Monday, March 31, 2014

Meanwhile... there's an election on: posters!

Out and about in Changhua and Taichung, photo'd lots of signs for the party primaries. Click on read more to...

The White Wolf threatens the LY protesters =UPDATED=


UPDATED: Wall of people there to protect LY according to news reports, many locals joining in to protect their students. They know what is at stake.

Chang An-le, the pro-unification gangster, is threatening to attack the students in the LY, as Cole reports:
Chang, who should be in court defending himself, was released on bail in June 2013 a few hours after his return to Taiwan, which he’d fled amid a nationwide crackdown on organized crime 18 years ago. Rather than be tied up with lawyers and court summons, Chang, also known as “White Wolf” (白狼), has appeared on TV shows, brushed elbows with local KMT politicians, bought support with “humanitarian” aid, and opened campaign offices around the country — even in Tainan, the “heartland” of Taiwanese independence.

And he’s flexed his old unreformed muscles by threatening various people, including the leaders of an NGO fighting for the rights of laid-off workers, the Dalai Lama, and Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德). Chang himself showed up briefly after the first goon “knife” incident at the LY, surrounded by individuals you’d never trust your daughter with (the same thug-looking types who surrounded him when Chang sat a few meters away from me at a popular drinking hole in Taipei a few months ago).

With no end of the occupation at the LY in sight, Chang has now called upon 2,000 of his “friends” to retake the legislature tomorrow, April 1. Given who his friends are, it’s difficult to imagine that they would do so through gentle persuasion (the irony of a man who advocates for unification with an authoritarian regime seeking to liberate the legislature is an unctuous one). “Netizens” with ostensible ties to Chang have also now called for the occupation of movement leader Lin Fei-fan’s home in Tainan. The message was left on the “White Justice Alliance” Facebook page. Ahead of the movement’s mass protest on Ketagalan Blvd and around the LY on March 30, Lin had received a text message on his cell phone threatening that “blood would be spilled” if their proceeded, a threat that was taken seriously enough as to warrant police protection for the two students.
Recall that in 2008 Ma's sister met with Chang...

Eight years ago I wrote up a long one on who the White Wolf is.

I sure hope the police arrest him, but I doubt they have the guts.
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

500K People at least Protest for Taiwan democracy

Apple Daily says it all: 500,000 showed up. Some media are estimating as many as 700,000. Well, except for the pro-China media, which put out even lower numbers than the police. Kudos to the DPP, which did not hijack the protest and remained in the background. My son reported no DPP flags there. Kudos also to the students of Taiwan, who turned out in huge numbers and who did a great job organizing the rally. The enormous turnout shows how the people of Taiwan, especially the young, have incorporated the ideal of democracy into the Taiwan identity. No time to blog today, enjoy some links....
Daily Links:
  • MEDIA AWESOMENESS: The Diplomat publishes piece defending Confucius Institutes from academic at GWU, which hosts a Confucius Institute, but does not inform readers of that. Nor does academic. FAIL. Marshall Sahlins responds to McCord here.
  • IMPORTANT: Ma said yesterday protest won't affect Ma-Xi meeting. Heh. Meaning that he is going to accelerate it now. The protest must have Beijing and the KMT running scared. Will KMT legislators bolt? Will this impact the upcoming elections? And most important of all, what will legislative Speaker and Ma rival Wang Jin-pyng do? He canceled the fifth round of cross-party talks on the trade pact ahead of Ma's speech and the protest (here).
  • Cole: Does sunflower movement have an exit strategy? Excellent piece. Cole owns this movement, no one has done a better job of bringing it to the world.
  • WSJ pegs rally at 350K
  • Reuters, reporting from alternate universe, says 100K turned out. It must suck to be a Reuters reporter with no television, Google, Facebook, or Twitter in their office.
  • Premier Jiang rejects student demands. Two things -- (1) Jiang is being the hardass in the tradition of the Benevolent Great Leader sending out underling to do the nasty stuff and (2) Ma would like Jiang to follow him as President and party leader, I suspect, but this clash has probably put a stake in his political career. 
  • FocusTaiwan, the government news site, desperately struggles to make the 3,000 pathetic counter-demonstrators from Saturday look as if they were big.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

NELSON REPORT: David Brown on Hsiao Bi-khim's letter

DPP legislator Hsiao Bi-khim wrote a letter to the Nelson Report, this is a response from David Brown at SAIS at Johns Hopkins. Brown is on the Board of AIT and is a former foreign service officer. His political sympathies will be obvious from the tone of the letter and the direction of its numerous errors and omissions.


LOYAL READER COMMENTARY ON BI-KHIM/DPP LETTER in last night's Report....Asia expert and SAIS scholar Dave Brown offers some helpful perspective, followed by a note from the hard-working team at TECRO here in DC:


Thanks for sharing Bi-Khim's open letter. She deserves respect, but this piece is a partisan statement of DPP views on the current crisis in the LY [MT -- to which Brown replies with a partisan statement of KMT views]. That's her job, of course. [MT -- Hsiao is a politician. What is Brown's job as a SAIS scholar?]

You and others will note that it omits much of the story concerning the STA, which the DPP has opposed from its signing last June. She conveniently omits the DPP's record of obstruction of LY consideration of the agreement.[MT -- just as Brown conveniently omits the KMT's similar record]. That began in the special LY session last fall and continued with dilatory handling of forums on the agreement.

The week before March 17, the DPP had repeatedly prevented the planned article by article review of the STA at the LY committee level. That obstructionism was the proximate incentive for the KMT to ram through a decision moving the STA from committee to plenary consideration on Mar. 18. [MT -- both parties were engaged in it but it was very obviously the KMT that was blocking the process, as Cole notes. For example, here and here. As the pro-KMT China Post notes, it was the KMT that blocked the podium on Mar 13. Recall that the KMT does not want a floor vote, because their legislators don't want to be seen voting for this dog. They want it to become law administratively. Thus DPP obstructionism was not the "proximate incentive" but merely a KMT excuseAnd another error here -- the pact was sent for plenary review on the 17th, not the 18th. Brown has the chronology all wrong.]

It is remarkable that the students reacted so quickly that same evening to occupy the LY. [MT -- this is unconscionable. The Interior committee "closed" the review on March 17 (China Post report) and the protesters occupied the legislature on the evening of the 18th. How is over 24 hours "quickly?" They were not even the same day as Brown claims!]. The KMT has accused the DPP of instigating this action, an accusation that many believe [MT -- and those believers are KMTers]. Unnamed DPP politicians were reportedly on the scene later that evening [MT -- yes, they and TSU legislators were there to protect the students from the police. They were hardly unnamed as they were in their party clothing and easily recognizable -- they were on TV and in thousands of videos and stills!]; and the party endorsed the action the following day, and then encouraged all its members to support the students' illegal occupation.[MT -- of course. When people support your values, you should support them. Hint, hint.].

A DPP poll published a few days earlier had indicated that a plurality of DPP members (40%) were dissatisfied with the party's knee-jerky opposition to every step forward in cross-strait relations [MT -- poll is here]. So rather than have the DPP LY caucus responsible for continuing to block consideration of the STA [MT -- the KMT caucus was blocking too], wasn't it in the DPP's interest to have students play that role? [MT -- yes. Perhaps Brown should ask why the protests have majority support and why so many students, including many of my own, were willing to come out. Not to mention that 70% of the public supports a line by line review, the review the KMT was trying to stop. And as polls show, that dog of a pact only has 20% support now.].

Bi-Khim portrays this as a struggle for democracy. It's really another fundamental clash of approaches toward the mainland and toward Taiwan's future [MT -- Ummm... hello! What is that but a struggle about the future of Taiwan's democracy!]. But if its about democracy, is the DPP's repeated physical blocking of LY action democratic? [MT -- is the KMT's? Obviously, the DPP's tactics are in the realm of normal tactics practiced by both parties in Taiwan's democracy. Obviously cutting off the review before it occurred was not.]

The DPP's problem is that the KMT, divided as it is, has a LY majority, and the DPP will go to whatever lengths are necessary to block the majority when their key interests are involved or when it suits the DPP's election mobilization goals to exploit issues for political advantage. [MT -- Brown is obviously trying hard to gin up a DPP conspiracy here. Can we have some actual evidence, please? O wait... Brown doesn't have any.]

I suspect that the fall election is a key consideration in how the party is handling the issue. In this country we would not permit such obstruction to occur in the Congress, and we would not view the DPP's obstruction tactics as legitimate democratic action.[MT -- once again, the 'only the DPP is doing it' refrain. Let's quote The China Post on the Mar 13 fun: "Several KMT legislators blocked the podium to prevent anyone from taking it; on the other hand, DPP legislators stood along the roster and held every microphone installed on the table."]

Taiwan is a democracy in transition. It faces challenges and some of those challenges come from the DPP. [MT -- let's recall why we're a democracy in transition -- because the KMT shot thousands of people and locked up thousands of others, and suppressed democracy here for decades, while the people who formed the party you say is engaging in 'undemocratic' tactics stopped them. You bet some of the challenges come from the DPP, but the vast vast majority of the problem is the "success" and legacy of the KMT.]


UPDATE: As J Michael Cole observes:
Brown was not speaking on behalf of AIT, as he is only a board member, nor was he a hatchet man on the Ma Ying-jeou government payroll. He’d simply involved himself into a very complex issue without fully understanding its context. And who could blame him, given that the media he likely relied upon for his information about Taiwan often couldn’t tell the difference between the Legislative Yuan and the Executive Yuan? However, sources tell me that Brown hadn’t set foot in Taiwan in about seven years, sadly a not unusual absence for academics that are considered experts on the island’s politics.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Discourse and Ideology in the Media and the Taiwan Student Protests

Charles grabs a photo on our coast ride the other day.

One thing that's really great about the recent student protest is that it is being covered in the international media. For example, the WSJ had an article on the student leaders' rejection of Ma's offer for talks this week. Yet.... and one thing that's really terrible is the coverage in the international media. Well, actually, that's not true. When you flip through lefty media sites, this protest against a neoliberal trade pact by students and the common people, against a pact opposed by the majority of the people, including occupation of the legislature and massive international coverage, what sound do you hear?


Way to go, fierce defenders of the people!

Today I read Banyan at The Economist. You can't expect too much from The Economist of course, since it is basically a helpless prisoner of its pro-corporate ideologies. But the interesting thing to me about the Banyan piece is how much the positioning of Ma and the students in the discourses swirling around the occupation of the legislature is guided by Establishment economic and social tropes and above all, by outright concealment of Ma's actual position. This has two complementary results: it makes Ma look more middle of the road than he really is, and it makes the students look more radical than they are. The reality is that the middle of the road democrats are the students, and the right-wing radical is Ma Ying-jeou. One way the Economist accomplishes this is by framing:
Mr Ma sees the pact as a reward for the more conciliatory approach to China that he has adopted since he became president. The students occupying the legislature, as well as opposition parties who back them, claim that the trade deal....
Ms "sees" but the students "claim". No bias there! Think of all the other words that could be used: Ma argues and the students contend. Etc. Uncorrected is Ma's error that the police don't think it worthwhile to clear out the legislature. They don't have the authority to do that, only the Speaker of the legislature can.

Naturally Banyan (and other mainstream media writers) will never make clear that Ma is a right-wing Chinese nationalist expansionist who did his thesis on how China owns the Senkakus and appears to believe China owns Okinawa -- note that the underlying issue of the political-annexation aspects of the treaty, so important in many discussions of it, doesn't appear in this article, which presents the whole affair from his position and treats him as a sympathetic character, while focusing solely on economics. The students understand this political context, but Banyan removes it from the reader's purview. This helps make the students appear more radical than they are. In fact in another piece sympathetic to poor put-upon Mr Ma, Banyan argues that Ma is -- no, really -- defending Taiwan:
But as Mr Ma sees it, cross-strait “rapprochement” is a first line of defence against Chinese aggression, since “a unilateral move by the mainland to change the status quo by non-peaceful means would come at a dear price”.
In a way that piece is even worse...awesomely, it accuses the students of resorting to undemocratic means (because protests are undemocratic?) but fails to take note of the KMT's behavior. Space is lacking. Anyway...

The Economist piece also unloads all the neoliberal tropes that are taken up in a piece by J Spangler over at The Diplomat. First, Banyan describes:
Three days after the students began their occupation, Mr Ma argued that failure by the legislature to approve the agreement “could have serious consequences” (see Banyan). Going back on the deal, he said, could result in Taiwan being “regarded as an unreliable trade partner” by China as well other countries with which the island wants to negotiate free-trade pacts.
This trope is really common, I've been hearing it from people who both support and oppose that dog of a services pact. It's the kind of zombie insight people come out with when their brains are on media autopilot. Jonathon Spangler over at The Diplomat today squeezed a whole piece out of it. Judging from the contents of my inbox, many who read it assumed that Spangler was a pro-KMT foreigner. So did I, the first time I read it.

But on second reading I realized that Spangler's alignment with the KMT's position on the treaty, right down to repeating its rhetoric, isn't the result of him cheerleading for the KMT (it's unlikely that someone who obviously cares so much about ordinary people could be pro-KMT) but rather, is a consequence of the way Ma and the KMT have deployed neoliberal trade rhetoric as a front for their annexation of Taiwan to China by slow economic strangulation. Spangler writes:
Yet the deleterious effects of failure to implement the CSSTA would not only be domestic or bilateral; the international implications would be equally grave. Taiwanese history over the past decades has represented an arduous struggle for diplomatic recognition. Indeed, it is the foundation upon which almost all of the island’s foreign policy depends. Reneging on a bilateral agreement, such as the CSSTA, would serve as a clear indication to the international community that the local government lacks the capacity to effectively engage in international relations. The logic runs like this: If Taipei cannot succeed in fulfilling an already signed trade agreement with its closest neighbor and most significant trading partner, the risks involved for other countries in deepening economic ties with Taiwan may outweigh the potential benefits. For better or worse, international image and reputation are key to diplomatic relations. Should Taiwanese lawmakers fail to push through the agreement at this late a stage in negotiations, they are shooting themselves in the foot.
Three issues here. First, Ma and the KMT have cloaked their sellout in neoliberal trade and political science rhetoric. By doing so, they can get others to forward their propaganda for them, since these ideas are widely subscribed to in the media and academia. Second, has anyone ever examined this idea to see whether it is in fact true by looking at the way countries behave in the real world? Finally, the logic of this argument runs like this: let's f@ck the 99% so that Taiwan can look "credible" when its 1% sits down and makes big business sellout trade deals with the 1% of other countries. That's neoliberal logic at its finest: the world's nations are so many game preserves and ATMs for the 1%... Aware of this, Spangler argues that Taiwan's ordinary people can and should be protected. Good luck getting any of that done....

Does having to renegotiate treaties and other treaty issues make one less credible on the international scene? Hmmm... how many times in your life have you ever heard anyone say "China tore up the 17 point agreement with Tibet! I'm not doing a trade agreement with them!" Or how about the SALT/START talks. Salt II never ratified by US, which withdrew in 1986 (wiki). Nevertheless, Russia and the US went on to negotiate the START pacts. In fact US non-ratification of treaties is normal, other countries still seek it out to do business with. If you think renegotiating, withdrawing, and unilaterally tearing up treaties and agreements means that other countries will stop negotiating pacts with you, I suggest you type the phrase "withdrew from the pact" in Google, or a similar phrase, and start reading. It's totally normal for nations to engage in such behavior and then to move on to cut deals in the future. Either humans have the memories of pocket calculators or maybe, just maybe, nations make deals with other nations based on current and future expected issues, and not on what such and such a state did with some other state at some time in the past. Can you imagine:
AIDE: Mr President, Chile promised Peru to hold a plebiscite in 1893, but failed to do so.
PRESIDENT: Scratch Chile. We obviously can't do business with them. What about Italy?
AIDE: Sir, after they changed governments in WWII, they left the Axis.
PRESIDENT: Who can trust them now? What about Thailand?
AIDE: It took them twenty years to negotiate a mere extradition treaty with India.
PRESIDENT: Is there anyone we can do business with?
Reality? Everyone knows that Taiwan's relations with China are special and no one is going to say: "Wow! Taiwan renegotiated a pact with China! OMG WE CAN'T DEAL WITH THEM!" The US isn't going to stop trying to include Taiwan in the TPP. N Zealand and Singapore aren't going to tear up their trade pacts. Other nations aren't going to stop sitting down to talk with Taiwan, unless Beijing puts pressure on them (did we get a promise in this pact for Beijing to stop that? Hahaha).

So, to cut to the chase because I know you are tired of reading, what is the function of the "sign the pact or else no credibility?" It's mere rhetoric to bully small nations into signing those unequal pacts with larger states. It's a form of shock doctrine designed to get the population to go along with a sell out by creating fear of being weeded out (another favorite trope of Ma's). It's a club wielded by Ma Ying-jeou to bash Taiwan's people into submission.

It's not inevitable that China will swallow Taiwan (in fact I am coming to the conclusion that China's rising power is making that ever less probable), but it will certainly become inevitable if academics keep forwarding these zombie insights exploited by the KMT that are completely untrue yet cannot be killed.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Presser with the Student Leaders

News Translation
Taiwan Voice 2014/03/26 (Facebook)
Press Conference with Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting

It is often overheard that the student protesters (coming from the top universities in Taiwan) outmatch the Ma administration intellectually, but yet they are still portrayed as troublemakers. Here is a transcript of a press conference with two of the student leaders following the mayhem at the Executive Yuan that shows these students are thoughtful, smart, and resolute.

Press Conference with Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting at 9:30 after President Ma’s press conference held on the morning of March 24

Lin Fei-Fan: Of course, members of the the student movement group are bound to hold different opinions. But even if there were differences, they were slight ones concerning strategy; our cause and demands have remained consistent. From both what happened yesterday afternoon and evening when they occupied the Executive Yuan, it simply showed that we were trying to seek any possibility of negotiation between the government and the students through various means.

Reporter: Do you worry that the situation might go out of control?

Lin Fei-Fan: I have been thinking about every possibility that might have caused these uncontrolled situations, and no doubt the Ma Government shoulders the greatest responsibility. Why would people storm into the Executive Yuan under one command? They were enraged by the Ma Government, because during yesterday morning's press conference, Ma Ying-jeou avoided responding directly to our plea and sounded much like a broken record playing government propaganda. That was the last straw for the protesting students who sat peacefully for six days. They had to take the next step. So I believe my fellow studen, after yesterday's protest, that they understand “victory is only possible when we persist calmly and steadily”.

Reporter: Should the services trade pact be sent back for a line-by-line review? Should it be put through a vote at the legislature or be returned to the legislative committee for review?

Chen Wei-Ting: Our demand has always been the same: the review should only be conducted AFTER passing a bill to monitor cross-strait agreements, and only by doing so can we establish a model and standard for truly democratic review procedure. President Ma mentioned South Korea yesterday, but actually the review process in South Korea’s FTA negotiation with China is more rigorous than Taiwan. He argued that the reason for not establishing such bill was because the four guidelines that have been established by the Executive Yuan. But “guidelines” do not supersede the legal status of law. Also, explaining the content of the agreement to the public and enabling the review process are two totally different matters. We are not completely against the services trade pact, but we want to first establish a bill to ensure that members of the parliament can directly review the trade pact and the people can directly participate in its process, and conduct the review afterwards.

Reporter: Some claimed that you have deliberately planned and initiated the conflict yesterday afternoon, to divert the police’s attention and make way for occupying the Executive Yuan? Is that true?

Chen Wei-Ting: The conflict was not premeditated. I only noticed there was commotion outside when I walked out to go to the bathroom. I have been told frequently that a lot of people outside the parliament building are very emotional and exasperated. Still, it is definitely not our plan.

(Journalists asked him to use microphone so that everyone inside the parliament could hear his reply. They say thank you for your hard work. Applause from the entire crowd.)

Lin Fei-Fan: Asking now if this conflict was premeditated is totally pointless. What you should be asking is, why are there so many young people furious, what fueled their discontent? The Ma administration of course. During yesterday’s morning press conference, he did not respond directly to the demand of the students who have been sitting in for six days straight. So asking questions like “is it premeditated” or “is there an internal conflict” is meaningless. I think the question you should be asking now is: How should the Ma administration deal with their discontent? This should be the focus.

Reporter: Do you worry that the public opinion might be shifted after the occupation of the Executive Yuan?

Lin Fei-Fan: Right now, our stance is: before the Ma administration meet our demand or is willing to open a dialogue with us, we will not leave here voluntarily. We believe the most important thing right now is to call for more concerned citizens to participate. Their faith and courage should not falter as a result of yesterday’s suppression by the police. Instead, they should firmly believe in a more affirmative, proactive, peaceful yet unyielding action so we might have a chance of victory.

Responding to reporter’s questions about the bill to monitor Cross-Strait agreements:

Chen Wei-Ting: I mentioned the signing of a bill to monitor Cross-Strait agreements, which would require all political parties to sign a consent, guarantee that they would promote and ensure the legislative passing of this bill. Only by doing so can we have a complete parliament monitoring mechanism, where the public can participate in the review process of Cross-Strait agreements, achieve true openness and transparency of future review processes and ensure the protection of rights and the people’s voice be heard.

Reporter: Regarding the strikes and students’ boycott of classes that will soon follow and the huge impact they will have on nationwide economy, do you have a detailed plan for it?

Chen Wei-ting: Of course strikes will impact the economic activities in our nation. But I ask, doesn’t the services trade pact impact the whole nation’s economic activities as well?

Loud applause from the entire crowd

Chen Wei-ting: What I meant was, the services trade pact will have a huge impact on nationwide economic activities. We are not mandating any strikes or student boycott of classes. Therefore, if there are strikes, it would totally be voluntary and acted out on their own will. Only by doing so will these strikes generate the desired impact. When these workers realize how much the services trade pact will affect them and decides to go on strike, it is the people’s choice, the decision is theirs.

Reporter: Some question the two of you cannot represent all the people in Taiwan, yet you occupied Taiwan’s parliament. We want to know your response to these people’s comments.

Lin Fei-Fan: I believe there are all kinds of opinions out there, all of which we respect. We occupied the parliament because it was not functioning properly. Our goal is very clear: we want the parliament to function properly. During the occupation, we seek a more institutionalized solution that comply with the rule of law. Actually what we are doing is quite simple, we are not attempting to represent all these other different opinions.

Reporters: Some see occupying the Legislative Yuen is a waste of the taxpayers’ money.

Lin Fei-Fan: I think what really is squandering the taxpayer’s money is a parliament that is not properly run and has lost even its most basic and normal function in supervising democracy. (Applause)

Reporter: Hsiao Chia-chi, Deputy Minister of the Interior discovered that cakes in his office have been eaten and his spare change stolen. What do you think of that?

Lin Fei-Fan: We know that those who entered the Executive Yuan consisted of different groups and individuals. If there had been money missing, or cakes been eaten without permission, we do not encourage such actions. If these incidents are proven true, then you should have Hsiao Chia-chi report to the police and have them collect evidence. If he has solid proof, he can file a charge against the suspect. If his properties were damaged, this is what he should do.

Reporter: Will boycotting classes achieve the desired result?

Lin Fei-Fan: We have only called for students to go on strike starting today. Yesterday some of those NTU professors held a press conference on campus, voicing support for our demand. We want to take one step further, so that the professors can go on strike too. How do we evaluate the result? To be honest, there is no need for such evaluation. All you need to do is stand out, participate in our action, take to the streets, and keep on defending this place persistently. There really is no need to evaluate. (Loud Applause)
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

More links on protesters + other links

Protesters plastered this TVBS van with angry messages. The cardboard one says "Thanks TVBS reporters, for working so hard to make fake news for my father and mother to see." TVBS is a rabidly pro-KMT station.

Too tired and too busy to blog, mea culpa. Enjoy some links.
The foreign media almost uniformly refuses to give any poll data on public support for the pact nor does it supply any data on the agreement that explains why public support is so low. The disagreement is always treated as a disagreement over China policy and identity and never as stemming from the particulars of the Pact, which, in the neoliberal economic religion of foreign correspondents, is a trade pact and therefore Holy Writ. No one seems able to grasp that fewer would be objecting if the pact were not such an obvious sellout, since everyone realizes the importance of trade. The foreign media thinks it is a fly on the wall, but it is just a bug caught in Establishment amber. Even before the protests, support was only at 32%, meaning that roughly a third of the voters for Ma don't support the pact. Meaning that this is not a simple Blue-Green issue. Now support has basically halved in the week of the demonstration, with everyone focused on the pact here. If only 18% support not renegotiating the services pact at the moment, this isn't an identity issue.

Poll news: TVBS came out with another poll. A summary:

The poll is a total rejection of Ma's position on the CSSTA: 63% now support withdrawal and new negotiations with China vs.18% opposing that. Further, 51% support LY occupation (+3% since last week), 38% oppose it (-2%). Then most people don't agree with EY occupation (58% vs. 30%). But they also oppose the methods used by the police to clear the EY of students (56% vs. 35%).

Jerome writes on the March 30 breakfast club:

As mentioned earlier we will have our Breakfast Club meeting on Sunday, March 30 at 10 am.

Topic:"White Terror, Dark Prison 白恐黑牢." David has been in Taiwan doing research on KMT killings and imprisonments during the White Terror period. He has purposely covered such on both waishengren and benshenren.

Speaker: David Curtis Wright Ph.D. Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, University of Calgary.

The venue is the same as it has traditionally been. Time is 10 am.
The meeting location is the restaurant 婷婷翠玉 at 174 AnHe Road, Section Two. (rough translation of name is Tender, Pretty Green Jade.)
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Monday, March 24, 2014

More LY links + MOFA Letter

Busy today, but my friend Sean Su is live in the LY in English

ADDED -- Chiayi, Kaohsiung, and Tainan, all DPP-ruled, are withdrawing their police officers from the protest in Taipei.

Dafydd Fell compares the student occupation of the legislature with the totally bogus red ant protests against Chen Shui-bian. It's hard for me to resist snark here. The last paragraph contains an interesting observation.

List of links to good stuff in Chinese

I'll add more as they flow into my inbox....

FOR DISCUSSION: Was the big winner from yesterday's police attack on the protesters the LY occupiers? What if the government had let the EY be occupied for a while? I'm wondering if the quick removal of the Executive Yuan crowd actually limited the damage it did to the cause of the students in the LY.


Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is slinging this around:

Foreign Press Liaison Office
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Republic of China (Taiwan)
March 22, 2014
Background information on the issue of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)
(1) The government of the Republic of China affirms the concern shown by students and the general public for national affairs, specifically, the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services (TiSA), while calling for the expression of opinions through rational, peaceful and democratic means. The government is willing to engage in democratic, rational dialogue [MT-for example, firing water cannons at peaceful protesters] with all who hold differing views, but cannot endorse the student occupation of the legislative chamber in a demand for dialogue. Nor can the government accept the students’ preconditions for dialogue—withdrawal of the TiSA and passage by the Legislative Yuan of an act providing oversight of cross-strait negotiations.[MT-such an act has been proposed for years]
(2) The ROC is a democratic nation governed by the rule of law [MT -- rule of martial law, even]. The TiSA is now under review by the Legislative Yuan [MT -- it is NOT under review, the review was cut off before it started]. The differing opinions of the ruling and opposition parties, as well as of different sectors of society, should be worked out through the normal legislative procedures of the independent Legislative Yuan, until consensus is reached [MT-wouldn't that be wonderful? Except the KMT didn't want to do that]. As the present controversy over the TiSA stems from a procedural dispute between the ruling and opposition party caucuses [MT -- the procedure had been decided upon, then the KMT unilaterally ignored it], the key to its resolution is the prompt reinstatement of legislative operations and guarantee of constitutional order. The Legislative Yuan’s internal negotiation mechanism can bring the dispute to a peaceful end. The results of legislative review are not something that the president or Executive Yuan can control.
(3)The review process for the TiSA is not a “black box operation.” Since the pact was signed in June 2013, the Legislative Yuan has held 20 public hearings on it [MT -- what about before it was signed?]. The Ministry of Economic Affairs, Mainland Affairs Council and related agencies have jointly organized over 110 forums with 46 industries, and relevant agencies have briefed the Legislative Yuan three times.
(4) The TiSA is not an “unequal agreement.” In the pact, mainland China allows Taiwan access to 80 subsectors, compared to 64 in Taiwan for mainland China—many of which were in substance opened already. Moreover, Taiwan will enjoy more favorable access to the mainland market than other World Trade Organization members, but none of the subsectors opened to mainland China will exceed WTO standards.
(5) The TiSA will not open Taiwan to mainland Chinese workers, and will not change immigration policies with regard to mainland Chinese. The pact will create 12,000 jobs for Taiwanese people [MT -- haha], boost our GDP and industrial competitiveness, and contribute to the country’s liberalization and internationalization. On the whole, the agreement does more good than harm, and is crucial to the country’s future economic development.[MT-crucial if you are a big business. otherwise, no]
(6) If the TiSA cannot be passed and thus come into force, the three major repercussions will be: Taiwan’s service industries will lose the advantage of early entry to the mainland Chinese market; Taiwan’s accession to regional economic integration mechanisms—including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)—will be delayed [MT evidence for this?]; and future talks with mainland China under the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) on a trade in goods agreement and dispute settlement mechanism will be influenced, which will jeopardize the development of Taiwan’s external trade.
(7) Opposition to the TiSA is based on misrepresentations of fact.
1. A rumor to the effect that one mainland Chinese investor could apply to bring 45 employees to Taiwan: Under the TiSA, when a mainland Chinese enterprise invests US$200,000 or more, it can apply to bring in two employees to manage its interests in Taiwan; with investment of US$500,000 and above, one more employee may be brought in, with an upper limit of seven. Even if investment exceeds US$3.3 million, only the individual investor will be allowed in as chief executive. The rumor that one investor could bring in 45 people is a misrepresentation of the facts.
2. A rumor that mainland Chinese company officials and their families could obtain long-term residence in Taiwan: Under the pact, officials or technical specialists of mainland Chinese enterprises in their first year in Taiwan could in principle receive only a multiple re-entry permit valid for one year. Starting from the second year, the firm’s business volume would have to reach NT$10 million (US$326,279) before the employee could apply for a new re-entry permit. The government has not given mainland Chinese investors, company officials or technical specialists unlimited entry permits, nor has it permitted their long-term residence.
3. A rumor that the TiSA will lead to widespread unemployment: As of the end of January 2014, the government had approved 495 mainland Chinese investment cases, with investment of US$870 million. The mainland company officials, specialists and family members who have come to Taiwan in association with these cases number just 264, while these firms have provided jobs for 9,624 Taiwanese. It is evident that mainland Chinese investment not only brings in capital for our industries and financial market, but also creates jobs for our people.

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=UPDATED X4= Police Clear Executive Yuan Protesters using water cannon, violence

UPDATE 4: Frozen Garlic moves towards the position many of us are now reaching, that the students should declare victory and leave the LY.

Ma's speech from yesterday in English

UPDATE 3: Video of police clearing protesters

Once again, English feeds and links

UPDATE 2: A-gu rips the Ma government on his awesome blog

UPDATE 1 Student response:

In response to the continuing developments at the Executive Yuan, we release the following joint statement between the student occupiers of the Legislative Yuan and the Executive Yuan:

“Under orders from President Ma Ying-jeou, thousands of riot police have started violently dispersing our peaceful occupation of the Executive Yuan. Hundreds of Taiwanese citizens – mostly students - have emerged from police lines beaten and bloody. Dozens more have been sent to emergency rooms around the city.

We shed tears for our comrades, the strong and the brave that had the audacity and the courage to stand up for their country against overwhelming odds. Against a broken system, a president that has lost any semblance of credibility, a president willing to use violent force to break up a peaceful gathering of citizens, we stand for democracy, for hope, and for Taiwan.

These are Taiwan’s future generation that you are beating. A generation of hope, not of broken bones to emerge limping and bleeding due to police treatment. Some of them, as one person declared before the cameras, are the children of the very own police officers you sent to violently suppress them. Some of them could have been your own children.

Our message to President Ma is this: We will not waver. Against an undemocratic and autocratic government, we stand strong and we stand united. We demand that:
1.     1. President Ma apologize and Premier Jiang Yi-huah to step down  for their role in the crisis
2.     2. The Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement be sent back
3.     3. Cross-strait agreements not to be negotiated or signed pending the passage of a monitoring mechanism for such agreements.”


The occupation of the Executive Yuan was really stupid. The police responded with violence, as we all feared last night before I went to bed. J Michael Cole in The Diplomat:

With no sign of a resolution in sight, a group of protesters slipped past security at the Executive Yuan, the seat of the Cabinet, at 7:35 p.m. on March 23. Immediately the group inside the legislature distanced itself from the action in a press release, though from the leadership on the ground it was obvious that they belonged to the alliance. By 8:30 p.m., a few thousand people were occupying the compound. Following a brief standoff with police, protesters broke into the building through the main door or by climbing ladders to upper windows. Aside from damage to the main doors and two broken windows, there were no other signs of damage to the building. Several thousand people also gathered on Zhongxiao Road in front of the building.

Although police authorities had not acted on orders to evict the activists from the legislature — relations have in fact been rather cordial, with protesters often applauding and thanking law enforcement — Sunday’s occupation of the Executive Yuan was a major escalation, and soon there was chatter that police would intervene. The Cabinet gave the order at 10:30 p.m. and told police to do everything necessary to evict the occupiers by 11 p.m. In response, the Democratic Front Against Cross Strait Trade In Services, one of the groups orchestrating the occupation at the legislature, issued a press release, in which it called on the authorities, “to not use violence to suppress the protesters.” It also called on the government “to not release emergency orders and to not mobilize the armed forces.”

As hundreds of police with shields and batons formed a line in front of the Executive Yuan, an even larger contingent of riot police, flanked by truck-mounted water cannons, faced off with protesters behind the building on Beiping Road. At about midnight, the order was given to rid the area of protesters. About 200 riot police, armed with shields and batons, descended on the protesters as the latter were about to sit down and shouted “please don’t use force against us.” At one side, a young woman, crying, called out to her boyfriend who was among the protesters. Several black-clad riot police swung their batons at young protesters, while police used their PVC shields to hit sitting protesters on the legs. Several dozens of protesters were eventually taken out — oftentimes shoved violently and dragged around — while police pushed out of the area. Protesters complained that the riot police had masked their badge numbers. Journalists who identified themselves as such and showed identification were also ordered to leave.

Cole believes as I do that the EY undermined the Occupation's public image but thinks the police attack on the protesters will offset the damage. However, the media will blame the protesters, and many in the public will likely follow suit. This will likely be a net harm to the cause.

J Michael also said that there was little damage to the EY but other reports I heard and from what was on the feeds suggest otherwise. Apparently Premier Jiang's office was ransacked and from other offices computers and such were carried out. However, those reports have not been confirmed by media on the ground. Further, there's a report circulating that the leader of the entrance into the EY building was the son of a local KMT politician. I'm discounting that, it smells fake to me. However, bear in mind that the common KMT tactic over the years is to disrupt protests using gangsters or fake protesters.

The protesters were letting themselves be carted away passively. The beatings were totally unnecessary. 56 in hospital according to local media reports. The report of a death seems false.

This was just stupid in every way. The EY occupiers were idiots. Fortunately LY people are still there and managed to put a little distance between them and EY fools.

Also, my friend Drew asks: Where is Hau Long-bin, Mayor of Taipei? It's his city....

Images: ETTODAY, Apple Daily Facebook page
"Our Democracy Must Not Die" Benedict Young
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

=UPDATE 8= BREAKING CROWD OCCUPIES EY Occupy the legislature: new links post

Signs all over Taiwan hand-lettered, showing support for students. Courtesy of Michael Le Houllier.

UPDATE 8: group occupying EY is Black Island Alliance, which previously supported LY group but has not split with them, according to friend on scene. Protesters at EY bracing for water cannon, apparently Ma and Jiang have authorized the use of force. LY group is also saying to prepare for special police.

UPDATE 7: Friend present says Premier Jiang's office broken into. National Police Administration has promised to remove protesters by force and 3000 military police moved in by Ministry of Defense, according to another person present.

UPDATE 6: Friend present says the people doing the window breaking have some nice gangster looking haircuts. Remember that forces opposed to this agreement have been trying to get violence started there for days.

UPDATE 5. Some people on second floor. Protesters blocking door to stop others from entering.

UPDATE 4: Live feed from EY. Some are inside the EY breaking windows to let others in. Shit.

UPDATE 3. Ketagalen Media says:

Around 200 students first climbed over the barrier placed in front of the Executive Yuan’s front gate. An estimated of 1,000 have arrived, and more to come. Police (around 100 policeman) has arrived on the scene, but has not been able to stop the crowd from pouring in.
Some have managed to go into the building from the back gate.
Black Island Nation Youth Front” (黑色島國青年陣線), has also confirmed about it on their facebook page at 7:35 p.m, but reiterated that the action was mobilized by students from around the country, rather than the group.
Student leader, Lin-Fei-fan said in the press conference held at 8:30 p.m. that he respects the students, but encourages them to follow the non-violent principle.

UPDATE 2: Students are ONLY in courtyard, not in building itself. Good. Very scared. In LY Speaker Wang can protect them. Nothing protects them in EY.

UPDATE 1: Student leaders announce that they have entered part of the EY

FocusTaiwan confirms crowd is attempting to enter Executive Yuan

From Ian Rowen:
Inside Occupy Taiwan's Parliament, Hour 115. Chatting at the window with a gentle cop from Taichung, both cold and tired. He tells me of his recent family trip to much colder Canada, and looks forward to going home after a 24 hour shift. We trade LINE contact info. This kind of interaction would be unimaginable in the US or really almost anywhere else. Meanwhile, in nearby rooms, cops and students together watch as Taiwan's TV media gets it wrong as usual. Students inside the main hall continue discussing the issues of the day, or night rather, it now being 3am, or sleeping on smoothly distributed blanket and bags, or moving coffee and food in and out through well guarded doors and even with pulley systems. Hope the medical station's anti-histamine kicks in soon and I can attempt another nap in the warmer main Assembly Hall. 台灣,加油!

Students know what they are doing and are organized

52 University heads call for government to listen to the students
...amazing considering how hidebound authoritarian universities are in Taiwan.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

(Meanwhile) Ma Ying-jeou takes another beating

The fallout from the MaWangMess continues. First, State Prosector Huang, who leaked the information to President Ma Ying-jeou that Speaker Wang Jin-pyng had allegedly conspired with the justice minister and prosecutors to get a DPP legislator off has been sentenced to 14 months....
State Prosecutor-General Huang Shyh-ming was sentenced to one year and two months in prison Friday for leaking classified information related to an ongoing investigation to President Ma Ying-jeou.

Huang has said he would resign if found guilty. His four-year term is due to end on April 18.

The Taipei District Court allowed the senior prosecutor to commute his sentence to a fine of NT$420,000 (US$13,721).
This is judicial confirmation that Huang committed in an illegal act. Does that mean Ma Ying-jeou did too?

The second thing that has happened is Speaker of the Legislature Wang Jin-pyng. The KMT lost its case yesterday and Wang was allowed to keep his KMT membership, meaning that President Ma, whose obsessive attack on Wang delayed passage of the Services Pact and split his party, has lost on all fronts. Speaker Wang serenely refused to clear the legislature of students today, and his stock has risen. In fact, at the moment, he's looking pretty damn presidential.... Wang in 2016? He's a wily player and fixer, and closely connected to the Old Guard of the KMT, yet also the informal leader of the Taiwanese KMT legislators from the south and center of the island... Wang said today:

As to the meeting originally set for 11 a.m., which he told Ma Friday morning he would not attend, Wang said that it is "not appropriate" for the head of the Legislature to attend the administration's meeting under the stipulations of the Constitution.

In a three-point statement, Wang said Ma's use of Article 44 of the Constitution to call for the meeting was not valid, as the article in question governs "disputes between two or more Yuans (branches)" of the five-branch government.

The current situation, however, is not a dispute between the Legislative Yuan and Executive Yuan, but one between ruling and opposition lawmakers over the service trade pact, he said.


Between two calls from the president, Kuomintang (KMT) Vice Chairman and former Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Yuan Tseng Yung-chuan was also instructed to call Wang, according to the speaker's statement.

As the speaker of the Legislature, Wang said he will continue to take every possible avenue of communication and mediation while taking stock of the view of all involved parties. He said he will call for consultations among the different legislative caucuses "when necessary."

As Ma serves as chairman of the KMT, Wang said it is incumbent on him to promote dialogue between ruling and opposition parties to solve the impasse and restore order.
Wang is putting everything on Ma.... the pro-China WantChinaTimes says Wang excoriates Ma.

But any way you slice this, the President has taken a savage beating over his attack on Wang and over the Services Pact.
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Students Occupy the Legislature, Roundup and Linkfest =UPDATEDX9=

UPDATE 9: Three demands from students to Premier Jiang

Excellent: Anthropologist Kerim Friedman at Savage Minds on the Student Movement.
Anthropologist of Police in Taiwan Jeff Martin on Policing an Occupied legislature.

ketegalen media with a round up

UPDATE 8: TaiwanExplorer says on Facebook:

1. It's past 11PM now, students are still inside the Legislative Yuan listening to speeches. Watch it live here:

2. #Taipei Police Department made the two protests legal (one inside the Legislative Yuan and one outside), so there is no need for the police to use force and try to get the students out

3. Police imposed traffic control in the area. Authorities advise to use public transportation. It's common for any legal protest taking place in Taipei.

4. Police increased their presence, they are watching, mingling. There are water cannons on standby "in case people get out of control", but no force has been used against the protesters so far, and protesters have been peaceful all the time.

5. At 9PM there were around 25,000 people protesting outside the Legislative Yuan in support of the students, a lot of them came from other parts of #Taiwan. At 11PM were 28,000.

6. President Ma has not made any statements so far, he reportedly "went home to eat dinner with his mother".

7. Some KMT lawmakers suport item-by-item review of the trade pact, which is the main request by the students

UPDATE 7: TVBS poll out. 48% support students, 40% oppose, only 21% support pact, 70% favor line by line review. That's in a pro-KMT media organ.

UPDATE 6: Lots of rumors flying around that tonight the police will move in to clear the legislature. Wang Jin-pyng's refusal to act has dumped the mess in Ma's lap, and he lacks the common touch and is neither patient nor subtle. Lots of police bussed up from elsewhere in Taiwan.

Apple reminds that today is 24th anniversary of the day Lee Teng-hui went down to talk to the Wild Lily movement.

A friend posted to Facebook:
Democracy at its best. I went to the Taiwan Parliament building to see the reality of the student protests and occupation of the building. I would fathom there are about 10,000+ people in protest. It was peaceful and organized -- there is a designated lane for medical emergencies, water stations, and locations to sit and organized lines for people to walk. I am astonished to see how organized the students put this into action. I salute their efforts, maybe the U.S. should learn something from how well the Taiwan students organized this protest.

UPDATE 5: Frozen Garlic asks, sensible and eloquent, can extra democratic measures be democratic.

Frank Hsieh speaks in English on the occupation of the legislature. Note that two of his demands are NOT the student demands.

Letters from Taiwan with Chris Hughes' analysis of the Taiwan economic system

UPDATE 4:  One of my students just walked into my office, back from the protest. She said that when the taxi driver took her down to the protest last night, when he found out she was going to join the protest, he knocked $200 NT off her fare.

No violence overnight. Yay!!!!!!

UPDATE 3: China Post says flower shops have sent over sunflowers to the sunflower student movement

UPDATE 2  Friday morning Taiwan time. Student statement:

“It has now been 48 hours since we occupied Taiwan’s legislature. We, a non-partisan group of students, civic activists, and people from all walks of life – have taken over the Legislature in protest against the undemocratic and autocratic manner in which the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement has been handled by the government and the legislature.

Since our occupation, we have seen tens of thousands of citizens from all across the country join us in support of our demands. Doctors have formed medical stations, lawyers have created pro bono legal teams, and professors have relocated their classes here. All this could not have been possible without the help and support from our fellow citizens concerned about Taiwan’s future.

As of 3/20, our demands include:

1. We demand that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) immediately void Legislator Chang Ching-chung’s announcement that the CSSTA has passed the committee stage.

2. President Ma Ying-jeou should begin dialogue with us and negotiations over:

(a) the rejection of the CSSTA; and

(b) the passage of a bill for monitoring cross-strait agreements, and a promise to refrain from negotiating such agreements in lieu of the bill.

If our demands are not met by noon on Friday, March 21, our protest will continue and we will begin our next round of action.”

UPDATE 1: CFR writing on Taiwan is usually crap. What a refreshing change from Lauren Dickey. Banyan over at the Economist. Banyan at the Economist focuses on the DPP and doesn't seem to get that the students are acting on their own. It's so awesome that no one in the mainstream media has bothered to look at the Services Pact itself to see what a dog it is. That would take work and wouldn't fit Establishment ideologies, after all.

Previous (through Thursday night Taiwan time:

English language liveblog from inside. Just heard over 20,000 down there tonight. Much fear there will be police violence against the protesters.

Thousands now out supporting the students, with students from universities all over Taiwan coming up to join them and to rally outside the legislature to support them. Even the KMT paper said 20,000 rallied there on Wednesday night. My Facebook and email are overwhelmed with pictures, etc. Really an amazing moment in Taiwan's history. Dafydd Fell explained in the Taipei Times today....
Over the past six years pressure has been building up that could have been released through dialogue. The current crisis was entirely avoidable. Students today are no more radical than those of 1990 and may well be more conservative. It seems unimaginable that students would have adopted such tactics 25 years ago. That student protesters have been willing to go to the extremes of occupying the Legislative Yuan represents a failure of political society to respond to the public.

To the outsider, it may seem hard to comprehend that so much anger has built up due to the government’s refusal to review a services trade agreement. However, the root of the problem has been a gradual building up of tensions and frustration within society.
The closing paragraphs that identify the fake 2004 election "crisis", simply the KMT going crazy because it lost the election, and the equally fake "red ant" march against Chen Shui-bian, another faux protest conducted entirely by KMTers, are wrong. Those were not systemic crises, but instead showed the nationalists' ongoing inability to live in a democracy. Perhaps that's what Fell means, though, but can't say out loud.

This crisis has similar roots. The DPP has been using legislative procedures and other delaying tactics to delay voting on the Services Pact (this English version of NTU Econ Department Chair explanation of why the Services Pact will be bad for Taiwan explains why the pro-Taiwan side is opposed to the pact). The student invasion of the legislature was triggered by a KMT legislator's sudden by-passing of the review process, and declaring the review over before it had even begun, after there had been an agreement for a line-by-line review of the pact, something supported by more than 70% of the public in polls. The KMT does not want a vote; they are trying to declare it law without a vote, because if the KMT legislators voted on it they would have to publicly vote, and thus, make a public declaration of their position. And after the failure of ECFA, nobody wants this dog of an agreement on their resume in the upcoming legislative elections. The fact that KMT legislators don't want to publicly vote on this dog should erase any doubt as to what a shipwreck the Services Pact really is.

J Michael Cole, a Taipei-based journalist, has been present throughout and has turned out some great pieces on it. First, the local media has been busy smearing the students...
Although there were a few incidents — a broken window, light damage to computers, chairs stacked up to prevent police intrusions — the legislature was never ransacked, as claimed. Furthermore, protest leaders repeatedly beseeched participants to avoid causing damage. Lin Fei-fan, one of the student leaders inside the legislature, went out of his way to remind activists not to put water bottles directly on the desks to avoid damaging the wooden surface (the so-called vandals evidently forgot to bring coasters along). Moreover, the impressive garbage-collection efforts that were launched around the legislature after March 17 should put to sleep any notion that the occupiers and their supporters are bent on destroying the Legislative Yuan.

Having created the myth of activists as vandals, later in the night “news” got out that the activists had engaged in binge drinking and were “making out,” preposterous behavior that, interestingly enough, never showed on the continuous video stream. Nobody seemed to question how illogical a decision it would be for the activists, having set up a live feed, to engage in activities that were certain to discredit them and their cause. Still, some media picked it up, and it became “fact.”
The Taiwan media has been simply awful and in my talks with students at CGU, who have classmates and friends among the protesters, this has led to much resentment. The "making out" became "fornication"in some media reports, which, considering how the legislature has screwed Taiwan, seems only fair return.

More fundamentally, the media both local and international have attempted to paint the protesters as dupes of the DPP. But they have kept them at arms length. The DPP and TSU legislators at the protest are there to keep the police from harming the students.

Another smear I've heard in KMT circles is that the students are all people who can't get jobs, not engineers and doctors, but history and lit majors. Nonsense, as they are actually students from the major universities of Taiwan including mine (a medical university), who have bright futures in many different fields. It is no exaggeration to say that these are among the cream of Taiwan's students.

Scarily, gangsters showed up the other night bearing knives and attempted to cause a fight. They failed. But they are a harbinger of what will probably happen at other pro-Taiwan events, and quite soon.

J Michael's piece over at The Diplomat is also excellent review. Cole notes of the sequence of events:
Negotiations on the matter resumed in the legislature in March 2014, when DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai secured the right to plan the agenda for a clause-by-clause review as agreed earlier. However, KMT legislators blocked the process, leading to clashes in the legislature over a period of three days. Meanwhile, civic organizations launched a sit-in outside the LY.

Then, on March 17, with the legislature brought to a standstill and the DPP occupying the podium, Chang, citing Article 61 of the Legislative Yuan Functions Act, announced that the review process had gone beyond the 90 days allotted for review. The agreement should therefore be considered to have been reviewed and be submitted to a plenary session on March 21 for a final vote. Immediately, the Executive Yuan “congratulated” Chang for successfully reviewing the agreement, even though no review was ever held, and experts later noted that Article 61 did not apply, as the CSSTA is a component of the ECFA, which itself is a “prospective treaty” (准條約) and not an executive order. With 65 members in the 113-seat legislature, the KMT was assured a victory, with expectations that the pact could be implemented as early as June 2014.

The sudden announcement caught everybody by surprise and sparked anger among the public. The sit-ins continued on the evening of March 17, followed by a much larger one on the evening of March 18.
The foreign media has actually picked up on this, which is good. The VOA provided a totally pro-KMT frame for the event, very sad to see, especially for the alleged voice of a western democracy. The event is treated as if the students are part of the opposition party (they are not) and events are misrepresented. For example:
A spokesman for the student protesters, Huang Yu-fen, said his group is demanding that a government committee revoke its initial review of the deal.

"We demand Legislative Yuan Chairman Wang Chin-ping declare directly that the decision made by interior committee yesterday is invalid. And we ask President Ma Ying-jeou to come here to respond to the people's demands in person," said Huang.
But as we know, the students occupied the legislature because the review was never carried out as planned. The students do not want the review "revoked", they want the review carried out as agreed. The "decision made by the interior committee yesterday" was the decision to pretend the review was carried out. This only appears further down in the text and as the one point in the "opposition's" favor -- the framing is obvious.

CS Monitor writes:
The occupation was unusual even for a city accustomed to protests and a parliament where lawmakers occasionally brawl with one another. But it signals anger with President Ma Ying-jeou’s ruling Nationalist Party for scheduling a vote without an item-by-item review of the deal that the main opposition party was expecting. The trade deal was signed in June 2013, but has not yet been ratified.


The opposition party had asked for the review to protect Taiwan service sectors that could be hurt by competitors from the much larger mainland Chinese market, but the Nationalists felt that an item-by-item vote would take too long and that eight public hearings on the pact sufficiently got the word out about the deal’s content.
The "eight public hearings" that the CSM report refers to were actually crammed into the space of a single week by the KMT, obviously to reduce the ability of affected sectors to comment. The line-by-line review had been agreed upon during party-party negotiations; naturally the opposition had been "expecting" it. Although it should be noted that Interior Committee Head Chang said the line by line review did not mean that changes could be made to the text... heh.

AP also reported, the students are "several hundred opponents" of the trade pact, though they have been careful to say they are opposed to the way the democratic procedures have been hijacked by the KMT to ram the pact through.

WSJ had a good piece, saying that the number of students was 1,000 and quoting student leaders. Bloomberg's is also pretty good.

Wang Jyn-ping, the KMT Speaker of the Legislature, won his court case and will remain in the KMT. As Speaker has the formal authority for clearing the legislature, it is the legislature's business who occupies its buildings, after all, and institutions in Taiwan are often sticklers for deferring to the appearance of who has power over what. So they deferred to him, and he apparently has no problem with the students being there, he said in a public statement earlier today, so hopefully there won't be clashes tonight as some are fearing.

As for me, I think the students have missed another opportunity but we'll see; hopefully I am wrong.

Protests in other Taiwan cities taking place in support, here is one report on K-town. Video from K-town (h/t to Ben at Letters from Taiwan).

The NextMedia animators take on the student occupation of the legislature. Forward the 300! And speaking of comedy, at one point WSJ had on its web page:
The day's China news in pictures: Tibetans dance under pear trees in Sichuan, protesters clash with police inside Taiwan's legislature, smoke rises from a forest fire and more.
Daily Links:
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