Since 1949, Taiwan and China have been on opposite sides of the room with no hopes of talks or agreements. Even though, Taiwan has changed its name to Republic of China, it was still unrecognised by the UN and was replaced by People’s Republic of China (usually known as China) in 1971. China has been aiming to gain back Taiwan as one of its provinces since their separation even if force has to be considered. Since the Ma government that is pro-China won in 2008, the situation between China and Taiwan has eased and China has allowed the Taiwanese technology companies expand to mainland China. In February 11th, a historic and unprecedented meeting took place at Nanjing between officials from Taiwan and China to discuss trade deals and cooperation.
As the trade deal was sealed between China and Taiwan. Today’s power, the Youth and students came to rise to oppose the deal that was considered dangerous especially to the rising precariat class in Taiwan; i.e the fresh graduates of Taiwan. The students are opposing the deal and have protested in front of the parliament for 3 days now. They claim that this would affect the small businesses of Taiwan as Chinese companies are big and would take over the delicate market in comparison to China. In addition, they consider it as the first step for China to gain control over Taiwan in order to reunify it to the mainland. The students oppose the mainland China government as they are against the communist government and believe in the Taiwanese government as they have always been known as “the nationalists” or “free Chinese”. In addition, the students are thinking that it would harm Taiwan politically as it would make it dependent on the Chinese economy and companies. Consequently, that would make Taiwan more vulnerable.
On the other hand, the pro-China and Taiwan trade deal claim that it would increase the number of jobs in Taiwan as Chinese companies franchise in there. In addition, it would allow Taiwanese companies tap into the rich Chinese market which would boost their economy.
In my opinion, this is a game of power. However, in such a globalised world, how often can we protect our heritage and history and simultaneously, boost our country’s economy? This is a question that the students of Taiwan fear. As today’s youth try to gain control over their government’s decisions all around the world. The Taiwanese students are protecting their freedom and rights to access to a job as they see that the beneficiaries would only be the elites and the Chinese government and the deal wouldn’t result in a “trickle-down effect”.
Welcome to the future governments, where it’s truly based on populism as people (especially youth) take control and demand changes!
Suzan Shedid (Dubai Campus)