Indictments handed down in Taiwan…Chen Shui-bian next?

From the Financial Times:

Chen Shui-bian, Taiwan’s president, has suggested his country could “freeze� its current constitution and adopt a new one, a move likely to re-ignite tensions with China.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Chen said that defining the scope of Taiwan’s sovereignty and territory was “extremely serious, complicated and sensitive, but also extremely important�.

The remarks indicate that Mr Chen intends to challenge Beijing further before he steps down in May 2008

His remarks appear designed to regain support among Taiwanese nationalist voters, a group his ruling party badly needs to win over before a series of forthcoming elections.

Taiwan’s current “Republic of China� constitution refers to the country’s territory only as “existing national boundaries� rather than spelling out precisely what comprises the national territory. However, since it was written in China after the second world war for all of China, it is widely understood to refer to the then Chinese territory, which stretched as far as Mongolia.

Mr Chen said Taiwan should discuss the idea of a “Second Republic� – a concept raised by one of his former pro-independence advisers – to free the country of what he called an “absurd and unrealistic� definition of sovereignty, without openly provoking China.

It seemed an oddly provocative move, then the news broke over at Reuters that Chen Shui-bian’s wife, Wu Shu-chen would be indicted for corruption.

Taiwan prosecutors indicted the wife of President Chen Shui-bian on corruption charges on Friday, and said Chen himself might also have committed offences but could not be prosecuted while in office.

It was the latest blow in a scandal that has led to mass protests and calls for the president’s removal.

A statement from the prosecutor’s office said the high court would charge First Lady Wu Shu-chen with corruption and faking documents in a case involving the misuse of more than T$14.8 million ($448,000).

The indictment of the First Lady, as predicted by Michael Turton, turned out to be just the warm-up. From the NYT this morning, news that Chen Shui-bian himself may soon be under indictment.

Prosecutors in Taiwan said Friday they have enough evidence to indict President Chen Shui-bian on corruption charges in connection with his handling of a secret diplomatic fund, adding to pressures on him to resign.

There is a strong possibility that Chen will be indicted after he leaves office, said Chang Wen-cheng of the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office. Under Taiwanese law a sitting president cannot be indicted other than on charges of sedition.

Chang’s announcement came after a monthslong probe of how the presidential office handled the fund, which is used to sustain diplomatic efforts abroad. The fund is secret because of the sensitivity of Taiwanese attempts to maintain its fragile overseas foothold in the face of moves by China to undermine its position.

Does anyone else think this Taipei Turf War is going get worse before it gets better? Who wins here?

Cross posted at Jottings from the Granite Studio.

The Discussion: 9 Comments

It depends whether Chen resigns or tries to fight through another recall motion. To be quite honest I was going to post on this after Chen has made his statement.

There’s something in this that everyone is missing – I hope you guys will let me say it once we have heard what the President has to say.

November 4, 2006 @ 5:01 am | Comment

I hope you do Raj, one reason I didn’t add too much commentary to the quotes was that there are commentators here far better versed in things Taiwan than I. I hoped this would be a jumping off point for a larger discussion.

Looking forward to a continuation of your thoughts.

November 4, 2006 @ 6:00 am | Comment

Well provided he doesn’t make his statement 1 hour before I retire for Monday morning, I’ll do my best. 😉

November 4, 2006 @ 6:48 am | Comment

Chen Shui-bian, Taiwan’s president, has suggested his country could “freeze� its current constitution and adopt a new one, a move likely to re-ignite tensions with China. !!!??

November 4, 2006 @ 6:57 am | Comment

Chen will resign within weeks and China will smile.

November 4, 2006 @ 8:37 am | Comment

I doubt China will smile, given that Chen was doing a good job of dragging the DPP down. It would also rather show up their inability to deal with corruption in a full and honest manner. Can you imagine Wen or Hu being investigated for corruption? No way, because no one would dare do it!

November 4, 2006 @ 9:43 am | Comment

Excellent points, Raj.

November 4, 2006 @ 9:44 am | Comment

China may not smile for long since Vice President Annette Lu, dubbed “Traitor of the Chinese People” by China, will take over as president if President Chen resigns!

November 4, 2006 @ 11:08 am | Comment

Chen says he’ll ‘splain all in a speech this weekend.


November 4, 2006 @ 3:56 pm | Comment

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