Today is a national holiday, to remember what happened 58 years ago. The definitive history of this (for English speakers) is Formosa Betrayed by George Kerr – which is available online. The most relevant chapters for the 2-28 incident are:
Yesterday, the president met with James Soong, the head of the People First Party – and released a 10-point agreement document.
I can’t think of a more unlikely partnership than between Chen Shui-bian and James Soong. Back in March last year, it was generally thought that the PFP were the main people behind all the demonstrations protesting the presidential election; you’d have thought all the ranting by Soong about being robbed and ‘storming the presidential palace’ would have bought him an enemy for life in Chen (not to mention Soong’s previous history as head of the GIO).
- Spend the next 4 years in the same impasse as the previous 4 years – where the legislature blocks almost everything the president sends them.
- Cut a deal.
Party loyalty is strong in Taiwan, so the chances of getting a few disgruntled KMT legislators to jump ship were pretty minimal (although, who knows what might happen if the KMT leadership battle turns ugly?), which leaves the PFP as the only option. There had been rumours and plans for this meeting for a while – but most people were pretty sceptical that anything would come of it; from that perspective, the outcome today is a success.