By Albert Leung, Staff Writer
 
Taiwan’s fight for independence has been ongoing since the island was occupied by Japan prior to World War II. Its tumultuous political history and current political situation continues to be a misunderstood and widely unknown issue among those in the United States. By Albert Leung, Staff Writer
 
Taiwan’s fight for independence has been ongoing since the island was occupied by Japan prior to World War II. Its tumultuous political history and current political situation continues to be a misunderstood and widely unknown issue among those in the United States.
 
In the upcoming film Formosa Betrayed, the movie hopes to shed light and incite discussion on Taiwan’s political past and its struggle to be recognized as an independent and sovereign country. The film, directed by Adam Kane, is based on true events and depicts FBI agent James Kelly’s (James Van Der Beek) investigation into the murder of Chicago college professor and political activist Henry Chen. Kelly’s investigation leads him to the two suspected murderers who flee to Taiwan for refuge after realizing the FBI was on their trail. 
 
film - murderAgent Kelly is dispatched to Taiwan to continue the investigation. Upon arriving, he quickly finds himself clashing with the local U.S. State Department, Taiwanese government and investigators, and Chinese Mafia. As his search for the killers continue abroad, Kelly uncovers the brutal techniques once employed by the Republic of China government in Taiwan to quell dissent against the government and their desire to reunite the island with mainland China.
 
“One reason why I wanted to tell this story is because I feel like the Taiwan situation is poorly understood. Frankly not just in the U.S. but also in Taiwan and China,” said co-star, co-producer and story writer Will Tiao. “This is a part of history that we feel isn’t that well known so we wanted to portray it so people can feel and understand where these emotions are originating for the Taiwanese.”
 
Tiao handle multiple responsibilities for this film and was the main catalyst behind the making of the movie when he first began writing the story in 2005. Tiao also established the film production company Formosa Films and began filming Formosa Betrayed under his new company.
 
“This movie is an attempt to tell the story of my parents’ generation who are from Taiwan,” said Tiao. “They had friends who were persecuted and some were cases involved murders. I went out and researched this material through congressional materials, past press coverage and the number of books that were written about the subject, and then created the story version of this movie.”
 
Formosa Betrayed is a thrilling and engaging drama that will surely enthrall audiences in its active and unpredictable storyline. The film attempts to not take a political stance but it is easy to sympathize with those who are lobbying for Taiwan’s independence.
 
The former television star James Van Der Beek delivers a strong silver screen performance in this film and showcases his more mature acting abilities. Hopefully his recognizable face and past fame will help convince American movie-goers to see Formosa Betrayed and not make it seem like a foreign film with difficult subtitles.
 
Having shown in numerous film festivals this past year, Formosa Betrayed has already garnered a bevy of awards including Bestfb - hir res poster Feature Film and Best Actor at the 2009 San Diego Film Festival and the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2009 Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival.
 
The film will surely help bring more awareness to the topic to the public once it hits theaters on Feb. 26 in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Boston. Other cities across the United States and Canada will be announced later.
 
Understanding the Formosa Conflict
 
Editor’s Note:  While CHINAINSIGHT does not take a position on this topic, we feel it is important to understand the Taiwan (Formosa) situation so we are providing the following background information that was furnished to the media by the film’s producers.
 
•   What is Formosa?
Formosa is the Portuguese word for ‘island.’ In 1590, a Dutch navigator aboard a Portuguese ship spotted the island of Taiwan and declared it “Ilha Formosa”, meaning “beautiful island.” Formosa became Taiwan’s name for the next four centuries.
 
•   What was/is Taiwan’s relationship with China?
Taiwan and China do not have official relations, as China maintains that Taiwan is part of its territory.  However, the Chinese government has never actually ruled Taiwan.  China maintains hundreds of missiles pointed at the island of Taiwan as a threat against declaring its independence.  Economically, trade flows between Taiwan and China are over $100 billion. 
 
•   What was/is Taiwan’s relationship with the United States?
The United States does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation.  It maintains a “One-China” policy, which states that there is one China, which Taiwan is a part of.   However, under the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States is obligated to “help defend” Taiwan in case of attack from mainland China.
 
•   Does the Chinese government recognize the people of Taiwan as Chinese?
The Chinese government considers Taiwan as part of its territory, and thus considers all residents of Taiwan as Chinese.  Many on the island of Taiwan disagree with this, and call for a separate identity as Taiwanese.
 
•   Do Taiwanese consider themselves Chinese?
The issue of identity is complex in Taiwan.  Roughly people in Taiwan can be divided into two groups – those who came with the KMT and Chiang Kai-Shek (and their descendents) tend to call themselves Chinese.  Those whose ancestors have been in Taiwan for many generations tend to call themselves Taiwanese.
 
•   What is the One-China policy and what is Taiwan’s position regarding it?
The One-China policy states that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the sole legitimate government of mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.  All countries seeking diplomatic relations with the PRC must acknowledge this policy and refrain from maintaining official relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan.
 
There are two different camps in Taiwan regarding the issue.  Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) does not agree with the One-China principle and states that Taiwan and China are two separate countries. However the Kuomintang (KMT) is supportive of the One-China policy and moving Taiwan towards becoming an official part of the PRC.
 
•   Why is the Taiwan-China issue still relevant today?
Because the fight for Taiwan independence is ongoing and poses a complicated problem for the world’s nations seeking to create economic ties with both Taiwan and China’s booming economies.
 
•   What are the global implications of Taiwan declaring independence from China?
There are over 1500 missiles currently pointed from mainland China towards Taiwan, in case Taiwan declares independence.  In 1996, when Taiwan held its first democratic elections, China lobbed 2 missiles near the island to warn it from declaring independence.  President Clinton sent two U.S. battleships in the Taiwan Strait in the largest show of U.S. military force in Asia since the Vietnam War.
 
The threat of a military conflict over this issue is ongoing. The United States is obligated under the Taiwan Relations Act to “help defend” Taiwan if it is attacked.  Taiwan independence is the most likely source of military conflict between China and the United States.

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CHINAINSIGHT (CI) is published monthly ((except July/August and November/December are combined) by China Insight, Inc., an independent, privately owned company started in 2001 and headquartered in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota.

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