By Amber Wang
Young activists frustrated by Chinese interference and pessimistic about the future are standing for election in Taiwan this month, determined to shake up politics in a move set to alarm Beijing.
The vote comes after Beijing-wary campaigners in Hong Kong won seats in recent elections, a further challenge to Chinese influence as anger swells among a generation of disaffected youth.
In Taiwan, the dramatic occupation of parliament in 2014 by student-led protesters over a China trade pact reflected increasing resistance to Beijing as young Taiwanese seek to forge and protect their identity.
It was also borne out of more everyday frustrations — low salaries, fewer job opportunities and unaffordable housing as the economy stagnates.
Although young Taiwanese had staged protests in the past, none had been on the scale of the Sunflower Movement’s occupation of parliament.
Now, in the first island-wide election since the protests, activists are determined to push for political power, saying standing for office is the best way to bring change.
“Social movements can’t obtain real political influence because Taiwan’s system is too closed and too conservative,” said Tseng Po-yu, 24, a spokeswoman for the Sunflower Movement who is standing for the newly-formed Green Party-Social Democratic Party Alliance.
Tseng would become the youngest ever member of parliament and said many of her policies revolve around improving life for young people.
“It’s impossible for young people to save money with low salaries and rising consumer prices, let alone to afford the skyrocketing housing prices,” said Tseng.
“I want to speak up for young people who are concerned about their future… We deserve better lives.” Read more