TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Kuomintang (KMT) legislator for the island county of Kinmen has said the 228 Memorial Day is not worth commemorating, and that the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis is more worthy of national commemoration.
“People in Kinmen feel that 823 is more important, and it is more important than 228 for the Republic of China” said Chen Yu-chen (陳玉珍), per Newtalk, referring to the heavy shelling of Kinmen that occurred on Aug. 23 1958, in what is now known as the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis. At this time, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) fired artillery at Kinmen and Matsu islands, directed at the Kuomintang forces stationed there.
Chen said the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis was important for the consolidation of Taiwan as a nation. She added that prioritizing a memorial of this day would remind people of the horrors of war and the 228 Memorial had become highly politicized, according to Watchout.
Chen is no stranger to controversial statements and stunts. In 2021 she donned leather motorcycle gloves for a brawl in Taiwan's legislature to protest the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said that Taiwan was at a critical point in choosing between peace and war, and claimed revisions to the “All-out Defense Mobilization Readiness Act” would require students over the age of 16 to go to the battlefield in the event of a conflict. Chen made the comments before Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) addressed these concerns, saying Friday (March 3) there was “absolutely no question” of calling students to the battlefield, or to make weapons.
Chen’s comments follow five KMT legislators submitting a petition to the islands' Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters calling for the county to be turned into a permanent demilitarized zone. The councilors noted concerns over mounting tensions between China, Taiwan, and the U.S., saying that they did not want history to repeat itself.
The 228 Memorial Day commemorates the up to 28,000 Taiwanese who died at the hands of the KMT in the 228 Massacre, and the subsequent 38-year period (The White Terror) of human rights abuses, arbitrary detentions, and executions of political dissidents under martial law in Taiwan that followed.