This article delves into the untold story of how the movement for Taiwan’s independence took root in Philadelphia in 1956. It sheds light on the early organizations that played a crucial role in shaping the Taiwanese American community and advancing the cause of democracy in Taiwan. Florence Chen, a second-generation Taiwanese American, conducted extensive research on this topic for her senior honor thesis at the University of Pennsylvania in May 2008. Unlike the Chinese books on this subject, which often lack accuracy, Florence’s work stands out for its authenticity and valuable insights presented in English.
The Journey Begins
The journey recounted in this book spans three volumes. The first volume, “America’s Security and Taiwan’s Freedom” (Xlibris, 2010), comprises a collection of essays and speeches by the author, Jay Loo, from 1956 to 2009. The second volume, “Free Formosa: A Memoir” (iUniverse, 2019), offers an autobiography intertwined with essays and speeches on US-Taiwan relations. It delves into Jay Loo’s persistent warnings about the existential threat posed by China to the United States’ homeland security, a threat that often goes unnoticed by the US policy community.
The current volume, “Free Formosa: The Beginning,” uncovers previously unpublished documents and correspondence. Notably, it includes an exchange of letters between Jay Loo and Dr. Thomas Liao, which hold great historical significance. Historian Chang Yen-hsien, the former head of Taiwan’s national historical archives, stressed the importance of publishing this correspondence just weeks before his sudden death during a trip to Philadelphia.
A Glimpse into Taiwan’s Past
Within the pages of this book, readers will find rare and valuable glimpses into Taiwan’s past. Included are select postcards from the 1910s and 1920s issued by the Taiwan Governor’s Office, sourced from Dr. Tan Chi-chhun’s esteemed collection. These postcards serve as cherished mementos that provide a window into Taiwan’s history.
Filling the Historical Void
Jay Loo recognizes the dearth of books covering the early history of Formosan clubs and the publication Formosan Brotherhood. In an effort to fill this void, Part IV of the book delves into the early days of these organizations. Reproductions of letters and articles in Japanese, Chinese, and English capture the essence of an era when Taiwanese who had undergone Japanese education were an integral part of the Taiwanese American community. The selected photographs from that time serve as powerful symbols of their enduring legacy.
The Power of the Pen
Part V pays tribute to the Pacific Times by presenting a collection of carefully curated English editorials. These editorials not only underscore the important roles played by the creators and operators of the paper but also reflect the shared aspirations and unity of the Taiwanese American community.
Unearthing Unpublished Works
Parts VI (Unpublished Essays) and VII (Letters to the Editor) feature thought-provoking articles that remain as relevant today as when they were written. Many of the unresolved issues addressed in these parts continue to shape the dialogue surrounding Taiwan’s future.
A Multilingual Tapestry
Some articles within this volume are written in Japanese or Chinese, preserving the original language to provide a more authentic representation of the era. For those fluent only in English, translations of select articles can be found elsewhere in this book or in the first two volumes.
This book, with its remarkable stories and historical documents, is a testament to the enduring spirit of Taiwan’s independence movement. It stands as a tribute to the unwavering dedication of those who fought for freedom and democracy. By shedding light on the origins of the Taiwan Independence movement and the early organizations that played a pivotal role, “Free Formosa: The Beginning” brings valuable insight into the history of the Taiwanese American community.
To explore more about the Taiwanese American community and the rich history of Taiwan’s independence movement, visit Ratingperson.