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Taiwan's Ma blames own party for 1947 massacre

Taiwan's Ma blames own party for 1947 massacre

Taiwanese presidential front-runner Ma Ying-jeou on Thursday blamed his own party for a massacre 61 years ago that left thousands dead.
Ma's comments while honoring the native Taiwanese who died at the hands of Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist forces come less than four weeks before he faces off against Frank Hsieh of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in presidential elections.
The 2.28 massacre _ the reference is to the Feb. 28, 1947 altercation between a Nationalist soldier and a Taiwanese woman that set off the killing spree _ remains a key source of acrimony for the island's native Taiwanese, who are descendants of the people who immigrated from the Chinese mainland in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Nationalists have long been identified with the families of people who accompanied Chiang from the Chinese mainland after Mao Zedong's communists took power there in 1949, though Ma himself has made a major effort to appeal to the non-mainlander element _ about 70 percent of Taiwan's population of 23 million.
Foregoing his native Mandarin for the Chinese dialect of Taiwanese, Ma told relatives of victims in the southern city of Chiayi that the Nationalist Party was responsible for the mass killings 61 years ago.
"The government was corrupt and ineffective, and people were leading hard lives," he said. "This is what led to the 2.28 incident."
Ma's condemnation mirrors remarks he made in 2006, which held the Nationalists accountable for the massacre.
The DPP's Hsieh is expected to speak about the episode later in the day, as part of the party's efforts to rally its key constituency of native Taiwanese in the run-up to the March 22 election.
Ma is leading in public opinion polls, though Hsieh hopes he can close the gap by mobilizing hardcore DPP supporters, as well as centrist voters with a residual animus toward Nationalist rule.
The Nationalists governed Taiwan until 2000, when the DPP's Chen Shui-bian won the island's second direct presidential election.


Updated : 2021-06-24 01:49 GMT+08:00