Photo Credit: Daniel Yo-Ling
AS DEMONSTRATIONS against Asian hate are staged across the United States, about eighty people gathered this morning at 8:30 AM in front of Taipei City Hall for a march against anti-Asian racism and misogyny in light of the rise in hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islands (AAPI) in the United States and the March 16th Atlanta spa shootings, which claimed the lives of eight people, six of which were Asian women.
One of the march organizers, Reichi Lee—born and raised in Taipei and recently returned from Berkeley, California—spoke first, stating “We march to raise awareness about the rising racism and misogyny against [Asian American and Pacific Islanders] in the United States and other parts of the world.” The Taipei march was organized by a group of AAPI women in Taiwan to coincide with other US-based demonstrations happening on March 26th, such as the #StopAsianHate Virtual National Day of Action and Healing and adjacent #StandWithAsians programming.
With over four times the net inflow of Taiwanese nationals returning to Taiwan in 2020 compared to the previous year, there is a significant group of Taiwanese and dual-nationals who have returned to Taiwan. This morning’s march was attended by primarily Taiwanese and Taiwanese diaspora, as well as a significant contingent of English-speaking foreigners. Speakers gave speeches in both English and Mandarin. Taiwanese American non-binary activist Darice Chang spoke on behalf of Women’s March Taiwan stating, “Here in Taiwan, the Asian American diaspora worries for our families and loved ones abroad where racialized violence against Asian Americans has risen during the pandemic.”
Chang, along with many other speakers, also drew attention to the “ethnic supremacism and racialized misogyny” in Taiwan that afflicts the largely Southeast Asian migrant worker population. It is currently estimated that there are about 230,000 Southeast Asian female migrant workers in Taiwan, primarily working as domestic caregivers for Taiwan’s aging population. Other speakers similarly emphasized the need to stand with migrant workers in Taiwan as part of the march against racism and misogyny. These calls come just two weeks after the migrant workers demonstration in Taipei on International Women’s Day.
Similar to the variety of actions being advanced in the United States in response to the increase in anti-Asian hate incidents and the Atlanta shootings, participants in the Taipei march espoused a range of political actions. Olivia Chen, a Taiwanese American living in Taipei and the San Francisco Bay Area, co-founder and executive director of Project EMplify, emphasized that “Hate crimes against Asians need to be logged as hate crimes … [because] it sends a message to the greater community that those kinds of incidences cannot and should not happen.”
Another speaker, Taiwanese scholar and New Bloom editor Wen Liu, sympathized saying “I know a lot of people are calling for that [hate crime legislation], but if you look at the history, hate crimes are never preventative, they are always about increasing punishment, increasing police. In that way, if we demand that [hate crimes], Asian American movements or global Asian movements are going to be farther away from other people of color who are struggling to end police violence.” The utility or futility of hate crime legislation and carceral thinking amongst Asian Americans has been the subject of much conversation in recent months in the US, especially as it relates to questions of abolition and Black-Asian solidarity. These tensions could also be seen across the Pacific here in Taipei this morning.
Marchers left Taipei City Hall and headed toward Liberty Plaza along Xinyi Road. As participants marched, more people joined in, with the crowd reaching over 100 at its highest point. Signs by marchers also reflected a variety of framings and positions, with some emphasizing racial bias, others white supremacy, and still others calling for broader solidarity that would include Uyghurs being persecuted in Xinjiang and Black people in the United States.
At 10:40AM, marchers reach their final destination in Liberty Plaza, the crowd now thinned to around 50, and chanted “Stop Asian Hate!” Aurora Chang, Salina Kuo, and Claire Tiunn, members of Taiwan Mixed—an aggregator project for English language news on Taiwan—offered closing words and recited the names of the Atlanta shooting victims: Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, and Yong Ae Yue. Chang, Kuo, and Tiunn also shared with the crowd that Taiwan Mixed will be holding a community forum in Taipei on Sunday, March 28th to continue the conversation on #StopAsianHate here in Taiwan.