Born in China in 1932, Liu fled to Taiwan with the Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek following the Communist Revolution of 1949. After a stint in the army, he trained as a journalist and worked for the state-run media. He was posted to Washington, DC, and after a few years he and his wife received United States citizenship in 1973.
Liu was unhappy with the autocratic character of the government in Taiwan, and he wrote pieces critical of Chiang Kai-shek and his family. He was threatened after the publication in 1975 of his unauthorized biography of Chiang Ching-kuo, the son and heir of Chiang Kai-shek.
Under duress, Liu revised the biography in 1983; however, he continued down a dangerous path when be began to research a new work that threatened to reveal more secrets about the Chiang family. He began work on an authorized biography of Wu Kuo-cheng, a former senior member of the Nationalist movement who had denounced Chiang and gone into exile in the United States.
There followed a plot involving Taiwan’s military intelligence directorate, a triad mafia organization called the Bamboo Gang, and - in all probability - those at the top in the Taiwan government to silence the journalist. The assassination of Liu in his home in California threatened to destabilize the close relationship between the United States and Taiwan. According to Liu’s widow, Helen, the Reagan administration and the Chiang family colluded to limit the political fallout from the murder of her husband, which she regarded as an act of terrorism by a foreign power.