DPP Representative Affirms U.S. Support for Taiwan’s Democracy

DPP U.S. Representative Joseph Wu today (3/31/14) affirmed the strong support from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT/Taipei) to the democratic process underway in Taiwan, as well as Professor David Brown’s assurance to the DPP's Washington mission that his remarks, as quoted in the Nelson Report on 3/28, represented his personal views and not those of AIT or any office of the US Administration.

On 3/31 AIT spokesman Mark Zimmer stated that "The United States supports Taiwan's vibrant democracy, part of which is robust political dialogue," and expressed the hope that the discussion around the services agreement can be "conducted peacefully and civilly.”

Prof. Brown also confirmed with the DPP Mission in Washington on 3/30 that the views expressed in the Nelson Report are his personal analysis and was done without any contact with others in or out of government.

This clarification should end the misuse of Prof. Brown's statement as a reflection of official AIT and/or US government positions on the on-going LY sit-in. Representative Wu pointed to a 3/29 China Times’ report titled (in Chinese) "AIT Board Member: Student Occupation of the LY, Illegal" (AIT理事:學生占立院,非法) and a 3/31 Central News Agency report that also identifies Prof. Brown as an AIT board member, followed by a statement that AIT represents US interests in Taiwan.

If any Taiwanese media speculate that Prof. Brown’s views are related to the U.S. official position to any degree, Dr. Wu said they should seek further clarification from the U.S. government or from AIT.

Regarding suggestions that the DPP had “encouraged” the students’ actions and was actively involved in the mass mobilization efforts, Dr. Wu believes Prof. Brown may be misreading the direction of Taiwan’s democratic evolution and public opinion, as most of the students participating in the movement would not agree with the interpretation of events offered by Brown, nor would the media covering the events on the ground. Dr. Wu urged Prof. Brown to pay a visit to Taiwan to hear from a range of different voices and chat with the students themselves, so that he can observe the deep disappointment of the Taiwanese public with President Ma Ying-jeou, and comprehend the strong dissatisfaction with the current government among Taiwan’s youth.

Student activists have demonstrated against the Ma Administration's ineffectiveness—and even penchant for suppressing its people—over the course of several years now, in actions against media monopoly and nuclear power concerns, the forceful eviction of a family in Miaoli's Dapu village, and the hazing death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu. To imply that the DPP is mobilizing these actions based on electoral motives is a serious misunderstanding of the broad social awakening that impelled half a million people to join the students out on the streets this past weekend—all of their own accord.

“It is not true that either the student movement or what some characterize as DPP’s ‘obstruction’ have somehow impaired Taiwan’s democracy,” said Dr. Wu. "The undemocratic process of this trade negotiation is the reason why half a million people took to the streets on Sunday. The people of Taiwan used their civic power to prevent damage to Taiwan’s democracy, and Sunday's peaceful and rational rally is the case in point. Hundreds of thousands of people departed within 20 minutes at the conclusion of the rally, leaving the streets in perfectly clean order. This demonstration for democracy makes us all feel incredibly proud.”

Dr. Wu urged the U.S. to listen to the different voices in Taiwan and their mature demonstration of democracy, one which does not take lightly President Ma's violation of bipartisan agreements reached in the Legislature, nor his forceful disregard of democratic procedures and other non-democratic actions.

"The Taiwanese people hope that they don't wake up one day to find that President Ma has signed an agreement that cannot be changed,” concluded Dr. Wu.