Was The Sunflower Movement A Taiwanese Independence Movement?

Was The Sunflower Movement A Taiwanese Independence Movement?

Though the Sunflower Movement is thought of as pro-independence by many, was it in fact pro-independence?

Interestingly enough, despite the fact that the Sunflower Movement came to be thought of as a Taiwanese independence movement by much of the world, the majority of Sunflower Movement participants do not seem to have really thought of the movement as a Taiwanese independence movement. While the core organizers of the Sunflower Movement may have often been in favor of Taiwanese independence personally, the movement in fact made efforts to avoid discussing Taiwanese independence. Namely, the issue of Taiwanese independence was thought to be too controversial and many took the view that if the movement openly advocated Taiwanese independence, this would have led to the movement being stigmatized or labelled as engineered by the DPP.

As such, Taiwanese independence groups themselves were oftentimes dissatisfied with the Sunflower Movement because they felt that the core decision-making group within the Legislative Yuan had went to lengths to exclude them from the decision-making process and because they felt that the core decision-making group had attempted to prevent them from openly advocating Taiwanese independence. Likewise, public perceptions of the movement as leaning towards Taiwanese independence oftentimes only crystallized in the latter stages of the movement, after commemorations of the day that Cheng Nan-Jung self-immolated on April 7th led to participants declare in a manner imitating Cheng, “I am XXXX, I support Taiwanese independence.” Indie DaDee’s Big Bowel Blossom Forums were also crucial in allowing for open advocacy of Taiwanese independence, with many declaring during livestreaming that they were in favor of Taiwanese independence.

Some have deemed the Sunflower Movement to have been a pro-Taiwanese independence movement in fact, if not its messaging. Furthermore, many report that stigmatization on open advocacy of Taiwanese independence seems to have lessened after the Sunflower Movement. After the Sunflower Movement, a number of debates began regarding issues such as “ROC independence” versus “Taiwanese independence”, between “left independence” and “right independence,” as well as between prioritizing “leftism” before “independence” or “independence” before “leftism,” and between the “pro-independence left” and “pro-unification left.”


Photo credit: 432_P/Flickr/CC