Activists in Taiwan have been occupying Taiwan’s legislative building for four days, demanding Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou withdraw Taiwan from a controversial trade agreement. The occupiers want President Ma to withdraw from the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement, an agreement opponents say will flood business and jobs to the People’s Republic of China.
As of Friday President Ma has not responded, which exceeds the deadline the occupiers set.
The demonstrators, mostly university students, are protesting against the ruling party’s push for a trade pact with China, which they claim will hurt the island. The movement has been dubbed the “Sunflower Revolution” by Taiwanese media.
The group leading the protest — The Coalition of Student and Civic Groups against the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement — announced the ultimatum on Thursday, demanding that President Ma Ying-jeou withdraw the controversial trade agreement and issue an apology by noon Friday. As the deadline passed, no direct response from Ma was given, and student protesters appeared on Taiwanese television expressing their disappointment.
The police have yet to disperse the occupiers but have surrounded the legislative building that is located in Taipei.
Beyond the economic downside for Taiwanese businesses and workers is the threat of imperiling Taiwan’s democracy by getting closer to the PRC. The PRC has never recognized Taiwan as an independent country but as a rebel province. As the PRC has grown in wealth and influence the issue of Taiwanese independence has been raised to the forefront of US-China relations.
Whether or not this trade agreement is a first step towards the PRC taking over Taiwan or just a problematic trade agreement is an open question but the occupiers seem determined to force the issue if not get a full withdraw.