Friday, December 14, 2012

Taiwan's Youth Fights for Democracy, Again

Student leader Chen Wei-ting addresses protesters on Nov. 29
Students concerned about the erosion of free speech take to the streets to halt a mogul's media buying spree

Don't call it a "Taiwanese Spring"—yet. But student protests against a major media merger contain echoes of an earlier era in Taiwan, when the nation struggled to bring down authoritarian rule and take its first steps as a young democracy. 

Those battles of the 1980s saw young lawyers, academics and students face off against the repressive Kuomintang (KMT) regime. Today, the targets of the youth movement are tycoons who, through a string of acquisitions, threaten to undermine free speech in Taiwan. 

In November, Hong Kong mogul Jimmy Lai surprised Taiwan by announcing that he planned to sell the Taiwanese branch of his Next Media empire, famed for its fearless criticism of Beijing. More shocking was the subsequent announcement that the coalition of buyers included a man whom Mr. Lai had vowed never to sell to: Want Want China Times Group chairman Tsai Eng-meng. 

My op-ed, published today in the Wall Street Journal, continues here.

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