Previous generations of Taiwanese never dared share their desires for freedom and democracy.
They weathered an existence in fear for almost four decades of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) martial law.
Not a soul outside an inner circle was safe from Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) thought police, while for many freedom was just a dream shrouded in a living nightmare.
Fertilized by the graves of Taiwanese from Taipei to Los Angeles, George Orwell’s Animal Farm had taken root under the father-and-son-Chiang’s Republic of China (ROC). The KMT newcomers dictated a national name, flag and Constitution they imported from Nanjing, China, after fleeing their civil war in 1949.
The repercussions of the KMT’s early years of terror rule engendered a slavish population for decades.
However, with the introduction of democracy and the advent of the Internet in the mid 1990s the sun began to shine on democratic freedom and discussions of autonomy sprouted hopes to be harvested. This era also effectively moved the citizenry beyond concern for the untoward state of civil war between, and buttressed by, the KMT and Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Then in 2000 after the KMT lost the presidency for the first time it contrived — admittedly — the now infamous “1992 consensus.” This collusion between the KMT and CCP misled the susceptible international community to suppress Taiwan’s emerging independence voice.
In the tacit agreement the ROC and the PRC agreed to individual definitions and different interpretations of “one China,” indicatively contrary to the true definition of a consensus. However the CCP never publicly referred to these two clauses and neither has the KMT — outside of Taiwan.
This “1992 conspiracy” turned a supposed agreement, with wiggle room for Taiwan to express its independent authority, into an effective “one China to which Taiwan belongs” international muzzle on Taiwan’s flourishing democratic voice.
Twenty years after democracy, a vibrant new dawn was cultivated by the nation’s tenacious youth, aka the Sunflower movement. They precipitated momentous change and on Jan. 16 elected the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to the presidency and handed it a first-time legislative majority, burdening themselves with great expectations.
Taiwanese had for the first time wrested political control of their land and domestic emancipation was at hand.
The Sunflower movement debuted in the spring of 2014, occupying the legislature in protest of the KMT’s unyielding path toward ratification of the proposed cross-strait service trade agreement. Community support for the student-led seizure was unprecedented in reaction to the KMT’s use of its legislative majority to halt review and negotiation of the pact. Many across all demographics and affiliations believed the deal to be poison fruit of “black box” — backroom — negotiations. The perceived selling out of economic independence triggered unprecedented student protests validating the Sunflower movement’s push to halt pending ratification.
Since the student’s epochal engagement in 2014, previous generations have transplanted their long-buried ambitions into the Sunflower movement’s garden of promise.
Only four months into Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) presidency, eager Taiwanese are growing frustrated over seemingly apparent inaction on the diplomatic front. They find it hard to swallow that for now and the foreseeable future, Taiwan shall continue to be confined by the CCP and international suppression.