2014 IN REVIEW / 年終回顧
TAIWAN’S SUNFLOWER MOVEMENT
The story of the past year for Taiwan has, of course, been the Sunflower Movement which took Taiwan by storm on March 18th of the past year. Beginning with the apparently spontaneous seizure of the Taiwanese legislature, the Legislative Yuan, by a group of students protesting the CSSTA free trade agreement with China, the movement became more broadly an expression of dissatisfaction with Taiwan’s internal lack of democracy and the possibility of Chinese encroachment upon Taiwanese sovereignty. Though the occupation came to an end just under a month later, the implications of the Sunflower Movement continue to unfold for Taiwan, China, and, more broadly, the East Asian region.
HONG KONG’S UMBRELLA MOVEMENT
Certainly one of, if not the most important political event in the East Asian region of the past year, the outbreak of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement in late September caught the attention of the world in a way that the Sunflower Movement did not. But the developments of the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement was watched carefully by Taiwanese, not only because of the implications that it would pose for China’s own efforts to encroach upon Taiwanese sovereignty, but out of a sense of solidarity and a sense of shared cause. We are still witnessing the aftereffects of the Umbrella Movement regarding China’s attempts to settle questions of its perceived borders and its geopolitical agenda for the Asia-Pacific region.
The “nine-in-one” elections held in late November were the largest set of local elections in Taiwanese history. Following the Sunflower Movement, nine-in-one elections were viewed domestically and internationally as a referendum on the policies of the KMT government, and ended with the triumph of independent mayoral candidate Ko Wen-Je in the contest for mayorship of Taipei with KMT candidate and Lien family scion Sean Lien and the general victory of pan-Green candidates across Taiwan.
Although Taiwan has a reputation as a LGBTQ-friendly country, particularly in comparison to other East Asian countries, a number of challenges continue to unmet. Questions of women’s rights and feminism continue to be an issue. Despite the apparent successes of politically progressive groups and individuals in past elections, misogynist or chauvinist sentiment persists even within Taiwanese civil society.
While the Taiwanese labor movement has faced a number of historical challenges which date back to the restrictions placed on labor during the Martial Law period, this year was a year with no shortage of activity by Taiwanese labor. Apart from a May Day protest which carried on immediately after the Sunflower Movement, the year’s prominent labor struggles were the Former Toll Collectors Self-Help Organization of laid-off toll worker’s attempt to raise attention to their plight and former workers of Hualon Group to receive full renumeration for owed payouts.
The longstanding issues of forced land eviction in Taiwan, whether in urban centers as Taipei, or rural areas as Miaoli, remain unresolved. Following the demolition of the Chang Pharmacy, Miaoli was largely quiet for the past year. However, the demolition of the Wang family residence in Shilin, where members of the Wang family had been holding out against the developers of the Wenlin Yuan apartment complex, marked the unfortunate end of a prolonged struggle. Yet the question of urban eviction was raised again close to the end of the year regarding the forced evictions that would have to take place in Taoyuan County in order to develop the Taoyuan Aerotropolis complex.
THE ANTI-NUCLEAR MOVEMENT
While nuclear power has been protested in Taiwan for decades, the past year was an eventful one for anti-nuclear activists. Apart from a large-scale protest in early March, immediately following the end of the occupation of the Legislative Yuan, nuclear power became a hotbed issue with the hunger strike of well-respected democracy activist and former chairman of the DPP Lin Yi-Hsiung against nuclear power in Taiwan. This culminated in the occupation of major intersection Zhongxiao West Road on April 27th by over 50,000, protestors only being driven away later that night through the use of riot police and tear gas. With the “temporary halt” of construction on the controversial Nuclear Reactor No. 4 in Gongliao, the Taiwanese anti-nuclear movement would seem to have won a victory, but it remains a question as to whether construction will resume in the future.
反對核能發電的抗爭在台灣已經持續數十年之久，過去這一年卻是反核運動者多事的一年。除了三月太陽花運動前夕，吸引數萬人走上台北街頭的大規模抗議之外，就在立法院占領退場之後，由於備受尊崇的民主運動人士，前民進黨主席林義雄以絕食反對台灣核電，核能議題再次成為爭論焦點，在 4 月 27 日超過五萬人占領台北市交通要道忠孝西路時達到最高峰，最後在隔天凌晨被鎮暴警察及水砲強制驅離。隨著備受爭議的貢寮第四核能發電廠工程「暫停」，台灣反核運動看來是獲得勝利了，但核四工程是否還會復工，台灣其他核子反應爐如何處置，以及過去藉著讓島上原住民相信核廢料儲存場是罐頭工廠而存放在蘭嶼的核廢料未來如何處理，都還是未知數。而且，由於日本有可能重啟核電，只要輻射汙染仍是跨越國界的威脅，核能議題就會繼續爭論下去，核能發電議題的國際合作也是有待討論的問題。