On Monday, the government ordered several thousand police officers to forcibly remove the protesters occupying the Executive Yuan building. Scores of people were injured. History will remember this as the time Taiwan’s democracy, at the hands of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), regressed. Men such as Ma and his premier, Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), will be remembered as leaders willing to use force on their own people.
The protesters in the legislative chamber, who had been waiting for a response from Ma for five days, were bitterly disappointed by the press conference he gave. Physically and mentally exhausted, with nothing to show for their action, divisions began to appear among them. Those wanting to escalate the standoff invaded the Executive Yuan, placing even more pressure on the government to respond. However, they misread the situation, overestimated their own power and underestimated the government’s ruthlessness in putting an end to the movement. The invasion of the highest branch of government crossed Ma’s red line. The protesters were no longer protected by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng’s (王金平) tolerance or Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators, and Ma and Jiang gave the order to bring in riot police and water cannons, leading to unfortunate scenes.
The Ma administration cannot absolve itself of the shameful way these protests have ended. They were sparked by the non-transparent way in which the government handled the cross-strait service trade agreement. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) violated an understanding it had with the opposition. Its clumsy handling of the affair caused anger among students and the general public, leading to the occupation of the legislative chamber.
The administration showed arrogance in dealing with the protest. Ma has been unwilling to engage with the opposition and failed, during the six days of the occupation of the legislative chamber, to send a representative to listen to the students’ grievances and seek a way to bring the affair to a peaceful conclusion. Jiang did go to the legislature, but left after a few minutes in a fit of petulance.
Instead, Ma conspired to capitalize on the situation and bring Wang, his political rival, into the fray, calling him for a meeting by invoking Article 44 of the Constitution, which allows the president to summon leaders of the various branches of government to address inter-branch disputes. His plan was to pass the responsibility for dealing with the protests to Wang. However, Wang declined to attend, saying it was an internal matter for the legislative branch.
There was no need for these protests to produce such regrettable circumstances. Had Ma been more willing to communicate, to open negotiation channels and listen to the students’ concerns over the service trade agreement and their own futures; if he had agreed to conduct the promised clause-by-clause review, reopening negotiations with Beijing on the agreement’s contentious parts, things may well have developed in a more agreeable, civilized manner.
However, he was reluctant to make even the slightest concession, afraid that to do so would be seen as a sign of weakness by China. Desperate to cling to power, he held firm, indifferent to whether it made an enemy of the public. The forced expulsion of protesters from the Executive Yuan complex was a temporary victory because they have returned to the premises. The stench of blood and bile on the streets is permeating the entire country; media reports have galvanized more students and more groups to take action. Taipei will have to keep a strong police presence not only around the Executive Yuan, but also around the Presidential Office. Revolution is in the air.
For what is left of his term, Ma will be plagued wherever he goes with protests. It will be a nightmare for him and it will be because of his incompetence.
During the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum’s third leadership summit on Aug. 31, US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said that the US wants to partner with the other members of the Quadrilaterial Security Dialogue — Australia, India and Japan — to establish an organization similar to NATO, to “respond to ... any potential challenge from China.” He said that the US’ purpose is to work with these nations and other countries in the Indo-Pacific region to “create a critical mass around the shared values and interest of those parties,” and possibly attract more countries to establish an alliance comparable to
On August 24, 2020, the US Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, made an important statement: “The Pentagon is Prepared for China.” Going forward, how might the Department of Defense team up with Taiwan to make itself even more prepared? No American wants to deter the next war by a paper-thin margin, and no one appreciates the value of strategic overmatch more than the war planners at the Pentagon. When the stakes are this high, you can bet they want to be super ready. In recent months, we have witnessed a veritable flood of high-level statements from US government leaders on
China has long sought shortcuts to developing semiconductor technologies and local supply chains by poaching engineers and experts from Taiwan and other nations. It is also suspected of stealing trade secrets from Taiwanese and US firms to fulfill its ambition of becoming a major player in the global semiconductor industry in the next decade. However, it takes more than just money and talent to build a semiconductor supply chain like the one which Taiwan and the US started to cultivate more than 30 years ago. Amid rising trade and technology tensions between the world’s two biggest economies, Beijing has become
With a new White House document in May — the “Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China” — the administration of US President Donald Trump has firmly set its hyper-competitive line to tackle geoeconomic and geostrategic rivalry, followed by several reinforcing speeches by Trump and other Cabinet-level officials. By identifying China as a near-equal rival, the strategy resonates well with the bipartisan consensus on China in today’s severely divided US. In the face of China’s rapidly growing aggression, the move is long overdue, yet relevant for the maintenance of the international “status quo.” The strategy seems to herald a new