The Corner

A New Formosa Crisis?

Things look bad in Taiwan. Former president (2000-2008) Chen Shui-bian has been arrested on corruption charges by the government of his successor (since May this year), Ma Ying-jeou. Chen was pro-autonomy; Ma is much keener on “cross-strait relations.” Chen’s arrest comes after some ugly scenes last week during a visit to the island by a ChiCom flunky, in aid of further “improving cross-strait relations.” There were public protests, dealt with very brutally by the police.

On the corruption charges: I wouldn’t be surprised, though the administration has acted very high-handedly in making evidence known, and in its treatment of Chen. He was for example manacled, quite unnecessarily. (See this editorial from today’s Taipei Times.) But then, “un-corrupt Taiwan politician” is pretty much an oxymoron, and I doubt Ma’s affairs would bear very close scrutiny. His party is the KMT, after all — the party, that is, of the late Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, know in his time to American newspapermen as “General Cash My Check.” What’s going on here is the criminalization of politics; and if the ChiComs don’t have a hand in it somewhere, then their Intelligence and Covert Ops people are not doing what their employers pay them to do.

With the Olympic games out of the way, and an unknown quantity in the White House, the ChiComs might have it in mind to make a move against Taiwan. That Ma would be a willing cat’s paw in their scheme, I doubt; but he might be an un-willing one. It doesn’t help a bit that Taiwan is in dire economic, er, straits.

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

Most Popular


In Defense of Coleman Hughes

Picture the scene: A young man walks into a congressional hearing to offer witness testimony. His grandfather was barbarically brutalized by people who are now long dead. The nation in which he resides built its wealth of his grandfather’s brutalization. The question: Should his fellow citizens pay the young ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Making Sense of the Iran Chaos

One would prefer that correct decisions be made according to careful, deliberate plan. But a correct decision made impulsively, through a troubling process, is still nonetheless correct, and so it is with Donald Trump’s decision to refrain from military action against Iran. The proposed strike would represent a ... Read More

College Leaders Should Learn from Oberlin

Thanks to their social-justice warrior mindset, the leaders of Oberlin College have caused an Ohio jury to hit it with $44 million in compensatory and punitive damages in a case where the school couldn't resist the urge to side with its “woke” students against a local business. College leaders should learn ... Read More
Film & TV

Toy Story 4: A National Anthem

The Toy Story franchise is the closest thing we have to an undisputed national anthem, a popular belief that celebrates what we think we all stand for — cooperation, ingenuity, and simple values, such as perpetual hope. This fact of our infantile, desensitized culture became apparent back in 2010 when I took a ... Read More

Joe and the Segs

Joe Biden has stepped in it, good and deep. Biden, if he has any hope of ever being elected president, will be dependent on residual goodwill among African Americans from his time as Barack Obama’s loyal and deferential vice president — so deferential, in fact, that he stood aside for Herself in 2016 even ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Madcap Caution of Donald Trump

The worry last week was that the Trump administration was ginning up fake intelligence about Iran blowing up oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz to justify a war against Iran. Then, this week, President Donald Trump said the Iranian attacks weren’t a big deal. The episode is another indication of the ... Read More