After a yearlong development of Bo Xilai’s political crisis, his drama finally came to an end with life imprisonment at trial in China. Such result does not surprise any Chinese because it is the corollary of the political struggle under the communist system. Interestingly, Chen Shui Bian, Taiwan’s ex-president, shares many similarities with Bo even though they are politicians under two different political regimes.

After a yearlong development of Bo Xilai’s political crisis, his drama finally came to an end with life imprisonment at trial in China. Such result does not surprise any Chinese because it is the corollary of the political struggle under the communist system. Interestingly, Chen Shui Bian, Taiwan’s ex-president, shares many similarities with Bo even though they are politicians under two different political regimes.

Bo and Chen once were the most promising politicians because they had great and solid support from people. Such success did not come out of blue, but out of their strategic manipulation of the mass campaign and populist backlash.

Nothing apparently lasts forever in the political world. Both of them respectively encountered their hurdles; therefore, losing their positions in the game of politics. In the last chapter of their political careers, they both were charged and convicted, among other counts, with bribery and were sentenced at least 20 years.

However, Bo and Chen hardly give up under such circumstance because of, possibly, their virtue of persistence. Knowing the likelihood of winning the litigation was low, Bo still filed an appeal, seeking any possible chances to overturn his ruling from the trial court.

Similarly, realizing the justice system is not in favor of him because of the substantive and valid evidence, Chen attempted to make unreasonable requests with extreme means (i.e. committing suicide or claiming mental distraught because of the treatment in jail), hoping to get out of the jail as early as possible.

The reason why they are punished with jail time seems self-explanatory—the crime of bribery. However, the judicial system in China and Taiwan is not a simple concept when it involves with politics. The idea that politics heavily intertwines, and therefore complicates, the justice system still exists until nowadays. What happened to Bo and Chen was the result of losing the political battle. Consequently, losing the shield from their prior power in which they would otherwise easily get away with the charge.

Judicial system is supposedly an independent agency. Unfortunately, the system is still not clearly severed from politics, as we see from the examples of Bo and Chen.


Emily Hsu holds a Master Degree in Political Science from University of California, Santa Barbara. She is interested in interaction between nations, organizations, and people within the political arena.

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