Chinese-American historian and Tang Prize laureate Yu Ying-shih (余英時) yesterday reiterated his support for and admiration of Taiwan’s Sunflower movement.
“I was very touched by the Sunflower movement a while ago… the students did not leave the legislature until they thoroughly cleaned up the place and they left peacefully,” the Princeton University emeritus professor said during a talk in Taipei on the importance of cultivating humanistic qualities in modern society.
“It was a remarkable movement,” the 84-year-old China-born academic said.
The Sunflower movement refers to student-led protests in March and April this year against the way a trade in services agreement with China was handled by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government. The protesters occupied the legislature for almost 23 days and at one point stormed the Executive Yuan building, drawing mixed but mostly sympathetic reactions from the media.
In a press conference a day earlier, Yu, although approving of the students’ opposition, stopped short of expressing full support for the demonstrations, saying he is against “violent protests” in a democratic society.
In yesterday’s speech, Yu said that he had no intentions of “appeasing” people or asking them “not to rebel.”
He said citizens in a democratic society should protest and express their dissatisfaction with the government, but in a peaceful way, because if all efforts fail, they can still resist the government with their ballots.
Yu, an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, said Taiwan’s democratization process has great significance in Chinese history because China’s dynastic changes and power shifts have always been compelled by military force.
Taiwan’s democracy broke that cycle of violence and counters the saying that Chinese culture is opposed to the ideas of democracy, freedom and equality, he said.
In fact, he said, the first people who brought the idea of democracy to China were academics influenced by Confucianism, such as Kang Youwei (康有為, 1858-1927) and Yan Fu (嚴復, 1854-1921), proving that traditional Chinese thinking was not against democracy.
The concept of democracy also appears in a book by Chinese scholar Huang Zongxi (黃宗羲, 1610-1695), in which Huang condemned autocratic rule and proposed using schools to hold discussions on public affairs, he said.
Yu is the first winner of the Tang Prize in Sinology. In addition to his scholarly pursuits, Yu is an outspoken supporter of the democracy movement in China and is known to have sheltered young refugees who fled China after the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989.
CLOSED FOR DISINFECTION: Two of the three local cases were linked to a cluster infection at a kindergarten, while the other case works at a McDonald’s restaurant The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported three new local COVID-19 infections and 11 imported cases, but no deaths. The local cases are two men and a woman aged between 20 and 80 who reside in Taipei, New Taipei City and Taoyuan, the CECC said in a news release. Two of them are linked to a cluster infection at a kindergarten in New Taipei City’s Banciao District (板橋), said Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the CECC’s spokesman. He said they are both associated with the mother of a kindergarten student, who was earlier confirmed to have
BIOLOGICAL AGENT: A containment exercise was held in southern Tainan, in response to a mock assault where troops were assumed to be attacked by bioweapons The live-fire component of this year’s annual Han Kuang military exercises, Taiwan’s major war games involving all military branches, began yesterday morning and is to run until Friday to test the armed forces’ capability to fend off a Chinese invasion. The 37th edition of the annual event officially began after the Ministry of National Defense’s Joint Operations Command Center, also known as the Hengshan Command Center, announced the initiation of the five-day live-fire drills. Yesterday’s drills were focused on testing the military’s preservation and maintenance of combat capabilities in the event of a full-scale Chinese invasion. As part of the drills, air force
‘RAISING TAIWAN’S VISIBILITY’: Premier Su Tseng-chang said changing TECRO’s name to include ‘Taiwan’ would make the representative office more recognizable The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday declined comment on a Financial Times report that the name of Taiwan’s representative office in Washington might be changed, saying only that bolstering and upgrading ties with the US has been the government’s long-term objective. The ministry made the comments after the UK-based newspaper reported on that US President Joe Biden’s administration is considering allowing the government to use the word “Taiwan” in the office’s title. The US is “seriously considering a request from Taiwan to change the name of its mission in the US capital from ‘Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office’ [TECRO] to ‘Taiwan
WELCOME BACK: Foreign spouses or minor children of Taiwanese can now directly apply for a visa with representative offices overseas, the CECC said Regulations on applications for entry to the nation by foreign spouses or minor children of Taiwanese have been relaxed effective immediately, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported two new local and three imported cases of COVID-19. Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥), deputy head of the center, said the relaxation meant that such applications would be treated as general cases, instead of special ones that are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. “Considering the recent local COVID-19 situation and the needs of foreign spouses and children to visit their family in Taiwan, we are allowing Taiwan’s