The Sunflower Student Movement (太陽花學運), also known as the March 18 Student Movement (318學運) or Occupy Taiwan Legislature (佔領國會事件), is a protest movement that began on March 18, 2014, in the Legislative Yuan and continues to spread with the support of tens of thousands of people from around the country joining the demonstrators.
Initially, the students protested the passing of the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement by the ruling Kuomintang (KMT or Chinese Nationalist Party) at the legislature without clause-by-clause review as previously agreed by the two major political parties. While much of the opposition to the trade pact with China is based on fears that it will hurt Taiwan’s economy and escalate Taiwan’s vulnerability to political pressure from China, which claims that Taiwan is a “renegade” province. China makes it very clear that it has the right to take Taiwan by force and currently has more than two thousand missiles aimed at Taiwan.
The movement has now moved beyond simple opposition to the trade agreement and has become a culmination of popular frustration with President Ma Ying-jeou who has a remarkably low approval rate as well as his KMT party. Lack of transparency and participation by citizens as well as failures to address social, environmental and economic issues underlies behind the demonstration. The anti democratic methods used by the government, including the wire tapping and attempted ouster of the president of the legislature to achieve the passage of trade agreement, was the spark that prompted what is the first time in the history that Taiwan’s legislature has been occupied by citizens.
To date the government’s response has been refusal to enter into a dialog with the students, insisting that the trade agreement must go through.
When the occupation spread to the “executive branch” buildings nearby，the government adopted violent tactics and while there have been no deaths or serious injuries there is concern that the violence could escalate.
Green Party Taiwan statement:
Since the student occupation of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan began, Green Party Taiwan members have actively participated in the protests both inside and outside of the Yuan buildings in support of the students. Green Party Taiwan’s formal position on the proposed trade agreement is:
1. We endorse the position that all international trade negotiations must take place under a comprehensive legal framework, in a transparent manner that takes into account all views of those potentially impacted, and includes a system for meaningful monitoring by the stakeholders.
2. On behalf of the land, and to prevent further deterioration of the environment, the Green Party demands an end to the type of agreements such as the currently disputed China-Taiwan Services Agreement where such agreements serve to privatize essential public services and publicly owned assets.
3. Green Party Taiwan opposes any “free trade agreement” that facilitates the exploitation of workers and exacerbates the rich/poor gap. We remind the government that these very trade agreements are the structural source of our current industrial crisis. We call on the government to work to develop local economies and to promote sustainable green industry.
Taiwan’s economy has for too long been based on the assumptions of cheap labor, cheap land and cheap utilities, and that there has been little or no incentive for innovation and creativity. That is the reason for any loss of so called competitiveness. This short sighted policy has continued for too long. The Green Party calls on the government to adopt industrial policies that are sustainable, that do not destroy the social and natural environments, and that do not involve a short term distraction such as relying on the Chinese economy.
4. The Green Party calls for the establishment of an ecology based world economy, not one based on today’s unfair free trade agreements. The agreements of the future, including regional agreements, should protect the autonomy of all parties. Under such conditions the Green Party is not necessarily opposed to cooperation and exchanges with China.
The Green Party Taiwan requests the support of Global Greens members to:
Participate in this pivotal historical moment by helping the world understand and raise awareness of the issues.
Issue a statement expressing a position on free trade agreements, support for the Green Party Taiwan and civil society movement in Taiwan and a call on the Taiwan government to resolve the issues by peaceful means including a participatory process to address all issues raised by the students
Request members of the Global Greens, particularly those with members of parliament or locally elected officials, to write to their counterparts in the Taiwan government expressing concern and support for participatory democracy in Taiwan.
Sources of information:
https://www.facebook.com/TaiwanVoice/info: Providing updates to the international community on the protests being held across the nation of Taiwan.
03/22/2014 – 00:00