Monday, January 21, 2008
From the Life Imitating Art Imitating Life Department, some back- ground on Justin Lin, the new chief economist for the International Monetary Fund:
While a captain in Taiwan's army (which paid for his MBA), Justin Lin was publicized as a model officer. Unlike most of his fellow soldiers, he chose to enlist. On May 17, 1979, Lin defected to the People's Republic of China by swimming from Jinmen island (Quemoy) to Xiamen island. Taiwan did not acknowledge his defection, but listed him as "missing," perhaps because the Peoples Republic of China failed to broadcast any news of his arrival. This was quite unusual, because the PRC rarely failed to make all kinds of noise and hoopla about any defector, especially one of such high rank and as well-known in the military.
Instead of using Lin as a pawn in a game of international PR, the PRC sent the wayward captain to China's most prestigious institution of higher learning, Beijing University, to earn a degree in Marxist economics. After he graduated in 1982, Lin was one of the first Chinese citizens allowed to leave the country to study at the Graduate School of Economics at the University of Chicago.
Six months after Lin swam across the strait, his wife gave birth to his second child. According to the press reports, Lin was so busy with school he never got around to letting his wife know he was still alive or where he was living. When a friend happened to mention seeing him in Chicago seven years later, Lin's wife decided to drop in for a reunion. They have lived happily thereafter.
All this has little, if anything, to do with his new position, but it is a fascinating story. I'd wish him luck, but Lin seems have more than enough of that for a few lifetimes. Someone with a better imagination than I could twist this into a real spy thriller, if he wanted to.
at 1:35 PM