- Posted March 23, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Protesters occupy Taiwan legislature
Q&A: Occupying Taiwan Legislature
"When a dictator become a reality, revolution is the obligation"
These strong words were sprayed onto the walls of the Legislative Yuan yesterday (March 21), telling us why we were out here protesting. As a Taiwanese American, many have asked me questions, including foreigners wondering "what is going on here?". Below are some of the questions and the answers to help you further understand why we are here doing what we are doing.
Q: What are the people protesting?
A: The people are peacefully protesting what President Ma has done to evade the normal procedures of a democratic nation. He has chosen to use his party's majority in the legislature to pass a trade agreement without even presenting the specific details and explaining them to the nation. We, the people, are protesting what he has done to evade the normal procedures of a democratic nations for a trade agreement that can impact the lives of everyone here in Taiwan.
Q: What is the China Taiwan Trade Pact and how will it affect the people?
A: The China Taiwan Trade Pact is a trade pact that allows both Chinese and Taiwanese people to invest in one another's economy. Yes, there are plenty of limits on what each can invest on, but by allowing a nation of nearly 1.4 billion people into a nation of 23 million people, many Taiwanese people will lose jobs as corporations move to Taiwan and hire cheaper Chinese workers to work in Taiwan. Furthermore, this trade pact will eventually allow large investors to share the same benefits as a Taiwanese, including healthcare.
Q: What are the student's request?
A: Initially the students had 3 extremely simple requests. An apology from President Ma, to completely retract the trade pact, and to create a committee to oversee the cross strait relations. As the government has failed to respond to any of these, the people, as of 1PM local time, have 4 requests: 1.) a public meeting in which anybody can participate to see what the government is truly doing; 2.) A committee to oversee the cross-strait relations' actions; 3.) reject trade agreement until the committee has been established; and 4.) for both the DPP party and the KMT party to respond the people requests. These are extremely simple requests, but the government still fails to apologize and meet these responses, angering more and more people.
Q: How have the people helped?
A: I have walked around in the protests and seen many things. People have donated thousands of boxes of water for the people, as well as blankets, stickers, banners, paper and paint, food, snacks, drinks, and more. Others have assisted by sitting and surrounding other DPP offices throughout Taiwan.
Q: What has the government done?
A: As of right now, they have only done 3 clear things. 1.) They have placed more than 5,000 police here, many tired and some sick after standing guard for six days. 2.) The government has sent the Head of the Executive Yuan, who simply said that he cannot accept the student's terms. 3.) The President gave a short statement earlier today,that he will not be accepting the terms as he believes it "benefits the Taiwanese people". President Ma has repeatedly said that because the event is occurring in the Legislative Yuan, it is the Head of the Legislative Yuan (Head of Legislative Yuan)'s responsibility. It is clear to many that he is trying to push the responsibilities to his opposer.
Q: Who's protesting?
A: The protest is primarily led by college students, beginning with hundreds of students storming the parliament. As of now, there is no definite amount of people as people come and go and the protest covers plenty of streets. I would estimate that more than 150,000 have at one point come and protested, but there is at most 60,000 people at any given time over the past 6 days. These people are NOT of any political party, though President Ma has repeatedly blamed the KMT party for creating such havoc. We are students, we are people, we are THE people of this nation, we are not of any particular party.
Q: What is the protest like?
A: The organizers of the protest has strictly enforced a PEACEFUL protest. The protest is unbelievably organized, with college students formed into teams, including jobs like security (preventing non-peaceful protests), medical (led by students currently in medical school), clean-up (trash management), resource management (to manage the thousands of resources we are receiving), and more.
Q: Why is President Ma's approval rate so low?
A: I believe this is a matter of opinion, but to me, it's his lack of response to the people. Over the past years, we have seen President Ma support the much-hated Nuclear power plant within miles from the capital (Taipei), we have seen his support for ECFA (an earlier version of this trade agreement), and now this trade agreement. Each time, more than tens of thousands of people ask him to back down, but he never responds. It was surprising to many he even held a press conference this time.
Q: Why does this matter to us, the foreigners?
A: Taiwan has always been a significant nation in terms of international interests in Asia. China claims Taiwan is part of their sovereign land, yet Taiwan has had a government for decades now. Taiwan is significant in the world as it provides for a large amount of the world's technological pieces. It is a nation whose expertise is production of technology, communications and information technology products, pharmaceuticals, cement, petroleum, food processing, etc. Not only do we provide a large amount of resources, we are also a militarily significant location, but I am not a particular expert of this - so I would redirect you to other sources for this.
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Author's note: I am a Taiwanese American who grew up in Taiwan but was raised under the American system. I will clearly state here that I support Taiwan's independence and thus may be biased against this trade agreement, as it is similar to the agreement in which ultimately led to Hong Kong becoming part of China.