Declassified archives show Taiwan's missile project in the '70s

The publication of former President Yen Chia-kan's archives is part of the government's efforts to declassify official documents classified as national secrets

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(By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (CNA) -- Academia Historica has published the archives related to late President Yen Chia-kan (嚴家淦), revealing a blue print on Taiwan's missile development in the 1970s.

Yen, born in 1905, succeeded Chiang Kai-shek (蔣中正) as the president on April 6, 1975 under the country's Constitution, and his term continued till May 1978. Yen died in 1993.

The publication of Yen's archives, which covered information during the period of 1945 to 1993, is part of the government's efforts to declassify official documents that had been classified as national secrets and bring about more openness in the government.

According to Yen's archives published at the end of May by Academia Historica, Taiwan's then-Kuomintang (KMT) government had a missile development project codenamed "Chang An Plan" to design, manufacture and test missiles for defensive purposes.

The archives showed Taiwan faced difficulties trying to acquire missile production technology amid the diplomatic isolation the country faced at the time, so it was necessary for the government to purchase non-military grade components before upgrading them for military use.

According to the plan, the government had gone through a careful evaluation and set sights on development of an effective and efficient defensive missile system to counter attacks from Chinese fighter jets and battle ships and provide comprehensive protection of Taiwan proper and the outlying Kinmen, Penghu and Matsu islands.

In addition, Taiwan was keen to recruit "patriotic" Taiwanese scholars from overseas to work with locally-based researchers to cultivate the ability to self-produce the missiles to meet the goal of the Chang An Plan.

The plan had previously been classified as "top national secrets" and was declassified by the Ministry of National Defense on July 28, 2017.

In addition to the missile development project, Yen's archives also included plenty of historical data, such as a book written by the late Control Yuan member Lei Chen (雷震), which offered suggestions on how to save the country.

Lei suggested Chiang should set up a "Chinese Taiwan Republic" as soon as possible to placate Taiwanese people who opposed the KMT regime. He also suggested that the KMT abandon one-party rule and implement rule of law to protect people's rights.

Lei, who opposed Chiang's third consecutive term as the president of the ROC, was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in jail for "covering up for spies and instigating revolt" in 1960. Lei died in 1979.