Hidden women of history: Hsieh Hsüeh-hung, communist champion of Taiwanese self-determination
Every so often a woman takes up arms to lead a spirited struggle against invaders and occupiers of her homeland. Such women usually wind up dead at an early age, but they capture the imagination.
The Taiwanese revolutionary Hsieh Hsüeh-hung (1901-1970) is such a figure, although like most aspects of Taiwan’s history her significance is contested. Born in Taiwan, buried in Beijing, Hsieh was a communist and also an advocate of Taiwanese self-determination. In the history of world communism, she is noted for being one of the founders of the Taiwanese Communist Party, established in 1928.
In the annals of the Taiwan independence movement, Hsieh has emerged as a heroine of the 1947 uprising, and now the subject of an annual commemoration held in Taiwan on 28 February. In 1948 she founded the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government Alliance.
Hsieh Hsüeh-hung’s fate – in life and in death – was determined by the shifts in attitude towards Taiwanese independence on the part of ruling powers, and by the status of its local left-wing movements. To some degree, she is not so much a woman hidden in history as one rendered visible by it.
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