More on Chen's similarity/difference to Bush
From the LA Times
Chen was born in late 1950 to impoverished tenant farmers in southern Taiwan. But his parents delayed recording his birth, so his official birthday is Feb. 18, 1951.
Poverty was a fact of life. In one story, Chen recalls his mother putting him in a hole for the day as she worked in the fields to ensure that he didn't get into trouble.
Chen was driven and persistent, graduating first in his class in elementary school and in junior and senior high. Former classmate Hsu Tain-tsair, now mayor of Tainan, recalls getting a higher mark than Chen on a test when they were 16. Chen refused to speak to Shu for weeks until he'd outscored him in the next test.
Chen took the national bar exam as a junior in college, passing with the highest score to become Taiwan's then-youngest attorney. He specialized in maritime law and helped defend pro-democracy dissidents who were challenging the ruling Nationalists.
He hit a personal low in 1985 when his wife was hit by a tractor before his eyes and paralyzed, said Chen Shio-shu, 43, his niece. Many suspected it was a plot to kill him. Colleagues say this experience strengthened his belief that he could only trust himself and his inner circle.