Leaders of Taiwan’s Sunflower movement, who are on a two-week tour of North America, have been urging the US government to drop its “one China” policy.
The delegation, mostly students, have met with members of the US Congress, US Department of State officials, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), think tanks and Taiwanese-American groups.
They are claiming that, as a result of the movement, there has been a significant change in cross-strait relations and that they intend to be a powerful force in the nation’s political future.
Movement leaders are stressing that they are independent from, and are not backed by, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆), a political science student at National Taiwan University, told a Washington press conference on Thursday that the movement could not accept the US’ “one China” policy and that if President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) were to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), the Sunflower movement “would not hesitate” to take some form of political protest action.
He said the movement was totally independent of both the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the DPP, and that it wanted to find a common ground in the US to express its concerns about growing Chinese influence within Taiwan.
Academia Sinica associate research professor Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said there had been an awakening of civil society within Taiwan and that a third political force was emerging.
He said that the KMT had damaged the constitutional system and that a third party might change Taiwan’s political landscape and deepen its democracy.
Lin said that the Sunflower movement had grown out of deep disappointment with Taiwan’s two major political parties and that the delegation had told US officials to carefully watch for an emerging force from the nation’s civil society.
Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), a sociology student at National Tsing Hua University, said that a third force was needed in Taiwanese politics because the KMT was moving into China’s arms, while the DPP was losing ground, and getting too close to the rich and upper classes.
Lin said that in conversations with members of the US Congress and at the Department of State it became clear that officials “understood” why the movement had taken over the Legislative Yuan in March this year.
He said the delegation had repeatedly emphasized its concerns about the US’ “one China” policy.
The policy, which results in the US recognizing only one China and refusing to open diplomatic relations with Taiwan, had not led to a cross-strait balance, but had rather caused Taiwan to tilt toward China, members of the delegation said.
Lin said polls showed that “almost no one” in Taiwan would choose to unify with China and the “one China” policy increased the chances of unrest within Taiwanese society, which would run counter to other US policies promoting peace and stability.
He refused to reveal more about the reaction of US officials, saying that the officials had told the delegation they were in discussion about the issues raised.
Chen accused AIT officials of playing games. On one hand, he said, they supported the Sunflower movement’s agenda, but on the other they said the movement was backed by the DPP.
“The Sunflower movement has nothing to do with the DPP,” Huang said. “US officials have a biased view from the media that the movement is maneuvered by the DPP.”
“The movement defends the democracy of Taiwan and will not accept harmful legislation. We are trying to make US officials understand that the core value of the Sunflower movement is to safeguard Taiwan’s democracy,” Huang said.
“I am an old fashioned guy and I believe in democratic values. I have challenged US officials on who should decide the future of Taiwan. When they talk about self-determination, is it only symbolic, or do they truly believe it? To what extent are they willing to sacrifice their core values for economic benefits? The one China policy has not stopped Chinese aggression,” he added.
Before the delegation arrived in the US, the North American Taiwanese Professors’ Association, the Taiwanese American Science and Technology Association and the Taiwanese American Senior Society invited Huang to address a symposium on Taiwan’s democracy.
The address was to be made at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) Culture Center in Washington. However, shortly before Huang arrived in the US, the office refused to rent their space.
“We were appalled by the decision of TECRO and strongly condemn the suppression of freedom of speech,” the three organizations said in a statement on Thursday.
“Dr Huang is neither a member of the KMT nor the DPP and he would not be speaking for any political party, but was to use his professional expertise to analyze and to probe this subject matter. It is sad and unfortunate to witness this attempt to hinder the development of Taiwan’s hard-earned democracy,” the statement added.
TECRO also issued a statement on Thursday saying that Huang was one of the leaders of the Sunflower movement who had illegally occupied the Legislative Yuan in Taipei for 24 days.
The statement said the application to use the Cultural Center was denied by an overwhelming majority vote of advisors and commissioners for the Taiwanese community.
They cited three reasons: “The organizers announced the speech venue as a fait accompli before obtaining permission. If approved, it would have set an unacceptable precedent. The organizers announced plans to convene a press conference if the application was denied. This coercive behavior should not be encouraged. The Cultural Center is not an appropriate place to hold events that may arouse political controversy.”
HEATED TRAFFIC: As Beijing holds naval drills near Taiwan, the Ministry of National Defense said it had a full grasp of the situation and would handle it ‘appropriately’ A Chinese carrier group exercising near Taiwan is part of what are to be regular drills, the Chinese navy said in a statement late on Monday, further escalating tensions between Taipei and Beijing. The group, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, was conducting “routine” drills in the waters around Taiwan, a move to “enhance its capability to safeguard national sovereignty, safety and development interests,” the statement said. “Similar exercises will be conducted regularly,” it said, without elaborating. The statement came after the Ministry of National Defense earlier on Monday issued a statement regarding a rise in the number of incursions by Chinese jets into
AIMED AT TAIWAN? Institute for National Defense and Security Research research fellow Ou Si-fu said chips can be ‘bought off the shelf’ and then used in weapons The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday said that chips from Taiwanese semiconductor companies were not making their way into Chinese missiles “to the best of our knowledge.” A report in yesterday’s Washington Post alleged that a Chinese company named Phytium Technology Co (飛騰) used chips made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), along with US software, in advanced Chinese military systems. “TSMC has long placed strict controls on their chips. The export of high-tech products from Taiwan is also highly regulated,” Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said. “According to our understanding, none of the end uses for those products
NO TIME: The driver tried to apply the brakes when he saw the truck, but the train did not have time to come to a full stop, an investigation report said The crane truck that caused last week’s fatal train accident had slid onto the tracks about one-and-a-half minutes before it was struck, the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board said yesterday. The board had launched an investigation into the derailment, which killed 50 people and injured 211 people, making it the nation’s most devastating railway accident in decades. Carrying 494 passengers and four Taiwan Railways Administration personnel, the southbound express train to Taitung hit the truck as it was about to enter the Cingshuei Tunnel (清水隧道) in Hualien’s Sioulin Township (秀林). The train derailed following the collision, with the left side of the eighth
TAROKO INCIDENT: The committee would regulate how public donations for victims of Friday’s train accident, which have exceeded NT$60 million, would be used The government has collected about NT$60 million (US$2.1 million) in donations through Line Pay and convenience stores for victims of last week’s fatal train accident and plans to establish an oversight committee to determine how the funds should be used to help them, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The accident occurred at 9:28am on Friday, when a southbound Taroko Express train traveling from New Taipei City to Taitung hit a crane truck that had slid down a hill from a nearby construction site onto the rails as the train was about to enter the Cingshuei Tunnel