Taiwan’s former president has gone on trial, accused of corruption and embezzlement during his time in office. Chen Shui-bian is staunchly anti-China, and accuses his detractors of launching a politically-motivated action, possibly with Beijing’s support. He is alleged to have pocketed millions in bribes and kickbacks on property deals between 2000 and 2008. His wife, son and daughter-in-law have already admitted partial guilt in the case.
Chen made the pursuit of formal independence for Taiwan the hallmark of his presidency, annoying China and upsetting the island’s main ally, the United States. China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since Mao’s communists won the 1949 civil war, and Chaing Kai-shek’s nationalists fled to the island. Beijing has threatened to use force to re-take Taiwan if necessary.