Students occupying Taiwan government take to Reddit AMA
The Sunflower Movement of students occupying Taiwan's national assembly have explained their goals in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session.
Led by 25-year-old Lin Fei-Fan and 24-year-old Chen Wei-ting, protesters known as the Sunflower Movement survived early eviction attempts and have organised a peaceful occupation in the legislature building, complete with recycling bins and cameras broadcasting a live feed on Ustream.
Taking to Reddit, protest leaders laid out their objections to the trade deal, balancing cost-benefit figures of local GDP against economic and social independence from China, and registering general dissatisfaction with the government.
"You guys are so brave," says one Redditt user. "I'm a student and I couldn't even imagine overtaking a Taco Bell." Protestor Oliver Chen replies, "Ask most of us here a couple of months ago, and we would have probably said the same."
"But one day you realize that if you aren't willing to stand up for your country now, there might never be another chance. That's a pretty sobering thought."
文章連結 - http://www.cnet.com/news/students-occupying-taiwan-government-take-to-reddit-ama/
Protests Won’t Undermine Taiwan’s Reputation
Claims that the Sunflower Movement will hurt Taiwan’s ability to join regional trade pacts are misguided.
In fact, states do often renegotiate treaties and usually there is a mechanism for such a procedure embedded in the treaty. The consequences are rarely as grave as is now being claimed. Ireland did not became an international outcast when it failed to approve the Lisbon treaty in a 2008 referendum and the Nice treaty in a 2001 referendum. In both cases, negotiations were opened again, changes were made and both treaties eventually entered into force.
In addition, the argument can be made that other democracies do understand the complexity of the ratification process, especially when it comes to free trade (or free trade-like) agreements. It is also likely that other governments would recognize that agreements with China are different than Taiwan’s dealings with other governments. The United States would hardly stop promoting Taiwan’s Trans-Pacific Partnership membership just because Taipei failed to ratify the CSSTA with China, nor would the failure to ratify the treaty deter Japan from entering into negotiations with Taiwan. In other words, Taiwan’s deals with China are not a reliable benchmark for measuring Taiwan’s reputation. It is hard to think that Taiwan’s partners are not aware of this.
Naturally, Beijing would hardly be pleased if CSSTA were ratified with some major changes. Likewise, it is certainly not pleased by the emergence of a civic movement that crosses party lines and aspires to hold the government accountable. This is especially true because Taiwan’s movement appears to be seen as a model in the increasingly restive Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which Beijing is already struggling to control. If (and only if) the Sunflower Movement succeeds in pushing CSSTA back to the negotiation table, Beijing will face a certain dilemma: if it appears to retaliate, it will only confirm that protesters were right to suspect sinister intentions. Moreover, any future arrangement between Taipei and Beijing will be under very close public scrutiny. Maybe it is, after all, a better option for Ma (and Beijing) to appease public opposition and return to the negotiation table.
本文節錄自日本《The Diplomat 外交官》雜誌 (報導亞太區域趨勢前線的國際時事)
文章連結 - http://thediplomat.com/2014/04/protests-wont-undermine-taiwans-reputation/
Manning the trade barriers
Students occupy Taiwan’s legislature in protest against a free-trade pact with China
TAIWAN’S Legislative Yuan, the island’s parliament, is used to rumbustious scenes. But the occupation since March 18th of its main chamber by protesting students is unprecedented in the country’s nearly two decades of full democracy. The demonstrators, whose actions took many by surprise, want the government to scrap an agreement with China that would allow freer trade in services across the Taiwan Strait. They have displayed a large cartoon of President Ma Ying-jeou in the debating hall, portraying him as a Chinese pawn. The president is at the nadir of his popularity, while China struggles to win over public opinion in Taiwan. Signs of public sympathy with the students are growing.
The past few months have been particularly tough for Mr Ma, now nearly halfway through his second and final four-year term as president. In September he tried to expel a political rival in the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), Wang Jin-pyng, the legislature’s speaker, for alleged influence-peddling. But the move only served to highlight disunity within his party. On March 19th, a day after the students stormed into the legislature, a court in Taipei ruled in Mr Wang’s favour, allowing him to keep his party membership and thus his job. It was another embarrassment for the president, whom critics attempt to portray as an aloof patrician with an autocratic streak.
The agreement his government reached with China last June on removing barriers to cross-strait trade in services such as banking, e-commerce and health care is at the heart of many of Mr Ma’s image problems. Mr Ma sees the pact as a reward for the more conciliatory approach to China that he has adopted since he became president. The students occupying the legislature, as well as opposition parties who back them, claim that the trade deal will lead to an influx of Chinese businesses that will overwhelm Taiwanese competitors, threaten basic freedoms in areas such as publishing, and employ cheap mainland labour rather than Taiwanese. They accuse Mr Ma’s government of being overly secretive in negotiating its terms.
Three days after the students began their occupation, Mr Ma argued that failure by the legislature to approve the agreement “could have serious consequences” (see Banyan). Going back on the deal, he said, could result in Taiwan being “regarded as an unreliable trade partner” by China as well other countries with which the island wants to negotiate free-trade pacts. He denied the agreement would open Taiwan’s job market to Chinese workers and said the government would reimpose barriers if national security were ever at risk.
These arguments appear to convince neither the students nor many members of the public. Thousands have shown support for the occupation by rallying outside the building. A poll conducted on March 20th-21st by TVBS, a broadcaster often regarded as sympathetic to the KMT, found that nearly half of respondents supported the students’ action and opposed the trade pact. Only a fifth were in favour of the deal.
On March 23rd hundreds of students broke into the Taipei compound of the central government, and some used ladders to enter the offices. Police evicted them a few hours later using water cannon and batons in an operation that left dozens injured. Another TVBS poll found much less public support for this action by the students, though support for the continuing occupation of parliament remained high.
In parts of Asia students are seen to embody a country’s moral conscience. Mr Ma is careful not to condemn them outright.
China, meanwhile, tries to sound unperturbed by the commotion in Taipei. Global Times, a Beijing newspaper, called the student action a “typical piece of theatre”. Mr Ma, however, acknowledges that the problem is bigger. “Domestically,“ he says, “we have not yet reached a significant consensus on how we want to develop our relations with mainland China.” After six years of trying, Mr Ma can claim too little progress on this.
文章連結 - http://goo.gl/bu2qC5
Taiwan’s “Occupy” Movement Teeters between Peace and Violence
By Sandra Upson
In the biggest student-led protest in Taiwan’s history, an estimated 10,000 people have surrounded government buildings in Taipei in opposition to an impending trade deal with mainland China. The movement began spontaneously, when hundreds of protestors seized control of Taiwan’s main legislative building last Tuesday night. On Sunday evening the clashes escalated, with several dozen people injured in skirmishes between police and activists who had stormed the Executive Yuan, which houses the Cabinet.
Yet when I visited the protests on Saturday, I was struck by the extraordinary civility and peacefulness on display. The students, professors and other supporters sat in neat rows in the streets flanking the occupied legislative building. Many attendees carried sunflowers, a salute to the event’s nickname, the Sunflower Movement.
Protesters here are objecting to a move by Taiwan’s leading party to skip an itemized review of the trade agreement, as had been promised. The new pact would open up Taiwan’s service sector to Chinese investment, raising fears that the mainland will increase its leverage over the island. Businesses in the service sector make up almost 70 percent of Taiwan’s economy. Some protesters oppose the pact entirely, whereas others object to the way the government is pushing it forward without a public review.
The deal comes on the heels of a half-decade of warming relations between the Taiwanese government and mainland China. Only in 2008 did Taiwan begin to allow direct travel, trade and postal connections with China. Previously, all such links were routed through a third party, often Hong Kong. To get just a taste of Taiwan’s historically fierce protection of its sovereignty from China, consider that it only permits ten mainland films to be released in the island per year, a quota applied exclusively to its neighbor across the strait. This trade agreement will likely increase that figure.
On Saturday, the thousands upon thousands of young Taiwanese people sitting in the streets were quiet and friendly. Volunteers amiably but firmly kept walkways clear around the site. Upon exiting a port-a-potty, you could expect to find a volunteer offering to pour bottled water over your hands. Nearby businesses offered free snacks.
Protesters who had entered the legislative building were sitting on its roof and peering out its windows. Police maintained a very low profile—the most visible presence was at the Executive Yuan, around the corner, where several tiers of barbed wire stood between the police and pedestrians. Thorny fencing also guarded parts of the legislative building, but to less effect. Here, protestors had wrapped cushioning around the sharp edges and tucked sunflowers between its wires.