Was The Sunflower Movement An Anti-China Movement?

Was The Sunflower Movement An Anti-China Movement?

The claim that the Sunflower Movement was an "anti-China" movement is likely too simplistic

Obviously, the Sunflower Movement came out of a series of developments in preceding years which were a reaction to Chinese attempts to decrease Taiwan’s political sovereignty through economic means. This includes, for example, the anti-media monopoly movement, which protested that Taiwan’s media outlets were becoming bought up by China and this was skewing news coverage in Taiwan in an uncritically pro-China direction.  In general, China attempts to use the specter of the integration of the Taiwanese economy with the Chinese economy in order to force Taiwan to acquiesce to its political will.

Nevertheless, the Sunflower Movement was a movement which may have been against the Chinese party-state but was not against the Chinese people, or individual Chinese. The Sunflower Movement saw the participation of a number of Chinese students studying in Taiwan though, for obvious reasons, they cannot reveal their identities openly.

The Sunflower Movement was, for obvious reasons, broadly against the incursion of Chinese economic might into Taiwan as a way of diminishing Taiwan’s political freedom from China. China claims that Taiwan is integral part of China and has always been a part of China, no matter that this does not correspond to historical reality. In the present, China attempts to use economic means as a way of coercing Taiwan towards a closer political relationship with China, in the hopes that this will eventually facilitate the political unification of Taiwan and China.

In this light, the Sunflower Movement was also a reaction against the KMT’s pandering to China, with regards to what was perceived as the party’s willingness to sell out Taiwan to China for the sake of personal gain. While the KMT came to Taiwan, this was as a result of the KMT’s defeat to the CCP in China. The KMT subsequently ruled Taiwan as the sole ruling party of the KMT party-state for decades. But while KMT domination of Taiwan ended during the process of Taiwanese democratization, eventual the KMT’s antagonism towards China disintegrated. So long as any form of unification with China was possible, it became acceptable that this unification was conducted under the CCP’s auspices, rather than that of the KMT. This was what the Sunflower Movement was reacting against.

At worst, something called “China” was referred to a set of undemocratic values, but in many cases this did not correspond to Chinese themselves on a personal level. When controversies did erupt, this was primarily regarding how Chinese students in Taiwan should treated, such as whether they should be included in the National Health Insurance system or treated as foreigners, or regarding Republic of China laws as applicable to Chinese living in Taiwan with Taiwanese spouses. Controversy later occurred due to Chinese student Clover Tsai (蔡博藝) running for student council at Tamkang University with the support of student leaders Lin Fei-Fan (林飛帆) and Chen Wei-Ting (陳為廷), seeing as Tsai had been a longtime supporter of Taiwanese social movements, something reacted against by members of the Formoshock Society (福爾摩鯊會社) and Le Flanc Radical. 

Commemorations of the Tiananmen Square Massacre take place in Taiwan yearly. Notably there is no contention about whether to commemorate this or not, as there have been in Hong Kong in recent years, but Tiananmen Square Massacre commemorations began to grow stronger in 2010 after the Wild Strawberry Movement. [1] Likewise, there is much concern in Taiwan with countries and territories seeking to break away from China, however, such as Hong Kong, Tibet, or Xinjiang. 


Read More About The Demands Of The Movement:


[1] Ho Ming-Sho. Challenging Beijing’s Mandate from Heaven: Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement and Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement. Forthcoming. P. 111.


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