These days, Su Beng is now in Tokyo trying to turn his noodle shop’s business around. But back in its heyday (in the 1960’s and 70s) it was quite the cash cow.
The address of Su Beng's noodle shop (2005). Photo by F. Lin.
Su Beng used the noodle shop's earnings to to fund the underground Taiwan independence movement. He recruited activists for his underground network, which was a sort of continuation of the Taiwan Army Corps (the group he'd organized to assassinate Chiang Kai-Shek in the 1950s). In 1952 he had fled from Taiwan not only to avoid arrest, but also to protect the operatives of this group. At the time, Taiwan was still under martial law, which lasted until 1987. The February 28, 1947 (2-28) massacre, marked the beginning of this extremely oppressive period of time in Taiwan’s history. Protests had erupted over the brutal beating and arrest of a woman peddling cigarettes and the killing of a bystander. In response, the Chinese Nationalists cracked down on the people of Taiwan and 18,000 to 28,000 people were murdered. During the period of time which followed, known as the White Terror Era, Taiwanese people were prohibited from speaking their native Aborigine, Holo Taiwanese and Hakka languages, and political dissidents were jailed at a penitentiary on Green Island, located off the eastern coast of Taiwan. There were even assassinations of politically active Taiwanese in the U.S. and Taiwan, some of which happened in the 1980s. (To read more about 2-28,
In the 1960s Su Beng began inviting fledgling activists in Taiwan to meet with him in Japan. He'd then arrange and pay for each individual's travel expenses and accommodations. He'd even provide them with a modest allowance during their stay. Activists would undergo training at the noodle shop with Su Beng. His teachings involved discussions about why Taiwan should be independent and tactics for committing acts of urban guerrilla warfare- designed to destabilize the authoritarian rule of the Chiang regime (aka the Chinese Nationalist government) in Taiwan. In 1972, “The Revolutionary Army of Taiwan Independence” blew up railways in Taipei county, overturned military vehicles in Kaohsiung county and burned a factory of the Railway Bureau in Taipei.
Profits from the noodle shop were also used for bribes needed in order to obtain and smuggle out the Chinese Nationalists’ classified economic and statistical data; this data was reprinted and discussed in Su Beng’s Chinese language,
Taiwan’s 400 Years of History
(which was published in 1980). These statistics showed how the Chinese Nationalists’ (aka Kuomintang) civil servant examination system and procedures discriminated against the Taiwanese.
To read more about this topic in one of my previous blog posts
After Su Beng left Japan to return to Taiwan in 1993, he set up the Taiwan Independence Action motorcade in 1994. The noodle shop's earnings paid for the purchase of a fleet of taxis and "propaganda trucks." Su Beng even provided the drivers of the taxis and vehicles gas allowance money.
A Taiwan Independence Action motorcade propaganda truck leads a string of taxis celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the Taiwan Independence Action motorcade in Taipei, Taiwan (April 3, 2005). Photo by F. Lin.
For those of you wondering about the Taiwan Independence Action motorcade, I’m reposting quote from one of my previous posts to explain:
“The Taiwan Independence Action (獨立台灣會) motorcade has been making its rounds every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, for more than 10 years, since April 1994. Since returning to Taiwan in 1993, Su Beng has cultivated a grass roots following amongst taxi drivers and in 1994 Su Beng began organizing a group of taxis and trucks that form the weekly Taiwan Independence Action motorcade. On those afternoons, Su Beng himself would stand on a truck painted taxi cab yellow, with the words “獨立台灣會” or “Taiwan Independence Action” emblazoned on the side; he would speak over a megaphone and there would also be about 10 taxis in the procession. For nearly 2 hours, they would make their rounds around Taipei city and Taipei county.”
At present, the Taiwan Independence Action motorcade makes its weekly rounds in 3 major cities in Taiwan- Chiayi, Kaohsiung and Taipei.