Remember the Bai Xiaoyan kidnapping case?

I’m looking for info. on the Bai Xiaoyan kidnapping. I’m after any quirky facts people can remember about the time and the many incidents. I have the basics pretty much down so there is no need to repeat the tale. Just your impressions.

What about the murder of the plastic surgeon, the other successful kidnapping of the businessman, was Pai Ping-ping (Hsiao-yens’ mother) really involved through her seedy business connections-was there any investigation of this? Did you really believe Chen Chin-hsing converted to Christianity as a result of his encounter with the South African Military attache and his family?

I can remeber when they had Kao Tien-ming and Chen Chin-hsing cournered somewhere in downtown Taipei and there were so many cameramen and Journos there that they were giving away the swat teams location, especially the arrival of the helicopters. Lubien Tang guys were arriving to peddle sausages to all the gawkers and a shoot out followed. Remarkably the crowds stood their ground and the cops had to fight their way through them to pursue Kao.

Bizarrly, I can recall seeing my old boss on TV being interviewed in her car one night fleeing their residence in Tien Mu to take a room at the Ritz.

The uncerimonious way the South African Military Attache, after being shot in the leg by Chen, was carried through the crowd of journalists, giving an interview from the stretcher and then quite undelicately dumped into the back of this ambulance that gave the world a glimpse into the advanced state of Taiwan’s Ambulance service and state of paramedical services- an empty van with one lone oxygen gas cylinder and wheel hub seating for the paramedics.

Any help would be appreciated

I wasn’t here at the time, but my friend said the thing he remembers most was the wanted posters EVERYWHERE.

If you’ve got time, I’d love toread a summary of what you’ve got already.


It was a fiasco, and par for police finesse in Taipei.

I remember the other two kidnappers with Chen were shot, or one was. But Chen managed to hide out in YangMingShan and then took the South African Military attache and his family hostage for like 2 weeks… and they closed off Shi Pai Road, up past the Veteran’s Hospital. But throngs of rubberneckers and media hounds waited outside…they never actually cleared out the area…typical. The S. Afr’s daughter was shot too, i think.
The South African Christian, wrote a book about it all if i recall correctly.

It was all rather sad for Bai Bing Bing, though. I’ve heard she’s trying to conceive another child, or perhaps she already has.

It was followed by several other crime sprees on the island, like that mayor in chungli?, i think, who was murdered in his house bought with taxpayers money, and the female DPP legislator who was kidnapped and murdered by a taxi driver in Kaohsiung. Neither of those cases were ever solved, or at least they were covered up.

Since all it takes to become a police person is low test scores so they’re unable to attend universities, then who’d believe they were capable of much more than harrassing night club patrons. History proves this point.

I guess police work is not a particularly lucrative profession in Taiwan(unless they profit well from all the bribery, which i reckon they do). Nor is it one which merits much respect from the citizens. Wonder why…

A friend of mine who worked at ICRT at the time said that when he arrived on the scene where Chen Jin-xing was holed up (ICRT was on Yangmingshan at that time and a lot closer), not long after the police, that officers were shooting into the apartment. It took a call from the top for them to stop shooting. If it had been just someone’s house, with an ordinary family, the police would have probably just have kept on shooting, regardless of who was inside.

I also knew Bai Bing-bing, the mother of the murder victim, from when I worked at TVBS as a cameraman. Still, I had no idea the power she held, both over the police and the media. If it had been anyone else, a “normal” kidnapping and murder, even a tenth of the effort would have been unthinkable.

Thanks for the replies.

For Bu En Lai:

The stand off at the South African Attache’s place was eventually resolved by Frank Hsieh. The same Frank Hsieh who is the Mayor of Kao Shiang in a display of remarkable courage bordering on insanity. He offered himself as the negotiator after there had already been a number of shoot outs and pretty much walked up and knocked on the door. You can only imagin the scene TV lights and cameras everywhere Frank moseys up to the door and I’m pretty sure that once he got inside Chen got down and prostated himself on the floor. Basically giving himself up immediately.

You might also be interested to know and this strikes me as very wierd, but in some circles Chen was regarded as a “hero”. I’m not really sure why this is, but I believe most of the articles on this refered to his up bringing. Many, many, many ,many people in Taiwan didn’t have it easy under the KMT and there was a certain sympathy for this guy and his cohorts. That’s why Frank appeared on the scene in the end.

The Police presence was incredible. Every night for six months most major roads had some form of a road block or check. Police were armed with automatic rifles and everybody was checked. At this time Kao and Chen were moving extensively about the city and there were sitings reported daily making a mockery of the police effort. Kao Tien ming was dressing as a woman by all accounts, meanwhile Chen was undressing them in a serial rape binge that only the damned could dare to contemplate.

But come on guys you can’t leave it all upto me. There must be others out there who can remember something!

The rapes were not reported until after Chen was caught. A friend was among those attacked. Or, rather, the police on the morning after the attack said that Chen was responsible but they apparently made no effort to investigate it. They haven’t contacted her since that day.

While the rape spree was going on, said police officers to my friend, they kept it quiet for fear of frightening people. The rape of, what was it?, a dozen young women living alone who might otherwise have taken more precautions was the price worth paying to keep the public from getting the jitters (and perhaps - heaven forbid - blaming police incompetence).

I think somebody mentioned that the first two kidnappers in the gang were shot. That is true. They both suicided. However, when Kao Tien Ming was cournered and killed himself, the first officer on the scene claimed he had killed Kao himself. He was awarded a medal for bravery which was later retracted and the officer charged with something. I’m not sure what kind of charge they have in the Taiwan criminal code for this-“Impersonating a Hero.”

The original ransom demand was for 5 million USD. Police were made aware of the kidnapping by Pai Ping-ping and the story was leaked to the media. Although, of course, Pai Ping-ping was ordered not to go to the police. Two papers released the story immediately, and the police came down very heavy on them. One paper had to go around and physically collect the edition. The Editor of the other paper was forced to resign. But the damage was already done, and Pai Hsio-yen was probably killed imediately. Although it took about another month to find the body.

Several impressions come to mind:

  • A number of ROC parents held a news conference after this kidnapping case had really begun to get a lot of media attention, and said that their children were also missing, kidnapped, unaccounted for, etc. but the Police were doing little to nothing to help solve those cases. These parents wanted to know why the Actress Pai’s case was being treated in such a high profile manner. (I never heard any more about what results these parents’ complaints achieved.)

  • Chen had been in trouble with the Police since childhood. He had been in and out of jail many times. His last release from jail had been signed by the then Minister of Justice Ma. (Today we know this gentleman as Mayor Ma.) However, I do not recall any interviews with Department of Justice officials (present or former) regarding the question: “Why did you let him out?”

  • There was eventually some interesting reportage in the media about Chen’s wife. Questions such as “Why would any self-respecting woman marry a person like this?” I read some of those interviews and got the impression that she thought her husband was macho. He would always stand up for her or her family in a fight. (I guess that is a big thing with some people.) Interestingly, the reporters asked her what her impression was of Chen’s occupation when they were dating and later got married. She said that she really hadn’t known. Apparently he had never told her what kind of work he did, and she had never questioned him in detail. He always seemed to have enough money to support their growing family, so that was enough.

  • What were the reactions of Chen’s children’s to his execution? The media said that their reactions were not good. Whether they were planning to “get even” was not specifically mentioned however.

  • After Chen was executed, there was a bit of fuss by some human rights groups, since they said that the Chang Geng Hospital staff removed his organs too quickly. In the view of these persons, the doctors should have waited longer for the brain to totally cease functioning, the pulse to register as zero, and to do further verification of other medical tests. This entire discussion seemed a curious finale to the entire saga.

I remember the Bai Bing Bing case vaguely- I returned from Taiwan in 1997- can someone sketch it out for me and all the other people who have no clue? I remember reading about it in She Jie Ri Bao in the US. My Taiwanese husband and I followed the case up to the point where they found the girl’s dead body, I believe, floating in the river. It had originally been weighed down by rocks. After that what happened? The bad guys took a South African diplomat’s family hostage? I remember being very sad- the story was reported on daily and I kept hoping they would find the girl. I remember the photo of the girl that had been sent to her mother was in the paper. I think her pinky had been cut off and she had been raped. I think 2 brothers were responsible and people were angry at the parents for having raised such children. The parents didn’t seem to display much sympathy. My husband had been a small time liu mang in his youth and he was always warning me how dangerous Taiwan was. After that case I didn’t want my children to visit Taiwan with just my husband, I was afraid they would be kidnapped. Why is the original poster interested in this?

Thanks V and Richard for your posts.

V to answer your question about why am I interested in this case; if you were to ask your average western visitor about safety in Taiwan they would probably tell you it’s safer here than at home.

I think in many instances that is true, but Taiwan has an underlying culture of crime and greed that is so pervasive and accepted by the people they sometimes don’t even see it themselves.

This was a case where the underworld in Taiwan bubbled to the surface and turned Taipei into a house of horrors.

My fasination is not just with the crimes, I think they are to be despised, but when you look at the players and the kinds of crimes, the societies reaction then you can see there is a comedy being played out here which is both tragic and funny and one no amount of bing lung chewing is going to resolve very easily.

The most surreal thing I’ve seen in my six years in Taiwan was almost certainly the TV broadcast the night Chen Chin-hsing held the South African military attache’s family hostage.

Chen called a TV anchor and the two had a long conversation. To help keep him on the phone, or perhaps to put him in a better mood, the anchor asked Chen if he liked to sing. Talk about KTV! Chen sang through the phone while everyone in Taiwan sat glued in front of the television.

There was also the big protest march, the shamelessnes of the media, and the way people would check under their beds for the boogeyman (Chen) before going to sleep, the astonishing ineptness of the police (somewhat redeemed by the super-cop who went in to the attache’s house alone and unarmed), the even more astonishing coolness under fire (as it were) of the attache’s family.

But the KTV incident is the one that sticks out the most to me.

Chen took the S. African family hostage because he thought they were Americans. The first place he called was The China Post. I was working there at the time.

One of the hostage victims was dating an intern at the Post. I was out covering a story (an expat cocktail party actually) and walked in the newspaper office when the police had started shooting around the house. Chen had called the Post first, then put the girl on the phone to tell her boyfriend (happy ending-they later married) to tell the police to stop shooting–bullets were flying everywhere.

The person who answered Chen’s phone call, who is now working somewhere else, was actually summoned to the hostage estate. He is a household name in Taiwan now because of this incident.

I just remember the whole night being the busiest night I worked there. We had calls from all over the world and I was even on South African radio. It felt like Taiwan was having its 15 minutes of fame for something unrelated to mainland ties.

The way the police handled things was horrible. Chen tied up the phones with the Post, then called every news show around while this poor family was held hostage all night.

Even more interesting was some of the squabbling between the English papers after the incident. Of course, the Post and its employees got lots of attention that night. The Post used this to the hilt. The other English paper (there were only 2 at that time) was pretty bloody jealous and even wrote an editorial criticizing (and maybe rightly so) a China Post editorial about the killers.

Then there’s the young reporter from the other paper who declared she was going to write a book about the whole incident. Being South African, she managed to fool the nurses at the hospital to visit the female victim, who had been shot. She was promptly thrown out after the victim recognized her game.

I also remember it as a bit of a pantomime. It seemed the police were reading the papers for clues. I remember that women were terrified to go out at night until they were caught, and that during the hamfisted seige in Tien Mu I could come and go freely to my apartment in the next alley (on Xing Yi Lu, that’s Hsing second tone, up on the way to YMS) whereas I expected to be barred from my house. I remember the journos arriving and then more police had to come and keep the journos back.

I also remember the fiasco of trying to get talking to the buckos on the phone. For some reason it took ages to get a line. I think they cut them all and then went oops we shouldn’t have done that.

The fuzz just marched up to the diplomatic residence and started firing. The SA government nearly did its nut. First you fail to protect our diplomat, and then you start shooting up the house. So much for the Vienna Convention. That was South African territory they were shooting into, and could have quite easily killed a member of the family, without even consulting the SA govt. Someone got a rocket up their arse over that I remember.

I remember also the incredulity among westerners that the house of the Military Attache (for Christ’s sake!) could be taken over by so obviously bumbling (but ruthless) crims. You would think the last significant diplomatic mission in Taiwan would have had better protection.

The whole thing was hideous - we knew she would have been brutally raped, and Taipei at that time (I don’t live there now) was as safe as houses, well not the SA MA’s house anyway, bad similie…

Having seen police in my own country deal with serious armed seiges and explosive (literally!) situations, the Taipei police looked like a bunch of CCF sixth formers. No Special Branch. No Sweeny. No SWAT. Just a bunch of ragamuffins in sunglasses.

I remember feeling very sorry for her mum who kept appearing on TV and who must have known she would never see her daughter again.

Obviously all this is just reminisince.


FIrst Bai Shiaoyen, the news reported that the kidnappers had cut off some of her fingers and sent them to mom.

Chen : I remember watching the news and wondering why the police couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything to control the crowd. The S.A. military attache, and his daughter were both wounded and police and others were trying to make their way to the ambulance. But there were too many reporters and onlookers in the way.

The S.A. military attache was extremely frustrated by this, and although bleeding from the leg, stood up and shouted at everyone to get the hell out of the way.

Great thread for Taiwan background!

A multiple rape spree that went unreported…WOW!

i may be wrong but it is said that bai bing bing was not just an innocent mother of the victim in this…the original kidnapping was because of some murky investment that had gone wrong and in which bai was herself complicit…anyone know anything about this?

That’s right, something to do with a fake kidnapping gone awfully wrong. Something about her ex and Japanese gangsters. Of course, nothing was proven. She also promised to give up her crooning and media life but was back at it within a year.

I came very close to writing an honours thesis on this event as a means to showcase Taiwan’s new media freedom. Most of the best bits are already highlighted above, but another little reported tit bid was that they planned to donate Chen’s heart to some poor old geezer in the Cheng Gong hospital. Apparently the doctor against every ethical code in the world came in and told the old boy, “guess what, you’re getting the heart of Chen Ching-hsing!” Now with the Chinese considering the soul resides in the heart, etc, the old boy refused point blank.

Other snippets:

The gang - there were three of them at least - scarpered from the initial ransom drop when media vehicles using blue flashing lights followed Bai Bing-bing to the ransom drop.

In the two shootouts that saw two of the gang killing themselves, and the survivors escape, the media crews were up the stairs ahead of the cops. It was shocking.

That SA military attache was a big time christian. Chen became a christian in prison before he was executed.

I don’t recall the rapes being covered up at all. I think the extent became apparent later.

House prices in Yangmingshan plummeted as people became afraid of living ostentatiously lest some budding Chen decide to nab their kids.


Remember they stashed their bikes up on Wo Long Jie 600 lane? They were hiding out in one of the abandoned houses there for a short spell.

so when’s the movie coming out?

who plays chen?

kevin spacey always gives good value playing psycho-killers…

the keystone kops can play the, ah, cops…

remember when they was holed up on long-jiang rd. and the cops went in to get them. they escaped and with cameras rolling 2 seperate units had a gun battle with each other…for about 10 minutes until they realized they was shooting at each other…

[quote=“Huang Guang Chen”]
House prices in Yangmingshan plummeted as people became afraid of living ostentatiously lest some budding Chen decide to nab their kids.


Wasn’t that at Wellington Heights?–not Yangmingshan. He picked that family because he thought they were American (all white people are American, you know) and therefore could get more attention.