In Taiwan, one generation is now born after a democracy movement pushed Hong Kong to the brink of a major showdown with the Communist Party.
When the student-led movement known as the Umbrella Movement first started in late 2014, Taiwan was home to vibrant democratic movements of its own. But youth-led activism was already an entrenched tradition, most notably since a Chinese civil war that nearly saw the island nation swallowed up by the mainland in 1949. Some 30 years later, Taiwanese students rose up on their own to protest against the ruling Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party, for the first time. And when democracy icons like the Dalai Lama and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi came to the island to speak out, many Taiwanese young people were surprisingly vocal with their support and news coverage turned into an intense mix of colorful commentary. Now, as the country prepares for a presidential election this October, its own election-year campaigns are experiencing a loss of youth support that troubles many observers.
Check out our special report on young Taiwanese from May 2015
By the time the Umbrella Movement gained steam in Hong Kong, the famous “peace generation” on Taiwan was now in middle age. Thousands of them graduated in the last few years, but the winning candidates of their parents’ generation were barred from making a third run. That is now the case for first-time presidential candidates Tsai Ing-wen and Andrew Yang, leaders of pro-independence Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party. In the last presidential election in 2016, despite popular support for independence, a slew of youth candidates were blocked from getting on the ballot, an election reform that has significantly hurt the party and its founders in Taiwan.
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