Why is China getting involved in Taiwan elections?

Elections in Taiwan"We are democracy!"

"I'm Hong Jian-yi, candidate number 13 for the city council. Number 13. Please give me your vote. Hong Jian-yi. Thank you."

This is what election campaigns sound like in the streets of Taipei. With a huge megaphone on the roof, a green and white minibus drives through densely built-up residential areas, the appeal to the voters runs in an endless loop. All over Taiwan, almost 20,000 candidates are drummed for votes all over the country. You want to become mayor, city councilor, community representative. Taiwanese have electoral experience. Your country has been the first and only true democracy in the Chinese-speaking world since the mid-1990s. And now Taiwan's younger generation is suddenly coming into focus. Loud, self-confident and committed - that's not how you knew voters like Iris Chiu, 25, until now.

"Elections used to be uninteresting for younger people. But this time we are listening carefully to what the politicians say - about our society and what they are up to if they are elected. We no longer just take what the media tells us, we do we make our own judgments about the candidates. "

The political awakening of the young generation has a name: the sunflower movement. In spring, students took Taiwan's parliament in a coup d'├ętat. They called for more transparency and democratic participation after the government tried to force a momentous trade deal with China through parliament. The students stayed in the plenary hall for almost four weeks, brought hundreds of thousands of supporters to the streets and shook the country up. The younger generation can no longer be fobbed off with what the established politics put before them, says Eric Yu. He is a lecturer at Taiwan's National Political University.

"The importance of the Sunflower Movement was that young people realized: If they want to change something, then they can too - if they are just well organized. They now know how to start grassroots movements, their goals in bring it to the public and get popular support. "

Inequality in Taiwan

The enemy of these new movements is an alliance of politicians, investors and corporations who enrich themselves at the expense of the general public and the environment and ensure that inequality in Taiwan increases.

Rally in front of Taipei's most expensive luxury residential complex. Thousands are camping on the streets in protest against the fact that normal earners can no longer afford an apartment in the capital. Again, there are a particularly large number of young people. Iris Chiu:

"Our generation now asks what actually happened, why did the politicians ruin our society in such a way. If we take a closer look at the social problems, we find a lot of injustices and that makes us angry. In the elections we want to contribute with our vote that something will change. "

In Hong Kong, demonstrators less than a two-hour flight away are demanding a real right to vote like in Taiwan. There it is the young demonstrators of the umbrella protest movement who occupied the streets and squares over a month ago. Based on the model of sunflowers in Taiwan, says political scientist Eric Yu.

"There have been huge demonstrations in Hong Kong several times, but only on one day, never for a long period of time. This time the demonstrators have learned from Taiwan how to fight a long battle. That takes a lot of coordination and organization, and they learned that from the parliamentary occupation in Taiwan. "

Lively contact with Hong Kong

It is not only activists and demonstrators from Taiwan that are in lively contact with Hong Kong. Almost all Taiwanese are watching what is happening there with concern. Because the city was supposed to serve as a model for Taiwan to join the People's Republic as well, under the motto "One country, two systems." But that is no longer an option for Taiwanese women for 30-year-old Aldora Cheng.

"Hong Kong is now a part of China, that cannot be changed. Taiwan is still a democratic country, so to speak the last hope of the Chinese-speaking world. We absolutely want to preserve our democracy. But some politicians are taking advantage of the economic rapprochement and are pulling Taiwan step by step Step towards China. "

The fear of losing freedom. Another reason for many younger people to get involved in politics. In an opinion poll, Eric Yu regularly asks the question: Do you see yourself as Taiwanese, as Chinese, or both? 70 percent now say: only as Taiwanese. Almost twice as many as ten years ago. China's government in Beijing is guaranteed not to be enthusiastic about this young generation.