[Dear Diary] Defending Democracy
I always thought of this blog as a happy place , a place free of any political issues that can lead to heated debates and separated friends, but today, I just have to get something off my chest.
I never thought of myself as a patriot, I don't celebrate National Day, I don't really participate in any state-glorifying events, but I do know that I love Taiwan. I just never knew how much so until today, when I realized I was getting teary eyed looking at all the posts on my Facebook feed.
So what is happening right now?
As you may know, China and Taiwan have a very complicate history, simply put, China wants to takeover Taiwan because China claims Taiwan had always been a part of China. Whether this claim is legit or not, the fact is Taiwan has had a independent working government for quite a while now, and a lot of us Taiwanese see Taiwan as a independent country. There are people more than willing to reunite with the great China, but there is no denying that Taiwan is drastically different from China in all ways of life. For years, China has been using different measures to try to influence Taiwan and eventually achieve its ultimate goal of reuniting Taiwan to the glorious China.
So why are we making a fuss now, when we know China has missiles pointed at our island for years?
Taiwan's president, Ma Ying-Jiou, had been negotiating trade agreements with China ever since 2009. There was a lot of deliberating by Ma and his gang (KMT) with China, then he signed ECFA in 2010. After signing ECFA, Ma continued to negotiate other related agreements in relation to ECFA, among them, the Cross-Trait Agreement on Service Trades (海峽兩岸服務貿易協議). The deliberations and negotiations were done under the table, and the citizens did not know about this agreement until a national policy advisor exposed it to the media. After the citizens showed concern about an agreement that will affect their jobs but knew nothing about, Ma and his government promised to hold hearings like they should have beforehand. They held and finished all the hearings in the immediate week and signed the agreement. After the news got back to Taiwan, the opposing party DPP put on a show and fought with KMT, eventually they reached a consensus and agreed to go over the articles of the agreement one by one. None of it happened. on March 17, the KMT congressman who was the chairman of the particular meeting that was supposed to discuss the agreement, unilaterally announced that the agreement was automatically passed due to the Legislative Yuan not discussing about it for 3 months.
There are several issues that irks me, other Taiwanese may or may not share the same reasons, but I want to share just the same.
First of all, I understand that it's common practice for countries to sign trade agreements in this highly Capitalized world, BUT I also know that there are voices against trade agreements, since they can bring drastic blows to local businesses. Being a treaty that will affect millions of people, it's only reasonable to at least consult with trade experts before signing it. Ma claimed to have done this, but he is not very convincing, since his team basically turned down and shut out his own national policy advisor. The advisor quit afterwards.
Secondly, a read into the agreement itself reveals unfair clauses for the two signing parties, mostly discriminating towards Taiwan. We might not have much leverage when negotiating, but why are we handing ourselves over on a silver platter as a solution?
Thirdly, given China's ambition of unifying Taiwan, signing this treaty will give China more means to manipulate the economics and politics of Taiwan. Think about what US is doing to all the other countries. Now pretend US's ultimate goal is to make countries US territory. Scary huh?
So why am I so angry now when Ma signed the devil's deal years ago?
I have to admit, I was putting my head in a hole. I was really disappointed in our pro-China president and those who voted for him, but I didn't know what else I can do. Even though it's arguable whether Ma's actions were in the country's best interest or to fit his personal agenda of being returned to China, nothing short of an uprising could challenge that since the government has all sorts of ways to manipulate polls to be in their favour. And I did not want to admit we are at that point where we need to go Ukraine on the government. I was a bit hopeful when KMT agreed to deliberate with DPP, even though DPP is also known to be more politician than statesmen.
That changed two days ago, which brings me to my fourth point, and the most important reason for the people's rage.
Despite making a pact with DPP, KMT unilaterally announced the trade agreement passed, interpreting all the loopholes in legislation in their favor. This does not feel like a democratic country. Ma and KMT are so determined to complete the deal, they don't even bother to pretend to listen to the people anymore. The don't care what the people wants, and they are not afraid to show it, which makes ME afraid. Looking back on what happened to Ukraine just weeks ago, I am afraid for my future. I am afraid to know what a government like this will do next. I am afraid Taiwan will no longer be a independent country when I wake up tomorrow.
Ever since the news broke about how KMT forced the agreement through, students and scholars have started a non-violent protest called 占領立法院 (Congress Occupied), they have forced their way into our congress, the Legislative Yuan, and are currently occupying the place to protest and keep the congress from finishing meeting procedures and officially passing the agreement. (It's probably already been done though.) The students plan to stay inside until Friday, and their requests are: 1.For police to pull out of the Legislative Yuan; 2. Declare KMT's unilateral passing of the agreement illegal, and send back the agreement for deliberation; 3. Finish legislation on treaty-signing between China and Taiwan asap and cease all cross-trait negotiations before said legislation is completed. Despite the large crowds of students and police force at the scene, the situation is quite peaceful, with minimal violence. (Ups of living in a gun-free country!) People have been negotiating with the police and sending in supplies for the occupiers. Others like me who are not at the scene, we try to contribute by spreading the word online and raise awareness.
I write this post mainly as an outlet for my strong emotions, but also to let the world get a glimpse of what really is going on in Taiwan. Some news media are not reporting this situation AT ALL, and others are making the students out to be irrational mobs manipulated by DPP. I am a student, and I can tell you I am not manipulated by anyone, I'm just a person who really cares about the future of my country. I may or may not write more posts on this subject on this blog, but when I do, I hope I'll be bringing good news.
God bless Taiwan.