It’s not worth be­ing para­noiac, please

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

It was in the sum­mer of 1960. Pres­i­dent Dwight D. Eisen­hower was com­ing to Taipei for a two­day state visit on June 18. A cou­ple of days be­fore his ar­rival, I was in­vited to a press tour of Ching Chuan Kang Air Base in Taichung. At that time, the air base was top se­cret, be­cause it was used solely by the U.S. Air Force. The com­man­der in charge of the air base was Tai­wan’s Air Force of­fi­cer, of course. He com­manded air base guards alone. It was a vir­tual Amer­i­can air­base.

The U. S. Tai­wan De­fense Com­mand ar­ranged the press tour. Aside from the Amer­i­can news cor­re­spon­dents, I was the only Chi­nese re­porter in­vited to visit Ching Chuan Kang, be­cause I worked for the U.S. In­for­ma­tion Ser­vice in Taipei and The China Post, the only English-lan­guage news­pa­per in Tai­wan at that time. We made the visit to meet a squadron of F-104 Starfight­ers ar­riv­ing from Clark Air­base in Lu­zon to help pro­tect Tai­wan against a pos­si­ble air attack while Pres­i­dent Eisen­hower was in Taipei. It was a year and a half af­ter the 1958 Bat-


tle of the Tai­wan Strait, or Que­moy Cri­sis. As a mat­ter of fact, the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist shore bat­tery hit Que­moy again on June 17 and 19, though Mao Ze­dong didn’t dare to or­der an air attack on Tai­wan.

While at Ching Chuan Kang, we were all al­lowed to sit in the cock­pit of any Starfighter, al­beit there was no photo ses­sion. Starfight­ers fought in the Viet­nam War, which was still rag­ing on then. A fighter pi­lot showed us Sidewinder airto-air mis­siles and ex­plained how he aimed and fired them to shoot down an en­emy plane in a snap of fin­gers. We also boarded a C-103 trans­port plane for an “in­spec­tion.”

On re­turn to Taipei, I wrote a story about Sidewinders, with which Tai­wan’s fighters scored all wins in dog­fights against So­vi­et­made MiG 17s dur­ing the Que­moy Cri­sis. The story was pub­lished and I was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense wanted to know how I got top se­cret mil­i­tary in­for­ma­tion. I got off scot-free, for I was so told by the Amer­i­can Phantom pi­lot.

I knew the frame of mind of the top brass. Shortly af­ter my en­counter, a re­porter of the now long de­funct Shang Kung Daily (

) in Chi­ayi ( ) in South­ern Tai­wan was con­victed of com­pro­mis­ing a mil­i­tary top se­cret by “re­veal­ing” the name of the com­man­der of the Matsu De­fense Com­mand. The poor re­porter was given an MND free jun­ket to the off­shore is­land op­po­site Fuzhou, cap­i­tal city of the prov­ince of Fu­jian of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of the main­land of China. On re­turn to Chi­ayi, he wrote a story in which he named the com­man­der.

The re­porter was given a oneyear sen­tence, I re­call. But what in­ter­ested me is the way the judg­ment re­port by the Chi­ayi Dis­trict Court was writ­ten. The judge got to men­tion the Matsu com­man­der, who was Maj. Gen. Shih Chueh. But the judge couldn’t name Gen. Shih. If he had done, he would be com­mit­ting the crime of com­pro­mis­ing the top se­cret just like the re­porter he him­self had con­victed. So he wrote “Matsu De­fense Com­man­der XXX.”

It’s No Se­cret

But the fact is that it’s no se­cret at all. The Com­mu­nists knew Gen. Shih, and called him by name in a psy­cho­log­i­cal war against Matsu, in one of whose islets was de­ployed an Anti-Com­mu­nist Na­tional Sav­ing Army ( ), a unit not sup­ported by the U.S. Mil­i­tary De­fense As­sis­tance Project, un­der which the Pen­tagon sent a mil­i­tary as­sis­tance ad­vi­sory group to Tai­wan.

Over the years, how­ever, the mind­set of the brass hats hasn’t changed. They are crush­ing down Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng, deputy squadron com­man­der of the 601st Air Cav­alry Brigade, for breach of se­cu­rity, be­cause he con­ducted at least two unau­tho­rized tours of the han­gar for Apache he­li­copter gun­ships at the brigade’s Long­tan base. He is fac­ing pros­e­cu­tion for vi­o­la­tion of the Mil­i­tary Se­cu­rity In­for­ma­tion Pro­tec­tion Law and other laws and reg­u­la­tions. Tai­wan has banned court-mar­tial, and Col. Lao will be pros­e­cuted by Taoyuan dis­trict pros­e­cu­tors. The Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense dis­ci­plined his se­niors, in­clud­ing the brigade com­man­der and the com­man­der of the Army.

The scan­dal ex­ploded af­ter a TV en­ter­tainer, Janet Lee who is a sis­ter-in-law of Col. Lao’s, posted on so­cial me­dia some pho­tos of her pos­ing at the con­trols of an Apache gun­ship dur­ing one of the tours she had asked him to con­duct. Her fel­low trav­el­ers were all friends, in­clud­ing a Ja­panese lover of her younger sis­ter.

Of course, Col. Lao has to be dis- ciplined. He shouldn’t take those vis­i­tors to the Long­tan base. They en­joyed their out­ing, which they shouldn’t, but he didn’t com­pro­mise any mil­i­tary se­cret. Maj. Gen. Luo Shao-he, MND spokesman, went on the record as stat­ing, “Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the United States, all in­for­ma­tion that was al­legedly re­vealed through the pho­tos had al­ready been re­viewed and ap­proved by the United States Army.” Dou­glas Paal, for­mer U.S. rep­re­sen­ta­tive to Tai­wan as direc­tor of the Amer­i­can In­sti­tute in Tai­wan, said there was no breach of se­cu­rity be­cause what the MND con­sid­ered top se­cret isn’t se­cret at all in the United States. Any­one can get on­line to take a good look at the in­side of the Apache cock­pit, he pointed out. Well, that may have forced Gen. Luo to say the 601st Brigade is now open and schools and other public as­so­ci­a­tions would be al­lowed to look at the chop­pers in the fu­ture.

So, what’s the hul­la­baloo? The top brass who used to sus­pect me and the Chi­ayi re­porter of com­pro­mis­ing mil­i­tary top se­crets may have changed their frame of mind all of a sud­den on a cue from Un­cle Sam. They are not para­noiac, prob­a­bly just for once.

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