Taiwanese defector Justin Lin (林毅夫), who ends his current term as chief economist and senior vice president at the World Bank in Washington on June 1, has appealed for permission to visit Taiwan.
He said on Monday that it was his greatest “dream” to make a trip to Taiwan.
Lin, who has previously been refused permission to visit, spoke emotionally about his hopes after a ceremony organized by the Center for Global Development to launch his latest book, Structural Economics: A Framework for Rethinking Development Policy.
Thirty-three years ago, Lin — originally named Lin Cheng-yi (林正義) — was serving as a captain in the Taiwanese army when he swam the short distance from Kinmen to China’s Xiamen and defected.
He became an economist and was eventually awarded a doctorate from the University of Chicago.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office has urged Taipei to allow Lin and his wife to visit Taiwan on humanitarian grounds.
However, Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) last month rejected an appeal to pardon Lin, saying he had violated the “core value” of loyalty.
Lin argued that the statute of limitations on his crime expired years ago.
Lin said that after four years with the World Bank he was returning to Beijing, where he would take up his former position as a university professor.
“I want to go back to Taiwan because it is my home. I have relatives there, it is the place where I grew up,” Lin said.
“Everyone is there from when I was young. Like many Chinese people, I have an emotional attachment to the place where I grew up,” he said.
Asked about his reaction to Taiwan’s refusal to give him the green light for a visit, Lin said he hoped there would be a change of mind and that “the people will have the wisdom to solve the issue.”
“Certainly, I hope I will be allowed to visit. My wife is very supportive of me and she wishes that I could realize my dream,” he said. “But I have other dreams, too.”
Lin said he very much wanted to pay tribute to his forefathers and meet his relatives and friends.
Asked about unification, he said: “For me there was never any doubt about that. Reunification would be good for Taiwan and good for the mainland. It would be good for the Chinese people.”
“The separation was the result of a special, historical, event. I hope, and I have confidence, that reunification can be achieved,” he said.
Additional reporting by CNA