No true Cross-strait progress without the Taiwanese

    Posted on: 2014-03-30

No true Cross-strait progress without the Taiwanese

For the international media and some commentators who are covering Taiwan, it seems to come as a surprise that Taiwan is inhabited, and that these 23 million Taiwanese want to have a say in the future of their country and democracy.

By Michael Danielsen, chairman of Taiwan Corner

Sunday March 30, more than 350.000 demonstrated in Taipei and joined the Sunflower Student Movement. From today’s demonstration, it is obvious that the students who are still occupying the parliament are not a small minority that has misunderstood the service pact agreement with China as claimed by President Ma.

The events over the past two weeks should be a wake-up call for the international community. For too long, the international community has disregarded the voices of the Taiwanese and instinctively praised the many cross-strait agreements and the dialog across the Taiwan Strait. One example is the coverage of the first meeting between China and Taiwan at the ministerial level, the so-called Wang-Zhang meeting on February 11. The historical meeting was praised in the press but the strong opposition to the policies of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government was largely ignored.

Young people demonstrate in Taipei on March 30, 2014. Photo credit: J. Michael Cole, Far-Eastern Sweet Potato.

The worst thing about the international coverage over the past many years is the casual way in which critical voices to both the cross-strait agreements and the worrying democratic development has been downplayed.

For some, these critical voices represent a minority that have misunderstood the historical development that we are experiencing which is good for all of us. For others, they disturb the relationship with China. Moreover, it has been disturbing to follow the international press over the past years because it has shown little interest or simply lacks the resources to cover what the Taiwanese think about the development. Despite this, the same media companies see no problem in praising the new cross-strait agreements.

For the media and commentators who are covering Taiwan and China at the government level, it seems to come as a surprise that Taiwan is inhabited, and that these 23 million Taiwanese want to have a say in the future of their country and democracy.

Critics of the cross-strait development are not against the trade agreement per se. What they are asking for is a democratic and transparent political process when Taiwan is dealing with China. China still considers Taiwan as a part of China and this fact accentuates a careful dialog in Taiwan about cross-strait agreements.

The international community has no longer an excuse not to cover the opposition to the cross-strait agreement and the voices of Taiwanese. The Sunflower Student Movement and all its supporters have shown that the Taiwanese care about their country and their democracy.  International policy makers should know that there will be no true progress in cross-strait relations without the consent of the Taiwanese.