Policy before lives

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 November, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 November, 1994, 12:00am

WINSTON Chang may never fully recover from the stroke that has left him in a coma. If he does, he would probably be horrified at how he was made a pawn in the political battle of wills between Taiwan and China. Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui's refusal to waive the rules to allow Mr Chang, who suffered the stroke during a visit to Beijing earlier this month, onto a direct flight to Taipei for medical treatment will win him no humanitarian awards.

It should not have mattered that the official policy forbids direct air links between China and Taiwan or that Mr Chang was the grandson of the late President Chiang Kai-shek. What should have counted was that here was a gravely sick man in dire need of medical attention. Any delay in getting him the attention he needed back home in Taipei may have placed his life in jeopardy. As it turned out, Mr Chang made the trip home safely on Thursday, despite the mandatory stopover in Hong Kong that President Lee imposed.