Hong Kong to Taipei
October 3: While the world is watching Occupy Central, one group has gone beyond mere spectating. Six nights ago when students in Hong Kong braved waves of tear gas, after days of trying unsuccessfully to occupy the park in front of the government headquarters, another site of the Hong Kong government came under occupation: the Hong Kong Economic and Cooperation Exchange office in Taipei. The occupiers—Taiwanese students.
“We wanted to support the Hong Kong students in Taiwan, and send our message of support to Hong Kong, ” said Chun Yi, a college sophomore who took part in the occupation.
Taiwanese students are no strangers to protesting China. Many of them took part in the historic occupation of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, called the Sunflower movement, earlier this year in March when Taiwan’s pro-reunification president Ma Ying-jeou attempted to ram an unpopular trade pact with China through the legislature.
As Taiwanese students waged their own battles with police on Taipei streets, many young Hong Kongers sat glued to their computer monitors, watching live streams of the protests and firing off words of support and advice over Facebook. “Today’s Hong Kong is tomorrow’s Taiwan, ” wrote young Hong Kongers warning their Taiwanese counterparts not to give in to greater dependency on China. Now, with Hong Kongers on the streets, the roles have reversed.
But the depth of the ongoing conversation between students on the streets of Taipei and Hong Kong extends beyond mere words of support. An important dialogue about tactics and strategy—about how to make civil disobedience work in a Chinese cultural context—is taking place as well. One recent in the People’s Dail, a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), directed particular blame towards Taiwanese “independence activists” for Hong Kong’s Occupy Central, claiming they imparted their protest experience on Hong Kongers—which in an exaggerated, hyperbolic kind of way holds a lode of truth.