24 years after the beginning of the "Wild Lily Movement" (野百合學運), a spontaneous student protest that galvanized Taiwan’s political elite behind far-reaching democratic reforms, student-led protestors have again attempted to weigh in on Taiwan’s political future. About 9pm local time on Tuesday, March 18, students in Taipei suddenly climbed the gates of the Legislative Yuan compound, took over the floor and barred the doors of Taiwan's national legislature. Attempts by police to remove them failed, and by Wednesday night a crowd estimated at more than 50,000 had gathered near the legislature to support the students. The student protests were in reaction to the contentious item currently before the legislature to approve the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (海峽兩岸服務貿易協議).
Coverage of the sit-in is available from media outlets across the political spectrum. For starters, here's the generally pro-government China Post and (in Chinese) the KMT-friendly United Daily News on the protests, and here's the pro-opposition and DPP-friendly Taipei Times and (in Chinese) Liberty Times. Updates in English on the events, including a live stream of the floor of the Legislative Yuan, can be found at Ketagalan Media. The protests have now attracted significant coverage abroad, as well, including in the Washington Post, Bloomberg, the New York Times Sinosphere blog, and Buzzfeed. There is also good reaction from bloggers here, here, and here.
Rather than repeat what can be found at those links, I thought I’d tackle three questions raised by the occupation of the legislature that haven't gotten sufficient attention:
1. How did we get here?
2. Why is this a big deal, or is it?
3. What are the deeper implications for Taiwan's democracy?
Separate posts follow.