Global Neo-Liberalism, Generation Inequality and Taiwan's Recent Resistance Against China Rise

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
CLM.B.06 (Clement House)
Jenn Hwan Wang, National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan
Global neo-liberalism has created serious inequalities among nations, classes, ethnicities; it is particularly hard to the youth on a global scale.  Taiwan is no exception. In recent decades, Taiwan’s economy has been gradually integrated into the enormous Chinese market in the globalization process, in which the business sector has been the major beneficiaries. The social consequences of this economic integration however have been job loss, decreasing of wage level, and the rise of youth’s employment rate.  The political effects of those social impact are the youth’s resistance to the economic integration and their distrust attitude toward China, and the pro-business ruling party- KMT. This resistance was finally outburst in the so-called Sunflower Student Protest of March, 2014 that ignited by the ruling party’s forceful promotion of service trade agreement with China in the Legislative Yuan.   

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the dilemma of economic integration and political resistance from the youth in Taiwan. We ask: why has Taiwanese youth become distrust toward China when the economy has become deeply integrated into Chinese market? We argue that it is mainly due to three reasons: first, economically, Taiwanese economic integration has not brought with it beneficial results to the youth; second, culturally, the youth has grown up in the context of political democratization through which they have been educated as Taiwanese rather than Chinese, which led them to have a strong Taiwanese national identify vs Chinese one. Therefore, third, politically, the youth tends to be suspicious toward China, in that they thought that China may use economic leverage against Taiwan for political unification. Those factors combined have facilitated the youth’s localization attitude in the age of neo-liberalism as Taiwan has deeply engaged into global capitalism. Various types of data, including an identity survey (over 1000 samples) conducted by this project to current college students, will be provided to illustrate the contesting identity and political attitude issues on the Taiwanese youth.