Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Strange Letter of Defector Justin Lin

"When you see the desolating abomination standing where he should not (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains

A reader alerted me to this blogpost by Evan Osnos at the New Yorker of Oct 4. It is about Justin Lin, the Chinese economist now at the World Bank, who defected from Taiwan in 1979.... Osnos writes:
Lin is a global ambassador, of sorts, for Chinese economics. He also discusses his remarkable background—notably his decision at the age of twenty-six to walk away from his Army post in his native Taiwan and swim across the Taiwan Strait to a new life on the mainland. He left behind his wife, who was pregnant, and a three-year-old son. In China, he chose to “evaporate,” as he told me, by adopting a new name and passing himself off to classmates as a Singaporean. What drove that decision? To help answer the question, Lin recently gave us a copy of a letter in Chinese that he wrote to a cousin in 1980, a year after his departure from Taiwan, seeking to explain his motivations and asking for help in supporting his wife.
Read the whole letter carefully. Lin swam away from the ROC and to the PRC in May 0f 1979. On 1 Jan 1979, not five months before, President Carter recognized the PRC and derecognized the ROC as the government of China. On 1 Jan 1980 the mutual defense treaty with the ROC was invalidated by Carter. On Dec 10, 1979, ROC police assaulted the human rights protest in Kaohsiung in a famous incident.

1979 was a pivotal year in Taiwanese history. The letter says it is written prior to April, 1980 (references to studying for exams in April and to the 17 million people of Taiwan and to being gone almost a year). The entire letter is about the future status of Taiwan. There is no mention of the pivotal events of 1979 in this letter, all which have great bearing on the status of Taiwan. Instead, nearly the entire letter, but for the paragraph on what to do about Lin's family and a few personal remarks, is spent developing a treatise for the cousin about what "our generation" should do for the future of Taiwan, to ensure that it is annexed to China. A belief his cousin obviously shares.

This letter was written to a cousin in 1980. Mrs. Lin avers that it was years before she found out he was still alive in this 2002 article and Wiki says she took a $31K payment within a year from the Taiwan gov't because Lin was "missing." But the cousin knew he was alive within a few months -- and never told the wife? Yet Lin instructs him to use a pet name when he contacts her! Lin also refers to his defection embarrassing the authorities and to his fame in Taiwan.

Interesting letter eh?
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Anonymous said...

Justin Lin is 100x the man and patriot you'll ever be.

As far as his wife's story... not sure what you're trying to suggest. In his own letter, he makes it clear the dangers of contacting his family directly. Any indication that his family was privy to his defection, and the KMT would have been thrown them all in prison. But obviously messages passed indirectly, and although it took several years, she was eventually able to join him.

Michael Turton said...

Justin Lin is 100x the man and patriot you'll ever be.

Yes, swimming across to help a regime that murders its people by the thousand makes him an especially great man.

Anonymous said...

Justin Lin is 100x the man and patriot you'll ever be.

Anon, how do you defend this statement?

What is noble about Lin's act?

Abandoning his family? Abandoning his duty? Taking refuge with his country's enemy? Perhaps you mean he's a 100X better 'communist' patriot than our blogger.

That would be the only non-fallacious conclusion

jerome in vals said...

Justin Lin is 100x the man and patriot you'll ever be.

He ditched Benedict Arnold.

And your comment goes a long way in telling us about you and where you stand, Benny boy.

blobOfNeurons said...

Swimming across the Strait is pretty impressive and I respect the athletic ability of anyone able to do that. That being said, Lin didn't swim across the Strait, he swam from Kinmen to Xiamen.