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Chen Shui-bian stopover in San Francisco stirs conflict in Chinese community
by Robert B. Livingston (gruaudemais [at]
Monday Jan 8th, 2007 8:44 PM
Beleaguered Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian arrived in San Francisco today to rest enroute to Nicaragua. Chen plans to participate in the inauguration ceremonies for newly elected former Sandanista Daniel Ortega day after tomorrow.
San Francisco
January 8, 2007

Many from the American Chinese community turned out in front of the St. Regis Hotel to greet Chen's VIP motorcade arrival to San Francisco today. The turnout of Chen loyalists and opponents appeared equally divided. Supporters wore the green of Chen's DPP political party; opponents the traditional Chinese red.

One observer mentioned that Time Magazine recently did a story about the most corrupt leaders in the world and Chen ranked as the fifth most corrupt. Chen is also controversial because of his avowed desire to make Taiwan an independent country.

His opponents, composed of Taiwanese and mainland immigrants who wish to see the eventual reunification of Taiwan with the mainland drew the most attention from passerbys and the Chinese media with their cries denouncing Chen. They were especially critical of the corruption charges that Chen has been able to narrowly elude to date.

Taiwan no longer has formal diplomatic ties with the United States. The People's Republic of China (PRC) has strongly protested Chen's ability to travel in the U.S. This has created little unease with the Bush administration which allows Chen to visit on occasion. That Chen should be one of a few government leaders to celebrate Daniel Ortega's inauguration draws attention to Taiwan's increasing isolation from the world community of nations. Daniel Ortega has indicated that he may break off formal ties with Taiwan (the Republic of China or ROC). The governments of Taiwan and Nicaragua have had a cozy relationship for years and Chen hopes to salvage it.

George W. Bush's father's administration worked hard to institutionalize political, economic and military support for Taiwan in spite of transference of official recognition to the PRC.

U.S. support today for Taiwan under his son may be less reliable however. Corporate interests are keen to make the most of the mainland's cheap labor and burgeoning market. They are also wary to placate the mainland whose growing economic reserves can be flexed to undermine an already shaky U.S. dollar. Also, critics of the Bush administration (including high-ranking generals and intelligence analysts) say that the U.S. military is now overextended and would have trouble responding to any new regional flashpoints. The U.S. must rely on the PRC to help deter North Korean aggression (even nuclear war) against South Korea.

Chen's visit, while tolerated by the Bush administration, is an embarrassing reminder of neglected world tensions. Not only does it fuel divisions among Chinese Americans-- it also suggests that Chen must play every card in his deck-- or bluff-- to win approval wherever he can find it.

Please direct correction, additional information and comments to this story below.

Some useful links:

Thumbs Down for Chen (Time/CNN)

At Least 13 Heads Of Government To Attend Ortega's Inauguration

Chen Shui-bian (Wikipedia)

Daniel Ortega (Wikipedia)

Million Voices against Corruption, President Chen Must Go (Wikipedia),_President_Chen_Must_Go

Taiwan's Chen in corruption case (BBC)

Taiwanese president arrives in San Francisco to cheers, protests (SFGate)
§Chen supporters
by Robert B. Livingston Monday Jan 8th, 2007 8:44 PM
Just as George W. Bush escapes his crimes, so to it seems does President Chen. Both have their loyal boosters.
§Chen opponents
by Robert B. Livingston Monday Jan 8th, 2007 8:44 PM
The San Francisco Chronicle said that they were outnumbered-- which was not clear to me.
§Faithful to Chen
by Robert B. Livingston Monday Jan 8th, 2007 8:44 PM
There appeared to be much animosity between the two groups of people greeting Chen's arrival in San Francisco. The police had to keep them apart.
§Chen supporter carries flags and banners
by Robert B. Livingston Monday Jan 8th, 2007 8:44 PM
§An opponent's red signs say "Fish-- Shame"
by Robert B. Livingston Monday Jan 8th, 2007 8:44 PM
§Chen cannot escape his critics
by Robert B. Livingston Monday Jan 8th, 2007 8:44 PM
§Ling-Chia Ku reports for KTSF Channel 26
by Robert B. Livingston Monday Jan 8th, 2007 8:44 PM
§Sponsors of protest against Chen
by Robert B. Livingston Monday Jan 8th, 2007 8:44 PM
§Self explanatory protest signs
by Robert B. Livingston Monday Jan 8th, 2007 8:44 PM
§Shouting to be heard
by Robert B. Livingston Monday Jan 8th, 2007 8:44 PM
§Leon Chow explains why Chen is not welcome in San Francisco
by Robert B. Livingston Monday Jan 8th, 2007 8:44 PM
§Mr. Chow's explanation
by Robert B. Livingston Monday Jan 8th, 2007 8:44 PM
Copy the code below to embed this movie into a web page:
§Wo kan bu qi ni
by Robert B. Livingston Monday Jan 8th, 2007 8:44 PM
"I despise you Chen Shui-bian!"
§Protesters' Statement in Chinese and English
by Robert B. Livingston Monday Jan 8th, 2007 8:44 PM

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by anon
Wednesday Jan 10th, 2007 4:21 AM
Presidential corruption is an excuse for the Chinese nationalists to deny national sovereignty for Taiwanese nationalists. All presidents all over the world are corrupt--
Since the February 28th, 1947 massacre of Taiwanese protestors by the Chinese capitalist KMT party (who were driven out of China to Taiwan by Mao) the issue has been independence. If you're interested, there's lots of information online about that protest. The KMT then ruled Taiwan for the larger part of the last century until Chen Shui-bian was elected. Since then Shui-bian has legalized the Taiwanese language and independent news institutions. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe he or any president is the answer for liberation-- liberatory struggle is collective and grassroots-- but I also think that accusing him of corruption obscures the history of Chinese imperalism in Taiwan.
Chen Shui-bian for many represents national liberation-- but for me he also represents free-trade capitalism in East Asia. We have to be able to understand that seemingly contradictory dynamic of independence and neoliberalism-- we have to be able to fight neoliberalism while also supporting struggles for national autonomy and dignity. Part of the reparations for 2/28 and the ensuing dictatorship of Chiang Kai Shek is national independnece. As radicals in the US I think we would be mistaken not to support in some capacity the social momentum in Taiwan towards reparations.
by Marcos
Wednesday Jan 10th, 2007 11:06 AM
Taiwan is a NATION! It's not part of China. If China takes over Taiwan then the Haka and other indigenous people of Taiwan will be slaughtered like the Tibetans and Uighur of China now are being slaughtered! The Taiwanese are free to look at whatever website/newspaper/magazine they want without the fear of TORTURE or ASSASSINATION. In China, this does not happen. Taiwan for the Taiwanese! China out of Taiwan now!!!!!
by Robert B. Livingston
(confetti [at] Monday Nov 17th, 2008 8:03 PM
news from Radio Taiwan:

November 17, 2008

Chen hospitalized for weakness and dehydration

After 5 days of a hunger strike while in detention for a corruption case, former president Chen Shui-bian was escorted to Taipei's Far Eastern Memorial Hospital for emergency care. Chen received an intravenous drip from doctors. He will be moved to Banciao's Taipei County Hospital for further observation.

Far Eastern Hospital's Chief of Emergency Medicine said that Chen is weak and dehydrated due to hunger, but he is in better shape than when he was hospitalized the day before.

Chen has been fasting to protest his arrest, which he claims is to appease China. Chen is an advocate of independence for Taiwan while Taiwan's president has been forging closer economic ties with China.

Chen has been detained in relation to corruption charges that include money laundering and embezzlement. Chen had admitted wiring 20 million US dollars in leftover campaign funds overseas, but denied money laundering. He has been detained so that he may not collude with other suspects.

Former Taiwanese president indicted for embezzlement
By John Chan
11 July 2011

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