Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jyou held a news conference this morning. As expected, he said that an open-door policy towards China was good for Taiwan; he would make sure the trade pact was put through despite the demonstrations against it, and that was that. The demonstrators are having none of it. It is 10:00pm here and the students have taken over the administrative building. The Kuomintang is sending out water canon. The students have to be very careful. There is no return to complacency.
Ma used McDonald's in an analogy to touch the hearts of his young detractors; if it weren't for the open door policy, McDonald's wouldn't be in Taiwan. He was only referring to the taste buds of hamburger consumers and not the Fast Food Nation's underpaid, uninsured part-timers who drudge through tedious hours at future-less jobs. He could have used the many American and Japanese franchises that fill every corner of Taiwan as examples. Should Chinese businesses be allowed to exploit Taiwanese workers like American corporations do? Two wrongs don't make it right.
The TV station I was watching switched to split-screen the last ten minutes of Ma Ying-Jyou's press conference. On the right side of the screen, the viewer could see, but not hear, the President behind his podium. On the left side of the screen, the viewer could see and hear the muffled sound of a student leader talking into a microphone on the legislative hall floor. Behind him, banners, many in English, were being moved about and re-positioned. A rift had developed among the protest leaders; some wanted to stay and demand the trade pact be scrapped, others considered leaving the hall to make their stand outside with tens of thousands of protesters.
As the student leader spoke, the camera shifted to a corner of the legislature hall to view a private conversation between Chen Wei-ting, the sneaker-throwing hero, and another activist. Both were putting on good faces but neither bothered to cover their mouths; a lip-reader could have read what they were saying to each other but one didn't have to understand Taiwanese lips to figure it out: "What the heck do we do now?" There is only one thing to do.
In his news conference, Ma Ying-Jyou had called the occupation of the legislative hall illegal and undemocratic. To this day, the people have not seen the secret party-to-party agreement between the Kuomintang and Communist Party of China. Undemocratic, yes, but the people of Taiwan weren't allowed to see the WTO agreement Taiwan signed, either. The price of food in Taiwan continues to rise as the quality declines. Only Taiwanese farmers who sold their land to developers made out well.
The U.S. military-industrial sweatshop didn't export unionism to Taiwan; it exported exploitation when it said it was here to protect "Free China" from the Communists in 1947. The U.S.A. was in Taiwan to stifle workers rights as it would do with Eugene McCarthy in the U.S.A. using the Communist menace as an excuse. Through thirty-eight years of Marshall Law and thirty years of neo-liberalism, the oppressive white horror and propaganda has done its job; most Taiwanese think they have democracy. They are only now coming out to say that they realize they never did. An under-the-table deal with China will only make matters worse; there is no free speech or independent unionism in China. The Taiwanese have free speech; unionism will only come when speech is free.
One oppressor at a time.
Taiwanese workers must have freedom of speech and the right to join independent unions. Without both, Taiwan will either be exploited by Chinese or continued exploitation from U.S. corporations. The U.S. recognizes China's claim that Taiwan is their territory but they hate to let Taiwan go. The clandestine manipulation of Taiwan through the Democratic Progressive Party. Both outcomes are unacceptable. The union is a Taiwan worker's only true friend.
The youth of a nation will have to decide, through the destabilization from both super powers, how to thread a needle for their future happiness and fulfillment. They must act according to their lights.
One oppressor at a time. The Kuomintang is meeting People Power face to face but they have the weapons. The protesters are peaceful but fed up about the prospective of being second class citizens to China or Chinese Kuomintang. The light is on their side.
For One Big Union