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Dr. Mark Chen Talks About His Years of Service in Taiwan Ep 218

By Felicia Lin

A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:

In the second half of my interview with Dr. Mark Chen, we talk about his years of service in Taiwan as an elected official and public servant. He became a member of the Legislative Yuan in 1992. That year was the first time that elections were held for all 161 seats of the Legislative Yuan in Taiwan. Dr. Chen has also been elected Magistrate of Tainan County, and served in that position from 1993–2001. He was the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2004–2006, the Secretary General in the Office of the President from 2006–2007, the Secretary General of the National Security Council from 2007–2008 and a Legislator in Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan from 2001–2004 and 2012–2016. Currently he is the chairman of the Prospect Foundation.
In part one of my interview with Dr. Mark Chen (episode 212) we talked about advocacy work for Taiwan in the U.S. and the impact of the Kaohsiung Incident on Taiwan’s democratization. Several of the people who were tried and sentenced in connection with the Kaohsiung Incident later became prominent leaders in Taiwan’s first opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party. The incident happened 43 years ago in 1979 on December 10th, which just passed, making it a good time to share part two of my interview with Dr. Chen.
This episode of Talking Taiwan has been sponsored by NATWA, the North America Taiwanese Women’s Association.


NATWA was founded in 1988, and its mission is:

  1. to evoke a sense of self-esteem and enhance women’s dignity,
  2. to oppose gender discrimination and promote gender equality,
  3. to fully develop women’s potential and encourage their participation in public affairs,
  4. to contribute to the advancement of human rights and democratic development in Taiwan,
  5. to reach out and work with women’s organizations worldwide to promote peace for all.

To learn more about NATWA visit their website: www.natwa.com

Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

  • 1992 was the first time that elections were held for all 161 seats of the Legislative Yuan in Taiwan
  • Dr. Chen was born in Tainan, Taiwan
  • In 1992 Dr. Chen resigned from his job at the Department of Commerce to return to Taiwan and served as a congressman at large
  • Dr. Chen ran for County Governor of Tainan in 1992, and he made history as first Democratic Progressive Party candidate (and non-Kuomintang candidate) County Governor of Tainan ever elected to the position
  • He was rated the top County Governor in Taiwan and served as Country Governor of Tainan for two terms (eight years in total)
  • Dr. Chen was a member of the Legislative Yuan but gave up his position when President Chen Shui-bian invited him to serve as the Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • How Taiwan’s transition to democracy has been relatively peaceful
  • The importance of Taiwan having the support of like-minded democratic nations
  • Challenges that Dr. Chen had to deal with as the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Taiwan
  • Dr. Chen’s work as a legislator in Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan
  • ECFA (Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement) and the Sunflower Movement
  • What happened during the 2014 occupation of the Legislative Yuan by activists and students during the Sunflower Movement
  • Dr. Chen’s thoughts on his work as an elected official vs. a public servant at the highest levels of the government in Taiwan
  • How Dr. Chen was inspired by the words of Former U.S. President John F. Kennedy
  • The work of the Prospect Foundation, of which Dr. Chen is the chairman
  • Dr. Chen’s thoughts on Robert Tsao, founder of UMC’s (United Microelectronics Corp) pledge of 100 million U.S. dollars to help Taiwan defend itself
  • What overseas Taiwanese can do to advocate for Taiwan

Related Links:

Mark Chen (陳唐山): https://taiwaneseamericanhistory.org/blog/204-dr-tan-sun-mark-chen/



The Prospect Foundation: https://www.pf.org.tw/en/pfen

Tainan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tainan


An article about the 1992 Elections for the Legislative Yuan (from the Taiwan Communique): https://www.taiwandc.org/twcom/tc57-int.pdf

The “Kaohsiung Incident” of 1979 (an article from Taiwan Communique): https://www.taiwandc.org/hst-1979.htm

Formosa Incident (aka Kaohsiung Incident, an article from OFT- Outreach for Taiwan): https://oftaiwan.org/history/white-terror/formosa-incident/

Reports on the Kaohsiung Incident

Contemporary reports from 20 years ago shed light on the attitude of the authorities to the Incident’s aftermath (an article from the Taipei Times published in 1999): https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/local/archives/1999/12/10/0000014313

Chen Shui-bian: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chen_Shui-bian

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Progressive_Party

Kuomintang (KMT): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuomintang

Sunflower Movement: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunflower_Student_Movement

Legislative Yuan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legislative_Yuan

Ma Ying-jeou: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma_Ying-jeou

ECFA (Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement): https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_Cooperation_Framework_Agreement

Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-Strait_Service_Trade_Agreement

Former U.S. President John F. Kennedy: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/john-f-kennedy/

Cuban Missile Crisis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban_Missile_Crisis

Assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy: https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/about-jfk/jfk-in-history/november-22-1963-death-of-the-president


An article about Robert Tsao, founder of UMC’s pledge of 100 million U.S. dollars to help Taiwan defend itself:

Democracy Crackdown Moved Taiwan Chip Pioneer to Oppose Beijing: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-09-13/democracy-crackdown-moved-taiwan-chip-pioneer-to-oppose-beijing

Ep 212 | Dr. Mark Chen: Advocate for Taiwan in Both the U.S. and Taiwan  (First Episode)

Dr. Mark Chen: Advocate for Taiwan in Both the U.S. and Taiwan Ep 212

About the Host

Felicia Lin is the Host and Producer of Talking Taiwan, a podcast which seeks to introduce you to interesting stories connected to Taiwan and the diverse individuals who make up Taiwan’s global community.

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