About Su Beng


SU BENG (史明; pinyin: Shĭ Míng; Wade-Giles: Shĭh Míng; Hoklo Taiwanese: Sú-bêng),  lifelong Taiwan independence activist, revolutionary and author of the seminal book, TAIWAN’S 400 YEAR HISTORY, was born in the Shih Lin district of Taiwan in 1918. 

史明 is the pen name that he used for the first version of  TAIWAN'S 400 YEAR HISTORY, which was written in Japanese and published in 1962 . Since then, this nom de guerre has stuck. Read about the meaning behind Su Beng’s pen name in my previous blog post.

His given name is Si Tiau-hui (施朝暉; pinyin: Shī Cháohuī; Hoklo Taiwanese: Si Tiâu-hui).

While studying politics and economics at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, Su Beng became a Marxist, socialist idealist. Upon graduating from Waseda in 1942, Su Beng went to Shanghai to work as an undercover agent with the Chinese Communists (CCP). His intent was to resist Japan's rising imperialism.

As he became disillusioned with the CCP, he refused to join the party and began to slowly plot his escape. Finally, he was able to return to Taiwan in 1949. By then the CCP had risen to power in China, and the Nationalist Chinese Party /Kuomintang (KMT) had to retreat to Taiwan where they instituted martial law after massacring over 20,000 people in an island wide uprising (which began February 28, 1947). Upon returning to Taiwan, Su and others began devising a plan to topple the Chiang Kai-shek/KMT) dictatorship on Taiwan.

When Su’s plot to assassinate Chiang was discovered in 1952, he had to flee to Japan. There he continued to support Taiwan’s underground independence movement. His Tokyo noodle shop funded the movement and served as a secret training headquarters for his underground network of activists. It was there that he wrote the first version of TAIWAN'S 400 YEAR HISTORY. The Chinese language version of TAIWAN'S 400 YEAR HISTORY (台彎人四百年史) was later published in 1980 and an abridged English version of the book was published in 1986.

Six years after martial law was lifted, Su Beng returned to Taiwan in 1993.  In 1994 Su Beng established the Taiwan Independence Action (TIA) motorcade. Every Saturday and Sunday the motorcade makes its rounds in Taipei delivering messages over a megaphone, that “The Taiwanese must throw off the shackles of post-World War II colonization to become a normal country” and “The Taiwanese need to stand up for themselves and Taiwan.” He and the TIA motorcade are a common fixture at major political rallies in Taiwan.

Su Beng still frequently speaks about his views on Taiwan and continues to be an enduring symbol of the fight for the rights of the Taiwanese people.