''Tearing Open the Gates of Hell'': PLA Air Force Commander Fan Yuanyan's Defection to Taiwan, 1977
LECTURE DESCRIPTION: PLA Air Force Squadron Commander Fan Yuanyan flew his MiG-19 from Jinjiang, Fujian to Tainan, Taiwan on 7 July 1977, the 40th anniversary of the beginning of China's war with Japan. The timing of this defection, which also came as U.S. President Jimmy Carter was moving decisively towards normalization of relations with the PRC, made Fan an anti-communist star in Taiwan and the U.S. Fan spoke for years afterward on behalf of the "800 million mainland compatriots" who he felt wanted the Taiwan-based ROC to retake the mainland, even as he also became more and more critical of the excesses of capitalism and liberalism in Taiwan. Much of the KMT's propaganda use of Fan was related to ways in which Communist and Nationalist ideologies about militaristic and anti-bourgeois values overlapped directly. Fan thus represents the interesting ways in which Nationalist and Communist ideologies and societies were mutually constitutive and constructed with the other clearly in mind during the Cold War. Fan also represents a changing understanding of the role of these famed defectors and the ways that Taiwanese people saw their mainland "compatriots" as Taiwan society was beginning to democratize and liberalize.