CHINESE leaders, in Beijing and Taipei, tend to have long memories and broad historical perspectives when it comes to reunification of the motherland. The problems of a prominent Taiwan citizen close to death in a mainland hospital apparently do not amount to a hill of beans in the mind of Taipei's ideologues. There are historical, ideological and strategic reasons why Taipei might object to a mercy flight to take Winston Chang, the ailing grandson of the late president Chiang Kai-shek, directly to Taipei, where world-class medical facilities are available as a result of the affluence created by the Kuomintang's economic policies. Historically, the older generation of Nationalists will never forgive the Communists for the humiliating defeat they inflicted on Chiang Kai-shek's forces during the Chinese civil war. Ideologically, Taipei does not recognise the Beijing regime, and does not wish to hand it the propaganda opportunity a mercy flight would offer. Strategically, air links would be a means towards the end of reunification, and the needs of travellers are incidental.