Thursday, February 04, 2016

The Unifying Themes Behind ‘Black Island’ and ‘The Convenient Illusion of Peace’

My two recent books look at the impact of civic nationalism in Taiwan, one from a domestic perspective, and the other at the strategic level 

I distinctly remember the feeling that something had shifted, that a new, undefined force had installed itself in Taiwan. It was in the air, in the glimmer of determination that showed in the young protesters’ eyes. That was the summer of 2012, following a major rally against a pro-Beijing Taiwanese billionaire’s attempt to expand his media empire. In my nascent excitement, I made the observation that youth seemed poised to change the face of politics in Taiwan. I was immediately accused of being naïve, of placing my hopes in a segment of Taiwanese society that was apathetic, materialistic, and irremediably apolitical. 

As recent history has demonstrated, my critics were wrong, though I can understand why they viewed things differently as the mood at the time was indeed pessimistic. Throughout 2013, the fabric of politics in Taiwan was transformed by the intensification of civic activism, which in early 2014 translated into the Sunflower Movement and its three-week occupation of the Legislative Yuan over a controversial services trade agreement with China. Those two intense years were the seeds of the ideological split that brought the once seemingly undefeatable Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to its knees and ensured that President Ma Ying-jeou’s ambitions would be dashed. 

My article, published today on the China Policy Institute blog, continues here.

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