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Social movements can reflect the good and bad of Taiwan

Publication Date : 02-04-2014


A military green jacket is a necessity for people who love Taiwan. No matter where you stand on the “Sunflower Movement,” you should take a look at this military green jacket. Once you put it on, your mind clears up immediately and your speech becomes methodical. You will not hesitate to speak up in front of a crowd. An excellent jacket, a jacket that combines fashion and hot topics.

All of the above are lines from an Internet advertiser promoting a jacket on sale, a jacket similar to what Sunflower Movement leader Lin Fei-fan wore during the protest.

This is just one of the issues in Taiwanese society reflected in the Sunflower Movement: Taiwan gets too obsessed with one particular topic or object because people and the media constantly discuss it. When it happens, some people seize the opportunity to make a quick profit, from the egg tart sensation that resulted in countless egg tart stores shutting down to the yellow rubber duck sculpture that resulted in millions of yellow rubber duck-themed goods being sold nationwide. It sometimes seems like Taiwanese people never give up a chance to make money. However, with this tendency, the meaning behind the source of the trend sometimes gets twisted.

There are more revelations about Taiwanese society that can be discovered from the Sunflower Movement. One is that even though Taiwan is ruled by laws, most people value personal feelings and human interaction more. There are pros and cons to this national characteristic. Taiwan is known for being a friendly place because of this. However, when people were evicted from the Executive Yuan by the police after occupying it, many people focused on the violent actions of the police.

Discussions about whether or not the measures taken by the police to evict people from the Executive Yuan were appropriate and necessary, but it is also true that those people should not have rushed into the Executive Yuan and destroyed objects inside.

The Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement has caused many people to express their opposition. Some people claimed that the pact could allow more mainland Chinese workers to move to Taiwan, which would decrease the amount of job opportunities for Taiwanese people. Others said the pact could result in many companies shutting down due to a greater amount of investment from China.

This fear of facing challenges actually comes from the fact that Taiwanese people feel inferior on the global stage. When athletes perform well in any worldwide games or sports league in other countries, we call them the pride of Taiwan. When foreigners such as Rob Schneider say they like Taiwan, it becomes a local news report. When Taiwan is mentioned in any international news reports, the media in Taiwan never misses it. When Sunflower Movement supporters crowdfunded their advertisement campaign, they invested NT$6 million into having an ad run in the New York Times.

The truth is we do not need to be overly obsessed with international attention. Taiwan has its own strength that can help it survive in the world: our soft power. The quality of Taiwan's service industry has been proven to be one of the best in the world, including the customer service in its airlines industry, restaurants and hotel industry.

However, we should be afraid because Taiwan's future is in fact in danger. Based on the rankings of the world's best universities published by the Times Higher Education Ranking in 2013, National Taiwan University (NTU), Taiwan's leading education institution, slipped eight places to 142. Peking University moved up one place to 45, and Tsinghua University rose two places to 50.

We should put less emphasis on the compliments that the international media gives to Taiwan and focus more on the country's flaws and issues. Taiwanese people should not sell themselves short, but in order to raise the competitiveness of the nation, people should not over-indulge in compliments from other countries. Taiwanese people should end unnecessary conflicts and disputes that could tear the society apart and put more energy into fighting and protecting Taiwan's international competitiveness.


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