Taiwan is being rocked

Taiwan is being rocked by a big-time slush fund scandal. Is the scandal about to hit the Bush administration too?

For the last week or more, Taiwan has been in the throes of the early stages of a major, perhaps a watershed, political scandal.

Here’s the essence of it: the Taiwanese government had a slush fund — operated through part of the state security apparatus — which the Taiwanese leadership used to pay off, support, and assist friends and allies in other countries who were friendly to Taiwan. Oh, and also for overseas lobbying and espionage.

The existence of these funds is hardly a surprise to those familiar with Taiwanese politics. But last week a collection of documents relating to the slush fund were leaked to the Taiwan press. And that’s when, well … that’s when the you-know-what hit the fan.

The government of President Chen Shui-bian reacted by seizing copies of one magazine which was publishing the documents and banning the publication of a newspaper which reported the story. Protecting national security has been the justification for these actions. And charges of treason are even a possibility.

All of this may be only a matter of passing concern unless you’re a devotee of Taiwanese politics. But the scandal is now spilling over onto several senior political appointees in the Bush administration. And, truth be told, it could reach quite a bit further into the American political system.

The Bush administration connection coming later tonight …