President Joe Biden has yet to comment at press time on the specifics of a mass shooting in California this weekend that law enforcement officials said was motivated by hate against the country of Taiwan as he prepares to leave Thursday for a trip to Asia.
David Chou (Chou Wenwei), 68, an American born in Taiwan and later identified as a member of a Chinese Communist Party umbrella organization, allegedly chained shut the doors of the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California, and opened fire on a group of Taiwanese congregants during a luncheon to honor a pastor.
He shot and killed one man and injured five others before being subdued by members of the congregation.
The victims in the attack ranged between 66 and 92 years of age.
Authorities said they found items in Chou’s car that indicated he was “upset” by the existence of a Taiwanese state.
Taiwan is an island country off the coast of China. It has a democratic government fully independent of Beijing, but the Communist Party insists that the island is a “province” of China. Taiwan has never been governed by any government headquartered in Beijing and China has no practical state powers over Taiwan currently.
The suspect previously appeared at a local Las Vegas protest, holding up a banner against Taiwanese “demons.”
Biden has remained quiet on the attack even during a White House reception to celebrate Asian-American heritage on Tuesday.
The president mentioned “hate crime shootings in Orange County, California; Dallas, Texas, just last week” but did not specifically call out the anti-Tawainese hatred of the shooter.
On Tuesday, Biden traveled to Buffalo, New York, repeatedly promising to call out and expose racism after a shooter, believed to be an anti-black racist, shot and killed ten people in a grocery store.
“Silence is complicity. It’s complicity. We cannot remain silent,” he said.
Vice President Kamala Harris also vowed to speak up and condemn racism but has abstained from addressing the California shooting. Harris was celebrated upon her election as the first Asian American vice president, as her mother was born in India.
“The President and I, and all of us as leaders, will not be silent,” Harris said during the White House celebration. “We will not stand by. We must always speak out against violence, against hate crime and discrimination, whenever and wherever it occurs.”
The White House could not explain why Biden remained quiet about the California shooting when reporters asked if he had made calls to the leaders of China and Taiwan or was concerned about tensions between the two countries.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dismissed the question on Thursday, lumping the allegedly Chinese nationalist-inspired shooting into shooting crimes around the country.
“I don’t have any calls to preview of — calls with Chinese and Taiwan as it relates to this particular case,” she said. “Our thoughts are with all those affected by gun violence, including the incidents — the other incidents that at — that happened this weekend in Houston, in Milwaukee, in Chicago, and, as we know, in Buffalo.”
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