The Hoover Institution Library and Archives have recently acquired the personal papers of Tian Chaoming (1918–2010), a Japanese-educated physician well known for his efforts in promoting Taiwan’s democracy, human rights, and political independence. An eyewitness to the bloody incident of February 1947, when the Chinese Nationalist government violently suppressed an antigovernment uprising in Taiwan, as well as to the ensuing martial law of Taiwan under the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Tian never was at ease with authority. A lone dissident in the face of KMT authoritarian rule in Taiwan, he became one of the pioneers in the Democratic Progressive Party, the ruling party of Taiwan between 2000 and 2008.
Among the materials Hoover has acquired are Tian’s manuscripts, his correspondence with political prisoners, and more than three hundred photos documenting anti-KMT political movements in the 1980s and the 1990s. Those materials help demonstrate how Taiwan transformed itself from a one-party authoritarian state to a fully democratized one and the crucial role of opposition movements in creating a free society in Taiwan. The new collection is a welcome addition to our understanding of the process and progress of democratization in modern East Asian society.