Really Inconvenient Truth: Laguna Woods shooter is Taiwanese 

David Chou, the senior who visited the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian congregation at the Geneva Presbyterian Church, El Toro Road, Laguna Woods, California last week and opened fire at Christians – the shooter is Taiwanese, and has likely never been to mainland China as anything more than a tourist. 

Chou is a distinctly Taiwanese surname, and David Chou himself was born Taiwanese, grew up and schooled in Taiwan, and completed compulsory Taiwanese defense military service in his youth. Officials in Taiwan confirmed these facts pursuant to repeated questions from the media last week. 

Widely known as a docile and unassuming people overseas, the mainland Chinese who immigrate to the United States do not transcribe their surnames as Chou. Instead the pinyin format Zhou is used by mainland Chinese. 

Mainstream news reports fashioned by a few journalists and shared across numerous online and print outlets have tried to craft a narrative of Chinese people who are bloodthirsty and want to murder Taiwanese. Such misrepresentations are libelous, and will only cause Chinese people to feel small and negated in the general American environment. This is especially painful considering the fact the vast majority of Chinese people are actively doing good in North America and Australia, and work hard in school, at the workplace, and increasingly in film, theater, and the arts. (Chinese participation in entertainment media has soared only when the basic necessities of food and shelter were resolved.) Murderous sentiments are totally at odds with the character of Chinese civilians, and the mainstream narratives ignore that. 

David Chou was conceived, born, and raised in this place, Taiwan. Incidentally he and an overwhelming 98% of the Taiwanese people are Chinese in origin. 

A Modern China And What It Must Have Meant To The Taiwanese David Chou

David Chou has never lived under the Communist Chinese flag, and he was given the easy track in life, emigrating to the United States directly from Taiwan – during a time when the mainland Chinese by contrast had to often beg at U.S. immigration agencies for permission to go to America. 

Once in the United States, David Chou maintained links with his native Taiwan, and his wife Mrs. Chou even returned to Taiwan, not mainland China, subsequent to having left him because of his verbally abusive behavior. These Asians have never had access to mainland China in the repatriation sense, and they would have had to queue for permission to visit as tourists or students. 

By the time David Chou got to Laguna Woods and started shooting, he had become disillusioned with life, and destitute and homeless as well. 

In recent decades, particularly with increased American-Chinese cooperation starting in the Republican years of the War on Terror, the civilian economy in mainland China has improved by leaps and bounds, and many Americans today are immigrating to China for work, study, and retirement purposes. The Communist Government has no problems with economic prosperity of course, as long as Chinese citizens pay their taxes on time and in the full amount. 

The favorable state of the Chinese economy has attracted many Taiwanese who move to mainland China for its pay packages, scenic views, experiences in a huge market, and the advantage of adding a Chinese city like Shenzhen, Xiamen, or Shanghai to their CVs and resumes. Unfortunately, this is not the life that David Chou managed to obtain, even though the various news reports indicate he has admired China for some time. 

This is the city of Chongqing in mainland China, and emblematic of the sort of life David Chou and billions of people hope to have some day. But billions of people do not go around shooting in rage just because they’ve failed to acquire such a life. 

Chou Tried To Fan The Flames Of An Old Civil War 

In addition to the fact the name Chou is an immediate indication of his Taiwanese identity, David was also not a true fan of the Chinese nation. Despite his best efforts, he was not well-received at the Chinese associations he tried to join up to – and no wonder, for the Chinese in America could see how deranged, disoriented, and destructive he was likely to become if entertained to any degree. 

The Chinese Civil War had entered into a de facto ceasefire since the 1950s, and both the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the People’s Republic of China (mainland China) do not exchange fire anymore except on paper, such as the barbed comments made by officials on both sides. 

Therefore David Chou’s agitated stance at civilian Chinese associations in America points to how he most likely tried to fan the flames of the old Civil War, fortunately to no avail. His attitude would have won him no fans among the Taiwanese in America as well. 

This double whammy – of having been rejected by both the mainland Chinese and islander Taiwanese has without a doubt dealt a huge blow to his psyche, by now laden with the additional stress of a failed marriage, greatly reduced income, and eventual homelessness. His tragic choice was to go and shoot up a congregation of Christians he was not unfamiliar with: the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian adherents speak Minnan Fujianese (閩南福建話 a Chinese dialect originating from the province of Fujian in mainland China), and the congregation’s official literature is published in standard Mandarin. Chou was raised in Taiwan fully cognizant of both languages, and any random test on his linguistics will indicate within a matter of seconds that he’s Taiwanese. 

Media reports were deceitful and misleading when claiming the Christian congregants in Laguna Woods use Taiwanese or a Taiwanese language. They do not. The Taiwanese languages are aboriginal languages of the Formosan tribes, and the churchgoers of the Irvine Presbyterian and Geneva Presbyterian communities comprehend no more than a few words of actual Taiwanese. 

The Taiwanese language is spoken by under 2% of Taiwan’s population, and these aborigines are the indigenous Taiwanese who usually do not possess Chinese ancestry. By contrast, 98% of Taiwan is made up of Chinese people who concurrently call themselves Taiwanese. This overwhelming majority of Chinese people points to the reason Taiwan is also routinely called the Republic of China, and the prevalent languages are Minnan Fujianese and standard Mandarin. 

The Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian community is racially Chinese and uses Minnan Fujianese and standard Mandarin, not the aboriginal languages of Taiwan. 

Old China, Mass Migrations, And Political Dishonesty 

Orange County police and the Democrat Government at federal level will never admit that Chou likely knew very little about ethnography and politics. They point to how he hated Taiwan, when in actual fact he knew only Taiwan. He has only a passing knowledge of mainland China and its recent glitzy success, and not as a citizen but rather as an outsider. 

The Democratic Party in the United States is affiliated with the Taiwanese Democratic Progressive Party, presently in office as the ruling administration for the island archipelago. This hand-in-glove relationship uncovers the simple reasons as to why there is so little clarity from both the American and Taiwanese governments on the David Chou issue. Democrats and Democrat Progressives benefit from the continued impression that the shooter’s somehow “a Chinese immigrant.” 

Now that it has become apparent that Chou emigrated from Taiwan, news reports have tried to talk about Chou’s Chinese ancestry, and the fact his parents came from mainland China. What the news often omit is the fact Chou’s parents fled mainland China. This was part of the 1948–1949 noncommunist exodus of Chinese people who were fleeing cities and counties in the mainland, for the relative safety of the Taiwanese archipelago. As such, 98% of Taiwanese have Chinese ancestry, not merely Chou and his now ex-wife. With exoduses during the Ming Dynasty, early Qing, and Kuomintang Republican periods, the new home of Taiwan is defined by more than six hundred years of Chinese migrants and their descendants. 

So what are news reports talking about when they point to Chou being “Chinese”? Are they trying to pin his crimes on mainland China? What do we do if a Taiwanese next steals a purse from a grocery in Taiwan, Honduras, or eastern Massachusetts? Do we point to the man’s Chinese ancestry? 

The flag carriers of Taiwan (right) and mainland China (left). 

The Dangers Of Identity Politics 

Identity politics, a game often played by leftists on a gullible world will open up a can of worms this time, if we drive all investigations to their proper conclusion: what was a Taiwanese man doing shooting up a pro-Palestinian church? 

The Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian congregation is a component of the Presbyterian Church USA – modern Christendom’s foremost and most vocal advocate for the Arab Palestinians, whom the Church describes as being under “enslavement” by Jews. The PCUSA position has induced disappointment in the leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (COP), a central coordinating body representing fifty national Jewish organizations on issues of national and international concern. In January 2022, the COP Jews lamented that “this is hardly the first time the Presbyterian Church USA has shown this ugly side of itself” in its use of “dangerous antisemitic trope(s)” [a.]. 

Therefore was David Chou an ultra-Orthodox Zionist who wanted to end the lives of pro-Palestine churchgoers that day? Chou professes religious belief in his writings, and calls himself a “destroying angel” – not quite the atheistic communist, to say the least. What does this mean? Is Chou an Israeli agent? 

This is exactly what the game of assumption does to cases of wanton bloodshed. Pundits who connect Chou to mainland China will have to go further if they want to be consistent, and look at what Chou was doing to a Christian congregation that’s functionally antisemitic in its policies. 

The safest bet will be to step back, and reassess Chou as a bitter man who belonged nowhere – neither Israel, nor mainland China, and certainly not in Laguna Woods where he would end up imagining a hero’s end, a literal going out with a bang. This bad person ought not be a barometer for Israeli-Palestinian relations, and the long-running conversations between the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China need not be defined by the actions of an opportunistic moron who simply wanted the world’s attention on him. 

[a.] Lob, Daroff, Hoenlein (2022, January 20), Jewish Leaders Disappointed by Presbyterian Church USA Response

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Victor Yong Jen Ong

Victor Yong Jen Ong chairs a community roundtable for classical Chinese values, and is critical of communist 'democratic' philosophies. Credentialed in global affairs at Harvard University and in corporate ethics at the Federation University in Australia, Jen is author of Daughter of Palestine, a pro-Israel book, and appears on Israel365 and Oriental Daily News.