Monday, December 21, 2009

DPP Rally, Dec 19, 2009

Sunday I marched in the DPP's march & rally "breaking the black box/protecting the rice bowls" to protest the arrival of PRC negotiator Chen Yunlin in our fair city of Taichung. We came early, before the crowd gathered here along a 1.5 kilometer stretch of Anhe Rd.

Tripods await news cameras.

A TV announcer warms up.

Preparing for the big broadcast.

Rally goers began arriving around 1:00 in buses from all over Taiwan.

The family is ready.

Rally-goers in uniform vests were a common sight.

An airhorn seller. Thankfully there did not seem to be many airhorns in our part of the crowd.

Although the sun came out for brief moments throughout the march, it was quite cold.

The DPP had plenty of its own volunteers doing traffic management and security.

Here a security volunteer receives instruction in the use of the lightsaber.

We ran into one of my wife's old classmates, now a DPP county councilman for Taipei county.

The crowd builds.

Taichung Mayor Jason Hu, a canny politician, laid on buses to move the protesters from the train station to the rally point. They were called "Love Democracy Buses" as the sign atop the bus says.

The old were a strong presence in the rally, with a leavening of families in their 40s with small children. There was hardly anyone under 35. The DPP rallies offer nothing to attract the young, so they don't come.

This cute father and son team was heavily photo'd.

Lots of home-made signs.

As the crowd stacked up, traffic become more and more difficult to manage. The police and the DPP volunteers did a great job.

This DPP politico lead the crowd cheers. Here she is giving out interviews.

Another contingent arrives.

The crowd continues to build.

Perhaps the most interesting vehicle was the photographers truck. It was dog-eat-dog up there.

Tossing oranges to the crowd.

Festooned with signs and banners and....a large crustacean, this truck drove by to cheers from the crowd.

The crowd stretched down both sides of Anhe Rd here for over a kilometer.

A number of prominent DPP politicians appeared. Here former Chairman Yu Shyi-kun arrives.

Frank Hsieh spoke as well.

Of course, Tsai Ing-wen had the last word.

A rally-goer.

The crowd waits to move.

A cameraman films the crowd as we walk up Anhe Rd.

Lin Cho-shui was there just standing by the side of the road.

On the move.

A large ROC was painted on a building near Chen Yunlin's route. Another equally gigantic sign announced "one China, one Taiwan."

Marching along Taichunggang Rd to chants of "One country on each side!"

The HSR roars overhead.

Security films the crowd.

I was never able to get above the crowd for a good shot, too many signs and things blocking the view.

It wasn't the only thing shivering.

Emerging into the city.

Construction cranes everywhere on this side of the city signal strong construction-industrial state support for the incumbent KMT mayor, Jason Hu.

The police were everywhere and did a fantastic job in traffic and crowd management.

The crowd approaches Liming Rd.

Moving in style.

Marching down Liming Rd.

As the marchers went down Liming, the crossing traffic cut up the crowd into chunks.

My family and I with my friend Drew, taken by Drew's wife, Joyce.

Crowd estimates: as we were walking and talking on the phone with people in the other line, there was much cynical commentary among us foreigners on how badly the international media would lowball the crowd size and how much credence it would give the always absurdly low police figures. Some estimates:

AFP: "up to 30,000"
AP: the police said 20-30,000, and reported (fairly) "tens of thousands."
Reuters: "Organizers said 100,000 people attended the march. Local police put the figure at 10,000." The report said "thousands" demonstrated. Reuters also said:
"Among the protesters were hardliners who want Taiwan to declare formal independence from China. Some waved banners advocating 'one side, one country.'"
This construction is ridiculous on every level. Apparently, in the international media, if you march peacefully waving a banner and declare that you support an independent and democratic Taiwan, you're a "hardliner." But if you point missiles at Taiwan, declare that everyone on the island must submit or die, and threaten to plunge the region into war if you don't get your way, you're.....a statesman? Hey Reuters, the President of China is a mass murderer. I guess if only he would wave banners and chant, people would really think he was a hardliner.

Not to mention the grossly incorrect formulation that Taiwan is declaring independence "from China." We're not part of China, and no internationally recognized treaty makes us part of China. There's a reason people read blogs, and errors like this are it.

The CNA, by contrast, did an excellent job; the reporter who wrote this piece was actually there:

In the days leading up to Sunday's protest rally, the DPP said it hoped to mobilize 100,000 people, and the party estimated after the event that the turnout had surpassed its goal. The Taichung City government, on the other hand, put the turnout at 31,000.

Fears that clashes would break out never materialized. Taichung City government spokesperson Tsou Mei-liang earlier said that no confrontations took place Sunday, and it was not a surprise since "the protest was legally applied for and all arrangements had been implemented beforehand." Prior to the main rally, the protesters marched for more than two hours in Taichung's streets, and made the most noise when they walked past the Windsor Hotel, where Chen will stay during his five-day stay, to express their displeasure over the Chinese negotiator's visit.

The Taipei Times also reported a police figure of 30,000. Good to know that the process ran peacefully, but with Chen Yunlin arriving later this morning, and local KMT councilman coyly asking the DPP not to get violent, I smell a set up.

What I believe is the correct figure is given in the Taiwan News piece by longtime Taiwan journalist Dennis Engbarth, who was actually there:

Marchers in the first route, which was mobilized by the DPP, numbered over 40,000, according to former DPP secretary-general Lin Chia-lung, while the "Break the Black Box" route had over 30,000 participants.

DPP Spokesman Tsai Chi-chang stated that over 100,000 participated in the event, surpassing the party's target.

Dennis and I were in different lines, I would say about 60-70,000 for the whole march as well. 30,000 is ridiculous; there were more people than that in my line alone. The DPP figure of 100,000 is also too high. The mysterious 10,000 number in the Reuters piece is simply the kind of nonsense that makes you shake your head. UPDATE: Found out that incredibly lowball figure was the first figure the police were giving out. That was later changed to 30,000.

This march had a different feel than the rallies I was in last year, much less electric, more mellow. As a friend noted, fewer airhorns, thankfully. Perhaps it was just the cold weather. Turnout was probably also depressed by Taichung's lack of convenient public transportation.

Taiwan News quoted the DPP's Lin Chia-lung, the likely challenger for the upgraded Taichung mayoralty next year:
Former DPP secretary-general Lin Chia-lung told The Taiwan News that the fact that the march attained its target "will exert pressure on the Chiang-Chen talks."

"Hu Jintao (PRC State Chairman) stated that the ECFA talks should be launched before the end of this year, but the size of this march in Taichung City, which is under KMT administration, and the strong showing of young people shows that many people in Taiwan identify its advocations."

"The march has sent a message to Hu that the CCP cannot simply strike a deal with Ma or the KMT and ignore the Taiwan people," said Lin, who added that "Ma now faces a combined pressure from the Taiwan electorate and the CCP."
Young people? What young people? I don't know about the other line, but there were few in mine.

ADDED: There were young people among the crowds lining the roads. I suspect if the DPP offered the right activities, consumption items, rituals, and gestures, the young might well turn out. It should also be noted, as a friend reminded me, that the turnout along the road is important too.

CORRECTED: maddog writes:

The DPP rallies offer nothing to attract the young, so they don't come. Kou Chou Ching (sp?) and Dog G performed at the rally. Did you miss it? I did miss it! Thanks man. That's good news.
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14 comments:

Thomas said...

I have several thoughts about your comments. First, do you have any idea how many "young people" attend KMT rallies? Before knocking the DPP rallies for their lack of non-grey heads, perhaps a bit of comparison is warranted. I ask because it seems to be common in many places that the young are the least politically active. If we can show that young greens are less active than young blues, then we may have a problem.

Second, you noticed that the march was more subdued. I was not there, so I can't comment on the energy of the crowd in itself. However, if it was more subdued, a plausible reason would be the nature of the talks that will be going on this week. The four agreements that will be signed may include nuggets that harm Taiwan (we won't know until later), but their stated aims are, for the most part, not too problematic. This means that the crowd didn't have an urgent problem to protest against. Rather, people were protesting an ongoing process.

Third, I was interested to note that the SCMP's coverage of the protest both the day before and today were largely positive, despite the fact that Lawrence Chung wrote them.

Sunday's paper presented the rally as a key test of Tsai's leadership and a measure of the discontent of the opposition. Today's paper used "tens of thousands" as the number of protestors, but did later use the police number of 30,000 (SCMP channels AFP a lot, so this is not surprising). But the number aside, LC actually said played the rally as somewhat of a victory for Tsai and the DPP because there were no incidents. The key idea was that she delivered on a promise that there would be no violence and came off looking reasonable, much aided by the absence of Chen Shuibian.

Marc said...

Especially like your people pics. You should do a portrait essay on progressives in Taiwan!

les said...

Public TV (公視) news had the number at 200,000. Their footage also showed the crowd as elderly and working class.

Anonymous said...

I think it is not that young people are not supportive or disinterested, but DPP rallies (political rallies in general) have changed little in the past 20 years with the same songs, stunts and methodologies. It probably comes across as a little hokey to a 28 year-old tech engineer who is two or three generations removed from the "simple farmer" image the DPP likes to cultivate.

Anonymous said...

The old are retired from their occupation,and they works in DPP's rally for their young who are still working to bring up a family which has the younger studying in schools.That's why there are lots of the old in DPP's rally.

Formosaness do this for generations.When the young get old,they will follow this steps to build a nation.

Richard said...

Thanks for the pictures. As a "young" one, I can say that for the most part, a majority of the young Taiwanese crowd that I have come in contact with is definitely leaning on the "green" side in a very general scale. I know very few that are outspokenly in favor of the KMT, or the KMT unification politices, and Ma (although that may just be my inadvertent ability to tend to draw closer to "greener" Taiwanese folks).

It's definitely an issue of inability to mobilize the young generation, even though they may agree with and support the "green" side. Most of the responses I heard when I invited some of my friends to participate in the 517 rally earlier this year, were that they just don't think going out and protesting does anything to help the situation or solve. That and of course the, "I have other stuff to do."

I guess it's just something that will have to "hit home" for most of us to realize that actions need to be taken. I think a reasonable goal for Tsai Ing-wen is to mobilize these young folk to just get the vote out in elections, at the very least- and that is when it really counts. Something similar to the U.S. where there was campaign to "rock the vote."

Anonymous said...

"I think it is not that young people are not supportive or disinterested, but DPP rallies (political rallies in general) have changed little in the past 20 years with the same songs, stunts and methodologies."

Fucking troll. Another one of those "the DPP is for southerners with no manners types" with a smug sense of Taipei superiority.

The DPP had its starts as an ultra urban party. Basically no one supported the "radical" DPP, but of those that did, nearly all of them were in Taipei and in the north. They started out having very significant strength in the north of Taiwan, owning the northern city/county heads, though in Taipei, that was an upset by Chen Shui-bian through a split of the Blues (still, ~40% of the vote during the mid 90s!!). It was the party of intellectuals, radicals, young people, and idealists, all of whom tend to live in big cities.

I think very unfortunately, there has been a loss of idealism by the intelligentsia, the current generation whom only knows of martial law in their childhood if at all, but even today, it's still true that the young and intellectuals lean Green. And you ignore that the DPP has GROWN its support throughout the nineties till now.

The better question is why the KMT was so quick to have the southern farmer type turn against it, so much so that the DPP became a majority in the south that it had not yet achieved in the north, not why the DPP "lost" some imaginary majority among the north it never had.

les said...

I wonder how much CSB's campaign had to do with the disinterest from the young? Remember his first campaign, how they managed to package him into a younger, cooler image? Beanie hats and so on?
I wonder how much more disaffected the young are these days, or that's a reason for the disinterest. I once had politics here described to me as the new religion. Are the young losing their faith in the whole process?

Anonymous said...

What is with you guys? The YOUNG lean DPP! TVBS poll from last presidential election!!! This discussion makes no sense!

Anonymous said...

It's definitely an issue of inability to mobilize the young generation, even though they may agree with and support the "green" side. Most of the responses I heard when I invited some of my friends to participate in the 517 rally earlier this year, were that they just don't think going out and protesting does anything to help the situation or solve. That and of course the, "I have other stuff to do."

I guess it's just something that will have to "hit home" for most of us to realize that actions need to be taken. I think a reasonable goal for Tsai Ing-wen is to mobilize these young folk to just get the vote out in elections, at the very least- and that is when it really counts. Something similar to the U.S. where there was campaign to "rock the vote."

5:36 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I think it is not that young people are not supportive or disinterested, but DPP rallies (political rallies in general) have changed little in the past 20 years with the same songs, stunts and methodologies."

Fucking troll. Another one of those "the DPP is for southerners with no manners types" with a smug sense of Taipei superiority.

The DPP had its starts as an ultra urban party. Basically no one supported the "radical" DPP, but of those that did, nearly all of them were in Taipei and in the north. They started out having very significant strength in the north of Taiwan, owning the northern city/county heads, though in Taipei, that was an upset by Chen Shui-bian through a split of the Blues (still, ~40% of the vote during the mid 90s!!). It was the party of intellectuals, radicals, young people, and idealists, all of whom tend to live in big cities.

I think very unfortunately, there has been a loss of idealism by the intelligentsia, the current generation whom only knows of martial law in their childhood if at all, but even today, it's still true that the young and intellectuals lean Green. And you ignore that the DPP has GROWN its support throughout the nineties till now.

The better question is why the KMT was so quick to have the southern farmer type turn against it, so much so that the DPP became a majority in the south that it had not yet achieved in the north, not why the DPP "lost" some imaginary majority among the north it never had.


Another question to ask is how the DPP managed to lose so much of its urban support. In the past they have controlled Taipei City, Taipei County, Taoyuan, Taichung, Jilong, Xinzhu.They had a lot of support from the urban working class as well as the progressive middle class. I think they lost much of that support because they failed to do anything significant to advance the interests of the working class, and instead tried to mobilize support on the basis of (sub-)ethnic identity and a strong independence platform.
Still waiting for a genuinely progressive opposition party.

Michael Turton said...

What is with you guys? The YOUNG lean DPP! TVBS poll from last presidential election!!! This discussion makes no sense!

Yes, but how do we get DPP-leaning young to get out there and demonstrate?

Anonymous said...

"Fucking troll. Another one of those "the DPP is for southerners with no manners types" with a smug sense of Taipei superiority."


Lol!!!

I think this is hilarious. If you only knew who you called a "troll".

That's like calling anyone who criticizes "the Party" a XYZ roader. If you notice the criticism was constructive in that it raised the question asking if the DPP needs to start playing with the formula or if the DPP is changing to best reflect contemporary Taiwan. I think this is a very valid point. The generation gap is a very real marker of cultural change. It is a good thing because it eschews the "traditional" and seeks to create culture (freeing culture from traditional Historical narratives).

I think you misunderstood my criticism of DPP rallies, which recycle the same skits, slogans and rituals. These rallies are predictable because they are all the same and follow the same arc with the same memes. Remember Frank Hsieh's campaign. He ran a formulaic campaign with formulaic rallies and formulaic signs and formulaic memes. He was running on an old formula. It was tired. What mobilized people in the past will not mobilize people in the future. I remember Ma had a much slicker campaign.

I am not being classist, but I really don't think young Taiwanese envision themselves as farmers.

Still, I attend the rallies and throw my support behind the cause.

... Dumbass!

Anonymous said...

"Yes, but how do we get DPP-leaning young to get out there and demonstrate?"

Is that what it should be about? Showing up in large numbers to influence Ma and the KMT certainly has its place, but are we so unimaginative that all we want is for the young to show up for rallies?

The DPP is a loose alliance of ideologically similar politicians and their supporters. But it is also a platform and a forum for political discussion.

Why doesn't the DPP create an online presence that facilitates discussion and exchange of ideas? Why don't they think of new ways to enhance interaction among Green supporters that's beneficial to them and to the party? There are tons of local issues (destruction of old architecture, environmental issues like the Central Taiwan Science Park's twin clean water and waste water problems); where is the discussion and the positions?

I can't find the DPP's position on a carbon tax or water/electricity prices or on subsidence of land in Changhua. What are your constructive thoughts on more effective and meaningful participation of young in the DPP? They are very educated, very computer literate, and they don't want to just show up to a rally to support a very narrow platform of issues, important as they are.

Michael Turton said...


I can't find the DPP's position on a carbon tax or water/electricity prices or on subsidence of land in Changhua. What are your constructive thoughts on more effective and meaningful participation of young in the DPP? They are very educated, very computer literate, and they don't want to just show up to a rally to support a very narrow platform of issues, important as they are.


That's a great reply. The DPP positions are out there laid out in white papers. But I take your main point.

Michael