by Brian Hioe

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RECENT ATTEMPTS by the KMT to co-opt the China Airlines strike in some way have been laughably half-hearted. The first night of the occupation outside China Airlines’ Taipei branch office saw the visit of KMT legislators Wang Yu-Min and Chiang Wan-An, the infamous grandson of Chiang Kai-Shek, as well KMT chairwoman Hung Hsiu-Chu.

In particular, Hung’s visit, which took place at 2 AM highly recalls the visit made by Tsai Ing-Wen to the Ministry of Education site in August 2015. As such, Hung’s visit probably fits into the broader pattern of behavior by the KMT attempting to imitate past actions of the DPP, to try and replicate what it perceives as the DPP’s success in winning over young people by way of the Sunflower Movement and Taiwanese youth activism.

Thus, Hung’s visit probably had the aim of attempting to co-opt proceedings in some sense. KMT legislators visiting the occupation site probably also was in imitation of how third party politicians of the so-called “Third Force” whose parties originate from post-Sunflower Movement activism often visit the site of demonstrations, as seen with the China Airlines strikes with visits by New Power Party and Social Democratic Party politicians. Hung would attempt to turn the issue into an attack on Tsai through statements released on social media, blaming Tsai for the working conditions that led to the strike, never mind that Tsai has only been in office for about a month and so cannot logically be held responsible for what came before her administration—which was, after all, previously a KMT administration under Ma Ying-Jeou.

Yet, of course, the KMT has been a traditional antagonist of Taiwanese organized labor, putting down organized labor for decades in the authoritarian period, and having an elitist attitude towards workers. A march for labor rights during past election season that passed by a KMT rally saw KMT members cursing out passing workers.

Thus, the truth to the lie would seem to be seen in the attitude of KMT central committee member Li Dewei towards the China Airlines strike, as expressed through a recent Facebook post. Li called flight attendants “greedy” and “rotten, claiming that airline workers already had it quite good, but were demanding more.

Apart from that this probably closer to the actual attitudes of KMT members towards the China Airlines strike, this would notably be a slap in the face for Hung. Despite her reputation as a hardliner, going to the China Airlines occupation site on the first night of the occupation was a bold move, and one in which she took a gamble—a surprising turnabout for the hardliner Hung. Already embattled as a controversial political figure even within the KMT, would make Hung stand to lose face. But this would be just further proof of the KMT’s disdain for the common people of Taiwan and its hypocrisy when it does, in fact, make attempts to appeal to everyday, working people facing economic hardship.

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