Cheng Tzu-tsai

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Cheng Tzu-tsai
Cheng Tzu-tsai 2018-01-13 b.jpg
Native name

(1936-12-01) 1 December 1936 (age 82)
Other namesT.T. Deh
Occupationarchitect and revolutionary
Known for1970 assassination attempt on Chiang Ching-kuo with Peter Huang
Notable work
228 Massacre Monument
Spouse(s)Huang Ching-mei (1964–197x)
Ellen Wu (197x–)
Childrendaughter (b.1965)
son (b.1967)
son named Dai (b.1979)

Cheng Tzu-tsai (Chinese: 鄭自才; pinyin: Zhèng Zìcái; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tēⁿ Chū-châi, born 鄭自財 on 1 December 1936; also known as TT Deh)[1] is a Taiwan-born architect and dissident who conspired with others in the 1970 assassination attempt [zh] of Chiang Ching-kuo, the son of Chiang Kai-shek, in New York City.

Early life[edit]

Cheng was born on 1 December 1936[2] in Tainan when Taiwan was part of the Empire of Japan. He was the third of seven children, and his father was a wholesale fruit distributor.[3]

In 1955, Cheng entered the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) as an architecture student. While enrolled at NCKU, he was offered an application to join the Kuomintang (KMT) ruling party, but chose not to join, stating that he thought it was unfair that economic benefits were disproportionately distributed to party members. After graduating and fulfilling his compulsory military service, he returned to NCKU in 1960 as a teaching assistant. However, since he was not a KMT member, the school could not continue to employ him and he was dismissed after two weeks. He left Tainan and started work as a teaching assistant in the recently formed Chung Yuan Christian College of Science and Engineering Department of Architecture instead, leaving in 1962 to study in the United States.[3]

Cheng enrolled at Carnegie Mellon University in the fall of 1962, where he encountered other Taiwan-born students advocating for independence. He was also influenced by the simultaneous Civil Rights Movement in the United States, attending the March on Washington in 1963. Cheng joined the United Formosans for Independence, predecessor to the World United Formosans for Independence (WUFI) later that year.[3]

While in Pittsburgh, Cheng met, and in 1964 married Huang Ching-mei (黃晴美), who was enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh. Her brother, Peter Huang would also enroll at the University of Pittsburgh in 1964, studying journalism. By that time, Cheng and his family were moving while he was finding a job, finally settling in 1965 near New York City working for Marcel Breuer.[3]

1970 assassination attempt[edit]

Cheng, then the secretary-general of WUFI, had conceived and organized the plot along with his brother-in-law Peter Huang, Cheng's wife Huang Ching-mei, and WUFI member Lai Wen-hsiung (賴文雄; Lài Wénxióng).[1][4] On April 24, 1970, Cheng and Huang carried out the attempted assassination.[5] Although Cheng intended to be the assassin, Huang volunteered in consideration of Cheng's wife and children. While Cheng was handing out pamphlets and shouting as a distraction,[6] Huang approached Chiang with a gun at the Plaza Hotel, but a Diplomatic Security Service special agent pushed him out of the way, causing the bullet to strike the hotel's revolving doors.[7][8] Cheng hurried to Huang's side once the gun was fired, and both men were arrested.

WUFI later issued a statement disclaiming involvement.[9] Huang pleaded guilty in a 1971 trial to charges of attempted murder and illegal possession of a firearm,[10] but was granted bail before sentencing, and fled the United States.[11][12] Cheng pleaded innocent to attempted murder, but was convicted after a WUFI colleague testified he had given the weapon to Cheng.[1]

Cheng designed the 228 Massacre Monument while imprisoned for illegal entry

Cheng also jumped bail in 1971 just before his conviction, fleeing to Sweden for asylum, but was extradited to the US a year later in 1972.[13] Cheng fought the extradition attempt with a hunger strike, but was loaded while characterized as "semi-conscious" on the flight from Stockholm to New York.[13] That flight was diverted to Copenhagen when the plane developed mechanical issues, and Cheng was taken to the hospital after falling unconscious to receive intravenous fluids.[13] After a second flight from Copenhagen to London, Cheng again fell unconscious, where he was taken, foaming at the mouth, to the health center in Heathrow Airport. He was later moved to a prison hospital.[13][14] Cheng applied for a writ of habeas corpus while he was detained in the United Kingdom, but this was refused in 1972 and an appeal was denied in 1973.[6] Upon returning to the United States, Cheng was sentenced to up to five years in prison[15] and spent 22 months in jail.[16]

After 1973[edit]

Cheng was released from prison at the end of 1974 and returned to Sweden, living there for more than eight years, and later lived in Canada for eight more years.[3] He divorced his first wife and remarried Ellen Wu (吳清桂; Wú Qīngguì) in the 1970s while living in exile in Sweden.[17]

Cheng returned to Taiwan in June 1991 to attend his father's funeral.[3] He later served an additional year-long prison term starting in November 1992 for illegally entering Taiwan without an entry visa, in violation of the 1987 National Security Law.[16][18] He filed the winning design for the 228 Massacre Monument in 228 Peace Memorial Park[19] while imprisoned for illegal entry.[18] In 2019, Cheng founded the Sovereign State for Formosa and Pescadores Party.[20] He served as the party's chairman.[21]


  1. ^ a b c Lin, Irene (15 February 2000). "CCK's would-be assassin back in the dock". Taipei Times. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  2. ^ "Cheng, Tzu Tsai". Philadelphia Architects and Buildings. The Athenaeum of Philadelphia. 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f 許維德 (13 April 2007). 海外台獨運動中驚天動地的那一聲槍響:「424刺蔣案」主角之一鄭自才訪談錄 [Overseas Taiwan independence movement, that earth-shattering gunshot: "424 Chiang assassination attempt", exclusive interview with Cheng Tzu-tsai]. World United Formosans for Independence. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  4. ^ Shih, Hsiu-chuan (1 December 2007). "Forum discusses Chiang Ching-kuo assassination bid". Taipei Times. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  5. ^ "2 Cited in Plot: Security Tight for Chiang". Spokane Daily Chronicle. UPI. 25 April 1970. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  6. ^ a b Tzu-Tsai Cheng v. Governor of Pentonville Prison, 2 All E.R. 204 (United Kingdom House of Lords (Judicial Committee) 16 April 1973) ("Lords Wilberforce and Simon, voting to allow the appeal; and Lords Hodson, Diplock and Salmon, voting to dismiss the appeal.").
  7. ^ Chuang, Jimmy (19 May 2012). "Would-be Chiang Ching-kuo assassin honored by Taipei University". Want China Times. Taipei. Archived from the original on 2014-11-12. Retrieved 12 November 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  8. ^ "2 Taiwanese Held in Shooting". The Milwaukee Journal. UPI. 25 April 1970. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  9. ^ "Single Pistol Shot Narrowly Misses Chiang's Son-Heir". The Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. AP. 25 April 1970. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  10. ^ "Taiwan native found guilty of trying to kill politician". The Montreal Gazette. 19 May 1971. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  11. ^ Hsueh Huayuan (2011). "Attempt to Assassinate Chiang Chingkuo". Council for Cultural Affairs. Archived from the original on 2014-03-09. Retrieved 2 June 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  12. ^ "Two Would-Be Assassins Said Now in China". Lawrence Journal-World. AP. 29 December 1971. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  13. ^ a b c d "Drugged would-be killer extradited". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP-Reuter. 6 September 1972. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  14. ^ "Fugitive Gets Stay". The Palm Beach Post. 6 September 1972. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  15. ^ "Would-Be Assassin Convicted". The Milwaukee Journal. 9 August 1973. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  16. ^ a b Chiu, Yu-Tzu (24 April 2000). "Taiwan waking up to history: Peter Ng". Taipei Times. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  17. ^ Shu, Catherine (August 25, 2010). "Weaving Taiwanese History". Taipei Times. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  18. ^ a b Kuo, Patricia (20 February 1994). "Former fugitive designs monument". Bowling Green Daily News. AP. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  19. ^ Johnson, Ian (December 13, 1994). "Taiwan builds memorial to once-forbidden subject: massacre of 20,000 in 1947". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  20. ^ Pan, Jason (29 April 2019). "Advocate launches political party to achieve statehood". Taipei Times. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  21. ^ Pan, Jason (14 August 2019). "Party leader urges Taiwanese to snub 'colonial' regime". Taipei Times. Retrieved 14 August 2019.

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