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China Times: Resonance of Sunflower Movement

China Times: Resonance of Sunflower Movement

The "tsunamis" that resulted from last year's Sunflower Movement have had significant effects on Taiwan's political landscape and climate. The protests, which were sparked by several high-profile social issues, evolved from a student-led movement into a demonstration targeting specific political parties. After President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008, Taiwan and China began a series of formal negotiations. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which was at a low ebb after its defeat in the presidential elections, aligned with other anti-China, anti-Kuomintang (KMT) and pro-Taiwan independence peripheral groups under the guise of advocating "democracy," "human rights" and "social justice." In the face of the opposition's gains, Ma's administration failed to reach people on the issue of cross-Taiwan Strait relations, although the government's discourse was focused on the "economic benefits" of such links. A rift within the KMT caused by a conflict between Ma and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng also added fuel to the student protest, leading to its development as a mass student and civic movement. Regardless of the conditions from which it grew, the Sunflower Movement can be seen as an "overall rebellion" by the younger generation, as its leaders were young men and women between 20 and 40 years old. Although the movement was criticized by some people, it remains a cherished memory for the participants as it represented their passionate beliefs. The movement will also be seen as one of the factors contributing to a change in Taiwan's political landscape over the next 20 or 30 years. For example, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je has said that public support for him rose by leaps and bounds after the Sunflower Movement, when he was campaigning against Sean Lien of the KMT for the mayoral seat. Ko's election to the important position of Taipei mayor is evidence of the effects of the Sunflower Movement on Taiwan's politics. Some analysts believe that President Ma's "China agenda" has been interrupted by the Sunflower Movement, given that a cross-strait trade-in-services agreement remains stalled in the Legislative Yuan and there is now little chance of a meeting between Ma and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It would be no big deal if it involved only Ma's personal agenda, but the fact that Taiwan's plans have been disrupted makes it a major matter. On the question of whether the Sunflower Movement had any merit, we would say it served as a reminder to the leaders on both sides of the strait that justice and fairness are important. Even so, we want to ask what would Taiwan's younger generation consider an appropriate and fair agenda for cross-strait relations, and where is the balance between economic benefits and social justice and between sovereign dignity and sovereign identity. It is apparent that no social consensus has been reached on these issues one year after the Sunflower Movement started on March 18, 2014. How much more time do we need to be able to rationally and peacefully discuss the issue of a balanced agenda for cross-strait relations? (editorial abstract, March 17, 2015) (By Flor Wang)


Updated : 2021-09-23 17:39 GMT+08:00