Politics and religion are intertwined in many parts of the world, and Taiwan is no exception.
The Taiwanese Presbyterian Church has long advocated independence from China, a position that infuriates the communist government of mainland China, which considers Taiwan one of its many provinces.
Experts and law enforcement suspect that the man who killed one and shot four others at Laguna Woods Church on Sunday, May 15, may have targeted the Taiwanese Presbyterian Congregation out of anger over the church’s position for independence. According to Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes, 68-year-old Las Vegas resident David Wenwei Zhou, there were notes in the car that he thought he was “upset by the political tensions between China and Taiwan” and expressed “hatred for the Taiwanese people.”
Taiwan’s Irwin Presbyterian Church is holding services at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods and gathered after the service on Sunday.
Zhou has lived in both mainland China and Taiwan, emigrated to the United States, became a citizen and has lived here for decades, officials said.
“Most people in Taiwan don’t want to unite with China, but there are marginalized groups that are associated with large, pro-Chinese groups,” said Leo Nachman, a doctoral student at Harvard University’s Center for Chinese Studies who earned a Ph.D. .D. at UC Irvine. “The shooter may be linked to one of these groups.”
Taiwan is about 100 miles off the east coast of China. After the Chinese Communist Party gained control of China in 1949, about 3 million members of the Chinese Nationalist Party – known as the Kuomintang and led by Chiang Kai-shek – fled to Taiwan and formed a government there, imposing decades of martial law in China. island and persecute critics who dared to advocate for Taiwan’s democratic self-government.
“At the time, it was illegal to form a political party or talk about local government,” said Clayton Oak, director of the US-China USC Institute.
And Zhou, aged 68, is an age who may well remember the tensions of identity politics between the inhabitants of the mainland and the locals of the island.
“I believe that his hatred of Taiwan was evident when he lived there in previous years, perhaps in his youth,” said Barnes of the OCSD. “According to what we believe we have collected so far, he was not very well received when he lived there.”
Taiwan came out of martial law in 1987 and within a short quarter of a century established a strong democracy and strong economy, existing in a foreign world where much of the world does not recognize it as an independent nation and continues to claim China.
While these passions have cooled with the younger generations, they still burn strongly in many older people, Dub said. “This section still matters.”
Most people in Taiwan are happy to adhere to the status quo, he said. Although they may be in favor of independence, they know that China is threatened with war if the island declares independence, so they are happy to remain in suspense. Only about 5% to 6% are in favor of unification with China.
Taiwan’s defense minister said tensions between Taiwan and China were the worst in 40 years. About 1,900 Chinese missiles were sent to the island. China’s air and sea invasions on what Taiwan defines as its territory are commonplace. And there are fears that if Russia tries to take from Ukraine what it insists it owns, China may be encouraged to do the same with Taiwan.
It turns out that the alleged shooter was very systematicand it was not an instant decision, but politics could be mixed with business or romantic disputes or any other signs in a troubled mind, Dub said.
“This background noise may have played a role, but it’s too early to know for sure,” he said.
Nachman of Harvard tends to agree.
“I think there is a desire to formalize this as a Chinese attack on Taiwan in the United States,” Nachman said. “It’s a pretty big overstatement. I really think it’s more related to the instability of the shooter. “