Taiwan asks US representatives to help secure its citizens after shooting at Chinese nationalist church

The government of Taiwan on Monday expressed its condolences to the families of Dr. John Cheng, who was killed Sunday in the attack on a Taiwanese church in California by a Chinese nationalist gunman, and the five others injured in the shooting.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen asked her administration’s representatives in the United States to “help ensure the safety of local Taiwanese citizens”.

Orange County Police said Monday’s shooting at Geneva’s Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, where Sunday lunch was being held for the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, was motivated by anti-Taiwanese sentiment. Local reports call the shooting a “hate crime.”

The suspect68-year-old David Chou (Chou Wenwei), is a Taiwanese immigrant living in Las Vegas who is allegedly motivated by opposition to the existence of the Taiwanese state.

The government of Communist China routinely describes Taiwanese as “separatists” and often threatens them with military force. Notes found in Chou’s car indicated he was angry that Taiwan was an independent nation.

Chou is in custody on $1 million bail, faces one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder. The only fatality at the attack was 52-year-old sports doctor John Cheng, who heroically threw himself into the line of fire, allowing others to subdue the gunman. The victims of the shooting were between 66 and 92 years old.

A photo of Dr. John Cheng, a 52-year-old victim who was killed in Sunday’s shooting at the Geneva Presbyterian Church, is shown outside his office in Aliso Viejo, Calif., Monday, May 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C.Hong)

A spokesman for Tsai .’s office said the Taiwanese president “condemns any form of violence”.

Tsai expressed “sincere condolences for the tragic death of Dr. Cheng”, as well as “sincere concern for the Taiwanese nationals injured in the incident”.

President Tsai has instructed Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and Taiwanese Ambassador to the United States Xiao Meiqin to formally “express their condolences and concerns”. Xiao was also sent to California to “provide necessary assistance.”

“The president has also asked the diplomatic unit to contact the United States to help ensure the safety of local Taiwanese nationals,” Tsai’s office said.

According to Louis Huang, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles, gunman David Chou himself was born in Taiwan in 1953. The slain Dr. Cheng was born in Taiwan and immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was one year old.

“We all live in a free and open, diverse democratic society with the same goal: to raise a family. People with different views should respect each other. That’s just what democracy is all about,” Huang said.

Taiwan’s State Department said it received a call Tuesday morning from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto US consulate on the island, to “express condolences on the deadly shooting on behalf of the US government”.

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