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From Before the Foundations of the Earth Were Laid

A Brief History of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan

By David Alexander
亞大偉

Tainan Theological College and Seminary
December, 2006
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From Before the Foundations of the Earth Were Laid
A Brief History of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan
By David Alexander
Introduction that all who believe in him
The one true God created the might be saved8. From
entire cosmos and is the Lord of primeval times, before the
history. Scripture tells us that current island of Taiwan rose
the cosmos was created from from the depths of the earth
nothing at the word of the carrying oceanic fossils with it
Lord1, by means of holy to the high mountains, God has
wisdom2. Subsequent to the been present here loving the
initial creation, much of what is peoples who have called this
felt and experienced in the land their home. Traces of
world came by formation from human response to God’s
the basic created elements3. All initiative are found in the pre-
that exists can be traced to the Christian religions of Taiwan’s
creating and forming activity of aboriginal people9. Even in
the one true God speaking Taiwanese folk religion people
wisdom into the void, from their own spirit seek to
transforming that void into a commune with the divine. This,
paradise for the expression of too speaks to the presence of
God’s own love4. God here from the very
The origins of this beautiful beginning.10
land, Taiwan, can also be traced
to that same Creator and that Conception and Gestation
same loving intention. This is Taiwan’s creation was an
the ground out of which the act of conception leading to the
Lord God made to grow every birth of new life. This life was in
tree that is pleasant to the sight gestation for eons, intricately
and good for food and formed woven together as if in the
every animal of the field and depths of the earth11. Perhaps it
bird of the air5. Taiwan’s is because they were resident
mountains are like those to here from primal times,
which a poet lifted his eyes in breathing the air of God’s
awe, yet knowing that his help blessings and eating the fruit of
came from the Lord who made this Eden in the East, that
them6. The sea that surrounds aboriginal peoples in general
Taiwan is filled with the water have been more receptive than
over which the Spirit of God other ethnic groups when the
moved at creation7. The crowds good news of Jesus Christ has
that inhabit the cities and been proclaimed among them.12
countryside are included in the Though churches from the
love of the One who loved the West may claim to have brought
world enough to send the Son, the message of Jesus Christ to
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Taiwan, this place was not alien employees16. In the course of
to God, who formed, loved and empire the Dutch expelled the
consecrated the beautiful island Spanish17. That left the only
that Portuguese sailors couldn’t organized Christian voice on the
help but designate “Formosa”13. island to Protestants.
In 1624 Spanish missionaries The colony in Tainan
from the Philippines preached prospered. Clergy sent out to
the Gospel in Northern Taiwan care for European souls began
in the hinterland of the ports of to preach to local people as
Keelung and Tamsui14. Their well18. They devised a system
work was linked to the imperial for writing down aboriginal
expansion of Spain in Latin languages in Latin script.
America and the Western Catechisms were written and
Pacific. Clergy were here printed in the Netherlands for
because their compatriots were use in evangelism and education
here. The cross sailed with the in and around the colony19.
crown and flag. But theirs was When the responsibility for
not the only empire on the pastoral care of colonists and
stage15. evangelism of local people
became too heavy, more clergy
were sent from the Netherlands
to undertake full time mission
work among the aboriginal and
ethnic Chinese people20
Between 1624 and 1643
Georgius Candidus and
Robertus Junius established
preaching points from Heng-
chun at the Southern tip of
17th Century Map of Taiwan Taiwan to Chia-yi county in the
The Dutch East India Central West coastal region.
Company, chartered in the Their work was followed by
Netherlands, (which had a Daniel Gravius from 1647 to
longstanding relationship of 1651. He served the East India
enmity with the Spanish crown) Company and the converts at
engaged in extensive Moa-tao in Tainan County. His
colonization in what is now work included plans for the
Indonesia. This firm established establishment of a school for
an outpost in Southern Taiwan native evangelists there.21
near the modern city of Tainan. During the time of the
As with the Spanish, clergy also Dutch Colony in Taiwan great
accompanied the Dutch. These changes were afoot in China.
Protestants from the Reformed The ethnic Manchurians who
Church came to care for the founded the Ching Dynasty
spiritual needs of company
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were taking possession of the China. He turned his attention
entire empire from the ethnic to Taiwan, occupied by the
Han Ming dynasty, but not Dutch. The colony was
without opposition. Cheng Chi- besieged, defeated and
lung, a trader from Fukien eradicated. Cheng-kung
province, spent several years in declared himself “Emperor of
the Portuguese colony of Taiwan” and stamped out
Macao. While there he Christianity from the island.22
confessed faith in Christ and The Dutch empire’s
was baptized Nicholas by the Taiwan involvement ended in
Roman Catholics. He moved to 1661. The history of this period
Nagasaki in Japan, married a is told from church and
local woman, and became company records in the
wealthy and influential. His Netherlands and military and
son, Cheng-kung (later known administrative materials in
to Western historians as Taiwan and China.23
Koxinga) was born there. Jesuit and Dominican
priests visited Taiwan in the
18th century with the consent of
the Chinese Imperial Court, but
their mission was to make maps.
They had heard in Xiamen
(Amoy) that there were
Christians in Taiwan. In their
search they found a few people
who could speak some words in
the Dutch language, but who
had no Christian practices.
These foreign-influenced people
Koxinga (Cheng Cheng-kong) mentioned that the first man was
named Adam, and the first
As the Manchus took more woman Eve, but gave no other
and more of China, Cheng saw evidence of rudimentary
his opportunity. His fleet of Christian knowledge or faith.24
trading ships was converted to The first attempts at planting
military use, and other the Church of Jesus Christ on
independent warlords joined Taiwan, both Protestant and
him. The Ming emperor Roman Catholic, bore no lasting
accepted him as an ally, but he fruit. Each mission effort had
was captured by the been tied to commercial
Manchurians and imprisoned. exploitation of Taiwan’s
Cheng-kung took over the resources for European powers.
resistance force and had much Each was terminated through
success for a time. But the tide the colonial expansion of a
turned, and he was forced out of
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succeeding empire. Neither Ever eager to increase their
made an attempt to turn over territory, clergy from these
ecclesiastical leadership to local stations (Carstairs Douglas and
converts.25 Both depended on Hur Libertas Mackenzie) made
outside material and personnel a survey trip to Taiwan in 1860.
resources for church order, They landed at Tam-sui in the
ministry support and gospel north where they found the
propagation. language similar to what was
Conception and gestation spoken in Xiamen. Though they
led not to parturition, but to were not welcomed they
miscarriage. But as often is the recommended that their mission
case in human development, the board declare Taiwan as a
miscarriage was followed by a mission territory.28
re-conception and another
period of gestation.

Parturition
Following the Spanish, Dutch
and Chinese flags, another
empire arose to push its
influence in the direction of
Taiwan. In 1807 Robert
Morrison was sent by the
London Missionary Society to
begin mission work made
possible through British trade
penetration into South China.26
The British prospered
financially through trade in
opium from their colonies in
India. This resulted in wars
with China, and the
establishment of further trade James and Mary Ann Maxwell
openings and a permanent base
at Hong Kong. Early in 1864 the Scottish
The Opium wars focused the physician James Maxwell
attention of many from England volunteered for mission service.
and Scotland on China as a field He went to China intending to
for mission service and serve at Xiamen. In October of
evangelism. By 1851 the that same year he accompanied
English Presbyterian Church Rev. Douglas, Tan Chu-lo, Ng
had established a mission station Ka-ti, and Ngo Bun-chui (three
in Xiamen (Amoy) and in 1858 Fukienese Christians who
further south at Swatow.27 volunteered to become
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missionaries) to survey southern The birth of this church was
Taiwan’s human and physical accompanied by all three. The
geography. Following their team of four birth attendants
survey they returned to China to rented a house near the west
prepare for the establishment of gate inside the Tainan City
a mission station. On May 28th walls. The front half of the
of 1865 Ngo, Tan, Ng and house was furnished as a gospel
Maxwell returned. They settled proclamation hall and the back
in Tainan and began missionary half as a medical dispensary and
work on June 16th. This date is surgery. Many people who
considered as the birthday of came for medical help from the
today’s Presbyterian Church in foreign doctor heard the gospel
Taiwan (PCT).29 from the Chinese evangelists,
but it was curiosity about
Western medicine that drew
them.
The cries and pain came
soon afterward. The clinic
drew attention, harassment,
stone throwing, cursing and
other hindrances. In less than a
month work had to be
suspended and moved to Ki-au
near the harbor in Ta-kao
(modern day Kaohsiung). Tan,
Ngo, Ng and Maxwell did not
cease to exercise their medical
and evangelistic callings in
service to the people of Taiwan
for the glory of God. By
Ngo Bun-chui September of 1866 an inpatient
Drawing First Breaths medical clinic at Ki-au had been
Dr. Maxwell was not a established. It was the first
clergyman. To speak the good hospital using Western medical
news of the gospel of Jesus techniques and theories in
Christ into the culture of Taiwan’s history.31
Taiwan he used the “secularized On August 12th of 1866
language” of medicine. This the Scottish clergyman William
model was followed by other Sutherland Swanson, who had
mission pioneers with come to assist Maxwell for a
education, social service and short term, baptized four
health care as demonstrations of Taiwanese believers: Chen Che,
the love of God for all people.30 Chen Ching-ho, Ko Tiong and
Human beings are born Tan Ui. These were the first
through labor, pain and cries.
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converts of the PCT. That soon had about 20 people
afternoon they celebrated the coming to hear preaching. But
church’s first Holy there was confusion. Within
Communion.32 two weeks some local people
Xiamen was also the base received and garbled a version
of mission work by the of the Christian Gospel that
Reformed Church in America, seems to have originated from
which developed an intimate misunderstanding of Roman
relationship with the English Catholic evangelistic preaching.
Presbyterians. In March of They spread the news that the
1867 Reformed Church foreigners’ religion advocated
missionary L.W. Kip and his tearing out hearts, gouging out
wife visited Ta-kao to give short eyes, committing murder and
term aid to the Chinese/English using bodily juices to cook up
team. While there he baptized opium. Local people tore down
five Taiwanese, including the church building. But this
Chuang Ching-feng, a harbor action did not deter the
pilot from Tam-sui. Mr Chuang evangelists. Within a week the
returned to his home. In April of work was formally re-
1868 he walked 9 days to hear established.
preaching in Kaohsiung. Near
the north gate of what is now
Tso-ying he was stopped and
stoned to death. His body was
cut into pieces and his heart was
eaten. Chuang was as the first
martyr in the PCT.33

Nursing
A baby draws sustenance
from her mother. The PCT was
nourished by the Holy Spirit
through a mother church from
the UK. Hugh Ritchie
In April of 1867 Maxwell, The church was firmly under
Ko and Ng began medical the control of the English
outreach in the Pi-thau (Feng Presbyterian mission of the
Shan) area. Early in July they time, yet the appointed
purchased a small house to responsible evangelists for the
serve as an evangelistic and work were Ngo Bun-chui and
preaching center. In those years Ko Tiong. By 1868 Dr.
Taiwanese people had more free Maxwell moved on to other
time than the current work and newly arrived
population, and the evangelists missionaries, Rev. & Mrs. Hugh
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Ritchie, were appointed to assist The Ritchies moved into the
Ngo and Ko. Things did not go foothills inland from
smoothly. In April of that year Kaohsiung. At A-Li-kang (now
what has become known as the known as Li-kang) they found
Pi-thau Persecution occurred. enthusiastic response among the
On April 11th while Mr. Ko aboriginal people, and
was on his way to the church he established a church there in
was asked by a woman about 1869.35
the church's distribution of William Campbell arrived in
poisonous tea and then was 1871. The work in Takao and
attacked. Mr. Ko was put into Tainan was stable, so he moved
jail and the church was occupied northwards and inland. In 1875
by the Ching government while he was at White Water
militia. The believers, Stream in the northern part of
missionaries and foreign Tainan County a local hooligan,
business people in the Pi-thau Wu Chin-kao, attacked him and
area fled to Ta-kao where they burned the church building.
hid behind locked doors. It took Campbell spent the night hiding
five months to clear up the up to his neck in a ditch of
incident, during which time Mr. water. He returned the next day
Ko languished in the jail while and assembled the believers for
interventions were made to prayers. Though he was
provincial government offices in injured, his courage changed the
Fukien and to the English course of events in that locale.
consulate. Among complaints The entire village was
investigated were some that Dr. converted.36 Campbell
Maxwell and Mr. Ko had buried continued to serve in Taiwan for
the remains of people they had 46 years. Besides evangelism he
murdered under the floor of the produced a dictionary of the
church hall. Bones were Taiwanese language and
actually found in the area, but established a school for the
turned out to be from swine. deaf.37
Work had been re-established in
July while investigations
continued. By the end of
September all was settled and
permission was given to rebuild
the church again. This was
accomplished by the end of the
following January and marked
by a celebration. Holy
Communion was celebrated at
Pi-thau church for the first time
in May of 1869.34
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did not return to his ancestral
country, but settled in Taiwan,
where he died in 1911.39
At the end of 1871 Rev.
George Leslie Mackay from
Canada arrived in Ta-kao. A
clergyman, he had sought some
training in basic dentistry and
medical skills. Like St Paul he
did not want to reap a harvest
where another had plowed.
After meeting with the British
and Chinese church workers in
the South he was escorted by
some of their number
northwards in March of 1872.40
On March 9th he landed at
William Campbell
Tamsui. This is considered the
Parents are often blessed by birthday of the church in North
assistance from friends and Taiwan.
relatives or devoted hired Like Maxwell in Ta-kao and
helpers. In like manner the Tainan, Mackay used the
church in South Taiwan had secular language of medical
begun in 1865 through such service to contact the people he
service. Ngo Bun-chui, who wished to interest in the gospel.
accompanied Maxwell, had He had great success, becoming
been an uneducated opium renowned for his treatments of
smoker at home in China. After malaria and his skill at pulling
hearing the gospel he received teeth.41 He was an ardent
baptism and took employment evangelist as well. In February
as a church caretaker. Four of 1873 he baptized five
years after accompanying converts, Giam Chheng-hoa,
Maxwell, Tan and Ng to Taiwan Ngo Ek-ju, Ong Tiong-chui,
he was ordained an evangelist Lim Si and Lim Poe. With these
and elder at the Teng-a-kha five he established a church on
chapel in Tainan. He retired in March 2nd of 1873. On this
1875 and returned to his home date, Holy Communion was
in China.38 celebrated by Protestants in
Ng Ka-ti had joined the North Taiwan for the first
church in Xiamen in 1859. He time.42
was trained in western medicine A year later the Rev. James
there, and came over with Dr. Frazer arrived from Canada to
Maxwell in 1865. He was assist Mackay. Frazer was a
ordained an elder in 1878. He trained physician. The work in
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the North expanded rapidly. Taiwan’s Presbyterians,
By 1882 Mackay had convinced that the Lord is with
established 20 churches and them, can endure attitudes and
baptized 300 believers. A motto face every sort of situation.
attributed to him goes, “I’d Enduring hardships with this
rather burn out than rust out.” attitude, they bear witness to
By 1901 when he died he had their faith.45
established 60 churches, a
hospital and several schools.43 Crawling and Toddling
Missionaries established
churches in places where only a
few new believers were
gathered. There were more
preaching stations and infant
churches than could be
adequately served by foreign
personnel alone. In both North
Mackay and Disciples Pulling Teeth and South Taiwan converts who
In her early years, the PCT showed aptitude, zeal and
was heavily influenced by calling were trained, hired and
foreign mindsets and colonial appointed as “preachers”. But
policies. Missionaries often saw the training was not systematic.
local culture and religious “… each missionary had kept a
traditions as enemies to be few promising youths under his
rejected. It is not strange to care and given them desultory
read that Taiwanese converts teaching.”46 In 1876 Thomas
were disparaged by their Barclay, fresh from the UK by
compatriots as “faith eaters”. It way of a year’s language
was assumed that those who training in Xiamen and Ta-kao,
became Christians would have arrived in Tainan to offer
to reject the culture and faith regular systematic training in
practices into which they had theology and ministry. Tainan
been born. It meant cutting off Theological College was born.
cultural values and severing
basic relationships of their lives.
Both the foreign mission
workers and first generation
believers among Taiwan’s
people faced serious
opposition.44
Under these conditions the
PCT grew into the motto that Dr Thomas Barclay and Pastors
still adorns her seal and flag, Developing a model similar to
“Ablaze but not Consumed”. that used by the English
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Presbyterians in the South, literature, Chinese history, and
Mackay trained a cadre of men natural sciences.50
to serve the churches he
established from his main base
of operations in Tam-sui.47 In
1882, with funds from Oxford
County, Ontario (his native
place), he established Oxford
College as a training center for
native evangelists.48 Oxford
became the parent of several
schools, including the current
Taiwan Theological College in
Taipei. In 1883 on adjoining
land a building went up to house
a school for training of women
for ministry.49 George Ede
Ministry is not something Provision of literacy, both in
easily learned without a basic Chinese characters and in
education. Thomas Barclay had romanized Taiwanese, opened
to teach basic maths and history the way for the use of the
in addition to scripture and printed word as another avenue
worship. For his own part, for ministry. In 1881 Barclay
Mackay taught astronomy, imported the first printing press
geography, botany and to Taiwan, but went on furlough
literature. The need for a better to Britain before it was set up
foundation prior to entering for use. While in Scotland he
theological training had to be received training in printing,
met. In the South plans were and returned to Taiwan. In
made for the establishment of a addition to his work in
middle school. The Ritchies education and evangelism he put
were ardent supporters of this the press to use. In 1885 “The
project, which finally came to Taiwan Church News” was
fruition under Mr. George Ede, born. “We were fortunate in
sent out from England in 1884. having as our first printer a
The school would have opened young man Saw Sa, who had
earlier, but was delayed because learned to read Romanised in
of war between China and three days and three nights. He
France. In 1885 Chang Jung became very enthusiastic. In
Middle School accepted its first the early days of the Church
students. The curriculum was news, the ‘Kau-hoe po’, we sent
both Christian and liberal. a number of copies over to
Religion and Bible were Amoy. I remember once when
accompanied by courses in the paper was not ready in time,
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he and his assistant remained up Hospital in memory of Rev.
working all night to have copies Mackay). Dr. Gavin Russell of
ready for the steamer next the English Presbyterian
morning. Unfortunately he died Mission did short term medical
after only three years work. mission work in Central Taiwan
The early numbers of the as early as 1888. This work
Church News which were continued into the early 90’s
mostly his workmanship…”51 and eventually moved to Toa-
Hugh Ritchie took ill and died sia, in the neighborhood of
in Tainan in 1879. He never saw modern day Hong-koan. In
the middle school for which he 1895 Campbell Moody, David
had labored. Mrs. Ritchie did Landsborough and A.B. Nielson
not retire to her homeland. She were sent out from the UK to
stayed in Tainan, secured an
establish a resident mission
appointment as the first single
work in this new field. Their
woman missionary on the field
by the English Presbyterian work resulted in the
Church, and worked to provide establishment of what today is
education for girls. The middle Chang Hwa Christian
54
school already established was Hospital. Medical work is
for boys only. In 1887 the highly technical and costly.
Chang Jung Girls Middle Staffed by local and foreign
School opened its doors.52 trained nurses and physicians,
Medical clinics and outdoor the hospitals remained under
dentistry practiced by the foreign mission leadership and
pioneer missionaries in South funding much longer than other
and North evolved into hospitals mission activities. Long before
before too many years passed. the onset of the 21st century,
Maxwell’s first work at Tainan however, they were totally
and Ta-kao developed into the “localized.” They now provide
Sin-lau Hospital in Tainan in funding for many social
1869. Mackay had engaged in ministries of the entire PCT as
clinic work at Hu-wei from his well as undertake non-medical
earliest years, securing mission work themselves.
volunteer assistance from
doctors assigned to the British
consulate in Tamsui. In 1880 a
bequest was made in memory of
a ship captain from Detroit, also
named Mackay. It enabled the
establishment of the Mackay
Clinic in Tamsui.53 (This clinic
George Mackay & Family
moved to Taipei in 1912 and First Independent Steps
was renamed Mackay Memorial
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By 1886 the church in principles be congregational,
Southern Taiwan consisted of episcopal or presbyterian. He
1584 communicant members. merely wanted to end the
Encouraged by the missionaries, system of despotic government
the local believers inaugurated by a few foreigners meeting in
their own missionary outreach council. The missionaries
to the islands of Peng-hu. Rev. favored the formation of a local
William Campbell made a presbytery.56
survey trip, but the evangelists Various delays ensued, but
sent out were Ng Chhim-ho and on February 24th, 1896 the first
Ng Lian-kiat. Their expenses meeting of the Presbytery of
were entirely underwritten by South Formosa was held. On
the churches in Taiwan without April 2nd Phoa Beng-chu and
support from abroad.55 Lau Baw-khun were ordained,
Around the world churches the first two Taiwanese to
of Reformed theology and receive this office in the PCT’s
Presbyterian polity have history. The presbytery
traditionally upheld the instituted a rule that any
standards of a trained ministry. congregation or “circuit” of
That need was addressed congregations that desired to
through the early apprenticeship call an ordained minister of
system of bringing up their own choosing needed to
evangelists and preachers prior present evidence of having at
to 1876, and then in the least one year’s salary on hand.
establishment of Tainan Failing this, they would have to
Theological College and Oxford accept whatever preacher or
College. But Presbyterians tend evangelist was assigned to them
to be even more exacting when by the presbytery.57
it comes to ordination. Not only In the North a Presbytery
is there a requirement for was formed in 1904, closely
training, but also a call to followed thereon by the
ministry, and its verification by formation of The Synod of the
a church body (known as “the Presbyterian Church of Formosa
Presbytery”). in 1912.58 Though mission
In 1893 Dr. Barclay organizations still held the purse
presented a paper entitled “Self- strings and, through them, much
government in the Native of the power in the church, the
Church” to his colleagues in the governance was now in the
English Presbyterian mission. hands of local people.
He advocated teaching the
people of Taiwan the scriptural Meeting Environmental
principles of church Challenges
organization. It was of no Weather or natural disasters
import to him whether those take little notice of their
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influence on the birth of a child. styled himself as “The Black
Empires clash indifferent to Flag Emperor” held sway in the
what their conflicts may mean Central and Southern Taiwan.
to common people or grassroots His government issued posters
institutions. Taiwan, as we have to be displayed in all Christian
seen above, was host to forces chapels declaring them to be the
from Spanish, Dutch, Chinese property of a friendly nation,
and British empires between and therefore off limits to
1624 and 1894. France also harassment.61
attacked Taiwan in 1884. In After the typhoon season
1895 another empire, the rising ended the march southwards
sun of Japan, came to rule this recommenced, It was supported
island. The Chinese Imperial by sea borne invasion troops. In
Government ceded Taiwan to some places the British
Japan in perpetuity under the missionaries and Taiwanese
treaty of Shimonoseki that Christians were suspected of
ended the Sino-Japanese War of being in league with the
1894-5.59 Japanese. When the Union Jack
At many places there was was hoisted over the mission
local resistance to being turned compound in Tainan, seeking to
over to the Japanese. Taiwanese mark this as a zone NOT to be
felt that, since they themselves shelled, the missionaries were
had not been defeated by Japan, accused of signaling the
they should not be the ones to Japanese navy offshore to start
suffer being turned over to a the barrage! Threats were
foreign government. Feeling made, and actual murder of
rejected by the Chinese Empire, Christians at Ta-niau in Chia-yi
some organized a republic and County and at Moa-tao near
vowed to defend the island. Tainan.
China’s imperial ambassador, The East Coast was without
dispatched to formally hand government until the Japanese
over the territory, dared not set established themselves in 1896.
foot on Taiwan. He remained Chapels there were burned and
safely on board a warship while believers were murdered.
signing the documents.60 Rewards were offered for the
The Japanese had to take the capture of preachers taken “dead
island by force. In the North this or alive”. 62
was not especially onerous. The In Tainan the situation was
resistance was dispersed during tense. It was the headquarters
the Spring. The onset of the of the Black Flag Emperor’s
summer typhoon season stopped “government.” Placards were
the land advance of the posted to incite people to kill
invaders. A local militia Christians. Wealthy Taiwanese
commander, Lau Eng-hok, who Christians made arrangements
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to send their wives and children indifferent to religious
to safety in Xiamen. The affiliations, individual officials
missionaries discussed offering (many of them Christians)
a similar opportunity to the poor sometimes tended to be
of the church. During a meeting favorably inclined to Christians.
to discuss the arrangements a Taiwanese recognized this, and
church member demonstrated some took advantage of the
the strength of his faith in a outward forms of Christianity
prayer, asking not so much that (for example, owning a bible or
the Christians be delivered from a hymnbook) without actually
danger, but “be kept faithful no believing.68 On one occasion a
matter what occurred.“63 preacher named Sin-ki was
The Black Flag Emperor attacked and plundered on the
absconded. The people of road. When he arrived at his
Tainan, anticipating the advance destination he complained to the
of the Japanese to be imminent, police, and mentioned that he
sent a delegation to prevail upon was a Christian preacher. The
Dr. Barclay to go out and meet policeman, wise to the pretense
the troops bearing documents that some sought to use,
assuring the invaders of a challenged him to name the
bloodless surrender of the city. twelve apostles as proof of his
He and Duncan Ferguson, claim to faith.69
another British missionary, Transportation, education,
proceeded to do just that, communication and medical
reportedly singing hymns all the infrastructures were improved,
way to the front lines. The city A new medical school in Taipei
was saved from bombardment trained the first Taiwanese
and destruction.64 physician employed at Chang
In its early phases, the Hwa Christian Hospital.70
Japanese occupation (which In 1915 the colonial
lasted until 1945) was not government and the church
onerous for the church. The cooperated to open a school for
Japanese initially regarded the deaf and blind persons in
Christians to be honorable.65 Tainan..71 Dr. Gushue Taylor, a
Their general aim was to make Newfoundlander who first came
Taiwan and its people, body, to Taiwan with the English
soul and spirit, into Japanese.66 Presbyterian Church and later
Missionaries hoped that was employed by the Canadian
Christianity, held in better Presbyterian Mission,
regard in Japan than in China, established a leprosarium at
would be able to advance under Happy Mountain in 1934. The
the new regime.67 ministry and mission of the PCT
Though the colonial added a dimension influenced
government was officially by the needs of the people on
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the margins of Taiwan’s society. decade Canada’s Methodist,
Insofar as Protestant Presbyterian, and
Christianity was concerned at Congregational Churches
the beginning of the colonial merged to form the United
period, Taiwan was a Church of Canada. Some
“Presbyterian Island”. Over the Presbyterians and their
course of the occupation that congregations chose not to
changed. Japan could hardly be participate in the merger. These
described as Presbyterian. formed the Presbyterian Church
Japanese Protestants established in Canada. In the division of
Anglican, Holiness, Adventist assets the Taiwan mission field
and Salvation Army missions was assigned to the
here. The Japanese Presbyterian Presbyterians. The Canadian
churches in Taipei (1897) and missionaries in Taiwan who
Tainan (1898) had close and wished to become part of the
supportive relationships with the United Church moved south
Taiwanese Presbyterians.72 where they were absorbed into
The era of goodwill ended the English mission work.74
in the 1930’s. When war Japanese colonial rule
neared, English and Canadian ended with the defeat of this
personnel were expelled. empire in 1945. The territory of
(Germans, not serving in the Taiwan was turned over to the
Presbyterian Church, remained.) government of the Republic of
Teachers who could not speak China in a protectorate status.
Japanese were denied the right The transfer of power came
to teach, even in private church- about late in October of that
related schools. Militarism year.75
intruded. Students and faculty
were compelled to participate in Another Child is Born
ceremonies of emperor worship Taiwan is home to “other than
and singing of the national ethnic Chinese” peoples. The
anthem. The seminaries and aborigines had long been
women’s schools were classified into “ripe” and
prohibited from using “savage” barbarians. Those
Taiwanese. In 1941 Tainan called “ripe” inhabited the
Theological College temporarily plains. They were the ones
closed its doors and students more likely to become
were transferred to Taipei. The “civilized” (adopting the culture
Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and practices of their foreign
became de facto self governing occupiers, whether these be
by November of 1944.73 from the West, China or Japan).
A movement in Canada in “Savage barbarians” lived in the
the 1920’s also touched mountains.76 “Savages”
Taiwan’s church. During that comprised ten tribes (including
16

the people of Orchid Island off law. In 1924, at the age of 52,
the southeast coast). Insofar as Chi-oang was baptized.
it was possible, the Japanese In 1925, besieged by
Colonial Government hindered creditors seeking repayment of
communication between debts run up by her husband,
“savages” and the assimilated she went bankrupt. She was
tribes and ethnic Han people of accepted into the Tam-sui
the plains. In some areas barbed training school for women
wire fences surrounded the missionaries and studied there
tribal territories.77 People from eight months. The Women’s
the plains were not allowed to Missionary Society of the North
go into the mountain areas, and Synod then sent her to Hua-lien
church evangelistic work in as an evangelist. Her mission
particular was prohibited. was hindered by the Japanese
Chi-oang Yiwal was born in authorities who beat and set
1872. She grew up in a Taroko dogs upon her. She persisted.
tribe village north of Hualien. She met with people at night
When she was 18 she was and in caves when necessary to
purchased for marriage by a preach the gospel until she died
non-aboriginal Taiwanese in 1946 at the age of 75. She is
trader. They moved to a Sediq known as the mother of the
tribe village where her husband mountain churches.78
was murdered. She continued Hsu Nan-mian, a believer
his business. Within 2 years she from the one of the plains
married another non-aboriginal (“ripe”) aboriginal tribes
Taiwanese and moved again. married an Amis tribal woman.
After the Japanese occupied He became the apostle to the
Taiwan she learned Japanese. Amis.79 Kao Tien-wang became
She collaborated with the the “Paul of the Tarokos” .
colonial government to Baptized in 1940, he soon
negotiate an end to tribal revolts became an ardent evangelist. He
and inter-tribal wars. The was severely persecuted by the
grateful Japanese gave her a police. After the war he
house where she continued in continued to preach among the
business. She became rich. Taroko, the Amis, the Bunun
In 1906 she married for a and Tayal tribes.80
third time, again to a non-
aboriginal Taiwanese. This
husband wasted her resources in
riotous living. His mother was
a zealous Christian, a member
of Chang Hwa Presbyterian
Church. When her son visited,
she testified to her daughter-in-
17

in July of 1946 after more than
7 years of absence, W. E.
Montgomery, a Canadian
serving in the English
Presbyterian mission observed
that social order had broken
down but the church had united.
He had arrived in the North and
was traveling “homeward” to
Tainan. “There was an entire
absence of the old feeling that
we were of the South and just
James Dickson passing visitors. We were made
to feel that we were members of
In the post-war period controls the family.” 82
on the aborigines were Montgomery noted that the
loosened. Mission work among spiritual life of the church was
them flourished. This was at a low ebb following
supported ardently by Dr. James persecutions during the war and
and Mrs Lillian Dickson of the the ruined economy thereafter.83
Canadian Presbyterian Mission. “BUT: There is a band of men
A school for aboriginal in the ministry today who have
evangelists grew into what is been tried and not found
now the Yu-shan Theological wanting. Many of them have
College in Hualien. The story grown in stature mentally and
of the Aboriginal church growth spiritually, and some have
is known as the 20th century shown conspicuous gifts of
miracle.81 leadership. The future is full of
Standing Tall hope and promise. Men turn
The church had been longingly to the Christian
forced to operate without Church to see if it can give them
Western mission support during help and leadership towards a
the war. But since Presbyterian new order.” 84
polity mandates the
development of numerous local A Body Blow
leaders, many able persons Schoolyard bullying is
came into their own when the common enough even in the
need was greatest. twenty-first century. This
All institutions suffered. church suffered a certain
Tainan Theological College had amount of it in the later parts of
to close temporarily. British Japanese colonial rule, but the
and Canadian missionary worst instances came soon after
societies resumed personnel and the return to the ”mother
resource support as soon after country.”
the war as possible. Returning
18

Following the war, even other potential dissidents
though the forces of Chiang (including a number of PCT
Kai-shek’s Nationalist Party leaders) were arrested, executed
government occupied Taiwan, or assassinated by soldiers or
they were not here in the secret police.
capacity of the Republic of
China acquiring title or
sovereignty. They came under
treaties negotiated in Potsdam
and Cairo, under an allied
powers mandate, to carry out a
military occupation. 85
As occupation forces they
came to dominate. Chiang’s For the next forty years
government did not send its there was no official recognition
prime troops, but those who that anything had happened.86
could be spared from the The Nationalist Party and the
ongoing civil war in China. The government it controlled denied
services of the military the incidents and suppressed
governor, Chen Yi, were not open mention of them.87 The
missed when he was sent to a entire affair became part of the
remote post. Occupation forces’ collective consciousness and
abuses of local people mounted. memory of people who lived
On the 28th of February of through the times and became
1947, only 16 months after the known as “the 2-28” (for
transition of power, the people February 28th, the day of their
of Taiwan began to rise up. The beginning). The church, too,
precipitating incident was the participated in the silence. A
arrest of a local woman by centennial history published in
soldiers from China for selling 1965, only 18 years later,
cigarettes without the official includes no mention of the 2-28
tax stamp. An angry crowd or its effect. Only a curious
surrounded the officers, and in coincidence of a cluster of
the ensuing melee two deaths at about the same time
Taiwanese were killed. This hints that anything untoward
episode triggered uprisings had taken place.
throughout the island and On February 9th, 1990 the
eventually gave the Nationalist PCT issued a public letter of
troops an excuse to carry out a apology to victims of the 2-28
pogrom against the Taiwanese massacre. In part it says, “in
intelligentsia. Within a few 1947 during the cruelest
months uncounted thousands of political suppression of human
civic leaders, doctors, local rights that ever occurred in
lawyers, college professors and Taiwan’s history, known to
19

posterity as the 2-28 massacre, continues to exist to this day as
tens of thousands of Taiwan’s a property holding body,
intelligentsia, civic leaders and managing Oxford College,
ordinary citizens were killed or Mackay Hospitals, Taiwan
arrested. With the exception of Theological College and various
a few brave ministers and other properties. 90
congregations who aided the On the cusp of the church’s
victims and their families, the 90th anniversary in 1954 a
Presbyterian Church in Taiwan challenge emerged from the
did little to show support or Southern Synod to double the
concern out of fear during the church in the next decade.
extended period of martial law. Preparatory actions, including
Therefore we sincerely the establishment of a Bible
apologize to the victims of 2-28, College in Hsin-chu in 195791,
and their families; and pray that led to the adoption of this
God grant us mercy and program, known as the PKU
forgiveness.” 88 (the initials in Romanized
Taiwanese of “Double the
A Growth Spurt Church Movement”) in 1959.
Moves toward local leadership By prayer, offerings, lay
and meetings between Northern training, publication and
and Southern Synods in 1942 encouraging existing churches
and ‘43 led to the formation of to “give birth to a daughter” the
preparatory committees for movement proceeded. The
church unification. Drafts, church took advantage of
proposals and further meetings Taiwan’s poverty and the access
after the war led, at last, to the of ecclesiastical institutions to
establishment of the General relief goods to attract hearers
Assembly of the Presbyterian through the distribution of flour,
Church in Taiwan. The Rev. Ng milk powder and second-hand
Bu-tong was chosen as the first clothing from abroad. By this
moderator. 89 avenue the church drew near to
The assembly immediately life at the margins of society,
joined the World Council of and marginal people were
Churches and the World brought into the church.92
Presbyterian Alliance. It also The 1954 statistics of plains
passed a measure encouraging (non-aboriginal) churches
the dissolution of the local indicate 60 thousand believers
synods in order to strengthen the in 233 congregations. At the
assembly. In 1957 the Southern end of 1964 there were 103
Synod did this, and transferred thousand in 466. When the
all its property to the Assembly. numbers of Aboriginal believers
In the North things worked out and congregations are added in,
differently, so a North Synod the result of the PKU exceeded
20

its goals. 93 membership numbers for the
Life in a New Neighborhood church as a whole kept pace
Having grown and absorbed with population increases, but
so many people from Taiwan's did not exceed those rates.
ethnic and economic margins, Opportunities for industrial,
the church faced a new set of campus and social service
challenges. The elite of mission related to urbanization
Taiwan’s middle classes, grew, those linked to rural and
heretofore part of the church agricultural life shrank.94
because of its extensive New currents of political
educational and medical thought were also running in the
outreach, were joined by less church. When Taiwan's
educated, less refined elements "Republic of China"
of society. Church members government was expelled from
who were second or third the United Nations in 1971 the
generation Christians, already church, identified now with a
quite separated from the broad spectrum of Taiwan's
grassroots culture of their population instead of just with
people, found an "earthy" lot the intelligentsia, spoke out.
sitting next to them in the pews. The "Statement on our National
The church began to change. Fate" was issued on December
The society at large also 29th. It urged the direct
underwent an economic election of all members of
transformation from stable, rural Taiwan's legislative bodies by
and agricultural to dynamic, the people resident on Taiwan to
urban and industrial. replace those chosen in China
Government policies 25 years previously and frozen
encouraging industrialization in office ever since. The Rev.
resulted in mass movements of Dr. C.M. Kao, General
rural populations, especially in Assembly General Secretary,
the Central and Southern parts explained the statement saying,
of the island, to cities. "In the past we have usually
Taichung and Kaohsiung hosted accepted 'Thou shalt not offend
export processing zones, which anyone' as the first
attracted the young people of commandment and have
the farms to the cash economy disregarded the responsibility
of the cities. Rural churches which Christians ought to have
lost entire age groups from to the society and to the nation.
their membership. Youth This statement is founded on the
ministry ceased to function, and conviction of our Christian faith
Sunday schools were decimated. that Christians have such a
Rural presbyteries lost responsibility."95
membership while urban ones The Statement on our
added congregations. The National Fate was followed in
21

1975 by "Our Appeal: behalf of the people of Taiwan
Concerning the Bible, the did not go unnoticed by the
Church and the Nation". population at large.
Things were really stirred up in Marginalized people looked
1977 when the church released more and more to the church as
"A Declaration on Human a leader in the struggle for
Rights" which urged the liberation.
government to "face reality and In the 1980's the church
to take effective measures moved to the margins in
whereby Taiwan may become a significant ways. Service
new and independent country."96 centers were established to
Each of these statements was minister to the physical and
met with differing degrees of social needs of industrial
government displeasure. In workers, fishermen and their
1979 a purely secular movement families, sex workers, peasants,
for human rights and open women and the disabled. Sin-
political expression was lau Christian Hospital was
forcefully suppressed. In its reestablished and rebuilt to
roundup of dissidents the minister to medical needs in the
martial law government arrested name of Christ. (Following the
and convicted several church war it had been reduced to a
leaders, including Rev. Kao, clinic staffed by volunteer
who served over four years doctors).98 Chang Jung High
behind bars.97 School in Tainan established a
four-year college with
departments specializing in
public health and occupational
safety.

Confirmation
Presbyterians do not have a
"rite of confirmation" in our
liturgy. We do, however, look
for a time when those baptized
in infancy stand before a
congregation as adults and
confess that the faith in which
their parents promised to raise
them has been taken on
personally. The PCT had
grown for 120 years, nourished
That the church, a small by the faith expressed so well in
portion of this society, had been the Westminster Confession and
so targeted for its statements on Catechisms and the three
22

ecumenical creeds. In 1985 this church has to be clearly
child of the covenant stood distinguished from those
before the world confessing her interests.
own faith in her own terms. With more than 130 years of
The Confession of Faith of the mission work experience, the
Presbyterian Church in Taiwan General Assembly of the PCT
was under preparation for seven looks to the future in the spirit
years, and finally adopted by the of the Reformation. The Church
General Assembly. It is "rooted strikes out in new directions
in the action and experience of based on what is learned from a
mission in society, buttressed past and a present in this land.
with theological reflection, and The cry for spiritual reformation
stands as one of the important has been taken up. It echoes in
measures of re-confessing the intimate response of a
theology in Taiwan"99 church that sees herself as an
organ of this society. In
A Home of Our Own changing situations, through
Young adults normally leave direct experience, through
their parents' home to set up community and by presence at
households and families of their the base, the church is
own. The 19th and 20th established and continues to
Century household built and contribute.
sustained for the PCT by the For more than a hundred
English and Canadian years churches in Taiwan have
Presbyterian Churches (and been perceived by our people as
added to by American partners outsiders and dwellers on the
after the war) provided an margins of the society. In
excellent upbringing. The 21st recent years the PCT has
Century calls for new emphasized the effort to
structures. contextualize her mission. The
Since the 1970's the PCT 21st Century New Taiwan
boldly reached out in areas of Mission Movement Project was
social concern, political launched in 1999 to "identify
activism, democratization and with the people and be rooted in
human rights work. These this land, and to actualize the
commitments marked a Kingdom of God through
significant stage in the PCT's building Koinonia."100
mission. However, after the
first direct presidential election Commencement
(1996), Taiwan has entered a One of the proud conceits of
new society with a plurality of school leaving in North
political parties. Political issues America is to refer to it not as
are now taken up by different “graduation”, signifying an
groups, and the mission of the ending, but as
23

“commencement”, signifying a
beginning. the Dutch, London: Kegan Paul,
Trench, Trubner & Co., 1903. P. 540
As the PCT engages the 21st 16
Ibid. p. 495
century with its challenges, she 17
Ibid. p. 540
stands upon the heritage of the 18
Ibid. p. 540
past, a gift of God Almighty 19
Ibid. p. 238.
through the Holy Spirit from
20
Ibid. p. 207.
21
Ibid. p. 306.
before the foundations of the 22
Ibid. pp. 543-44.
world were laid. The lessons 23
Ibid. Intro. vii.
and experiences that this church 24
Ibid. p. 510.
has received and appropriated 25
Ibid. p. 540.
from God’s servants in the past, 26
P. Richard Bohr, “The Legacy of
be they Taiwanese, Aboriginal, William Milne” International Bulletin
of Missionary Research. Vol 25, No. 4
Chinese, European or North (October 2001) p. 173.
American, serve as completed 27
Understand the Presbyterian
coursework leading to the award Church in Taiwan. Taipei: The
of a diploma. But this is no General Assembly, 2001. P. 3.
“well done, thou good and
28
Ibid.
faithful servant” followed by an
29
Ibid.
30
Hsieh Ta-li, Hsieh-wei and His
invitation to eternal rest and joy; Times. Tainan: Jin-kng, 2000, p. 13.
it is a commissioning to the task 31
Understand, p. 4.
ahead, a task for which this 32
Ibid.
church has been well prepared. 33
Ibid.
34
Hsu, pp.11-12.
1
John 1:3 and Genesis 1:3 35
Wang et. Al. Eds. Presbyterian
2
Proverbs 3:19 Church in Taiwan 120th Anniversary
3
Genesis 2:9 Yearbook. Taipei, General
4
Genesis 2:15-23 Assembly, 1985, p.677.
5
Genesis 2:9 36
Ibid. p. 462 AND Understand, p. 4.
6
Psalm 121:1-2 37
Phoa* Hi-ki, The Spirit of Sin-lau,
7
Genesis 1:2 Tainan: Sin Lau Christian Hospital,
8
John 3:16 1998, p. 87.
9
Taiwan Church News #2577, p.8 and 38
Ibid. p. 61.
Occasional Bulletin Vol.18, No 4, p 39
Ibid. p. 63.
12. 40
Understand, p. 5.
10
Hwang Po-ho, No Longer a 41
Ibid.
Stranger, Tainan, Chhut-Thau-Thi*, 42
Ibid.
1996, pp.66-7. 43
Ibid.
11
Psalm 139:15 44
Ibid. p. 6.
12
C. H. Hsu et.al. eds. A Centenary 45
Ibid.
History of the Presbyterian Church of 46
Band, p. 32.
Formosa, Tainan, Church Press, 1965, 47
Ibid. pp. 139-42.
p.11. 48
Wang, op.cit. pp.113-4.
13
Edward Band, Barclay of Formosa, 49
Hsu. Op.cit. p. 91.
Tokyo, Christian Literature Society, 50
Band, op.cit. p. 74.
1936, p. 20. 51
Ibid. p. 71.
14
Taiwan Catholic Directory, Tapiei, 52
Thai-pheng-keng Presbyterian
1997, p. 19. Church, 100th Anniversary Book,
15
William Campbell, Formosa Under Tainan, Church Press, 1965. P. 53.
24

53
Wang, op.cit. pp. 113-4.
54
Chang Hwa Christian Hospital, 79
Ibid. p. 178.
100th Anniversary Book, Chang-hwa, 80
Ibid. pp. 172-4.
CHCH, 1995. P. 13. 81
Understand, p. 9.
55
Band, op.cit. pp. 77-9. 82
W. E. Montgomery, “The Rip Van
56
Ibid. p. 113. Winkels Return”, Theology and the
57
Ibid. p. 116. Church, Vol. 4, No. 3, p. 7.
58
Understand, p. 9. 83
Ibid. p. 13.
59
Lee Shiao-feng, “Taiwan is Not 84
Ibid. p. 14.
Part of China”, Liberty Times, 1/ 7/ 85
Lee, op.cit. p.4.
2001. 86
Occasional Bulletin of the Taiwan
60
Band, op.cit. p.87. Church News, Vol. VIII, No. 2, p.8.
61
Ibid. p. 89. 87
Occasional Bulletin of the Taiwan
62
Ibid. p. 93. Church News, Vol. IV, No. 2, p.6.
63
Ibid. pp. 88-95. 88
Taiwan Church News #1981, 18
64
Ibid. pp. 99-100. Feb 1990, p.1.
65
Ibid. p. 108. 89
Understand, p. 11.
66
Ibid. p. 109. 90
Ibid.
67
Ibid. 91
Hsu, op.cit. pp. 356-8.
68
Ibid. p. 117. 92
Ibid. pp. 339-41.
69
Ibid. 93
Ibid. p. 353.
70
Marjorie Landsborough, Dr Lan, 94
Understand, pp. 12-13.
London, PCE Publishing Committee, 95
Taiwan Church News, March 1972,
1957, p. 174. page 1.
71
Understand, p 8. 96
Public Statements. 3rd Edition,
72
Ibid. p. 6. Taipei, The General Assembly of the
73
Ibid. p. 7. PCT, 1995. Pp. 11& 17.
74
Hsu, op.cit. p. 199. 97
Taiwan Church News 1694 (August
75
Understand, p. 7. 8, 1984) p.1.
76
Band, op.cit. p. 22. 98
Phoa*, op.cit. -p.10.
77
Ralph Covell, Pentecost of the Hills 99
Hwang, op.cit. p. 48.
in Taiwan, Pasadena: Hope, 100
21st Century New Taiwan Mission
1998.p155. Movement Project, Taipei, General
78
Ibid. pp. 165-70. Assembly R&D Center, 1998. P.1.

David Alexander is a graduate of New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New
Jersey, USA. A native Southern Californian, he first came to Taiwan in 1976
under the joint sponsorship of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) and the
25

Reformed Church in America (RCA). After two years of missionary internship
among Taiwan’s college and university students, he returned to North America
for graduate studies, eventually obtaining both the degrees Master of Arts in
Theology and the Master of Education. In 1980 he married Charlene Bos, from
Lucas, Michigan, USA. (They had first met in 1976 in Taiwan.)

In March of 1982 they returned to Taiwan as RCA missionaries appointed to serve
the PCT. They took up residence in Kaohsiung City and initially spent two years
learning Taiwanese. They were assigned to work in PCT in campus ministries for
a decade. David moved to church planting work, which was followed by a stint at
the Taiwan Church Press. He currently serves on the staff of Tainan Theological
College. Charlene has remained among university students, teaching at Chang
Jung Christian University and as an adjunct at Tainan Theological College

Their two born-in-Taiwan children are Katherine (1985) and Grant (1991).

Tainan Theological College and Seminary
台南神學院
701 台南市東門路一段 117 號
117 East Gate Road, Section 1Tainan, 701 TAIWAN
TEL +886 6 237-1291 FAX +886 6 234 6060
26

e-mail: ttcs@mail.ttcs.org.tw http://www.ttcs.org.tw