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From Tongbo Village to Widow Village—The Legacy of the Chinese Civil War

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Located on Dongshan Island, off the coast of Fujian province, is a typical rural village called Tongbo. On May 10, 1950, 147 men were abducted by the KMT army on its way to Taiwan. Since a majority of the men were already married, overnight, their wives became “widows,” and most would remain so for the rest of their lives. Consequently, Tongbo village became more widely known as Widow Village. The first objective of this paper is to document the tragic experiences of men and women in Tongbo village, focusing on these forced separations in 1950, the possibility of reunion after 1987, and the struggle to cope with the difficulties in between. The second objective of this paper is to argue that while heartbreaking, the experiences of this village are not extraordinary in the context of the Chinese Civil War. What made the men and women in Tongbo extraordinary is not their collective suffering, but how these villagers suffered less, not more, than in many other places, because of the actions of three key figures.

Affiliations: 1: Department of History, University of Texas at El Paso


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