Taiwan leader condemns killing of man in church

Taiwan leader condemns killing of man in church

Taiwan's president condemned the killing of a man who was reportedly driven by hatred of the island in a Taiwanese church, while a lawmaker from her ruling party questioned whether Chinese propaganda was a motivating factor behind the violence.

Tsai Ing-wen s office issued a statement Tuesday saying she condemned violence, extended her condolences to those killed and injured, and asked the island's chief representative in the US to fly to California to provide assistance.

On Tuesday, David Chou, 68, of Las Vegas, was expected to appear in California state court on charges of murder and attempted murder. Police said he hid firebombs before Sunday slaying at a gathering of mostly elderly Taiwanese parishioners at the church in Orange County, outside Los Angeles.

One man was killed and five others wounded, the oldest of whom was 92. A federal hate crimes investigation is ongoing.

The US citizen, Chou, apparently had a grievance with the Taiwanese community, police said. Chou was born in Taiwan in 1953, according to the Central News Agency of Taiwan, the head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles, Taiwan's de facto consulate in the city.

According to Taiwanese media, Chou had ties to a Chinese-backed organisation opposed to Taiwan's independence, although details could not be confirmed immediately.

China claims Taiwan is its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary, and denounces Tsai, her ruling Democratic Progressive Party and their foreign supporters.

Tensions between China and Taiwan are the highest in decades, with Beijing stepping up its military harassment by flying fighter jets toward the self-governing island.

In Taiwan, the DPP legislator Lin Ching-yi said in a message on her Facebook page that ideology has become a reason for genocide Lin said Taiwanese needed to face up to hateful speech and organisations backed by China's ruling Communist party, singling out the United Front Work Department that seeks to advance China's political agenda in Taiwan and among overseas Chinese communities.

The US is Taiwan's chief political and military ally, even though it does not extend the island's formal diplomatic ties in deference to Beijing.

On Monday, Taiwan's de facto ambassador, Bi-khim Hsiao said she was shocked and saddened by the fatal shooting at the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in California. She joins the families of the victims and Taiwanese American communities in grief and pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded survivors.

Chou's hatred toward the island, documented in handwritten notes that authorities found, appears to have begun when he felt that he was not treated well while living there.

A former neighbour said Chou's life unraveled after his wife left him and his mental health had declined.

Chou's family appeared to be among the nearly 1 million refugees from mainland China who moved to Taiwan at the time of the Communist sweep to power on the mainland in 1949.

The former Japanese colony had been handed over at the end of the Second World War to nationalist Chinese rule in 1945, and relations between mainlanders and native Taiwanese were often tense.

Several incidents of bullying and confrontation between the sides were reported, as they were separated by language and lifestyle. Many mainlanders, who were concentrated in the major cities, joined violent organised crime gangs with links to the military and Chinese secret societies in part to defend themselves against Taiwanese rivals.

The Presbyterian Church is the most prominent of the Christian dominations in Taiwan and was closely identified with the pro-democracy movement under decades of martial law era and later with the Taiwan independence cause.