The Healing of Taiwan

A Taiwanese court recently sentenced Chen Shui-bien, Taiwan’s president from 2000 until 2008, to life imprisonment for corruption. But Chen's legacy may prove difficult to reverse, as it extended beyond criminality to ethnic divisiveness and neglect of economic development.

BANGKOK – Last week, a Taiwanese court sentenced Chen Shui-bien, Taiwan’s president from 2000 until 2008, to life imprisonment for corruption.

Chen had been caught stealing millions of dollars of public funds. He did not act alone. His wife (who also received a life sentence), children, and other relatives all helped to hide the stolen loot in overseas accounts. Taiwan’s former first family turned out to be a den of common thieves.

Chen and his ruling Democratic Progressive Party camouflaged their personal and parochial financial interests behind the patriotic mask of ensuring the survival of a democratic Chinese society in an independent Taiwan.   For years, Chen was perceived as a brave David fighting the communist Goliath, and attracted many admirers around the world (including me at one point).

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