Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Tai Lau

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am profiling one Asian or Pacific Islander MP for every day of the month of May. Today’s case is Tai Yung Lau, a Chinese immigrant who disappeared from Tampa, Florida on June 20, 1981. He was 53 years old. I found a fair amount of detail on Lau’s case, but some of it was contradictory.

It looks like he might have been swept up in China’s Cultural Revolution, when a lot of people were executed or sent to forced labor camps on trumped-up charges. At any rate, per my sources, Lau fled a labor camp in 1967, got a job on a ship, then jumped ship and applied for asylum in the U.S. two years later. He was working hard and hoped to bring his wife and child over.

There are reports that he didn’t own a car, and reports that he sold his car the day he went missing and said something about returning to China. I don’t believe the latter reports; if Lau had gone back to China they would have probably shot him.

I doubt that, almost forty years later, anyone is going to figure out what happened to Lau, but I don’t think it was anything good. I wonder if his family is still in China or if they were able to come here.

4 thoughts on “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Tai Lau

  1. Lea May 8, 2019 / 2:30 am

    I would love to see a feature on Charleston Goodman out of Durham NC. He disappeared a year and a half ago and his story has taken many interesting turns.

  2. Jim_M May 8, 2019 / 5:55 am

    That is really sad. This man sounds like he worked hard, surviving hardships that I can only imagine (like so many others we read about here), only to disappear from our world.

    I wonder if anyone at LE ever pulls out his file? If he (hopefully?) has one in their records? And how would someone verify, those kinds of questions? I guess if he is in NAMUS, a Contact could be found?

    It’s really astonishing, amazing, and plain old scary, the amount of people we have gone missing. May they all be found someday. My little prayer to our universe.

    • Meaghan May 8, 2019 / 11:22 am

      He’s not in NamUs, actually.

      I wonder if there’s even any DNA available for him. Since he was an immigrant and asylum seeker, his fingerprints are probably on file somewhere, but his family was in China when he disappeared and I don’t know if they’re in contact with LE.

  3. marsyao May 8, 2019 / 1:48 pm

    From his picture, I will say he was from southern part of China, say Guang Dong province? from 1960 to 1990’s, millions of Chinese, mostly from Guang Dong, escaped from mainland to Hong Kong, in order to escaping from oppression from the government, and finding better life

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