894A.00/3–147: Telegram

Minister-Counselor of Embassy in China (Butterworth) to the Secretary of State

405. Following message received from American Consul, Taipei:

“Following shooting and killing last night of two Formosan girls by Taiwan Monopoly Bureau police while seizing untaxed cigarettes from street vendors, about 2,000 or 3,000 Formosans marched this morning in protest to Monopoly Bureau headquarters and various branch offices in downtown Taipei. Subject to later detailed confirmation, noon today 1 to 3 mainland Chinese police clubbed death and other mainlanders severely beaten. Crowds on streets greatly increased by early afternoon with ordinary police inactive. Military police have now appeared before some Government buildings, and at about 2 p.m. opened fire against crowds gathered before Government General, with some persons killed. Nearby Omea Hotel entered by mobs seeking mainlanders for purpose inflicting beating while other mainlanders fleeing in streets seeking safety. Monopoly Bureau branch office stocks being burned on street and some automobiles overturned and burned.”

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Subsequent message states situation generally quiet though tense with only occasional burst of firing. Martial law still in force. Government confident it has situation in hand though rioters for brief period seized and held local radio station, broadcasting appeal for general uprising.

Embassy’s information is that Chinese authorities either misinterpreted Shanghai financial crisis6 or else used it as occasion to issue emergency decrees drastically to consolidate their monopoly control. These onerous regulations bore so heavily on the local population that trouble became almost inevitable.

  1. For correspondence on this subject, see pp. 1407 ff.