Friday, October 3, 2014

Five reasons why Hong Kong is in the international news, while the Sunflowers were ignored

It's unfortunate, as the Sunflowers were a newsworthy movement that deserved international press coverage, and mostly didn't get it. Those who did cover it filled up their stories with tripe, or their editors did (and I feel bad saying that as I have several journalist friends, but it's true). Everything from the 3/30 protest being "100,000" people as reported by the government (a lie - I was there, I can tell you it was more than that. I know what a 200,000 person protest feels like, and this was about double that) to the usual line about history that is completely false, e.g. "Taiwan and China separated in 1949..." (NO THEY DIDN'T. They separated in 1895, Taiwan was independent for much of that year, though unrecognized as such, and even before that Chinese control of Taiwan was weak. And only official for about 200 years, not "thousands of years" or "since antiquity"). Or they reported the KMT propaganda about why the protest was controversial. Or, continuously reporting that the Taiwanese people are opposed to "reunification", which can't be true because there is no such thing. The PRC and ROC were never unified, so they can't be 'reunified'. Little coverage, less truth.

To the point where one might think it was an intentional brownout. It pissed me off then and it pisses me off now.

But I do see why the Umbrella Revolution is getting more press coverage. Simply put:

  • Hong Kong is fighting against actual dictatorship. The Sunflowers didn't want to change the government, which is already democratic and about as free as democracies get. They wanted to accomplish one specific task. 
  • The Sunflowers' main issues were (and are) more complex than democracy vs. dictatorship. That's simple. People understand democracy vs. dictatorship. "Well, there's this trade pact, but it's more than a trade pact, to really understand its origins you have to look back at the Ma administration's previous term and the implementation of ECFA as well as competing ROC/Taiwan identity ideologies and a feeling of increasing government paternalism and authoritarianism, and helplessness. And, it probably won't be good for Taiwan, as ECFA wasn't, but that's not the real reason we're protesting..." - it's more complicated. I understand, but you'd be surprised how many people just don't get it.
  • Hong Kong  is simply more famous and more international, with more business going through it than Taipei. Plain and simple. 
  • The Hong Kong protests actually shut down the city, or at least the downtown part of it. Taipei was never fully shut down - only the legislature. I worked normally through it and went in the evenings to lend my support (I did and still do support the Sunflowers 100%). 
  • The Sunflowers had the CCP and KMT propaganda machines working against them, after years of China successfully disseminating propaganda that convinced people to basically ignore Taiwan. HK has only CCP propaganda going against it, and they were never 'ignored' the way Taiwan has been for years. And why has Taiwan been ignored? Some very famous brands come out of Taiwan, and a lot of the factories that pump out our consumer crap in China are headed by corporate offices in Taiwan. There's no good reason for it to be so off the radar - it was intentionally done, through careful Chinese maneuvering. 
It sucks and I hate it.

But that's why it's happening. I don't think it's any more complicated than this (and this is already fairly complicated). 

1 comment:

Paul said...

Look on the bright side, Taiwan is better positioned than Hong Kong to handle the aggression from China. It is more important to influence the mindset of the people in Taiwan and Sunflower movement has done that.