Pink Floyd cofounder Roger Waters likes to think of himself as being exceptionally well-read.
That certainly comes across in a recent videotaped interview with American radio and television broadcaster Michael Smerconish, which aired on CNN.
Waters repeatedly urged Smerconish to do some more reading as they held a good-natured yet occasionally heated discussion about world affairs.
The interview was conducted to coincide with the latest tour by Waters, called This Is Not a Drill.
It opens with him telling fans who disagree with his politics—even if they love Pink Floyd's music—"to fuck off and go to the bar".
However, when it came to Waters' assertions in the interview about Taiwan belonging to China, I questioned how much Waters himself has actually read on this topic.
Taiwanese historian Su Beng—sometimes called the Che Guevara of Taiwan—told a sharply different story than Waters in his 1962 book, Taiwan's 400 Year History: The Origins and Continuing Development of the Taiwanese Society and People. A shorter English-language version was published in 1986.
Su Beng, who died in 2019 at the age of 100, made a convincing case that Taiwan was repeatedly colonized, first by the Dutch and later by the Spanish, Ming and Qing dynasties, and Japan.
He pointed out that because Taiwan was a Chinese colony—and not truly part of China—people were forbidden from immigrating from Taiwan to the mainland until as late as 1875. Only 20 years later, this former Chinese colony was turned over to Japan in the Treaty of Shimonoseki.
Taiwanese nationalists point out that China only regained control over Taiwan after the Second World War when its then ruler, Chiang Kai-shek, reclaimed the island. On February 28, 1947, Chiang's Kuomintang regime ruthlessly put down an antigovernment uprising in Taiwan, resulting in thousands of deaths.
Martial law continued under Chiang when he and two million of his supporters moved to Taiwan after losing the Chinese Civil War, marking the most recent colonization of the island. Many Taiwanese suffered enormously in the struggle to become free of his dictatorship.
It was only after the death of Chiang's son, Chiang Ching-kuo, the former head of the secret police, that democracy finally came to Taiwan, thanks to the benevolence of his successor as president, Lee Teng-hui. And that's when the true Taiwanese identity began to flourish.
In recent years, there's been a growing acknowledgement of Taiwan's Indigenous history. The national government recognizes 16 tribes. Indigenous people also have representation in the Taiwanese national assembly.
As the video below demonstrates, Taiwan is committed to recognizing its Indigenous heritage and diversity. This stands in sharp contrast to the assimilationist approach embraced by the People's Republic of China in Xinjiang and other areas of China.