On Sunday, May 15, a shooting broke out at a Taiwanese church service in Orange County, California. Five elderly people were wounded, and a doctor died after launching himself at the suspect to contain him.
Officials said on May 16 that the shooter, 68-year-old David Chou from Las Vegas, was acting on political hatred of Taiwan. According to the Associated Press, despite being of Taiwanese descent, the man believed the self-governed island should not be independent of China.
Radio Free Asia reported Chou was an assistant professor in the Department of Tourism, Food and Beverage Management Department, and the Department of Air Service Management at the China University of Science and Technology in Taiwan’s Hsinchu city. The station obtained the information by viewing his business card.
Focus Taiwan received confirmation from the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology that Chou was hired to teach at its Applied Science of Living department in 1994.
Eyes on Beijing’s propaganda campaign
Online users have unearthed images of a man having the same name as Chou attending the inaugural meeting of the radical Chinese Communist Party (CCP) pro-unification group in Las Vegas three years ago.
The person in the pictures wore a Hawaiian shirt and was said to be retired professor Zhou Wenwei from Las Vegas. Zhou Wenwei is Chou’s Taiwanese name.
There have been speculations that Chou was part of the National Association for China’s Peaceful Unification (NACPU). The U.S. characterizes the organization as a foreign mission for China and an affiliate of the United Front Work Department of the CCP.
According to the Alliance for China’s Peaceful Reunification, more than 30 similar organizations operate in the U.S. The Guardian noted that these groups, loosely associated with a central authority in Beijing, can also be found publishing anti-Taiwan independence publications among Chinese populations in the UK.
But as VICE World News reported, the event Chou attended was hosted by a pro-unification group named Las Vegas Chinese for Peaceful Unification.
Despite similar names, its chairwoman, Jenny Koo, said the organization was not linked to China’s NACPU and that Chou was no longer recognized as a group member since the latter half of 2019.
The information still brings Beijing’s rhetoric into the limelight. In recent years, Taiwan repeatedly warned that China had engaged in cognitive warfare with the island. Last week, the Taipei Times reported that the CCP has been training online personalities to infuse its ideologies into their content and affect Taiwanese internet users.
Chou’s personal life has not been easy lately.
A neighbor told the Associated Press that Chou’s life turned sour after his wife left him in 2021. He sustained multiple injuries from a tenant and was evicted from his Las Vegas apartment this February.
The neighbor said Chou’s mental health has deteriorated, and a shotgun was discharged inside his apartment last summer.
It is unclear the reasons behind his tumultuous life. Las Vegas NACPU’s Koo nonetheless said he was very radical.