The Taiwanese 台灣人 Tâi-Oân Lâng

Welcome to the Taiwanese Site! This is a collection of the stories of the past Taiwanese who had contributed to Taiwan in various aspects. We encourage readers' comments. Contact point, email contact at or ** Last Update April 26, 2012 **

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mr. Bo Yang 柏楊 先生

1920 – 2008

Not to be praising and pleasing the emperors
But to be speaking truthfully for the people

Bo Yang (originally named Kuo 郭) was born one year after Ms. Marjorie Ingeleiv Bly ( also in Henan, China. Two different life stories yet shared the same destiny. One, a Western missionary’s daughter turned herself a missionary as well; the other, a Chinese intellectual ended up spending all his adult life mostly "fighting" for the human rights in Taiwan.

Six months after his death (2008/4/29), there are still many Bo Yang’s stories in the news, the book stores, and the websites. What triggered me to include his story in this blog site was that somewhere in his writings, he said that he never ate such a great tasty fruit as the banana of Taiwan.

Well, anybody who spent so many years in Taiwan, embraced the Taiwanese communities, and dedicated so much of energy to the well beings of the Taiwanese, is considered Taiwanese, wherever he was born. Little wonder in 1999 Bo Yang was awarded the Humanistic Sciences Award by Taiwanese American Foundation.

Bo Yang had his life in Taiwan divided into five periods:

  • Ten years in novels (十年小說)
  • Ten years in essays (十年雜文)
  • Ten years in prisons (十年牢獄)
  • Five years in columns (五年專欄)
  • Ten years in histories (十年通鑑)

Popeye the Sailor

In 1968, he translated the popular cartoon “Popeye the Sailor” in a Taiwanese newspaper. Once published, due to the insinuation of the nature of the story in the eyes of Chiang Kai-sek, the result: Bo Yang spent nearly 10 years in Green Island, the then infamous political prison in Taiwan. Prior to that, in the 1950’s while Bo Yang worked at Ping-Tung Agricultural School, he was imprisoned for 7 months when he was caught listening to the Chinese communist’s radio broadcasting.

Bo Yang was not ‘corrected’ a bit because the imprisonment. He continued to write articles afterward. In the eyes of the rulers then he was just a trouble-maker. He was one of the few intellectuals in Taiwan (e.g., C Lei 雷震 and S L Wu 吳三連) and dared to challenge the then Nationalist Party (KMT) political rationality and its core existence.

The Ugly Chinese

Bo Yang was not the first one wrote/talked (a speech at Iowa in 1984) about the ugly Chinese. Besides Lu Shiun (鲁迅) there was a British philosopher by the name of Bertrand Russell, who wrote a book called The Ugly Chinese. However it was Bo Yang’s speech (later published) made him an instant ‘star’ in the cultural and academic circles among the Chinese communities around the world. His in depth criticism of the never-changing Chinese value system (Soy-Sauce-Jar-Culture 醬缸文化) made friends as well as enemies all over.

His Writings

Other than his novels, essays and columns, Bo Yang spent years re-writing the Chinese histories in a way that most people could understand. His novels were very good, yet somehow overshadowed by his powerful and critical essays and columns. As expected, Bo Yang's provocative writings also led him to be attacked by the Chinese Communists.

Bo Yang was one of the founders of the Amnesty International in Taiwan. He, among others, made the human right possible - with a heavy toll - in the Taiwanese political environment while the majority was silent.

His Life

Some of his friends asked him to summarize his life story. He said he had been in hell a few times, “I did have more tears than laughter, but most Chinese suffered even more than I have been.” Few can argue that.

Bo Yang was a thinker and a writer, but it was the way he described himself that touched many people’s hearts:

Not to be praising and pleasing the emperors
But to be speaking truthfully for the people

Unaware the severe cold and the dangerous arrows
A lonely bird flew into the dreams for many

Good bye and thank you, the bird with a big heart!

Some Websites:!6E507401510BA7C2!473.entry (Chinese) (Chinese)