The effects of the Sunflower movement continue to be felt even after the protesters have left the legislature. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) both announced on Monday that they will not contest the party’s chairmanship election. In an instant, the heated competition between Su, Hsieh and former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) turned into an expression of party unity and support for Tsai.
The DPP was unable to direct or manipulate the demonstrations against the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government’s handling of the cross-strait service trade agreement, instead being reduced to providing protection, assistance and logistical support. Although the party’s ideas are close to those of the protesters, that the DPP, Taiwan’s second-largest political party, was unable to join the front lines of the movement and lead, direct or influence protesters and instead had to passively react to their demands and stand behind them has had a great impact on the party.
Su’s announcement that he is dropping out of the chairmanship election shows an understanding of the current political situation and a capacity for reflection that is becoming of a political leader. Facing the challenges of future civic movements, cross-strait relations, the year-end seven-in-one local elections and a generational change is not an easy task, and Tsai will have to shoulder a heavy load.
The protests were aimed at the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), but while the KMT continues to act as if nothing has happened, it is the DPP that has picked itself up.
As the students wrapped up their protest, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) continued his battle with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) by appealing the Taipei District Court’s decision that Wang could retain his KMT membership, ignoring Wang’s rising popularity after he persuaded the students to evacuate the legislature, while Ma was unable to come up with any kind of response.
Not only is Ma’s popularity in Taiwan in the doldrums, even international media are critical of him. In addition, he is ignoring calls within his own party for party unity and to patch things up with Wang.
Wang promised the students that the agreement will only be reviewed after legislation regulating the oversight of cross-strait agreements has been passed, which resulted in Ma immediately issuing a statement saying that he wanted exactly what Wang wanted. However, the next day he instructed the party’s legislative caucus to continue with the review while an oversight act is being formulated.
Sunflower leader Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) responded that the activists had not reached a settlement with Ma and KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) tendered his resignation.
Regardless of how loud the protests are and that both domestic and international media see the agreement as dead in the water, Ma remains in his ivory tower, where he dreams about passing the agreement and negotiating an agreement on trade in goods.
Ma is a lame-duck president, and does not face the pressure of future elections. He can ignore the voices of 500,000 protesters and that his party could lose the votes of the younger generation en masse.
Although he is a dinosaur and it might take some time for signals of any kind to reach his brain, other KMT politicians still have to deal with political realities in the wake of the Sunflower movement.
If the KMT is unable to respond to the challenge of dealing with a leader who is out of touch with public opinion and wants to avoid a disaster of titanic proportions, that challenge will spell the end of the KMT as we know it.
On April 26, British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly gave a speech on diplomatic strategy at Mansion House in London. He said that if a war broke out in the Taiwan Strait, it would not only become a human tragedy, but destroy global trade and the economy, which is worth US$2.6 trillion. He said that every year, half of the world’s container ships pass through the Taiwan Strait, emphasizing that Taiwan is a crucial point in the global supply chain, particularly its role in providing advanced semiconductors. If China invades Taiwan, it would be
A Beijing-based think tank last week published a poll showing that the majority of Chinese consider “international military intervention in Taiwan” one of the top threats facing China. Arguably, the sole purpose of the poll, which was conducted by the Tsinghua University Center for International Security and Strategy, is to serve as propaganda. A poll conducted in China, where freedom of speech is curtailed, cannot accurately reflect public opinion. Chinese would be reluctant to publicly express their true opinion, especially when it contradicts the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) narrative, as doing so would likely be construed as subversive behavior. RAND
China is demonstrating “growing aggressiveness” through repeated close encounters with US military aircraft and vessels, the White House said on Monday. A Chinese warship crossed 137m in front of a US destroyer in the Taiwan Strait on Saturday, and a Chinese jet crossed the path of a US reconnaissance plane as it was flying through international airspace on May 26. “The concern with these unsafe and unprofessional intercepts ... [is that] they can lead to misunderstandings, they can lead to miscalculations,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. Although China appeared to be expressing its displeasure with the US for
There is a worrisome trend toward militarization I observe in Taiwanese society, that I do not think has been commented on. The trend is broadly supported not only by the Taiwanese public and politicians, but by virtually every foreign commentator, politician and expert on Taiwan affairs. I see a vast militarization taking place in Taiwan, with all the negatives that can come with that. This can be seen not least in this newspaper, the Taipei Times, in which military acquisitions, preparedness and the acute danger of an imminent full-scale attack by China are splashed across page one and beyond in