Sun, Jul 12, 2009 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTERS ]

Conforming to China

It has long been the stance of the large moderate center of Taiwan’s electorate that if and after China progresses from its present communist party-state, to become a multi-party participatory democracy, Taiwan could consider merging with China.

We have watched President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for more than a year as he busily erases boundaries and differences between Taiwan and China’s communist party-state and economy. The obvious thrust of his actions is to change Taiwan to closely conform to China’s authoritarian party-state model. He is not willing to wait, in accordance with the wishes of the Taiwanese electorate, for China to progress. His insistence on changing Taiwan as he does, without hearing any of the voices of Taiwan’s diverse democracy, is the behavior of a dictator — thinly dressed up in specious statements and false promises that purport to minimize his insult to the people.

But the insult is obvious and it is real. The people of Taiwan accept the insult of Ma’s dictatorship day by day at the risk of finding one day soon that they have lost their vibrant country.

MARTIN WOLFF

Taipei County

Media reports disappointing

Thanks for your article on the newly discovered files about the violent death of Chen Wen-chen (陳文成). [See “Report sheds light on 1981 mystery,” July 2, page 1].

What strikes me as odd is the continuing contrast between Taiwanese and US reports about this tragic event. US reports were much more detailed about the crime, and more openly critical of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). By US, I refer to a series of reports and harsh editorial commentary by the Washington Post about the KMT’s involvement in Chen’s murder in 1981; official memos from the AIT’s Mark Pratt during that grim summer of 1981; an autopsy report by US forensic expert, Cyril Wecht; and finally to a US congressional hearing into Chen’s death the same year, led by US representatives Stephen Solarz and Jim Leach.

These US reports are summarized and documented, along with other sources and interviews, in well-researched book titled Fires of the Dragon: Politics, Murder and the Kuomintang, published by investigative journalist David Kaplan in 1992.

Many more details are available in his reporting, such as how James Soong (宋楚瑜) as then head of the Government Information Office repeatedly tried to censor and spin what was clearly a murder; and how this murder and others were connected to the “Iron Blood Patriot” gang, who were close friends with none other than the president’s son, Alex Chiang (蔣孝武).

That congressional hearing into Chen’s murder was part of a legislative process that eventually led to far-reaching consequences for Taiwan-US relations: the 1985 passing of the Solarz Amendment to the US Arms Export Control Act, which made it illegal for the US to sell weapons to any government that had so systematically violated US laws as the KMT had. In other words, the threat to cut off all weapons shipped to Taiwan became a legal reality. This effectively shook up the KMT government and helped to usher in the liberalization process in the late 1980s. Solarz aimed this amendment specifically at the Republic of China because of the assassination of Chen Wen-chen and numerous other violations such as spying on and intimidating Taiwanese students and Taiwanese-Americans on US soil, including the KMT assassination of journalist Henry Liu near San Francisco in October 1984.

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