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Student movement holds back Taiwan

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-3-24 0:13:03

It has been a week since students in Taiwan occupied the Legislative Yuan. Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou has called for the students to end the occupation and restore order. He also said the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement should be passed soon for the sake of the economy.

People from the mainland who know about this protest have taken a relaxed attitude toward the farce. The trade pact that Taiwan students oppose is aimed at opening up both sides' service markets. It is evident that the mainland has offered concessions to Taiwan.

The mainland public is more interested in whether Taiwan's political mechanism works properly than the destiny of the trade pact.

Taiwan's political infighting has been the most severe among the "Four Asian Tigers," namely Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. Twenty years ago, Taiwan's strength was much greater than that of South Korea, while now it is quite a different scenario.

Nationalism and populism in South Korea are prevalent, and we can sometimes sense the resentment of South Koreans toward China. But South Korea has remained stable in terms of its China strategies and its economic policies toward China are seldom affected by political factors. The Chinese mainland has become the most important market for South Korea to accelerate its economic growth.

Taiwan, on the other hand, has been concerned about its losses and gains in its relations with the mainland. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Taiwan's opposition party, did nothing more than carry out anti-China rallies. The Chinese mainland has become the economic engine for Asia and the globe. Opposing Beijing will only hurt the economy of Taiwan.

The effectiveness of any democracy is always determined by the opposition party. Taiwan society elected leaders hostile to the mainland, such as Chen Shui-bian, while opening its doors to cross-Straits cooperation through democratic means.

The DPP has continued to have a huge influence on Taiwan's ideology, which makes it difficult for a breakthrough to emerge in cross-Straits relations.

Some people in Taiwan hold the misconception that Taiwan is an independent unit. Political short-sightedness has become an obstacle to the region's economic development. The Taiwan students who oppose the trade pact show their lack of ambition in regional economic integration.

This misconception cannot be sustained. If Taiwan students are fearful of change, they will only resort to what students in Egypt and Thailand have done, in which case Taiwan's future will be unclear.

Taiwan's student movement will not hurt the interests of the mainland. The movement is taking place under democratic conditions, but deals a heavy blow to Taiwan's rule of law.

This makes people on the mainland interested and detached on this matter. It remains to be seen how things will go.
Posted in: Editorial