Young people emerging as third political force in Taiwan

by KENSAKU IHARA / June 20, 2016 / Asia.Nikkei.com

TAIPEI — Young people are reinforcing their presence as political and economic forces in Taiwan.

The establishment of the new administration by President Tsai Ing-wen, chairperson of the independence-oriented Democratic Progressive Party, was in part thanks to her predecessor and the Nationalist Party leader Ma Ying-jeou’s pro-China policy, which aroused strong protests from young people opposing the future unification of Taiwan and China.

While there remain seeds of trouble such as pressure from China eager to prevent Taiwan from becoming independent and confrontation between the DPP and the Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang (KMT), the Tsai administration needs to win young people’s vigor to its side for the successful management of Taiwan.

A rumble of voices occurred in the Legislative Yuan, or parliament, on June 3 as Huang Kuo-chang, lead of the New Power Party, a newly formed political party advocating Taiwan’s independence among other things, asked Premier Lin Chuan to wear a pair of handmade virtual reality goggles before the start of their debate.

In the unprecedented debate, Lin and Huang, who also put on the chunky black headset, discussed young people’s poverty, Taiwan’s industrial policy and other issues while watching an NPP-made cartoon graphic in the goggles.

Huang said he had introduced the VR goggles for his questioning in order to highlight the situation of young people.

He is a legal scholar at Academia Sinica, the highest academic institution in Taiwan. He served as the theoretical base of the Sunflower Student Movement organized by students and other citizens who occupied the parliament and other places in 2014 to oppose a trade pact between China and Taiwan.

Originating from the protest movement, the NPP was founded in January 2015 and cooperated with the DPP in the presidential election in January this year. In the parliamentary election held at the same time, the NPP won five seats in the 113-seat parliament.

Although the number of seats own by the NPP is small, the party is exercising a great deal of influence on young people, who tend to think that they are Taiwanese rather than Chinese and are called the “natural independence” generation as they favor Taiwan’s independence since their birth.

The Ma administration shared with Beijing the “One China” policy — the view that China and Taiwan are inseparable, and promoted rapprochement between them. Read more…

 

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