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Anti-Taiwanese Hate to Blame on Deadly Church Shooting

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On Sunday, David Wein Chou entered a Taiwanese church at Laguna Woods, California, and opened fire against the congregation after the service was over in a violent rampage fueled by anti-Taiwanese hate. The shooter injured five, before being tackled by 52-year-old John Cheng, who was mortally wounded by the attacker. After investigations, police determined that the attacker was motivated by political hatred against the Taiwanese people and government.

The Orange County Sheriff, Don Barnes, reported that police officers found notes written in Chinese in the car of the shooter saying that he did not believe Taiwan was an independent country from China. According to Barnes, the police believe based on the evidence that “he (the shooter) specifically targeted the Taiwanese community and this one representation of the Taiwanese community.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, Police officers also found bags with more magazines of ammunition and Molotov Cocktails at the scene. The officials also found two 9mm firearms that were bought in Las Vegas, where the attacker lived.

Witnesses report that the attacker blocked the entrance of the church before starting to shoot and that thanks to Cheng, a 52-year-old doctor who was killed after tackling Chou, giving valuable time to the rest of the parishioners to disarm the attacker and kept him subdued until police arrived.  

Anti-Taiwanese hate appears to have motivated the shooter

The president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-Wen condemned the attack on Tuesday, saying “violence is never the answer.” Tsai Ing-Wen sent the Taiwanese representative in the United States, the de facto ambassador of the self-ruling island in America, to support the Taiwanese community in the area. China’s spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that the Beijing government has “noted all the relevant information” on the case and that the CCP hopes the American government “takes concrete and effective measures to address the growing problem of violence in their country.”

According to reports from the Taiwanese de facto embassy, the shooter was born on the island and did military compulsory service there. It has also been reported that the shooter’s hatred against the democratic island developed after he felt that he was not being well-treated while he lived there, officials also speculated that the shooter’s family was forcibly moved to Taiwan sometime after 1948.

Taiwan was formed as a self-governing island when the nationalist armies fled there after their defeat against the Chinese communists during the civil war. Ever since Beijing does not recognize the island as a sovereign entity and has made the annexation of it a key principle of its foreign policy.

The relationship with mainland China has also been a key dividing line between the political factions in Taiwan itself, with some parties (like the Kuomintang) promoting a more cooperative line with Beijing while others (like the governing DPP) assert there is a Taiwanese identity and that the island should strive for a separate future.

Tensions between Taiwan and China have been reaching a boiling point over the last years (EFE)

Tensions between Beijing and Taipei have boiled over as the Chinese government has increased its saber-rattling against Taiwan after the pro-democracy DPP has dominated the island’s elections since 2016. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has conducted repeated aerial military incursions on the island’s defense zone and the state-sponsored newspaper, the Global Times, has issued editorials warning the DPP that threat of war is real.

Taiwanese lawmakers have accused the CCP of instigating hate against the Taiwanese people through their rhetoric. The DPP legislator Lin Ching-Yi said on a Facebook post that “ideology has become a reason for genocide” and warned his fellow Taiwanese that they must  “face up to hateful speech and organizations” that are funded and supported by the CCP.

The cross-strait tensions and military maneuvers near the Taiwan straits have awakened the concerns of a potential war between the U.S and China, however, those same geopolitical tensions and the belligerent rhetoric parroted by Beijing appear to have been the central cause of a deadly rampage in a quiet Taiwanese church in America.

Daniel is a Political Science and Economics student from the University of South Florida. He worked as a congressional intern to Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) from January to May 2020. He also is the head of international analysis at Politiks // Daniel es un estudiante de Cs Políticas y Economía en la Universidad del Sur de la Florida. Trabajo como pasante legislativo para el Representate Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) desde enero hasta mayo del 2020. Daniel también es el jefe de análisis internacional de Politiks.

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