Friday, February 10, 2017

An anecdote of late Gen. Chen Shen-ling

A story about Gen. Chen, written by Wang Li-Zhen (王立楨) titled 向美軍嗆聲的陳燊齡將軍(Chen Shen-ling: the general who dares to stand against the U.S. armed forces) on his blog well delineated the strength of character of this veteran pilot.

I would like to summarize the story below to pay my respect to the deceased.

In the early 1970s, not long after Gen. Chen took command of Ching Chuan Kang Air Base, where a U.S. detachment was deployed there to support the war in Vietnam, he received a report. A local employee surnamed Chang was found stealing goods from the G.I. dining hall and held at the headquarters of U.S. military police.

It was not the first time that such incident occurred and none of Chen’s predecessors took seriously about it. However, Gen. Chen thought differently. He thought that it was not right for the Chinese employee to commit theft, but it was more wrong for the U.S. military police to search and detain any Chinese citizen on the soil of the Republic of China.

Gen. Chen immediately ordered his staff to notify Col. Andrew Iosue, then the commander of the 374th Tactical Airlift Wing, to meet him at the MP headquarters.

At the MP office, Gen. Chen asked Col. Iosue if he knew that a Chinese citizen was being held by the US military police. Realizing this was not a simple matter, Col. Iosue first asked the US duty officer to brief him before answering the general’s question.

The duty officer said the manager of the dining hall suspected Chang stole ham and notified the MP to come for a search and a pack of ham was found in Chang’s locker. Chang was put in custody on site, and Chinese base military police were notified to come in to apprehend Chang.

Hearing the report, Col. Iosue felt relieved because Chinese MP was informed and it was only a matter of time to wait for them to come and take Chang away. He then suggested that Gen. Chen have the suspect. 

Gen. Chen interrupted the colonel and asked him on what authority that the US military police had the rights to search a Chinese citizen on the territory of the Republic of China? Chen said the US military police should have notified the Chinese MP to handle this matter instead of searching Chang’s locker first.

Col. Iosue could not answer Chen but ordered the release of Chang.

Upon the release of Chang, Gen.Chen felt that this matter was not yet solved. He thought that the US armed forces should be let known of their positions as a guest at the base, not the host.

Returning to his office, Gen. Chen summoned the Chinese MP commander and ordered him to conduct a thorough check of any U.S. personnel and vehicles in and out of the base main gate from then on. The general also demanded all Chinese employees of the U.S. dining hall guarantee that there would be no shameful theft like this time happened again; otherwise, he would revoke the pass of the Chinese employees.

That evening, a long queue of late returning US personnel from leave was waiting in front of the main gate to be checked by Chinese MPs. Several enlistees were found carrying dopes.

Next morning, Col. Iosue came to the general’s office and asked him, “Gen. Chen, are the base MPs under your command?” Gen. Chen replied seriously, “Colonel, everyone on this base, including you, is under my command.”

In fact, the general and the colonel knew each other well. They often addressed each other on first name basis. That day, the general deliberately addressed the colonel by his rank to remind him that he obey orders from his superior.

The colonel humorously raised his hands posing an act of surrender and said, “Yes sir, General, I fully understand.” Then they shook hands and began to discuss matters concerning the Chinese and American troops. Later they agreed that Chinese MPs had rights to conduct check to any person of the base including the US personnel. However, the US military police were only be allowed to check the US personnel but not any Chinese soldiers or citizens. 

A formal memo was made. Both commanders notified their superiors. Gen. Chen was praised for his handling of this matter. Later, our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and US State Department began dialogues, and the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the US armed forces was terminated. 

Though this diplomatic victory was triggered by Gen. Chen, he was not particularly proud of it because he felt that he only did what he had to do, which was uphold our fundamental national dignity.

No comments: