Thu, May 30, 2002 - Page 3 News List

After a storied 23 years, Lin is likely homesick

CONTROVERSIAL RETURN Having spent more than two decades outside of Taiwan assisting the Chinese government, Justin Lin now wants to come back home


Reportedly home-sick and pining for a glimpse of the land of his childhood, supposed defector-turned-scholar Justin Lin (林毅夫) wants to return to Taiwan to attend the funeral of his father.

He claims -- and, indeed, is widely believed -- to be Lin Cheng-yi (林正義), a former Taiwanese army commander who is thought to have defected to China in a high-profile case 23 years ago.

Lin was born in Taiwan's Ilan County in October 1952. He gained fame as a young man in the 1970s when, having entered National Taiwan University -- the nation's most prestigious university -- he transferred to the Chinese Military Academy, which trains ROC Army officers.

"He was propagandized as a model patriot by the ruling KMT government of the day because he gave up the opportunity to study at the university and became a soldier instead," a senior reporter who wished to remain anonymous told the Taipei Times.

After graduating from the academy, he opted to continue his education, gaining a master's of administration degree from National Chengchi University (政治大學) in 1978, before accepting a posting as an army commander on the outlying island of Kinmen.

On May 16, 1979, however, he was found to have disappeared with a battle plan. The battle plan was changed the following day.

The belief that he swam to the Chinese coast that night from Kinmen 2.3km away has been widespread ever since.

After defecting, Lin is thought to have changed his name to Justin Lin. Lin studied in the US, obtaining a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago and conducting post-doctorate research at Yale University before returning to China.

He is well known as a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee, director of the Chinese Center for Economic Research at Peking University and an adviser to the World Bank.

Most significantly, he is an important consultant to Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji (朱鎔基).

As exchanges between Taiwan and China have increased, many Taiwanese politicians claim to have met Lin in China.

Independent lawmaker Sisy Chen (陳文茜) once told reporters that Lin actively maintains relationships with Taiwanese politicians, including DPP figures.

Chen met Lin several years ago in China.

Reports in recent years have described Lin as home-sick and keen to return to Taiwan.

Several years ago, Lin applied for permission to return to Taiwan to attend his mother's funeral, but his application was rejected by Taiwanese officials.

His father, Lin Huo-shu (林火樹), passed away on May 9. The funeral will be held on June 4 and Justin Lin is thought to have sought assistance from his friends in Taiwan to put pressure on the government to let him return home .

Lin's father's funeral will be attended by many well-known domestic politicians, including Liu Shou-cheng (劉守成), the commissioner of Ilan County, former premier and current KMT Vice Chairman Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), and Chairwoman of the Council of Labor Affairs Chen Chu (陳菊).

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