Taiwan Occupation Turns Into ‘Sunflower Revolution’A look at why Taiwan’s occupation movement is evolving into something greater.
Students rally outside the Legislature in support of the protestors inside.
Photo Credit: BLOOMBERG
An occupation of the Taiwanese parliament is now in its second week as student protestors prepared Tuesday to meet President Ma Ying-jeou to demand he put the breaks on a trade agreement with China which they say would devastate Taiwanese workers and small businesses while threatening the island’s national identity.
“This morning we received notice that the president is willing to meet with us to discuss our demands,” student leader Chen Wei-ting told Occupy.com early on Tuesday. “We, along with the civic organizations here, have agreed to the talks. We are cautiously optimistic that the president is willing to substantively address our demands.”
However, later Tuesday, following the breakdown of bipartisan talks hosted by Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, the president’s meeting with student leaders was suddenly suspended.
Photo credit: ap
“Our demands require the consensus of the legislature to proceed,” said activist Jiho Chang. Now, “the latest breakdown suggest to us that the meeting with Ma will be used as a propaganda weapon against us.
“Furthermore, the presidential spokesperson had failed to discuss with us the time, location or format of the meeting with us,” said Chang, and thus “the discussion would have been on their terms, according to their agenda. This is something we cannot accept.”
Around 200 protestors forced their wayinto the Legislative Yuan in Taipei lastweek after the ruling Kuomintang party (KMT) attempted to push through the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA) with China, bypassing a previously agreed item-by-item review of the bill.
Critics say that competition from big Chinese businesses, which would be free to invest in Taiwan under the terms of the agreement, will crush smaller businesses that make up most of Taiwan’s largely service-based economy.
Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao, director of the Institute of Sociology at the Academia Sinica in Taipei, told Occupy.com, “There are groups [in Taiwan] who will benefit from this trade pact, big business and especially the financial sector [who] want to open their banking operations in China. But who loses? The majority of the public.”
There are also concerns that the deal could see Chinese companies take control of Taiwan’s Internet and telecommunications networks, as well publishing, book distribution, and cinemas.
Ruby Russell is a freelance reporter for the Washington Times.