Henry Liu

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For the American civil engineer, see Henry Liu (civil engineer).
Henry Liu
Chinese 劉宜良
Pen name
Chinese 江南
Literal meaning "South of the Yangtze River" (cf. Jiangnan)
Born (1932-12-07)7 December 1932
Jingjiang, Jiangsu, China
Died 15 October 1984(1984-10-15) (aged 51)
Daly City, California, United States
Cause of death Assassination
Monuments Newseum Journalists Memorial[1]
Citizenship United States
Education American University
  • Journalist
  • Gift-shop Owner
Known for Unathorized biography of Chiang Ching-Kuo
Notable work 蔣經國傳 (1984)
Spouse(s) Helen
Children 2

Henry Liu (7 December 1932 – 15 October 1984), often known by his pen name Chiang Nan (江南), was a writer and journalist from Taiwan, Republic of China. Born in Jingjiang, Jiangsu, China, he was a vocal critic of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party), then the single ruling party of the Republic of China in Taiwan, and was most famous for writing an unauthorized biography of Chiang Ching-kuo, former president of the Republic of China.[2] He later became a naturalized citizen of the United States, and resided in Daly City, California, where he was assassinated by mob members who had been reportedly trained by Republic of China military intelligence.


On 15 October 1984, Liu was shot to death in the garage of his home in Daly City, California.[2] His killers fled the country, returning to Taiwan. They did not face trial until the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation discovered a tape made by chief hitman Chen Chi-li implicating Republic of China military intelligence in the killing, whereupon they began to pressure the government to bring Liu's killers to trial.[3] According to Chen's testimony at his trial in Taipei, Wang Hsi-ling of Kuomintang intelligence ordered the assassination.[4] A month after his conviction, Chen retracted this statement. However, Tung Kuei-sen, another one of the killers, corroborated this at his own trial in the United States in 1988, stating that the order for Liu's death had been given by the Taiwanese government. Tung (who had previously been cleared of racketeering charges related to the assassination) was convicted.[2][5][6] The assassination became a major political scandal in Taiwan and American officials were critical of the Kuomintang for allegedly orchestrating an assassination on United States soil.

Helen Liu, Henry Liu's wife, filed suit in United States federal district court against the Republic of China. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (Liu v. Republic of China) that the ROC government was liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior;[7][8] a petition for certiorari from the ROC government to the U.S. Supreme Court was subsequently rejected.[9] The suit was later settled out of court.[10]

The assassination was the subject of the book Fires of the Dragon by David E. Kaplan[11] and portrayed in the 2009 film Formosa Betrayed.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Journalists Memorial, Honoree Details: Henry Liu". Newseum. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Bishop, Katherine (1988-03-09). "California Jury Is Told Defendant Admitted Slaying Journalist". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-13. 
  3. ^ O'Neill, Mark (2007-10-24). "King Duck Goes to His Taiwanese Reward". Asia Sentinel. Retrieved 2007-11-13. 
  4. ^ "Taiwan Admiral Named at Murder Trial". The New York Times. 1985-03-21. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  5. ^ "Taiwan Murderer Changes His Story". The New York Times. 1985-05-11. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  6. ^ "Taiwan Gangster Convicted of Killing Writer". The New York Times. 1988-03-17. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  7. ^ Liu v. Republic of China, 892 F.2d 1419 (9th Cir. 1989-12-29).
  8. ^ "Taiwan Held Liable in Killing of U.S. Journalist". The New York Times. 1989-12-31. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  9. ^ Republic of China v. Liu, 492 US 1058 (U.S. 1990-09-28).
  10. ^ "Suit Alleging Taiwan Government Plot to Kill Man Dismissed". The Los Angeles Times. 1990-10-25. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  11. ^ Chin, Frank (15 November 1992). "A Contract on Henry Liu: FIRES OF THE DRAGON: Politics, Murder, and the Kuomintang, By David E. Kaplan (Atheneum: $25; 604 pp.)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 December 2014.