston and Julia think of escape,
Often they gave themselves up to daydreams of escape. It was all nonsense, as they both knew. In reality there was no escape.
But he wasn’t all gloom and despair; he did reveal one way for individuals to escape,
But if he can make complete, utter submission, if he can escape from his identity, if he can merge himself in the Party so that he is the Party, then he is all-powerful and immortal.If he was right we may have escaped in the wrong direction. Here we are for now, the New Taiwanese; simply the latest wave of escape artists to find this island, escaping political oppression, and correctness, high taxes, cold weather, or poverty. We should be safe until the next wave of change sweeps through here. Resistance is futile.