Chen Shui-bian (Chinese: 陳水扁; pinyin: Chén Shuǐbiǎn; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tân Chúi-píⁿ; born 12 October 1950) is a retired Taiwanese politician and lawyer who served as President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) from 2000 to 2008. Chen is the first president from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which ended the Kuomintang’s (KMT) 55 years of continuous rule in Taiwan. He is colloquially referred to as A-Bian (阿扁, 阿扁仔; Ābiǎn; A-píⁿ-à).
A lawyer, Chen entered politics in 1980 during the Kaohsiung Incident as a member of the Tangwai movement and was elected to the Taipei City Council in 1981. He was jailed in 1985 for libel as the editor of the weekly pro-democracy magazine Neo-Formosa, following publication of an article critical of Elmer Fung, a college philosophy professor who was later elected a Kuomintang legislator. After being released, Chen helped found the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 1986 and was elected a member of the Legislative Yuan in 1989, and Mayor of Taipei in 1994.
Chen won the 2000 presidential election on March 18 with 39% of the vote as a result of a split of factions within the Kuomintang, when James Soong ran for the presidency as an independent against the party nominee Lien Chan, becoming the first non-member of the Kuomintang to hold the office of president. Although Chen received high approval ratings during the first few weeks of his term, his popularity sharply dropped due to alleged corruption within his administration and the inability to pass legislation against the opposition KMT, who controlled the Legislative Yuan. In 2004, he won reelection by a narrow margin after surviving a shooting while campaigning the day before the election. Opponents suspected him of staging the incident for political purposes. However, the case was officially closed in 2005 with all evidence pointing to a single deceased suspect, Chen Yi-hsiung.
In 2009, Chen and his wife Wu Shu-chen were convicted on two bribery charges. Chen was sentenced to 19 years in Taipei Prison, reduced from a life sentence on appeal, but was granted medical parole on January 5, 2015. Since then, Chen has been de facto released, but he is still prohibited from public speaking under the guise of “undergoing medical treatment.” Chen’s supporters have insisted that his trial and sentencing was politically-motivated retribution by the Kuomintang for his years in power.