Annette Lu was the Vice President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) from 2000 to 2008, under President Chen Shui-bian. • Photo by David Reid
Annette Lu was the Vice President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) from 2000 to 2008, under President Chen Shui-bian. • Photo by David Reid

Former Taiwanese Vice President Lu Hsiu-Lien (Annette Lu) visits Seattle on Monday, April 28, to promote her new memoir My Fight for a New Taiwan. Published by the University of Washington Press and co-authored with political scientist Ashley Esarey, My Fight for a New Taiwan chronicles Ms. Lu’s early life and development into one of the founding figures of the women’s movement in Taiwan, tracing her activism and eventual ascent to political leadership.

As a Taiwanese woman, Ms. Lu’s story is nothing short of exceptional. Born into a working-class family where she was almost given away twice by her parents for being female, Ms. Lu’s story transcends traditional Confucian gender roles. A gifted student, Ms. Lu’s abilities as a scholar eventually took her to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, where her political awareness deepened with her involvement in a movement focused on protecting the Diaoyutai islands from Japanese claims of ownership. Ms. Lu was simultaneously exposed to the American feminist movement, and upon her return to Taiwan, she began writing op-ed pieces related to gender equity and bias, which evolved into a regular column for the China Times. Ms. Lu went on to establish the Pioneer Press, a feminist publishing imprint created to disseminate literature on the rising women’s movement in Taiwan.

In the late ’70s, Ms. Lu pursued graduate study at Harvard Law School. Though granted a postgraduate research fellowship, Ms. Lu chose to leave her program to pursue campaigning for public office in Taiwan. Tragically, she fell under the suspicion of the nationalist government, as the deputy editor in chief for Formosa Magazine, a publication staffed my members of the pro-democracy Dangwai opposition movement.

In 1979, the Nationalist government arrested and imprisoned Ms. Lu for her suspected involvement in the protests and demonstrations surrounding the Kaoshiung Incident. Subjected to torture and incarcerated for 1,933 days, Ms. Lu was finally released through the efforts of Amnesty International and other advocates. During her imprisonment, Ms. Lu wrote the novel These Three Women, which she hopes to see translated into English.

“Its stories and the issues the novel deals with have a certain universality and might translate well to other cultures,” Ms. Lu said. The story has become a television series in Taiwan but is banned in China.

My Fight for a New Taiwan also documents Ms. Lu’s activism following her imprisonment and traces her path up until her successful campaign with Chen Shui-bian for Taiwan’s 2000 presidential election. However, the crux of the book is Ms. Lu’s lifelong commitment to women’s and human rights.

“After my 35-year struggle for women’s rights, Taiwanese women are well educated, empowered through their professional successes, and very active in politics,” Ms. Lu said. “I was a pioneer in this regard, but I fully expect the next president to be a woman,”

Currently, Ms. Lu is campaigning for Taipei mayor, with a focus on creating a comprehensive urban renewal plan for the city. Dilapidated buildings vulnerable to earthquakes demand the need for improved infrastructure. Skyrocketing property values have made buying or renting prohibitive for younger residents, while Taipei’s aging population needs access to more elder care facilities. Ms. Lu envisions remodeling old buildings for use as affordable housing, while also developing an international village for arts and culture at Shezedao, an area near Tanshui.

“Taipei needs to be remodeled for globalization,” Ms. Lu said. She envisions Taipei as a future megacity that will merge with New Taipei City, the port city of Keelung, and the agricultural county of Ilan. The Neihu region has grown into a hub for technology and research in IT, cloud computing, and semi-conductors, while the medical sciences are poised to “become a center for outstanding medical care and research,” Ms. Lu said.

Annette Lu will speak at Town Hall at 1119 Eighth Avenue (at Seneca Street) on Monday, April 28, 2014, from 7:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Tickets are $5. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

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