What Was The “Black Box” And Why Were Occupiers Opposed To It?

What Was The “Black Box” And Why Were Occupiers Opposed To It?

Since the Sunflower Movement, "black box" has become a commonly used term in Taiwanese society. But what does it mean?

The “Black Box” (黑箱), which has become a term ubiquitous in Taiwanese politics since the Sunflower Movement, was a term used to refer to the opaque and undemocratic means by which the KMT forced the CSSTA trade bill into law. The current ubiquity of this phrase is indicative of the deep impact the Sunflower Movement has had on Taiwanese politics. The CSSTA was thus referred to as the “Black Box CSSTA” (黑箱服貿).

Following controversy, the KMT had agreed to a review of the bill following a series of sixteen public hearings, as demanded by the DPP. Eight public hearings were to be organized by the DPP and eight public hearings were to be organized by the KMT. But forcing the CSSTA into law was a way of avoiding stall tactics by the DPP. The declaration that the CSSTA had been passed took place after the KMT had finished holding their public hearings, but before the DPP had finished holding their meetings. Invited experts and members of civil society groups were sometimes critical of the fact that they not been invited or had been invited at the last minute

But the CSSTA was passed into law after the planned line-by-line review of the bill was declared to be complete in under thirty seconds by KMT legislator Chang Ching-Chung (張慶忠), the chair of the committee responsible for the bill on March 17th. This took place on the afternoon of March 17th at 2:39 PM. Reportedly, this occurred while Chang was hiding next to a bathroom, using a megaphone to make his announcement. 

Such actions proved provocative of Taiwanese society. Taiwanese society has, after all, gone through not only the turmoil of the authoritarian period, but also the democratic movement which overthrew one-party rule. Public outcry naturally ensued, some claiming that the public could not stand by and allow “thirty years of democracy” to go up in smoke in thirty seconds. 


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Photo credit: Brian Hioe