July 16, 2011: Su Beng @ The Lexington Depot

Photo credit: Michael Steinberg (from: www.lexington.patch.com)

How apropos that the event organized by TAA/FAPA/NATWA of Boston, MA was held at the Lexington Depot, which is operated by the Lexington Historical Society.

See what a warm reception that Su Beng received upon his arrival:

The event began with some projected images and videos of Su Beng:

The main organizer of the event, CY Wang had asked me in advance if I would like to introduce myself and to say a few words about my work on Su Beng's biography. So I had prepared a few thoughts. And on that day, though we had never met before, Mr. Wang gave me a very warm introduction acknowledging all of the time and hard work and that I've spent on documenting Su Beng's life. It was really the first time that anyone has so publicly expressed their appreciation for what I'm doing and it was such a great feeling to be given recognition like this. It warmed my heart and I felt so welcomed that I was able to deliver my little "speech" entirely in Taiwanese! I surprised myself even- that I was actually able to do this!

One thing that I shared with the audience is how I had not initially set out to write Su Beng's biography. In fact, when I initially approached Su Beng, I had asked him if I could simply interview him in order to write a fictional story (about Taiwan) inspired by his life experiences. His answer to this was simply, "Yes, ok, if it's for the good of Taiwan." To me it was pretty amazing that he would agree to talk to me and give his time to me, if he believed that I was doing something for the good of Taiwan. I was "a nobody", i.e. I wasn't an established writer or anyone of influence. Now, there's certainly more that I could say about Su Beng and the time I've spent interviewing him and working with him on his biography, but I think I'll save that for the epilogue.

Su Beng talked about his decision to go to China and work for the Chinese Communists in 1942. Growing up during Japan's occupation Taiwan, the seeds of opposition towards Japan were sowed in Su Beng and later his study of socialism and Marxism at Waseda University deepened his resolve to fight against Japan's imperialistic expansion in Asia. The answer to him at the time seemed to be to go work with the Chinese Communists to resist Japan's rising ambition to conquer Asia.

As he worked with the Chinese Communists over the next few years he was given new assignments and more responsibilities, but in order to advance he'd have to officially join the party and there was increasing pressure put upon him to do so. Su Beng talked about how he had seen the hypocrisy and brutality of the Chinese Communists by then, and that he had resolved that he would not join the party, so he made excuses to put off joining the Chinese Communist party. And eventually he found a way to escape from the Communists and out of China.

Su Beng also talked about his optimistic outlook on Taiwan. He believes that Taiwan will most certainly be independent. He cites the growing numbers of people in Taiwan who now identify themselves as Taiwanese and not Chinese. He believes that as long as there is a growing solidarity amongst the people of Taiwan (regardless of their ancestry e.g. Hakka, Holo, Han Chinese or Aborigine) and a general acceptance of a Taiwan nation, then independence for Taiwan will surely follow.

Su Beng speaking at the Lexington Depot