SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

Civic Activism in Taiwan: From Ma's Undoing to Tsai's Headache

J Michael Cole 485 186 56
Speaker: Mr J. Michael Cole

Date: 26 June 2017Time: 6:00 PM

Finishes: 26 June 2017Time: 8:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: KLT

Type of Event: 0


A vibrant and increasingly activist civil society in Taiwan contributed to president Ma Ying-jeou's undoing during his second term and his party's unprecedented defeat in the 2016 elections. With Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP now in charge, civil society has not gone quiet and continues to pressure the government on several fronts. With the precedent and success of the Sunflower Movement still fresh in their minds, various groups have adopted similar tactics of persistence, occupation of public space and use of social media to voice their discontent, engage the public, and influence government policy. From pro-LGBTQ activists to their ultraconservative opponents, the anti-pension reform movement to Indigenous groups fighting for their land to pro-unification groups combatting "separatism," the landscape of civic activism in Taiwan today is made all the more complex by the creeping involvement of organisations -- "deep blues," pro-CCP and with ties to organised crime -- that, unlike their traditional counterparts, are driven largely by political ideology rather than specific issues. In some cases those groups seek to discredit Taiwan's democratic institutions rather than reinforce them. Such developments, with the addition of the physical violence that has characterised some of their activism, require different responses from the government.

Pro-unification Groups Outside DPP HQ 485 186 56
Pro-unification Groups Outside DPP HQ (Photo provided by J. Michael Cole)

Speaker's Bio

J. Michael Cole is Senior non-resident Fellow at the China Policy Institute, University of Nottingham, UK, and an Associate Researcher at the French Center for Research on Contemporary China in Taipei, Taiwan. He is Chief Editor of Taiwan Sentinel and Project Coordinator for the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy's Taiwan Democracy Bulletin.

Organiser: Centre of Taiwan Studies

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