Commemorated for Role in Taiwanese History

 

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By Kay Wible  Bethel News. (Bethel University)  2007.02.19 :  Morgan and Eileen Chang, and the tapes from the Voice of Taiwan.


It’s not often that people’s actions land them in the pages of history, but that’s exactly where Bethel Seminary of the East student Eileen Chang and her husband Morgan find themselves. The couple was honored at recent ceremonies commemorating a new book of Taiwanese history and the Changs role establishing a critical communications network while their native country underwent political turmoil in the late 1970s.

The Changs lived in New York in December 1979 when the infamous Kaohsiung Incident unfolded in Taiwan. Peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators clashed with hundreds of police from the then-controlling Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), prompting a renewed fight for freedom among Taiwanese at home and abroad.

Their desire to keep abreast of what was happening in their homeland led the Changs to form the Voice of Taiwan in 1977 as a work of the Taiwanese Association of America, disseminating news from the island country using a simple telephone recording system to broadcast news to a global Taiwanese network of listeners. Eileen maintained contacts in Taiwan as information sources in order to record a weekly, and later daily, news report. After the Kaohsiung Incident, the Voice of Taiwan became a powerful source of information, spreading to more than 30 cities in the United States and capital cities around the world. Besides serving as a source of news about climactic events in her native country, Eileen used the network to provide encouragement and offer a Christian perspective to listeners.

Surviving transcripts of the Voice of Taiwan and other telecommunication programs from this tumultuous era are included in a 720 page book, Witnessing Kaohsiung Incident--Selected Tape Recordings of ‘Voice of Taiwan', released by the Wu San-Lien Foundation for Taiwan Historical Materials, an independent organization funded by government-affiliated Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, to preserve an independent history of the East Asian country. The publication was commemorated in Taipei (Taiwan’s capital) by Wu San-Lien Foundation on December 10, 2006, which marked the 27th anniversary of the Kaohsiung Incident. Eileen and Morgan Chang were the only guests publicly honored.

“I often say God is good, and full of humor,” Eileen wrote in a preface of the book, entitled “Come Home.” “It’s amazing that so many years later, He inspired a group of historians to revisit the recordings and create a lasting and accurate history out of the 144 tapes from the era.” At a time when most of the information coming out of Taiwan was heavily censored, the courageous efforts of the Changs’ Voice of Taiwan and several other news agencies that followed in their footsteps were largely responsible for shining a spotlight on a people enduring great injustice. The Changs paid a price for their influence, as both their families, still in Taiwan, were harassed, and the couple was indicted by the KMT as “traitors.”

With the freedom they so cherished living in the United States, the Changs helped galvanize many into political action, and though Eileen says the Voice of Taiwan “is but a small part in the chain that was fatefully linked to produce a meaningful piece of history,” their contributions left a permanent legacy.

Today, Eileen is completing a Doctor of Ministry at Bethel Seminary of the East while Morgan continues more than 25 years working in finance in New York City.

 

 

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