SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

Kyungnam MOON ”SGRA Café 7th Identities of the young in Taiwan and Hong Kong in the rise of China”

On July 11, 7th SGRA Café was held at “Terashima Bunko Minerva-no-Mori” in Kudanshita, Tokyo. Lecturer of the day was Mr. Lim, Chuan-Tiong, Assistant Researcher of Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica(Central Research Academy of Taiwan).  Mr. Dele Sonja took the chair and Ms. Junko Imanishi, Director of SGRA, delivered the opening remarks.


Then, Mr. Lim started his speech and I report it here briefly.


He took up “The Sunflower Student Movement” in Taiwan and “The Hong Kong Umbrella Movement” as the most impressive incidents in the Chinese-speaking world in 2014. Those two incidents which symbolized modern Taiwan and Hong Kong were transmitted to the world with a strong impact by media with photos of students who occupied the legislative offices and the roads. Mr. Lim analyzed those incidents and their meanings for understanding the present situation of the Chinese-speaking world. Basing on this, he proceeded to the identities of the young in Taiwan and Hong Kong.


According to Mr. Lim, there are special features in these two incidents. First of all, both movements were done by students who were motivated by their interest in politics and the gaps in societies. And, they took up the ways of nonviolence and democracy as their ideology. Both movements had similarity in using the internet which played an important role in their development. It was another characteristic that students of those movements supported each other strongly with deep interest.


Mr. Lim has published a book titled “Identities and Politics of East Asia Frontiers; Okinawa, Taiwan and Hong Kong”. As you can easily see from this book, his key-words to understand those movements are “Distance between the center and the frontiers”. Those movements seem to be the same as the other movements in the Chinese speaking world if we consider that both movements are based on democracy. But there is a big difference.This is the phenomenon of “the rise of China” which is the most important recent change in the Chinese speaking world.


The power balance among China (main land), Taiwan and Hong Kong has been changing now in the present Chinese speaking world. Hong Kong is losing its ec onomic centripetal force which they have had in the past. Taiwan is worried about how to maintain their relations with China which has been making an explosive development. We can catch a glimpse of such changes of relations in Chinese counter measures, especially toward the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement. According to Mr. Lim, Chinese counter measure toward the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement was stronger than expected. We can say, in a sense, this reflects a situation that the Chinese government is now being superior to Hong Kong because the economic importance of Hong Kong has now weakened.


In the face of such realities, what students of Hong Kong now has to ask for is not only democracy itself and its procedures but also their standpoints in such a violently changing social situation. Such position can be applied to Taiwan’s situation too. Chinese counter measure against the Taiwan Sunflower Movement was moderate compared with Hong Kong. If we consider that an economic agreement between China and Taiwan was a cause of the Movements this time, what Taiwan students have been distressed about was not only appropriateness of process of political decision-making but also their anxieties of their standpoint in the era of China’s rising.


Two movements this time reflect the instability of relations between China which is being centralized and Taiwan/Hong Kong which are becoming frontiers. So, it becomes  impossible to understand correctly the movements this time as only a movement toward democracy by the youth.


Distance between the center and the frontiers connect to an issue of identities which was the main theme of his speech this time.  According to his research, most of the inhabitants in Taiwan and Hong Kong consider themselves as Taiwanese/Hong Konger. We cannot judge now a meaning of the consciousness of Taiwanese/Hong Konger and what such consciousness would suggest to the Chinese speaking world hereafter.  It will be true that changes of social situation may change a phase of the problems in the Chinese speaking world and such tendencies will be accelerated hereafter.


I analyzed this issue as above, but it will not be easy to show the way which the people in the Chinese speaking world should follow. On this point, Mr. Lim explained that it will be a key to how the Chinese government, who should play a leading part, recover reliance of the frontiers.  Overall, I think his pointing this out will be a right direction, though we have to discuss concrete solutions one by one depending on the issues.


An issue on identities of the young in the Chinese speaking world reflects realities of the areas directly.  His speech was very exciting in the meaning that, by focusing on actual phenomenon, we have to think of how the Chinese speaking world should be.



Photos of the day


(Doctoral Course , the University of Tokyo)



 Translated by Kazuo Kawamura

English checked by Mac Maquito


SGRA Café transmitted on July 23 in Japanese (original)