Citizen occupation of Taiwan legislature and its global significance

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ilha formosa
Citizen occupation of Taiwan legislature and its global significance

Quote:
The unprecedented student occupation of Taiwan's parliament this month, to oppose the government's attempt to pass a controversial trade agreement with China, is not just a one-off protest...In a statement, they said: "We will not waver. Against an undemocratic and autocratic government, we stand strong and we stand united."

It is safe to assume that Beijing, which still claims the island as a province to be reunified one day, is watching nervously.

What unprecedented protest means for Taiwan, BBC News, Taipei  26 March 2014

 

WillC

Thanks for the link, and your perspective. I had paid scant attention to this incident with all that's going on elsewhere, and it seems that, in spite of what some people say, social media is helping.

ilha formosa

And thank you. Social media is indeed helping. The use of Facebook is high in Taiwan, and there is a live stream from inside the student+citizen-occupied legislative chamber here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/longsoneng?rma.

Student leaders have called for a large rally in central Taipei on Sunday, March 30. They have strongly and repeatedly emphasized peaceful, non-violent protest. Anyone not protesting peacefully is not associated with this movement:

Quote:
Statement from student leader Lin Fei-fan

I must repeat my emphasis: The march on March 30 must be conducted with peace and nonviolence as its highest guiding principles. We will not move barricades, we will not scuffle with the police, we will not throw any objects. We will not tolerate any actions that go against these principles!

Peaceful and nonviolent civil disobedience is justified! We also call on the Ma government to refrain from using tactics during the march to escalate the conflict!

The people embrace peace; the people are not mobs! The protest is necessary, because the administration is illegitimate and refuses to face the people.

Let us make March 30 a joyous occasion, a day when we the people can embrace our victory!

from "Taiwan Voice" on Facebook, Mar. 28

ilha formosa

Taiwan's parliament/legislative chamber (the Legislative Yuan, LY) has now been occupied for over 11 days. The accompanying around the clock sit-in surrounding the block has been overwhelmingly, if not 100%, peaceful.

Leaders have gone lengths to keep the encampment organized, orderly, clean and safe. Volunteers are directing foot traffic and keeping emergency access routes clear. The streets to the north and south of the LY are occupied predominantly but not exclusively by students, sitting in marked-out areas using cardboard as mats, reading, studying, listening to speeches or live music, or partaking in small group discussions. There is an area for the public to make art, while documentaries and other presentations are being shown on two large screens that have been set up. There is abundant donated food and water, medical volunteers staff numerous first aid stations, and fire extinguishers have even been stationed around the site.

In a more narrow area on the west side of the block, by busy Chung Shan Road, stools and tents have been set up for older folks, such as those who lived through the White Terror period of martial law, to have their open mic. (For some in-depth reading on this see Formosa Betrayed, not the movie but the book written by US diplomat George Kerr, available online at the link provided.) On the east side of the block are residences and businesses, and also a small access alley that has been left relatively unblocked, though students sit in a lot nearby ready to occupy the alley if needed. This spot looks like the quiet study area.

The front entrance, driveway and small parking lot at the north of the LY block is densely student-occupied. There is an almost festive atmosphere at this spot, and one can take it all in like a sight-seer at a living history museum.

A volunteer channels foot traffic through the “entrance only” half of the driveway gate, and once inside more volunteers exhort people to keep moving along in one direction so as to not clog up the path that winds through the young crowds seated on either side of the occupied parking lot. One passes the student-controlled series of ladders leading to second and third floor windows that mark one path occupiers took to get in to the chamber. Posters hang from the building, but the upside-down Taiwan flags that were flying early in the occupation have been removed. Small contingents of lightly equipped police tranquilly stand at the ground floor entrance and behind their plastic shields along other lines, making the scene look like a fairly civil border dispute awaiting resolution. Police talk to opposition party legislators, who have been assisting with the LY occupation. You can keep going (please move along) and leave the parking lot through the “exit only,” or you can take up a spot on cardboard or a grassy area and do some sitting-in.

The block around the LY must have thousands of unique visitors going through it every day. Most I presume are supportive, many leaving with the headbands and other protest paraphernalia from the site.

ilha formosa

The legislative chamber, or LY, mentioned above is not to be confused with the cabinet offices (Executive Yuan, EY) located one block away, which were stormed and temporarily occupied before riot police with shields, batons, body armor and water cannons moved in. Police actions caused several injuries to peaceful protesters during that incident on March 23-24. Police also aimed a water cannon on at least one camera man and his expensive equipment, and have been condemned by the International Federation of Journalists for obstructing press freedoms:

"Journalists Obstructed as Police Use Force at Taiwan Student Demonstration" (at EY on Mar. 23-24).

Classified as a "flawed democracy" by the Economist Intelligence Unit, this generation of protesters knows which direction they want Taiwan to take. Taiwan will most definitely not build upon its hard-won democratic gains by sheepishly allowing an obscure trade agreement (covering media among other things) with its massive and totalitarian neighbor to be forced through without scrutiny.

ilha formosa

The global significance of this movement, dubbed the "Sunflower Movement," in a nutshell:

It’s like any other movement towards greater respect for human rights and against exploitative rule by the few. But it is also occurring inside, for lack of a better term, the so-called “Greater China” region. A setback to Taiwan’s democratic progress is a setback to the advancement of human rights in the entire area.

The desire for greater citizen rights in China was not crushed in 1989. Democratization activist Liu Xiaobo, flaws in his thinking notwithstanding, was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize but languishes in prison because his ideas are considered a danger to someone. In 2012 the villagers of Wukan were overjoyed with a meager scrap of democracy granted to them. Ordinary people in China are keenly interested in Taiwan elections.

China is communist in name only. Hong Kong is now feeling the brunt of what being ruled by the oligarchic CCP means, and HK democracy activists look to Taiwan for inspiration.

Quote:
Hong Kongers have been turning their heartfelt aspirations toward the nation [Taiwan], because unlike Hong Kong, Taiwan is still able to govern itself and remains a democracy. This “Taiwan craze” has many aspects…Beijing is worried about Taipei’s relationship with Hong Kong moving from business and trade to politics.

One blogger lays out the issue at hand:

Quote:
...[President] Ma and the KMT have cloaked their sellout in neoliberal trade and political science rhetoric. By doing so, they can get others to forward their propaganda for them, since these ideas are widely subscribed to in the media and academia...the logic of this argument runs like this: let's [email protected] the 99% so that Taiwan can look "credible" when its 1% sits down and makes big business sellout trade deals with the 1% of other countries. That's neoliberal logic at its finest: the world's nations are so many game preserves and ATMs for the 1%…

ilha formosa

A well-done video taken at the north side of the Legislative Yuan building: http://vimeo.com/89782511

Satish Kumar of Schumacher College happened to be in Taiwan and spoke at the demonstrations:
http://satish-taiwan.blogspot.tw/2014/03/satish-kumar_1647.html

Quote:
[Taiwan] is facing a constitutional crisis brought about by “an unchecked executive power and a legislative power kidnapped by [Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)] discipline and [our] electoral system, which is unresponsive to public opinion.”

ilha formosa

If you were the editor of a publication that claims to be a serious national newspaper such as the Globe and Mail, which story would you bump from the top headlines on the internet version? Choose one of the three.

Former ‘Dynasty’ star passes away at age 74

Robin Thicke cancels appearance at Juno Awards

Estimated 500,000 pack central Taipei to protest trade pact with China

ilha formosa

"My country is the world, my countrymen are mankind." -William Lloyd Garrison

Canada's two so-called national papers seem to be outright ignoring this story. Other publications are under-reporting the size of the Mar. 30 mass demonstration, but at least they have acknowledged something is going on in Taiwan. How do you get photos up on babble? I and about 500,000 fellow witnesses can attest they are not photoshopped.

wall street journal
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1000142405270230397830457947055248...

new york times
http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/large-crowds-fill-taipei-...

usa today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/03/30/taiwan-china-trade-d...

bbc  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-26809066

guardian
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/25/taiwans-protesters-...

al jazeera (with AFP)
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2014/03/thousands-taiwanese-p...

bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-30/taiwan-students-to-march-today-...

foreign policy
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/03/21/china_we_fear_you_taiwa...

the economist
http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21599807-students-occupy-taiwans-legi...

Student Leader’s speech at the rally, subtitled - more informative than the above
https://www.dropbox.com/s/bwzvuhnwrkqe7tp/330_%E9%99%B3%E7%82%BA%E5%BB%B...

ilha formosa

Threats and potential for violence instigated by a gangster with CCP ties, as reported by a former intelligence officer for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service:

Quote:
...everybody knows that [known gangster Chang An-le, the 'White Wolf] is a proxy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and that he has brought back to Taiwan practices of terror and intimidation that are sadly commonplace in China. United Front efforts aside (China watchers are well aware of the role of organized crime in Beijing’s United Front work), the White Wolf’s involvement in politics is a threat to social stability and national security. Not only do his actions put the lives of young Taiwanese at risk, they also pose a threat to the police officers that are currently deployed at the LY. The responsibility for any resulting injuries to the students or police officers would rest squarely on the shoulders of the Ma administration that should long ago have dealt with Chang’s return the proper way. Until the situation changes, we can only conclude that Ma’s failure to deal with Chang, and the National Police Administration’s turning a blind eye to his nefarious activities, are the result of a decision to allow organized crime to do the administration’s dirty work.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Taiwan Protests Swell To Hundreds of Thousands As People Reject China Deal

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered in the streets around Taiwan's Parliament on Sunday to voice their opposition to a trade pact with China, part of a nearly 2-week-old protest that is challenging the president's policy of moving the democratic island economically closer to China.

Lin Fei-fan, a protest organizer, estimated that 500,000 people had turned out in the biggest demonstration since the movement started. An Associated Press estimate put the number at more than 200,000, and a police estimate at more than 100,000.

Crowds dressed in black sat on one blocked boulevard, many carrying plastic or real sunflowers, the symbol of the protest movement, and wearing yellow ribbons that read "Fight for democracy, retract the service trade pact."

Several hundred mainly student protesters have been occupying Taiwan's legislature since March 18, supported by thousands outside the building.

They are protesting President Ma Ying-jeou's intention to enact a trade deal that would allow Taiwanese and Chinese service sector companies in businesses ranging from banking to beauty parlors to open up branches or shops in the other's territory....

http://www.occupy.com/article/taiwan-protests-swell-hundreds-thousands-p...

ilha formosa

Thanks for the post and photo epaulo. There were enough people to fill the Rose Bowl more than five times; the photo above shows not even a quarter of the demonstration. The crowds were dense; 2% of the island's population was demonstrating on the streets of Taipei on Mar. 30. From FB site 'Taiwan Voice' 2014/03/31:

Quote:

Reflections on the Rally

Even with 500,000 protesters on the street, I felt safe. Even better, a sense of hope returned, which had once been quashed on March 23 by the violent eviction at the Executive Yuan.

What I saw at the protest was the character of the Taiwanese. In three short days, they gathered together and showed their support by participating in the rally, swarming to 500,000 people. At the protest, the demonstrators were peaceful, sitting around and exchanging ideas on the CSSTA [Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement] and on the bill proposed by the student protesters occupying the legislative Yuan.

I saw passion. People were offering free carpooling, food, drink, and other supplies were passed around to one another, live music filled the streets -- all sponsored by passionate anonymous Taiwanese citizens.

I saw civility. We, Taiwanese, were able to host a rally of up to 500,000 participants but still be able to move things around, save space for emergency workers, even dissipate in just an hour at the end of the protest, leaving no trash on the ground behind us.

This is my homeland. These are the reasons I will never give democratic Taiwan up in exchange for some black box business trade agreement. If there is only one thing that outweighs money, it is Taiwan. Not for sale.

The sit-in around the legislature continued afterwards. Shown on screens set up around the block was the 2012 movie 'No' depicting the referendum that led to the downfall of Pinochet.

ilha formosa

Quote:

...if CNN, for instance, can fly reporters back and forth across Asia dozens of times to cover the missing flight 370, you'd think they could manage at least a couple short hops from Hong Kong to cover the biggest political shakeup in Taiwan in decades.

Why is the current crisis in Taiwan important? Several reasons.

First, contrary to how it's usually depicted in Western media, Taiwan is not just a "city" or "small island". By population Taiwan is larger than Australia. Consider what that means...

More important than population, however, or at least what should be important from a Western perspective: Taiwan is a vibrant multiparty democracy built by a culture that is largely Chinese. This is unique in the world. And this democracy is now under siege.

ilha formosa

A gangster and paid hoodlums showed up at the still-occupied legislature to try and intimidate protesters. Regardless of how the very biased Taiwan media reports this misadventure, it is apparent that such tactics are fading into the past, especially against the world-wise young activists now rising.

Quote:

Enter the past, which manifested itself on April 1 with a counter-protest organized by Chang An-le, or “White Wolf,” a gangster who returned to Taiwan in June 2013 after seventeen years in exile. Chang, leader of the Unification Party, is believed by many to be an instrument of United Front work for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who tirelessly advocates for “peaceful unification” under the “one country, two systems” model used for Hong Kong — a model that is failing to work in the former British colony, as is increasingly evident.

Since his release on bail on the day of his arrival, Chang has appeared on TV talk shows (where he fared rather poorly), opened campaign offices nationwide, and has announced his interest in fielding candidates in future elections, with himself as a possibility for the 2016 presidential election. Besides playing the politician, Chang has also turned to the old practices of the Bamboo Union triad, which he reportedly once headed, to threaten and intimidate various sectors of society, including NGOs, a city mayor, and the Dalai Lama.

...the successful occupation of the legislature and the unruly riposte by the underworld should dispel any notion that the unification of Taiwan with China on non-coercive terms is still an option. Future Taiwanese leaders, many of whom are currently inside the legislature, have made it clear that they will not countenance the silent takeover of their country and its hard-won democracy. If President Ma cannot force a simple services trade pact upon his people over fears of its political consequences, we can only imagine what the reaction would be if he, or whoever comes after him, tried to enter into political negotiations with Beijing.

ilha formosa

This story is not a small hiccup on the world stage, but I am resigned to the fact that Canadian media are ignoring it altogether.

Western countries in general are kow-towing to the CCP, and Canada even more so. Reasons?

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Inside Taiwan's Sunflower Movement – Where Asia's Largest Student Uprising Is Blooming

quote:

Inside an Occupation

Yanghua and I quickly discovered that we had more than a few things in common. We had attended the same school and spoke the same languages, but above all we both belonged to a motley second wave of people that entered the barricaded interior of the building. Finding a way inside the occupied Parliament was not obvious, and not without risk for a foreign passport holder. 

By the time I entered, the central building was loosely guarded by an emerging system of student security teams and patient, though confused police. Some sympathetic opposition legislators, who were still afforded the legal right to bring in people they claimed as their assistants, were also present. In fact, the legislators who showed up and began serving in shifts were themselves veterans of past Taiwanese democratic and feminist movements. Respecting the will of the younger generation, they helped people come and go as needed. Some other legislators I saw drop by to take selfies in the increasingly festive main hall, then made a rapid exit as Taiwan’s paparazzi media chased after them.

Members of key civic groups soon entered, including ad hoc volunteer medical and legal teams, as well as food supply and technical support crews led by students. Though he had nothing to do with starting the protests, order was maintained by Parliament speaker Wang Jin-Pyng, who rejected Ma’s request to evict the occupiers.

Meanwhile, the scene outside the Legislature filled with sophisticated participation from new student and civic groups, including food distribution networks that provided blankets and raincoats for the bitter weather on Wednesday and Thursday nights; mobile recharging and wifi access centers, and free speech zones. Professors from across Taiwan held outdoor classes in the streets surrounding the Legislature....

http://www.occupy.com/article/inside-taiwans-sunflower-movement-%E2%80%9...

cco

ilha formosa wrote:

Western countries in general are kow-towing to the CCP, and Canada even more so. Reasons?

An interesting interpretation. Knowing next to nothing about the situation, I had just assumed it was the same kind of media bias that leads to wall-to-wall coverage of riots in Kiev and radio silence about Bahrain, Greece, Honduras, and other "allied" countries -- with the KMT filling the role of "ally" here.

ilha formosa

By comparing photos of other events, I figure 350,000 is a conservative estimate of the number at the Mar. 30 protest in Taipei, while 500,000 is not an overblown estimate.

Quote:
Tiananmen [veteran] protest leaders Wang Dan and Wu’er Kaixi [who now live in Taiwan] entered the [LY] compound the second night to express their support for the students...

...Concerned about the trade pact’s implications not only for free speech in Taiwan, students [in general] express legitimate worry that the global media is also afraid of China’s economic might, and that they are being abandoned by a world which has chosen to turn an apathetic ear to their cries.

NDPP

What's Going on in Taiwan  -  by Peter Lee

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/02/whats-going-on-in-taiwan/

"The ineluctable drift of Taiwan outside of the PRC's political orbit, with a helping shove from Taiwan's DPP (Democratic Progressive Party), that's what's going on..."

ilha formosa

cco wrote:

I had just assumed it was the same kind of media bias that leads to wall-to-wall coverage of riots in Kiev and radio silence about Bahrain, Greece, Honduras, and other "allied" countries -- with the KMT filling the role of "ally" here.

Sure, with "allies" meaning those helping big capitalism. In Canadian media's case, there isn't even a peep about it, compared to the sampling of UK, US and international sources listed above. So it looks to me something extra is at play in Canada.

I am guessing there are 2 major levers that the CCP has on Canada: 1) tar sands investment 2) threats to back Quebec independence. Does anyone have thoughts on this?

ilha formosa

More comments on the Peter Lee article:

The CSSTA has not been examined closely by many people other than those who wrote it. I’ve heard that the terms open up investment by China entities anywhere in Taiwan, while it only opens up investment by Taiwan entities in Fujian province across the strait. Yes, this is but hearsay. If readers want more substantial details, they are not alone - as so do several million people in Taiwan (70% of 23 million in one poll). I strongly disagree with Lee that the dangers of the CSSTA to Taiwan have been oversold and that it is a “rather insignificant agreement.” But again, to continue that discussion we would first need to scrutinize the details of the deal. Not too radical a demand in a democracy.

“The irony of students occupying the legislature to block a democratic vote in the name of democracy—or for that matter, the irony of the leader of the student activists issuing ultimatums to the ROC’s elected president in the name of democracy--was lost on pretty much everybody.” After describing the mess of a constitution that Taiwan (the Republic of China) is governed under, Lee should know better than to call the farcical legislative procedures that triggered the occupation “a democratic vote” (and I'm not talking about the infamous spirited brawling among Taiwan legislators). Furthermore, democracy would be in danger if peaceful protest were ever to become considered illegitimate. Close to 2% of a population packing the central streets of their capital in support of the occupiers, I’d say, is a legitimate show of public dissent.

"the ruling KMT—born of the mainland occupation in 1949”  This extremely inane phrase is not worth being dwelt upon. What mainland occupation in '49? The KMT took form in the aftermath of the 1911 revolution led by Sun Yat-sen and others. Like any political party it has undergone changes. Fast forward a few decades, to when Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Jing-kuo were Uncle Sam’s boys during the Cold War/murderous White Terror period of 1947-1987. The KMT built up large fortunes during those years -- ill-gotten, blood-stained gains which still slant the political playing field in Taiwan. If the DPP has not outgrown what Lee pejoratively calls its "conspiratorial roots," it may be because a Truth and Reconciliation Commission has never been established to inquire into the White Terror massacres, murders and disappearances that have escaped justice and still haunt this society.

“the day that Taiwan declares de jure independence has probably crept a little closer” It will take more than a mere declaration to make Taiwan formally independent with any kind of stability. Being an island and not a ship, it will always be strategically located off China’s coast. De jure independence is no guarantee of Taiwan’s security, nor of its democracy. I say, keep striving for authentic democracy, not only in Taiwan but in all east Asia, because it is the most just form of government, and almost by definition, always a work in progress. The rest will follow.

 

ilha formosa

A round-up of solidarity demonstrations outside Taiwan:

Taiwan's 'Sunflower Movement' Goes Global - Supporters of the Sunflower Movement have organized sympathetic protests in Europe, North America, and Asia.

ilha formosa

Thanks for the post, it's good to know that at least some people are reading about this, given the mainstream media blackout of this story. There are several stories in The Diplomat.

The Peter Lee article in Counterpunch is a mixed bag of hits and misses. Broadly speaking, the ongoing situation here stems not so much from the opposition DPP seeking gains for the next election, as it does from deep-seated and long-needed democratic reforms.

The leading student group emphasizes that it is non-partisan and focused on the issues around the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement, the CSSTA. But MUCH more importantly, the “Sunflower Movement” as it has been dubbed, is focused on the reforms needed in Taiwan’s democratic processes, the lack of which have festered and led to the current crisis.

Quote:

…the activists slowly developed an “architecture of protest” that by March 18 had become capable of defying the state itself. And it did that without the help of a disorganized Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that, not unlike mainstream media, never understood the tremendous potential, talent, and dedication of the young individuals who were fighting for change. The remarkable thing about the constellation of groups that eventually coalesced into the Sunflower Movement was its heterogeneous nature, which greatly increased its appeal and effectiveness.

ilha formosa

from Taiwan Voice FB page. Note: date should read 2014/04/04

Quote:

BREAKING:
Taiwan Voice 2014/04/05 20:30

Police changing into riot gear at the Legislative Yuan

According to Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Shu-Fen, a Taipei City councilor gave her information that the National Police Agency ordered the police force from the Special Police First and Sixth Headquarters to gear up into riot armor. The police force are moving towards the Legislative Yuan area. Lin also said that she's reported back to DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming for his response. There are also news sources indicating that the police might force evacuate students during early morning hours in these coming days at any time.

Formosa TV channel interviewed a student leader, saying that the students are conducting the necessary exercises to guard the inside of the Legislative Yuan.

This might be related to the return of former representative to the U.S. King Pu-tsung, now appointed as chief adviser in national security. Upon his return yesterday, he gave an adamant warning to the students and to Legislative President Wang Jin-pyng to end this occupation in a matter of two weeks. He didn't specify what the intentions of the government are, but he is known as the "little dagger" - the person that Ma Ying-jeou trusts to take care of his work no matter at what costs.

Source: Liberty Times and FTV

‪#‎AmnestyInternational‬ ‪#‎SunflowerMovement‬ ‪#‎Taiwan‬

Reports of water cannons moving to LY and build up of police in riot gear.

ilha formosa

I have to expand on the above. The occupation of the legislature was initiated by a sharp group of students, but the demonstrations that have ensued, and are ongoing at this moment, involve far more than just students.

And the protest has significance for far more than just Taiwan, but also for China, and democracy worldwide.

Taiwan's protesters are fighting for the very democracy of the island

ETA: I hope this thread can serve as one record of and perspective on what's unfolding in this story, which is being entirely ignored by mainstream Canadian media. At the same time I hope it will provide a little more ground-level understanding of the history and possible future trajectories of a land that is one of the world's major political hotspots. It's an island blessed by natural beauty and cursed by its extremely strategic location.

ilha formosa

There are several openings and pretenses the police can use to start clearing out the protest around the legislature, but it seems to be at a certain level of stasis for now. For the powers that be and the police to remove the protest at this point would be like trying to tape shut the main steam outlet on a pressure cooker. 

Aside from the forceful eviction of occupiers from the cabinet compound on Mar. 23-24, protester-police relations have been rather cordial. Protesters are on the alert for potential agent provocateurs, at times isolating individuals behaving in an unruly manner and even guarding the police from them. [from FB page Taiwan Voice]

The weather has been cool and drizzly much of the time, but the encampment on the streets around the LY is increasingly settled in. Awnings of the kind used for temporary markets now circle the block, protesters sit underneath them on pallets padded with interlocking thin rubber tiles, of the kind often used for children’s play areas inside homes. Many reams of thin, waterproof, reflective camping foil for staying warm and dry can be found on site. Donated supplies are abundant, but no one is accepting cash donations. Documentaries, teach-ins, open meetings, yoga classes, performances, etc. continue. Free food is easy to find, even distributed hot to seated protesters by volunteers. There are many camping tents, and a half-size freight container is now on site, being used as an office.

Besieged President Ma and KMT legislators have made offers, but none have been adequate. They’ve also sought out academics to speak against the movement’s positions. The movement has been able to counter, supported by academics and legal experts on their side.

Here’s something Canadians should relate to. With its majority in the legislature, the KMT could force the CSSTA through unexamined. One of the problems identified by the Sunflower Movement is the strict party discipline that can be exercised over legislators, making them little more than trained animals following the party line. The movement is now trying to encourage individual legislators to think for themselves and break ranks from the government position.

ilha formosa

The encampment continues strong on this Tomb Sweeping Holiday long weekend. A citizen’s assembly on a draft bill (Chinese and English versions here for anyone interested) concerning oversight of all cross-strait negotiations is being held this weekend both inside the occupied chamber and among citizens outside. This evening I walked through a crowd of about 600, broken into groups of about 50, intently reading and discussing the draft in the street to the south of the legislature (L.Y.). Facilitators came from various NGOs. Citizens, fed-up with archaic government structures that all too easily allow abuse of the electorate's trust, are now carrying out constructive deliberations on their own.

A little further down that street, the results of the previous night’s police moves are visible. They have secured a wide passageway leading into the heart of the LY block. Admittedly, it serves as a necessary emergency access lane, as the north side is now much more crowded with shelters of various kinds, including the half-size freight container previously mentioned. The police now could also conceivably and rapidly move large numbers of officers into the courtyard by the LY chamber unobstructed.

Suppressing the exemplary peaceful protests -- and democratic processes -- around the legislature, though, would be like trying to seal the vent of a boiling pressure cooker with duct tape. Not a wise thing to do.

---

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcAvX_pxeYs&feature=youtu.be Here are some aerial remote camera video clips of the crowds during the March 30 rally. This piece is more propaganda-ish than scientific, but it shows the high density of the crowds.

ilha formosa

Every now and then, somewhere in the world, the frontline of the struggle against the global neoliberal agenda gets exposed. That's where this occupation stands. The CCP wants to bind Taiwan with the CSSTA before going on to TPP negotiations.

http://thediplomat.com/2014/04/the-taiwan-protests-regional-and-economic...

The Speaker of the Taiwan Legislature, Wang Jin-Pyng, has visited the occupied chamber, attempting to build bridges. Wang is a moderate KMT member, more widely respected than President Ma, who is also known as Mr. 9%. What substance comes out of this meeting remains to be seen. Regardless, this movement has been a boost for civic consciousness in Taiwan, and because it remains the last significant Chinese-speaking society not under the hard heel of the CCP, I would say, for the world.

Quote:
Students have not just been protesting the “black-box procedures” for negotiating the pact with China and its contents, but also highlighting “serious trouble” in the country’s constitutional democracy, in that it no longer serves as a tool to solve problems when the popularly elected government has been adamant in pushing ahead a policy in violation of the majority of the public’s opinion

That should sound familiar to westerners dismayed with the decline of their own democratic institutions in the face of various trade deals.

Quote:

Separately yesterday, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海) chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) said in an e-mailed statement that he admires Wang’s wisdom and feels sympathy for the students. Gou, whose company assembles Apple Inc’s iPhones at factories in China, called on the students and all political parties to learn to let go of their differences so Taiwan can move forward.

A tycoon jumps on the coattails of Wang. Or, is Wang a dog being wagged from its tail?

ilha formosa

Taiwan protesters agree to end parliament occupation after talks with speaker - Protesters' decision to end three-week stand-off comes after parliamentary speaker agrees to prioritise supervision bill for cross-strait deals --South China Morning Post

Quote:
Yang Lixian, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Taiwan Studies, said…“This will make any future pacts between Taiwan and the mainland difficult to be approved, which will take a toll on cross-strait relations"

Note: the CASS is closely affiliated with the CCP, and also Yang fails to distinguish between “the mainland” and the CCP.

It has been an exciting 3 weeks in Taiwan politics, and this should have repercussions into the future in cross-strait relations. But it doesn't necessarily have to be sabre-rattling, as oligarchs with a lot to lose (their disproportionate power) would have us think.

From a short Apr. 7 article in Le Figaro:

Quote:
Cet incident illustre la dictature économique que fait subir la Chine à la jeune démocratie taïwanaise. Les opposants craignent - manifestement à raison - qu'une plus grande dépendance économique permette ensuite à Pékin d'exiger des concessions politiques... Ces jeunes, âgés pour la plupart de moins de 25 ans, n'ont connu que la démocratie et n'ont pas le même rapport à la Chine que leurs aînés. Une véritable identité taïwanaise a émergé depuis la fin des années 1990.

The conservative paper got this much right: Economic dependence would lead to political leverage, and that the young occupiers, not having known anything other than a democratic Taiwan, are at the forefront of an emerging Taiwan identity.

ilha formosa

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Organized by George Washington University, don't miss this interesting panel live on YouTube with Sunflower Movement student leaders Wei Yang, Huang Yu-fen and Chinese democracy activists from the Tiananmen Masssacre and Charter 08 Era. Airs live 04/09 17:30 - 19:00 EST; Taiwan time tomorrow 04/10 5:30-7:00.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pO3I3Vtc-MA&feature=share

ilha formosa

The occupying students have vacated the legislative chamber, but not before cleaning up after themselves and giving the walls a fresh coat of paint, and performing other repairs.

Post-occupation, unclear/misleading police statements regarding assemblies have led to early morning conflicts, and one persistent group (the Taiwan Referendum Alliance) that was key to the protests is now being persecuted. A professor associated with the group allegedly "jumped" in front of a bus, but is now reported to be in stable condition.

Protesters have not gone home to get lost in video games and celebrity talk shows; they are now "passing by" the downtown police station with a number of grievances. [source: 'Taiwan Voice' on FB]

One major underlying problem beneath the occupation and continuing unrest is the remaining entrenched influence of the KMT throughout Taiwan's government stucture (legislative, executive, judicial, state enterprises). The KMT amassed much wealth and power during its brutal martial law period, and killers from that period escape justice.

Thirty-eight academics and writers from 9 different countries have published an open letter to the current president.

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President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), we urge you strongly to proceed in the spirit of, and in accordance with, the principles of Taiwan’s democracy, and move toward a much-needed reconciliation in Taiwan itself.

Former Canadian MP David Kilgour is among the signers of the letter.