Taiwan Asks U.S. Reps to Help Secure Its Citizens After Chinese Nationalist Church Shooting

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a visit to the Penghu Magong military air base in outlying Penghu Island, Taiwan Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. Tsai visited the military base on one of Taiwan’s outlying islands Tuesday in a display of resolve following a recent show of force by rival China. …
AP Photo/Johnson Lai

The government of Taiwan on Monday extended condolences to the families of Dr. John Cheng, killed in Sunday’s attack on a Taiwanese church in California by a Chinese nationalist gunman, and to the five others wounded in the shooting.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen asked her government’s representatives in the United States to “help ensure the safety of local Taiwanese nationals.”

Orange County police said on Monday the shooting at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, which was hosting a luncheon for the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church on Sunday, was prompted by anti-Taiwanese sentiment. Local reports have referred to the shooting as a “hate crime.”

The suspect, 68-year-old David Chou (Chou Wenwei), is a Taiwanese immigrant living in Las Vegas reportedly motivated by opposition to the existence of the Taiwanese state.

The government of Communist China routinely describes the Taiwanese as “separatists” and frequently threatens to use military force against them. Notes found in Chou’s car indicated he was angered by Taiwan being an independent nation.

Chou is in custody on $1 million bail, facing one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder. The only fatality in the attack was 52-year-old sports medicine doctor John Cheng, who heroically threw himself into the line of fire, enabling others to subdue the gunman. The victims injured in the shooting ranged from 66 to 92 years of age.

The Associated Press

A photo of Dr. John Cheng, a 52-year-old victim who was killed in Sunday’s shooting at Geneva Presbyterian Church, is displayed outside his office in Aliso Viejo, Calif., Monday, May 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A spokesman for Tsai’s office said the Taiwanese president “condemns any form of violence.”

Tsai expressed “sincere condolences for the tragic death of Dr. Cheng,” as well as “sincere concern for the Taiwanese nationals injured in the incident.”

President Tsai instructed Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and Taiwan’s ambassador to the United States, Xiao Meiqin, to formally “express their condolences and concern.” Xiao was additionally dispatched to California to “provide necessary assistance.”

“The President also asked the diplomatic unit to contact the United States to help ensure the safety of local Taiwanese nationals,” Tsai’s office said. 

According to Louis Huang, director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles, shooter David Chou was himself born in Taiwan in 1953. The slain Dr. Cheng was born in Taiwan and immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was one year old.

“We all live in a free and open, diverse democratic society with the same goal of building a family. People with different views have to respect each other. Simply, that’s what democracy is all about,” Huang said.

The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday morning it had received a call from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto American consulate on the island, to “express condolences over the deadly shooting on behalf of the U.S. government.”

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