It’s not worth being paranoiac, please

By Joe Hung

It was in the summer of 1960. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was coming to Taipei for a two-day state visit on June 18. A couple of days before his arrival, I was invited to a press tour of Ching Chuan Kang Air Base in Taichung. At that time, the air base was top secret, because it was used solely by the U.S. Air Force. The commander in charge of the air base was Taiwan’s Air Force officer, of course. He commanded air base guards alone. It was a virtual American airbase. The U.S. Taiwan Defense Command arranged the press tour. Aside from the American news correspondents, I was the only Chinese reporter invited to visit Ching Chuan Kang, because I worked for the U.S. Information Service in Taipei and The China Post, the only English-language newspaper in Taiwan at that time. We made the visit to meet a squadron of F-104 Starfighters arriving from Clark Airbase in Luzon to help protect Taiwan against a possible air attack while President Eisenhower was in Taipei. It was a year and a half after the 1958 Battle of the Taiwan Strait, or Quemoy Crisis. As a matter of fact, the Chinese Communist shore battery hit Quemoy again on June 17 and 19, though Mao Zedong didn’t dare to order an air attack on Taiwan. While at Ching Chuan Kang, we were all allowed to sit in the cockpit of any Starfighter, albeit there was no photo session. Starfighters fought in the Vietnam War, which was still raging on then. A fighter pilot showed us Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and explained how he aimed and fired them to shoot down an enemy plane in a snap of fingers. We also boarded a C-103 transport plane for an ��inspection.�� On return to Taipei, I wrote a story about Sidewinders, with which Taiwan’s fighters scored all wins in dogfights against Soviet-made MiG 17s during the Quemoy Crisis. The story was published and I was under investigation. The Ministry of National Defense wanted to know how I got top secret military information. I got off scot-free, for I was so told by the American Phantom pilot. I knew the frame of mind of the top brass. Shortly after my encounter, a reporter of the now long defunct Shang Kung Daily (�Ӥu����) in Chiayi (�Ÿq) in Southern Taiwan was convicted of compromising a military top secret by ��revealing�� the name of the commander of the Matsu Defense Command. The poor reporter was given an MND free junket to the offshore island opposite Fuzhou, capital city of the province of Fujian of the People’s Republic of the mainland of China. On return to Chiayi, he wrote a story in which he named the commander.

The reporter was given a one-year sentence, I recall. But what interested me is the way the judgment report by the Chiayi District Court was written. The judge got to mention the Matsu commander, who was Maj. Gen. Shih Chueh. But the judge couldn’t name Gen. Shih. If he had done, he would be committing the crime of compromising the top secret just like the reporter he himself had convicted. So he wrote ��Matsu Defense Commander XXX.��