James Shen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
James Shen
ROC Representative to United States
In office
1 January 1979 – 9 May 1979
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Shah Konsin
ROC Ambassador to United States
In office
9 April 1971 – 31 December 1978
Preceded by Zhou Shukai
Succeeded by Position abolished
Personal details
Born 2 July 1909
Hongkou, Shanghai, Qing Dynasty
Died 12 July 2007(2007-07-12) (aged 98)
Taipei, Taiwan
Nationality  Republic of China
Political party Naval Jack of the Republic of China.svg Kuomintang
Alma mater Yenching University
University of Missouri

James C.H. Shen (Chinese: 沈劍虹; pinyin: Chén Jiànhóng; July 2, 1909 Shanghai – July 12, 2007 Taipei) was a Taiwanese diplomat. Shen served as the last official Republic of China ambassador to the United States before the U.S. switched its diplomatic recognition to the People's Republic of China in 1979.[1]

Early life[edit]

James Shen was born in Shanghai, Qing Dynasty in 1909.[1] Shen was educated at Yenching University, which was located in Beijing. He earned his Masters degree in journalism at the University of Missouri in 1935.[2]

Shen worked as a reporter and editor early in his career. He reported for media agencies throughout China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.[2]

Additionally, Shen began work as an analyst and commentator for the Chinese government.[2] His early government positions included "section chief" of the Ministry of Information's international department and as a department director for the Government Information Office (GIO).[2]

Diplomatic career[edit]

Shen served for a time as an English-Chinese language interpreter and secretary[2] for Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek.[1] He was then appointed spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and head of the GIO.[2]

Shen fled to Taiwan with the Nationalists when Chiang Kai-shek moved his government to Taipei following their defeat by Mao Zedong's Communist forces in 1949. Shen served as Taiwan's ambassador to Australia from 1966 until 1968 before returning to Taiwan to become vice minister of foreign affairs between 1968 and 1971.[2]

James Shen was appointed as Taiwan's Chinese Ambassador to the United States in 1971.[1] Shen arrived in Washington D.C. to assume his post just months before U.S. President Richard Nixon visited mainland China on an official visit. While in China, Nixon signed a communiqué with Zedong's government. The communique officially created the United States's One-China policy which acknowledged Taiwan as part of China, not as the legitimate government of all of China or an independent state.[1] The communique was a huge blow to Taiwan's Nationalist government, which maintained that it alone was the sole legitimate government of all of China.

James Shen continued his efforts throughout the 1970s to persuade the United States to continue to recognize Taiwan and the Nationalists. The Nationalists and the United States had been important World War II and Cold War allies until the Nixon Administration. However, Shen's diplomacy proved in vain. The United States, under President Jimmy Carter, officially severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979 as part of its One-China policy.[1]

James Shen returned to Taipei, in January 1979[2] and retired following the end of diplomatic relations with the U.S. He lived in Taiwan for the remainder of his life. He wrote a highly critical book about the US withdrawing its recognition of Taiwan, the event of which he was a first-hand witness.[3]

Shen died at his home in Taipei on July 12, 2007, following a lengthy illness.[1] He was 98 years old and was survived by his wife, Wei-yi Shen.[1]

Since 1979, Taiwan no longer maintains an embassy in the United States, since there are no official diplomatic relations between the two countries. However, Taiwan continues to operate a representative office in Washington D.C., called the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States, with offices in twelve other American cities.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "James Shen, Taiwan's last ambassador to US, dies at 98". The New York Sun. Associated Press. 2007-07-16. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Ex-envoy to U.S. James Shen passes away due to illness". The China Post. 2007-07-15. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  3. ^ Shen, James; Myers, Robert J. (1983). The U.S. & Free China: how the U.S. sold out its ally. Acropolis Books. ISBN 0-87491-463-9.