I recently received a forwarded letter from a mailing list from a man
who has lived in Taiwan for more than 20 years, and who works as a
agent for publishers. He knows Asia well. In his
letter, he said that he was disappointed that (at the
time he was writing) no Taiwan publisher has as yet
to publish a translation of “MY COUNTRY VERSUS ME” by
Lee Wen-ho, a bestseller in the USA. You know, that Taiwanese native in the US who got busted by the FBI for allegedly spying for Red China… My question is why would no publisher here be interested in an obviously important book, and a sure moneyspinner… ???
The letter I got, in part, reads:
"…recently something has come up that gives me a
feeling of disappointment among Taipei publishing
companies, a feeling that I am losing face with a
Taiwan-born and raised author, an author who suffered
severely at the hands of his adopted country, the
United States of America.
The book I am talking about is Lee Wen-ho, MY COUNTRY
VERSUS ME. A book I sold in Mainland China, sight
unseen, a blind sale … to Nanjing Yilin publishing
Until now, nobody in Taiwan seems interested.
At a time when Taiwan, a country I have lived in for
twenty years, is rightly proud in rediscovering its
roots, is it not important to know about what the
Taiwanese have experienced, especially the negative
experiences as well as the overt and often subtle
racism that still pervades American culture when it
comes to Chinese.
Lee Wen-ho’s father emigrated from Fujian Province in
the very early 1900s, well before the Republic of
China was established. Lee Wen-ho grew up poor
during the Japanese occupation and was able to get an
education only after the KMT established itself on the
island. Even though the KMT gave him his education,
Lee Wen-ho is first and foremost a Taiwanese.
In the 1960’s, he was able to get an advanced
education in the US and was then employed at the top
secret nuclear weapons laboratory in Los Alamos, New
Mexico. His job was the study of fluid physics. A few
years ago he was accused of spying although nobody
ever said for whom he was spying. He has held in
solitary confinement, in conditions worse than a
criminal on death row and that was before his trial.
Even US Human Rights Organizations took a stand
against the government on how Lee Wen-ho was treated.
In the end the prosecutors case collapsed, the judge
dismissed the charges and set Lee Wen-ho free, and in
an unprecedent case is US Federal Court, issued a
public apology in court to Lee Wen-ho. In the meantime
though Lee Wen-ho life was and is ruined. His
reputation as a scholar and a loyal citizen in
tatters. His trials haven’t ended. Racists who started
the whole matter are still pursuing him in other
courts, other jurisdictions, procedures that all are
This book is important because it is the biography of
a man who was loyal and faithful to his country, the
United States of America, and to his heritage, Taiwan.
It also contains an important lesson for all Chinese
on how anti-Chinese racism works in the United States
and the importance of knowing your rights whether as a
Chinese-American citizen or as a permanent residence.
For example, you do not need to answer a question from
the FBI unless you have an attorney present, but they
don’t have to tell you that you have that right unless
you are under arrest, etc…
The Chinese publishers and media think that
this book is important. I think and believe that it is
even more important for Taiwan for, after all, Lee
Wen-ho was and is a native Taiwanese."
I hope that Taiwanese readers will have a chance
to read this book in Chinese translation soon! But so far, nobody here wants to take on the challenge of publishing it. Any guesses why?