May 20, 2022
The recent gun murder case at the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Irvine, Southern California, USA not only shocked Taiwan and became the focus of the media, but also shocked the global Chinese community, and was reported by Chinese-language media including mainland China. .
In particular, the local police said that the murder was a “hate incident”, which made a murder in the United States linked to Taiwan’s politics and even the situation in the Taiwan Strait, attracting attention from all parties.
According to the Orange County Sheriff, who is investigating the case, the suspect is a Chinese-American citizen and the attack was a “politically motivated hate incident.” The gunman, Zhou Wenwei, who lived in Taiwan, was “dissatisfied with the political tension between China and Taiwan” and had a disgust for Taiwan, police said. Orange County, California (Orange County) has charged Zhou Wenwei with one count of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder, and does not rule out seeking the death penalty.
The FBI also launched a federal-level hate crime investigation, and found in his car material that he hated and disliked Taiwan, including a note he wrote “Taiwan is not an independent country.”
Regarding the many details and arguments behind the case, BBC Chinese hereby sorts out some key issues:
Was the shooter “Chinese” or “Taiwanese”?
The US police initially said that the 68-year-old shooter Zhou Wenwei was a “Chinese-born” American citizen, but later the Taiwan office in Los Angeles said after investigation that Zhou Wenwei was born in Taiwan in 1953 and later immigrated to the United States (around the 1970s). According to media reports, Zhou Wenwei holds a bartender license and has written books such as “The Bartender’s Bible”. He also briefly held teaching positions in many schools in Taiwan many years ago, but is currently working as a security guard in Las Vegas. , and therefore legal possession of firearms.
The Taiwan office in Los Angeles explained that the United States mistakenly believed that Zhou Wenwei was born in China because of its historical origin, because about 50 years ago, Taiwanese held the birthplace on their passports, which is “Repubilc of China” (Republic of China) in English. Immigrants to the United States often write “China” as their birthplace in official documents, so the United States thinks they were born in “China“.
Some Taiwanese media reported that although Zhou Wenwei was born in Taiwan, he did not identify with his Taiwanese identity, and identified himself as “Chinese” ideologically. His neighbors in the United States said that he often complained about the Taiwan government and considered himself a political refugee.
There are also reports that Zhou Wenwei returned to his hometown in Taichung, Taiwan a few years ago to dispose of his parents’ belongings. At that time, he posted an open letter at the door to notify the villagers, and signed himself as “the son of a refugee from the Hunan Army”. Neighbors interviewed by the media also said that their family is from “outside the province” and there is no interaction at ordinary times.
What kind of organization is “Peace Union” or “Unification Promotion Council”?
Some media reported that Zhou Wenwei once participated in the “China Peaceful Reunification Promotion Association” (referred to as the Association for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification), which is considered to be a peripheral organization of the CCP, and served as a director of the Las Vegas Peace Reunification Association.
However, Gu Yawen, president of the Las Vegas Peace Conference, denied that Zhou Wenwei was a member of the Peace Conference, condemned the violent attack, and distanced himself from Zhou Wenwei.
The Hong Kong establishment media “China Review” published an exclusive interview with Gu Yawen after the shooting. She said that when the Las Vegas Peace and Unification Council was established in April 2019, Zhou Wenwei “come uninvited” and expressed her desire to participate in the Peace and Unification Council. Activity.
“I talked to Zhou Wenwei twice, and I felt that his thoughts were too extreme, so I kept a distance from him. After the second half of 2019, Zhou Wenwei did not participate in any of our activities. From then on, Zhou Wenwei was not our peacemaker. members.”
A photo of Zhou Wenwei publicly supporting Han Guoyu at the inaugural meeting of the Las Vegas Peace Reunification Council in April 2019 circulated on social media. In the photo, he held a microphone and pointed at the Korean slogan, as if he was giving a public speech. The slogan read ” Take advantage of the trend to quickly pursue, quickly and violently destroy the solitary demon” and other words.
The China Peaceful Reunification Promotion Association is a Chinese semi-official organization in Beijing. Its current chairman is Wang Yang, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
In October 2020, the U.S. State Department announced that the U.S. branch of the China Peaceful Reunification Promotion Association was listed as a “foreign mission.” Then-Secretary of State Pompeo said that the China Peaceful Reunification Promotion Association is an organization controlled by the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee. , the United Front Work Department is responsible for spreading influence and overseas propaganda.
After the shooting and killing, the Taiwanese Public Affairs Council in the United States called on the U.S. government to label any radical and violent group the murderer belongs to as a “terrorist organization” in the United States, and many groups in Taiwan also called on the Taiwan government to investigate the association with the CCPPC of people in Taiwan.
What is the Presbyterian Church?
The Taiwan Presbyterian Church was established in Tainan and Tamsui respectively by Scottish physician and Presbyterian missionary James Laidlaw Maxwell and Canadian Presbyterian pastor George Leslie Mackay in the late 19th century.
The Presbyterian missionaries learned Taiwanese and aboriginal languages, translated the Bible into Taiwanese with Romanized Pinyin, and preached by practicing medicine, gradually gaining the trust of the Chinese and aborigines in Taiwan at that time and laying the foundation of the Presbyterian Church. In addition to preaching the gospel in Taiwanese and aboriginal languages, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan also played an important role in the democratic movement in modern Taiwan.
In 1977, shortly after Chiang Kai-shek’s death, Taiwan had withdrawn from the United Nations for many years. The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan issued the Declaration of Human Rights, calling on the government to “make Taiwan a new and independent country.” The voice of Taiwan independence.
U.S. police said that Zhou Wenwei specifically chose to attack the Taiwanese community. The Irvine Taiwan Presbyterian Church is one of the representatives of the Taiwanese community. According to church personnel, the number of regular worshippers every week is about 50 to 100 people. , mostly Taiwanese immigrants.
According to the police, Zhou Wenwei drove from Las Vegas to a Taiwanese church in California. He pretended to be a church member and entered the church with bullets and Molotov cocktails. Later, he locked the door with iron chains, and sealed the lock with super glue. The victim was locked in the church, “causing the greatest casualties”.
What does China say?
Regarding the fatal shooting case, Chinese officials and state media both emphasized that the essence of the case was “Taiwanese attacking Taiwanese”.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in response to a reporter’s question, “This man immigrated to the United States from Taiwan, China. I hope the U.S. government will take practical and effective measures to address the growing problem of gun violence in the country.”
Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council of China, said, “The shooters and victims involved immigrated to the United States from Taiwan, China. Some green media in Taiwan took the opportunity to hype up, plotting to use the unfortunate shooting incident to spread rumors and make political articles with sinister intentions. Inhuman.”
The Global Times also criticized overseas “anti-China forces”, especially “Taiwan independence forces” for “distorting rumors” around the identity, background and motives of the suspects.
How did Taiwan react?
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen issued a statement after the incident, sternly condemning any form of violence, and expressing sincere condolences to Dr.
Taiwan’s Chief Executive Su Zhenchang also said that the shooting is shocking, and any political differences should not be used as an excuse to confront each other, or even kill others.
Taiwan’s Kuomintang also expressed its solemn condemnation of hatred and violence, and paid tribute to Dr. Zheng Dazhi, who stood up to the tragic death of the gunman.
The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan issued a statement strongly condemning the violence, stating that the so-called “China identity” and “Taiwan identity” issues and conflicts have never disappeared, “Only by re-enacting a new constitution that conforms to the current situation in Taiwan can the people be exempted from the violence.” confusion about identity.”