Justin Yifu Lin, apparently soon to be named the World Bank’s chief economist, has one of the strangest CVs you could imagine. Lin was born in Taiwan but in 1979 while serving in the Taiwanese army he defected to China by swimming from the island of Kinmen in Taiwan to Xiamen in China. Embarrassed by the defection of a rising star, the Taiwanese army listed him as missing. Lin left behind a wife and children who (it seems) didn’t know what had happened to him.
Lin rose quickly in China receiving a Master’s degree in Marxist political economy from Peking University in 1982 and in 1986 a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago
(!). According to the Taipei Times, Lin’s wife learned that Lin was alive while he was in the United States and they were reunited in the U.S. where she also earned a graduate degree before both returned to China. Lin has since become a well-published economist.
I see movie.
Addendum: Tyler also covers this further below.