Academia Historica has published archives related to former president Yen Chia-kan (嚴家淦), revealing a blueprint of missile development in Taiwan in the 1970s.
Born in 1905, Yen succeeded Chiang Kai-shek (蔣中正) as president of the Republic of China (ROC) on April 6, 1975. His term ended, as stipulated by the Constitution, in May 1978. Yen died in 1993.
The publication of Yen’s archives, which covered from 1945 to 1993, is part of the government’s efforts to declassify official documents that had been classified as national secrets and foster greater transparency.
Published at the end of last month by Academia Historica, the archives show that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government of that period had a missile development project codenamed Chang An Plan, with the aim of designing, manufacturing and testing missiles for defensive purposes.
They show that the nation’s diplomatic isolation made it difficult to acquire missile production technology, making it necessary for the government to purchase non-military grade components that it would upgrade for military use.
According to the plan, the government had carefully developed an effective missile system to defend the nation from Chinese fighter jets and battleships, providing comprehensive protection for Taiwan, Kinmen, Penghu and Matsu.
Taiwan was eager to recruit “patriotic” Taiwanese academics from overseas who would work with local researchers to attain the ability to self-produce missiles.
The plan had previously been classified as a “top national secret” and was declassified by the Ministry of National Defense on July 28 last year.
Yen’s archives also include substantial historical data, such as a book written by former Control Yuan member Lei Chen (雷震), which offered suggestions on how to save the nation.
Lei wrote that Chiang should set up a “Chinese Taiwan Republic” (中華台灣民主國) as soon as possible to placate Taiwanese opposed to the KMT regime, adding that the KMT should abandon one-party rule and implement rule of law to protect people’s rights.
Opposed to Chiang serving a third consecutive term as ROC president, Lei was arrested in 1960 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for “covering up for spies and instigating revolt.” Lei died in 1979.
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