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THE MURDER OF HENRY LIU
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 1985
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
Washington, DC. The subcommittee met at 1:40 p.m., in room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Stephen J. Solarz (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. SOLARZ. The subcommittee will come to order.
I would appreciate it if people in the hearing room could find seats so that we can get underway.
This constitutes the first hearing in the 99th session of Congress of the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, and I want to take this opportunity, first of all, to welcome the new members of the subcommittee who have joined us this year, particularly Mr. Roth from Wisconsin, who served with great distinction on the Foreign Affairs Committee in the past, but who joins us as a member of the subcommittee this year for the first time.
I am pleased that my good friend and colleague from upstate New York, Mr. Solomon, is back for another 2 years on the subcommittee. I am especially delighted that Mr. Leach, the gentleman from Iowa, is joining the subcommittee as its ranking minority member. He follows in the footsteps of one of the truly outstanding Members of the Congress, Joel Pritchard from the State of Washington, who retired after 6 very distinguished years in the House. I am very much looking forward to the same kind of very close and cooperative bipartisan relationship with Mr. Leach that I was privileged to enjoy with Mr. Pritchard.
I am also pleased to take note of the presence today of an alumnus of the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, but who remains a colleague on the full Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Lantos from California. He will not be serving as a member of the subcommittee this year, but who has a very special interest in the matter which brings us here today, and at whose suggestion this hearing was convened.
And so let me now, if I might, get to the business at hand.
Henry Liu was an American citizen of Chinese ancestry. He was a journalist who wrote on the politics of Taiwan, where he lived for almost 20 years after 1949. In his work, he married the principles of American investigative reporting to a characteristically Chinese focus on the morality of public officials.
One might quarrel with what Henry Liu had to say, but no one can dispute the fact that his right to write as he wished was pro
tected by the American Constitution. Apparently his freedom of speech was not protected enough, for Henry Liu was found shot to death on the morning of October 15, in his garage in Daly City, CA.
The subsequent investigation revealed that the crime itself was planned and carried out by members of a Taiwan criminal association-known as the Bamboo Gang. Two of the gang members have been charged with murder by the State of California. Even more startling was the January 15 announcement by the Taiwan Government that three officials in its Military Intelligence Bureau were involved in the killing and apparently responsible for recruiting the assassins for this reprehensible assignment.
How exactly the officials of the military bureau were involved is not yet publicly clear, but it was sufficiently grave to lead to Taipei's announcement and to the arrest of the three officials.
I cannot exaggerate the sense of outrage which the reported involvement of officials of the Taiwan Government in the murder of an American citizen on American soil provokes in me. The genius of the American system of government is that it offers broad opportunities for people politically to think, speak, and act as they wish. It should not offer any opportunity whatsoever to foreign governments to punish critics of their regimes who happen to reside in the United States.
I know that there may be some disagreement among members of the committee and in the Congress over whether the United States should put pressure on repressive regimes abroad to respect the human rights of people in their own territory. But I am sure we all agree that the territory of the United States should not be allowed to become a hunting ground for foreign governments wishing to stifle dissent.
Part of my outrage stems from the knowledge that this is not the first time that Taiwan has abused the freedoms of individuals in the United States. In the past, there have been numerous credible charges of surveillance, intimidation, and harassment in the United States by agents of Taiwan's intelligence services, particularly with respect to Taiwanese students in our country.
Three and a half years ago, Prof. Chen Wen-cheng, a Taiwanese permanent resident on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University, was detained, interrogated, and killed while in Taiwan. Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee will remember that hearings of this subcommittee revealed that Professor Chen was targeted for thi treatment because he had been spied upon at public meetings in the United States. As a result of the Chen case, Congressman Leach and I secured passage of an amendment to the Arms Export Control Act which forbids the sale of arms to countries which the President determines have engaged in a consistent pattern of acts of intimidation or harassment against individuals in the United States.
This most recent episode raises a number of serious questions for the Congress and the American people.
First of all, have the relevant agencies of the executive branch, from whom we will be hearing later, acted properly in trying to secure justice for Henry Liu, by mounting a vigorous investigation and taking appropriate diplomatic steps?
Second, is the murder of Henry Liu an isolated incident or is it only the most visible manifestation of a consistent pattern of acts of intimidation or harassment?
Third, is the existing legal framework for restricting illegitimate foreign agent activity strong enough? Or is new legislation required to better protect the rights of people within the territorial boundaries of the United States?
This hearing is the beginning of a process through which this subcommittee will seek complete answers to these questions. Contributing to our understanding today are four distinguished wit
The Honorable Norman Y. Mineta, a Member of Congress from the State of California, who was among the first to speak out against this outrage, and whose testimony we look forward to receiving.
We also will be hearing from Mr. William Brown, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
We will hear from Mrs. Helen A. Liu. For myself, and I am sure for other members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I would like to pay a special tribute to Mrs. Liu, the wife of Henry Liu, for her willingness to appear today and speak on a subject which I am sure still causes deep emotional anguish.
Finally, we will hear from Prof. Michael Glennon, of the University of Cincinnati Law School. From 1977 to 1980 Professor Glennon was Legal Counsel for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Among the subjects in which he specialized was foreign agent activity in the United States.
After the witnesses have presented their testimony and Members have had an opportunity to pose questions, the subcommittee will proceed to consider and markup House Concurrent Resolution 49, which expresses the sense of the Congress that the Taiwan authorities should cooperate fully in the case of Henry Liu by delivering to the United States for trial those citizens of Taiwan charged by authorities in the United States in connection with the murder of Henry Liu.
Before we hear testimony from the gentleman from California, Mr. Mineta, I want to yield first of all to my new ranking minority member, Mr. Leach, for some opening observations, and then to the gentleman from California, Mr. Lantos, who has expressed his deep concern about this case, and would like to say a few words as well. Mr. Leach.
Mr. LEACH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to commend you for calling this hearing to examine the circumstances surrounding the death of Henry Liu, particularly the implications for United States-Taiwan relations of recent press revelations of apparent involvement of Taiwanese Government officials in the murder. It was not long ago, in July 1981, that this subcommittee held hearings on the death of Dr. Chen Wen-cheng, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University who was found dead under suspicious circumstances following interrogation by Taiwanese Government officials during a visit back to his homeland.
At that time, it was the hope of concerned Members of Congress that the congressional hearings, efforts by the FBI and State Department, and the subsequent enactment of legislation, bearing Mr. Solarz' name, barring arms sales to governments engaged in harassment and intimidation of individuals in the United States would effectively deter any future such conduct, either on the part of the Taiwan Government or any other government.
Sadly, the murder of Henry Liu demonstrates otherwise, and we have seen not an end to, but a more blatant example of the silencing of dissent on foreign soil.
Although the United States may have a national interest in maintaining warm relations with certain governments which do not protect as assiduously as we do the civil liberties of their citizens, such relations should not provide opportunity and temptation to such governments to abridge the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution to individuals, citizens and aliens alike, residing within our borders. The protections and guarantees of the U.S. Constitution are not negotiable.
The Taiwan Government has been effectively on notice since 1981 that any act taken by their agents against any individual in this country who is engaged in the lawful exercise of his or her civil and constitutional rights would seriously jeopardize the warm relations between our governments. How the Taiwanese authorities respond to U.S. concerns with regard to the Henry Liu case may well decide the future course of United States-Taiwan relations.
The Congress expects Taiwanese authorities to cooperate fully with State Department and FBI officials in obtaining justice in the death of Henry Liu, and I would urge the prompt extradition of those individuals now in Taiwan who have been charged with the crime to stand trial in the United States. Failure to provide such cooperation may force the Congess and the executive branch to consider less attractive alternatives or sanctions.
As I suggested in testimony before this subcommittee in 1981, if there continues to be evidence of espionage or harassment by Taiwan agents in the United States, the State Department should give consideration to cutting back the current number of CCNAA offices in the United States. Recent events cause me to once again urge that this option be given serious consideration in the event that the execution of full justice is not achieved.
In addition, the department should consider requesting the withdrawal of all Taiwanese Government personnel in the United States who may be part of the intelligence services implicated in ordering the murder of a U.S. citizen.
The conduct alleged in the case before us, of government-sanctioned murder, is not the conduct of friends. Actions, not words, will be the response Congress will be looking for in the days ahead.
There are perhaps two larger lessons to be drawn from the issue before us today. First, the murder of Henry Liu throws anew the stark light of reality on the institution of martial law in Taiwan, the intolerance it breeds for dissent both at home and abroad, and the comfort it provides for those who subscribe to a doctrine of national security which subordinates basic respect for law and human rights to the self-interest of ruling authorities.
As long as the broad brush of national security can be used to gloss over the excesses of the State, there can be no guarantee in the future that murderous acts will not reoccur. Nondemocratic governments which refuse to submit themselves to a genuine test of popular will are more easily seduced by the temptations of personal power and operate with far fewer of the restraints, checks and balances which democratic governments like our own must respect.
The murder of Henry Liu must be seen in this larger context, and the Government of Taiwan urged once again to repeal martial law and restore to the people of Taiwan a fully functioning democratic system. These hearings today ought not only to be held in Washington. The representatives of the people of Taiwan ought also to be holding public inquiries into acts apparently sanctioned by their government.
Finally, it seems to me that the Congress ought to take another look at the steps taken by our own Government since our hearings in 1981, to ensure that Americans of foreign descent in the United States are fully protected in the exercise of their civil and constitutional rights. The deaths, first of Dr. Chen and now of Henry Liu, not to mention the years of less publicized harassment and intimidation of Taiwanese students on American campuses, have left everyone of Taiwanese descent living in America with a chilling message. Members of this committee do not want to sit through another round of hearings on the same subject next year or any year thereafter.
Finally, let me say that from a personal point of view, from communications and discussions with members of the State Department and the FBI, I am pleased to record the professionalism by which the investigation into the murder of Henry Liu has taken place and the seriousness of the concern our Government has registered with Taiwanese authorities.
Mr. SOLARZ. I thank the gentleman for his statement. The gentleman from California, Mr. Lantos.
Mr. LANTOS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, first I would like to thank you for holding these hearings. As I said in my letter to you requesting that these hearings be held, this is a matter of the gravest concern, with serious and far-reaching implications for the relationship between the United States and the Government in Taiwan.
I welcome this opportunity to review the ramifications of the brutal murder of Mr. Henry Liu, an American citizen of Daly City, San Mateo County, CA.
Second, Mr. Chairman, I would like to express my deepest and most sincere sympathy to Mrs. Helen A. Liu. For most of us here, this is an important matter of national policy, but for Mrs. Liu, this is a very personal and very tragic event. I appreciate her presence here today at this hearing, at a time when her grief and her personal loss are so acute.
Mr. Chairman, it is unacceptable for U.S. citizens to be killed on American soil by individuals from other countries, whether they are acting on their own authority or whether they are put up to these acts by government officials. It is in the best interests of justice, it is in the best interests of the United States, and it is in the best interests of the Government in Taiwan, for this matter to be fully and fairly aired in an American court of law.