Nearly 300 people attended a meeting at MIT last night to hear a discussion of MIT's controversial Taiwan Project and the recent charges of on-campus spying levied against the Nationalist Chinese government.
The Taiwan Project is aimed at raising the technological level of Taiwan's industry by training 15 Taiwanese engineers in the design and marketing of sophisticated electronic hardware.
The project is under fire now, with a year-and-a-half of its two-year contract already run, because students fear that Taiwan plans to turn its new-found technology to military purposes.
Last night's forum also discussed spy charges arising from an incident last February when Jye-Suan Huang, a former MIT graduate student from Taiwan, was caught taking pictures of participants in an anti-Taiwan Project meeting.
Huang attended the February meeting with Jen-Tze Liu, a prominent Boston-based official of the Nationalist Chinese government.
Ching Fan, a graduate student from Taiwan, last night told the audience that Huang had aroused his suspicion on several occasions by expressing an interest in attending anti-Nationalist Chinese government rallies with Fan.
Ken Flamm, a graduate student on an ad hoc committee examining the Taiwan Project, said that "our understanding of the facts had changed," and he urged the MIT community to reconsider the program.
Flamm said Taiwan has clearly stated its intent to build missles with nuclear warheads for use against the People's Republic of China, and that the Taiwan Project is part of that effort.
The 15 engineers come from the Chung Shan Research Institute of Science and Technology, a lab supported by grants from the Ministry of Defense. When the program ends in December the engineers will return to Chung Shan.
The inertial navigator the Taiwanese engineers are designing is only useful for airplanes and ships, Wallace Van Der Veld, the program's administrator, said Monday, but he added that the technology the engineers were learning at MIT could have military applications.
Flamm also questioned the economic feasibility of producing electronic hardware in Taiwan, the ostensible purpose of the program. He quoted an MIT professor and two of the Taiwanese engineers as discounting their chances of ever founding a successful business venture based on their new knowledge.