Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Chen Personal Safety

"The Legislature's defense committee expressed outraged over a high-ranking military officer who failed to report to his new post at the Hualien Defense Command more than four months after he received his assignment.
Local media reported in early February that Major General Tung Lung-chuen, the Hualien Defense Command's Chief of Staff, was supposed to report to his new job on December 1 of last year, but has yet to show up at his post. By the end of March, the issue was once again brought up by the local press, this time with even harsher criticisms.
Tung finally followed the rules, belatedly, taking a flight from Taipei to Hualien last Friday to his new post. According to regulations, if an officer is assigned to a new position, he must report to his new duty in five days. Otherwise, said officer will be banned from the posting."

I have actually heard about this case for some time from a Taiwanese friend, who told me it has been rather prominent in the Chinese language press. I asked him to give me a heads up if he saw an article, but now that this article has appeared I feel I can at least blog it. From what my friend says, the real back story on this is that the military officer is ultimately in charge of the personal safety of Chen, and the president has absolute trust in him. The problem with the rotation is that a (外省人) mainlander would be scheduled to take his place, and Chen is not comfortable with that. According to my friend, Chen has been insisting that the man's replacement be, not only a native Taiwanese, but from Chen's hometown of Tainan as well. None of this appears in the Taiwan News story, although it apparently has been covered in the Chinese language press.

This is where blogs get a bad name, and I have to include the caveat that this is a friend telling me what he's read - not something I have read myself. But the story makes sense. The most likely scenario for a Chinese attack on the island involves a "decapitation" strategy, whereby the head of state and other top members of government would be eliminated, and a leaderless Taiwan would fall into the laps of the Chinese. Given how likely such a strategy is, and the attempt on his life just before the presidential election, it would be unusual if Chen didn't feel it necessary to take extraordinary precautions regarding his own safety.