When Chang-di 'Robin' Yeh departed on his scheduled recon flight on 1 November 1963, his life was full of promise. In an instant, the experienced pilot transitioned from a free man to a prisoner held on spy charges by mainland China. Promised early on he would be returned to Taiwan, the weeks and months passed without change. Denounced by the government of Taiwan, Yeh became a man without a country. The son of a retired nationalist army general and educated in private schools, Yeh was forced to do the most menial jobs while in captivity: cleaning after farm animals, pulling weeds by hand, overhauling trucks and tallying workers’ farm productions. Interrogations continued with the hope Yeh would break; the guards and interrogators were surprised at his unwavering position. Day after day, the examiners continued the questions about his flight, his aircraft, his squadron and even his family. They could not understand why he would not know all the intricacies of his aircraft and flight. After all, his was a new and special aircraft. Global changes between East and West provided slightly improved living conditions for prisoners. When the Chinese learned by accident that Yeh spoke English, they hatched a plan to use his language ability to their benefit while offering a better job using his skills. When Yeh’s usefulness was exhausted, the Chinese offered him a chance to leave, but not without strings. After almost 20 years captive in China, the Taiwanese refused to allow him to return. Where could he go? Who could he turn to for help? Did his family know he was alive? Arranging his exit from China was another hurdle to clear. Using his ROCAF contacts from years past, 'Robin' found assistance where he did not expect it...
“Fascinating account of Yeh's life and times as a political prisoner in mainland China during the 1960s.” Books Monthly
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