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'This isn't the democracy we want': Some Chinese dismayed by Taiwan students' occupation of legislature

Mainlanders express disappointment over violence, anarchy in Taiwanese students' occupation of legislature

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 3:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 8:21pm

As more than 1,000 students occupied Taiwan’s legislature to protest the ruling party’s handling of a trade pact with China, pictures and reports of the occupation - which soon went viral on Chinese social media on Thursday - triggered concerns and criticism from intellectuals and microbloggers on the mainland.

While many critics said they were disturbed by the dramatic images that reminded them of scenes from China’s Cultural Revolution, others said they were disappointed by the illegal occupation that they said borders on violence.

Students broke into the main assembly hall in Legislative Yuan building on Tuesday night and blocked the entrances with chairs. They had said they planned to stay there until Friday.

Taiwan has long been seen as a successful democracy that many of China’s liberals believe the mainland should emulate. Many especially believed its relatively peaceful transition from an autocracy to a democratic system served as a perfect example for the mainland’s future political reform. 

Yet pictures of the student protesters vandalising facilities in the legislature seemed to have shattered the belief previously held by many mainlanders.

“This is not the democracy we want for China,” many wrote on Weibo.

“Are we sure the Cultural Revolution is over? Watch those Taiwanese ‘Red Guards’,” microbloggers commented on pictures which showed students tearing down and vandalising the plaque of the Taiwanese legislature.

“We can’t blame either side alone for the problem, ” Tong Zongjin, an associate professor at China University of Political Science and Law, said. “But political problems should best be resolved through legal channels instead of resorting to an occupation of this kind.”

Tong said the occupation of the Taiwanese legislature and vandalism were “absolutely illegal.”

Tao Duanfang, a Chinese scholar and columnist who had participated in the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protest, said Taiwanese students need to figure out exactly what they were opposing first.

“They also need to prove that they can be constructive besides being purely destructive,” he said.

Tao said when he took to the streets with other students in 1989, instructions were given by student leader Wang Dan to make sure that the protest would proceed in an orderly manner. 

Yet he said Taiwanese students this time seemed to have been told exactly the opposite.

China’s famous Tiananmen protest leader Wang Dan, who now lives in exile in Taiwan, told Taiwanese media he supported students’ occupation of the legislature. He  visited the student protesters at the legislature this morning, along with Wu’er Kaixi, another former Tiananmen student leader who also lives in exile in Taiwan,  according to local media reports.

The occupation has received a more positive reaction from Hongkongers.

“I support you. Don’t let Taiwan become another Hong Kong, ”Hong Kong blogger “Jas” wrote on the website of BBC news.

Several other Hong Kong bloggers similar support message.

Reports of the occupation have been absent from major mainland news outlets.

The trade pact was signed last year in Shangahi and was intended to liberalise investment between mainland China and Taiwan. Yet opponents feared that the benefits will only be enjoyed by conglomerates and Taiwan's economy might be hollowed out as more businesses head to China.

 

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This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff
Love how communists like to bandy the "Red Guards" insult around against people who oppose their interests. We know who the Red Guards were and we know where they came from.
林嵐
I guess this is just a typical case of sour grapes lol
Anyhow, I would like to ask SCMP to to some fact checks before allowing readers to be mislead into thinking that all the students in the parliament are drinking, kissing and vandalising national property. All wayward behaviors are chastised and participators are told to not resort to violence unless the police starts exploiting more aggressive measures of eviction. If you need some more proof, go look up the live broadcast channel. I won't even provide the link because then you'll think I was paid to leave this message,,. as if I would even need an incentive to protect the democracy of my country and reputation of our cause.
veecee
Maybe this is the "democracy" they prefer... ****www.scmp.com/news/china-insider/article/1453947/arson-attack-kills-shandong-villager-during-dispute-over-land
hannared067
This article is simply biased and misleading. The truth is, this event initiated by Taiwanese students is very civilised and peaceful. The protesters are highly disciplined inside and out of the Legislator Yuan. No further explanation needed, just watch this video: ****www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wPWIIZyRb0&feature=share
Tom.ChangWei.Lin
I honestly can't think of any kind of democracy that you Chinese people would really want.
"Do you know that people often desire something but do not really want it? Don't be afraid to really want what you desire."
Slavoj Zizek, OWS Open Forum, Oct 09 2011
nathan.a.rubio
This article is misleading and is just helping to disseminate misinformation. But maybe that's the goal???
The information that the mainland Chinese are fed is all doctored up by the PRC. I feel bad for these Chinese that don't have freedom of the press and don't have access to more than a few sources of controlled information. I wouldn't be surprised of some of the people posting on weibo are in fact government proxies.
Also, democracy is messy but it's many times better than a corrupt totalitarian rule.
py.baubry@gmail.com
It is of course interesting to read reactions by Chinese people on Weibo to the events in Taiwan but the information they are fed with is so biased that your article then just reflects if not amplify this misinformation. It would have been gmore useful to oppose facts to their reactions : there is no violence going on in Taipei, protesters are highly organized, they even sort out their trashes for recycling!
jfamadei
This is one of the most one sided and un-factual news I've ever read on SCMP. No vandalism is going on in the Legislative Yuan aside some chairs and table displaced.
Formerly ******
Actually, this should be the democracy wanted by everyone. Yes, the demonstrators should be charged with trespassing and vandalism, if any; however, this demonstration shows that the people don't fear the government. Such an attitude on the part of the people makes for the healthiest and strongest of demcracies.
How would mainland China respond to such an event?
其實,這應該是希望通過大家的民主。是的,示威者應該負責侵入和破壞,如果有的話,然而,這個演示表明,人們並不擔心政府。對人民的一部分,這樣的態度使得demcracies的健康和強大。
如何將中國大陸應對此類事件?
msd
Stop the presses.
I live in Taipei. I can tell you there is no anarchy, no violence, and no vandalism going on in the Legislative Yuan. The students have occupied the space because the political process, which required a line item review of the pact, had broken down. The KMT declared, dishonestly, that the pact had cleared committee review.
The students are very clear in what they want: a line by line review and discussion of the trade pact.
There's a good amount of analysis concluding that the agreement brings little benefit to Taiwan and will likely decimate a number of sectors and further erode middle class incomes. Unlike the agreements signed recently with New Zealand and Singapore, this one is not done within the WTO framework. It means there is little objective recourse for Taiwan in case things go badly.
The government claims this agreement will facilitate other bi-lateral agreements by building good will with China, but that is neither proven nor maybe even likely. China has very well established objectives for Taiwan, and this agreement seems aimed at integrating the island into the Fujian economic sphere.
The KMT claims that Taiwan-China relations have special standing, and are not conducted country-to-country, as both claim to be the rightful government of China. Even if technically true, the problem in a pluralistic political environment like Taiwan is that the KMT, and its aspirations, do not speak for all.

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