21. Taiwan Since the 2014 Sunflower Movement

This is a conversation with Brian Hioe, one of the founding editors of New Bloom Magazine which came out of Taiwan’s 2014 Sunflower Movement, in which Brian also participated.

The topics covered in this episode are numerous which is why I really wanted to have Brian on and use his encyclopedic knowledge of Taiwan and the region to give us an overview of the complicated history and recent political developments of Taiwan – and why they matter.

This is the second episode in The Fire These Times’ series focusing on Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. The first episode was with JP of the Hong Kong leftwing collective Lausan.

By the end of this episode you would have hopefully gained a better idea of Taiwan’s political history and more recent developments. Brian spoke about:

  • The 2014 Sunflower Movement and its significance, including the impact that Occupy Wall Street had on it;
  • The role of independent media including New Bloom and its associated Day Break project;
  • The subsequent elections (2016 and 2020) and their significance;
  • Taiwan’s generational shift, with younger generations increasingly identifying as Taiwanese and not Chinese;
  • The multi-faceted relationship between Hongkongers and Taiwanese, especially the younger generations involved in protest movements in both countries;
  • Taiwan’s very complicated relationship to the ‘international community’, here referring to the United Nations and its various bodies as well as other nation states;
  • The role of UN agencies including the World Health Organisation in erasing Taiwanese identity, recently highlighted by Taiwan’s succesful handling of the COVID19 Pandemic;
  • China’s role in trying to de-facto annex Taiwan including the possibility of a military invasion;
  • The failures of China’s stated ‘one country, two systems’ policy’;
  • Taiwan’s indigenous history as well as its past under Japanese occupation;
  • The waves of Chinese migrations to Taiwan including the KMT-lead one in December 1949 – following the Communist Party of China’s victory in the Chinese Civil War – which produced a sort of ‘sub-ethnic’ group of people that include Brian himself;
  • The KMT’s decades-long one-party rule of Taiwan as a right-wing dictatorship backed by the United States and other countries;
  • The 1970s UN resolution recognizing the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as “the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations”, hence unrecognizing Taiwan;
  • and I also spoke a bit about some of the similarities between Taiwan and Lebanon.

You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes.

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Music by Tarabeat. Photo credit: Y.H. Kao/Flickr/CC.

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