The following is a transcript of our conversation with Sunflower Movement student activists Wei Yang and Wu Cheng during their trip to Europe with Taiwan Corner. Wei Yang is a member of the Black Island Youth Front, and Wu Cheng has worked with group Democracy Tautin. For coverage of the trip, click here.

Many thanks to Nikki Lin for speaking with Wei and Wu and recording the conversation.

Ketagalan Media (KM): Wei Yang and Wu Cheng, how was your European trip different from your experiences visiting the United States?

Wu Cheng (Wu): When we went to the US, we met with members of Congress, senators, and people from Taiwanese American organizations. Taiwan is influenced by US policy in many ways, so people think in terms of how can the US help Taiwan and fight China through governmental relations and foreign policy. Taiwanese Americans would ask what they can do to help. In Europe, we joked about how Europe doesn’t factor into Taiwan’s policymaking, and so we haven’t thought of how Europe can help us. We do want Europeans to understand the reasons behind the student movements, what kind of pressures we are facing, and how we are dealing with them.

Wei Yang (Wei): I think the kinds of people we meet are quite different. In the US, the Taiwanese Americans are usually older, people who have long been in the Taiwan movement. They would tell us, “hey great job, you are our hope of the future! How are you going to take down the KMT? I suggest you do this and that…” They are all our “seniors” in the business for decades, so it’s a lot of pressure on us—they are our elders, so we have to do what they say, kind of thing. In Europe we met more peers, so there’s more of a feeling of working together to solve our problems.

Meeting with officials in both the US and Europe, we pretty much know what they’ll say. “We support Taiwan’s democracy, but we won’t interfere in your China issue.” They know that China is infiltrating Taiwan, but they cannot give you a straight answer on what they will do about it. It’s hard talking to officials. In any case, I feel that the US has a stronger, more organized Taiwanese community, and not so much in the UK.

KM: How do you think Taiwan and Europe can work together?

Wu: I think there are many human rights issues where Europe is much more progressive than Taiwan. Their human rights education and prison systems are much better than ours. They see abolishing the death penalty as something very natural, but we are still fighting that battle in Taiwan.

KM: Taiwan’s legislature is discussing the Free-Trade Economic Zones (FEZs) and the Cross Straits Oversight Law this week. What are your thoughts? How will you make your opinions heard this time?

Wu: The FEZs are basically designed to relax regulations across the board. In essence, its logic is to lower costs for companies, so they would want to invest, which then creates economic growth. In the past 10, 20 years we have tried to grow our economy this way. We have passed laws, lowered corporate taxes, given them incentives, cut tariffs, etc. But I think this cost-down philosophy has come to an end, a bottleneck. We need to rethink whether this development model is right for Taiwan.

I believe we shouldn’t rely anymore on lowering costs and encouraging exports; rather we should think about how to develop home-grown industries and demand. The cost-down model has capped wages and labor conditions in Taiwan; after all, it’s a race to the bottom where you are always trying to cut yourself more than your competitors. It’s too exposed to the risk of currency exchange rates, or financial crises. Therefore the whole thinking behind FEZs need to be reevaluated.

As for the parliament discussing these bills, I think they definitely need to be discussed. But the KMT’s attitude is not really to let the people truly deliberate on it, but it only wants to pass them as quickly as possible for its own political gains.

I am personally very much against the FEZs. To “liberalize” and deregulate on the environment, labor, capital and everything else, is to open a backdoor for lower quality industry to enter Taiwan. All the things we opposed in the Cross Straits Services Trade Agreement or Goods Trade Agreement can be done through the FEZs, creating a twisted “one country two systems” situation. For example, low quality Chinese goods can enter Taiwan’s market; after processing within the FEZs, they can then be sold as Taiwanese goods.

The FEZ is a very complex issue regarding trans-border capital and labor flows. Furthermore, it contradicts with the government’s own push for free trade agreements (FTAs). If we lower our own tariffs in special zones, then other countries will have no need to sign FTAs with us, where they have to lower their tariffs in exchange for us to lower ours. They can just invest in our FEZs. It’s not a simple infrastructure project. I don’t think we should push for something like this that will fundamentally affect Taiwan’s economy.

As for the Cross Straits Oversight Agreement, right now the KMT’s version is a “no oversight” law, because it simply codifies the current problematic practices that the government uses when dealing with China. It’s pointless, like how we have a referendum law but can’t have referendums. Of course we want to pass an oversight law, but not the administration’s current version.

So the legislative process, I hope, will take more time, and be more robust. For example, some in industry have said the version of the oversight law that NGOs have proposed would make it too hard to actually pass any agreement with China. We can and should talk about these concerns, and that’s more the reason to expect our legislators to closely deliberate on this issue.

How do we make our opinions heard? Traditionally, of course street demonstrations grab a lot of attention, but I think there are other ways as well. For example, we need to be more active in committee hearings during the legislative process and work with political parties to get a handle on those discussions.

Wei: Exactly; these two issues need to be discussed much more broadly within the civil society, and between the government and the people. Even academics are split on the effects of the FEZs, so it’s definitely a controversial issue.

As I know, the first committee hearing on the FEZ was held during the protests, just half a year ago. We didn’t have much time to really understand it. Moreover, the current draft oversight bill does not change any of the status quo. When these things are passed, they become the law of the land, and then it would be much harder to change things, to oversee the government’s dealings with China. So we need more time to think about them.

I am personally against them as well. On the FEZ, the content of the bill seems to be supportive of “high level service” sectors. But the zones are all outdated costal industrial parks; who is really going to go there to provide high level services? How will most of the population benefit? Or is this really just a ploy to bump real estate prices? Before we can answer these questions, FEZs should not exist.

KM: Since the Sunflower Movement, survey has shown that support for the student movement has declined. Why is that, and how will you win back their support?

Wu: I don’t think the support has declined, but the attention has declined. It’s a sad truth, but I guess you can’t follow the movement 365 days a year. So after the climax, it’s natural that people are paying attention to other things. I think there is a natural cycle to social movements, highs and lows. The Sunflower Movement itself wasn’t born from a vacuum; it was brewing for a long time in Taiwan, out of wave after wave of smaller movements and civic participation.

After the explosion during the occupation, we are back to the period of accumulating energy for the next cycle. We will of course continue to push for our issues in civil society. Right now, the Cross Straits Services Trade Agreement seems to be put on hold, but behind it are the fundamental issues of the China factor, and globalization. Because of the movement, more people now care about these issues.

We see more seminars and forums begin to talk about these issues. I believe more people in Taiwan are now aware of how the China factor is affecting us, and Taiwan’s wealth gap problem. I believe when the China factor, or distributive justice, becomes too much to bear, we will still have mass social movements.

Wei: I don’t think we can prove that the society has less support for the Sunflower Movement. I agree it’s more of a cyclical thing. We have had a lot of attention grabbing, iconic events—occupying the legislature, press conferences etc, but eventually we needed to go to a more reflective period. We need that to regroup, to flesh out our manifestos, to propose actual draft legislation. It’s not the kind of thing you see in the news every day.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Rather, it would be bad if we, the civic groups, stopped working on the issues after the attention is gone. If we are quietly working on the issues in each of our corners, that’s not a bad thing. For example, a lot of new people joined our NGOs, so we want to train them to become leaders for now, so when the next wave comes, we can do more. If we can do that, there’s no need to worry about support, because we are pushing things forward one way or another.

KM: Any other long term personal plans? Like running for office, work for NGOs, or other plans?

Wu: I think I will continue to study, and I want to go to business school. I think many of the social activists in Taiwan have legal or political backgrounds, but not so much in economics or business. It’s important for social movements to have diversity of expertise and perspectives; if not, we could become too narrow-minded. Just as I want more diversity in Taiwan’s democracy, I want more diversity within social movements, so I want to learn more about business.

Wei: For my group The Black Island Youth, we want to become an advocacy group. We won’t plan on being at every street demonstration, but we want to become a group that can provide a theoretical basis for activists, such as on China policy, or Taiwan independence, or economic policies. We want to be able to provide a specific voice that talks about all these issues together coherently. Taiwan’s problem is really finding our place within the world order. We want to be able to influence policy. So I will probably stay in academia, or in NGO work.

 以下是太陽花學運成員魏揚和吳崢在 Taiwan Corner 籌辦的歐洲行程中,與我們的一段對話。魏揚是黑色島國青年陣線成員,吳崢為民主鬥陣成員。歐洲行報導請看這裡

感謝 Nikki Lin 在倫敦的幫助。

Ketagalan Media (以下「KM」): 魏揚與吳崢,你們在先前也有去過美國討論太陽花學運的事。美國跟這次歐洲,有什麼樣的不同嗎?

吳崢(以下「吳」): 在華府也是有跟 senator 和 members of congress 碰面,其它行程主要是在台灣同鄉會。 台灣跟美國有比較直接的連帶關係,台灣受到美國很大的影響,也會直接看說要怎麼處理台美關係,美國應該要怎麼幫助台灣,台灣應該要有怎樣的外交政策,跟美國合作來對抗中國的壓力等等。然後當然也會問海外的同鄉會或留學生可以做些什麼。不過這個問題在歐洲也有被問到,我們常會開玩笑說台灣的國際關係裡面只有中國和美國,相對來講,歐洲含台灣的連帶關係沒有這麼強,所以大家比較不會問說台灣跟歐洲之間合作的關係,比較會著重在運動的一些理解,包括台灣現況的處境還有未來的一些策略。

魏:我覺得歐洲跟美國很大的不同是我們遇到的群眾組成很不一樣,因為在美國主要會遇到的是當地的台美人,然後主要都有年紀了,很少會有學生。然後通常那些長輩的態度都是說:「你們很辛苦,台灣的未來就靠你們啦!你們要怎麼打倒國民黨?我建議你們要去監票還是去清算國民黨的黨產」之類的。就是遇到都是已經從事民主運動幾十年的前輩,那其實會有很大的壓力,因為感覺那不是一個對等的關係。感覺就是說前輩提到要去做的某些事情,因為我們是後輩,所以我們就是要去努力把它完成。但是在歐洲遇到的都是年輕人,我們會一起討論說我們覺得這一代的問題是什麼,然後可以一起討論說那留學生可以在外國做什麼,那就會有一種 working together 的感覺。

在美國跟歐洲和官員見面的時候,其實我們都很清楚他大概對這個問題會有怎樣的回答。像在美國或英國的官員就會說,他們支持台灣的民主,但他們不會去介入中國和台灣的事務。所以儘管中國不斷地想用各種方式侵略台灣,他們當然也知道這件事,但當你說美國或英國在這方面有什麼樣的想法的時候,他們沒辦法給你什麼樣的回答。跟官員的對話有點沮喪,因為不太知道要怎麼去跟他們對話。不過在美國還是有比較強的台灣人社群的感覺。我覺得說,他們有地方很強的台灣人的連帶。感覺英國的台灣人還沒有群聚成一個有足夠強大政治或社會影響力的一個團體。

KM: 台灣與歐洲之間如何合作?

吳:我覺得歐洲在人權議題的方面真的有很多值得我們學習的地方。當然他們的人權教育還有監獄系統都做得比我們好很多。他們把廢除死刑當成天經地義的事情,但是台灣還是在奮鬥中。

KM: 這星期台灣立法院開始討論太陽花學運訴求的兩岸監督條例,還有自由經濟示範區(自經區)。你們的看法如何?這次如何推動你們的立場?

吳:自經區基本上是協助鬆綁每各個面向。它的精神是說,去降低在各面向的成本,讓我們去吸引資金進入台灣來帶動投資和促進經濟成長。台灣過去十年,二十年來都是以這樣的產業發展思維來推動產業政策。這其中包括了產業發展促進條例,我們也有所謂的減稅的政策,租稅補貼,以及降低關稅等政策。但是我覺得這套所謂以 cost-down 為主的產業發展政策已經很明顯的走到了一個極限,也算遇到了一個瓶頸。而自經區只是把這個路線走到更極致而已。我們現在應該思考我們 cost-down 是不是已經到了極限,是不是應該改變我們的走向和路線。

我們不該繼續朝著降低成本刺激,出口刺激路線的外貿,而是思考如何發展台灣本地的產業,如何帶動台灣本地的成長和需求,探討產業升級轉型的可能。因為降低成本的思維在很大程度上限制了台灣本地工資的提升以及台灣勞工環境的改善,而且成本降低終究會遇到無法再往下降的時候。這樣的做法也是相對不穩定,因為我們是在跟別人拼那個 marginal 的成長,看有沒有辦法比別人多砍一點點。這樣很容易受到國際匯率的波動或者是經濟震盪直接的影響,所以我覺得自經區背後的整個思維需要去做非常根本的改變。

關於台灣立法院要審關於自經區以及兩岸協議監督條例的法案;法案在委員會中當然是需要被審議和討論的,而我覺得執政黨在推動這兩個法案的態度,並不是認真的想要把這兩個法案交付給公民社會,或者是想要認真的與在野黨以及民間來進行討論。他反而比較像是為了政策上的需求和政治上的目的,而需要把這兩個法案迅速的推動通過。

我根本上是非常的質疑以及反對自經區這個法案。我認為自經區在劃定的範圍之內不論是對環境,人力,勞力,勞動,資金或是資本等各種的法規全面的鬆綁,這也是在幫助台灣來開一個後門。原本我們在服貿或是貨貿裡面反對的東西,都可以透過自經區來幫我們開一些小門,從這些特殊劃分的示範區讓他們流進來。這個自經區像是在台灣創造了一個神祕的一國兩制的現象。

原本的自經區草案當中,地方政府也是有權去劃分自經區大小的。這是一件很恐怖的事情;這裡面包括了很多的細節,像是我們所禁止的中國產品,會透過自經區而流入台灣市場。那這些產品所加工的東西進入台灣市場之後,可以在自經區之內被加工成其他的產品。加工製成的產品可以在台灣的市場公開的販售,因為他已經變身為一種不被禁止的產品了。這樣的產品不僅入侵了台灣的市場,也會對原本地方的產業原料造成衝擊。

自經區其實牽涉到了台灣的產業發展,而且它是一個資本流動非常廣泛的議題。他跟政府一直強調要簽訂的自由貿易協定也是在邏輯上有互相衝突的。因為你已經在自經區內把關稅降到零,對別人完全的開放,那別人到自經區去投資就好了,憑什麼要跟你說我也要開放關稅給你呢?這是完全沒有意義的。所以自經區會牽連到非常多的東西,不是只是說我們推動幾樣本土建設這麼簡單的事情。所以,我覺得現在不應該去推動一個在根本上會動搖台灣經濟或法治上的一個法案。

那在兩岸協議監督條例的話,現在國民黨在推的立院版本其實就是「不監督」條例,因為它只是把現行兩岸人民關係條例下,根據過往跟中國簽訂協議的做法,把它法治化,給予他法源上的依據,給它一個法律上的認可。其實這在實質上是完全沒有意義的,就好像我們有公投法但完全沒有辦法施行公投一樣。兩岸協議監督條例也是當時太陽花學運提出的一個訴求。在本質上我們其實是希望它可以通過,而不是被導向一個政院版的不監督條例。

所以這個立法過程其實需要比較多的時間,可能例如說半年,或是甚至更久。我們希望它不是一個倉促的立法,而且在過程中能夠引進足夠的公民社會討論,包括 NGO 和民間的意見。因為之前服貿一再讓人詬病的就是政府的黑箱決策。那既然我們現在要設計它的機制,可以讓往後的兩岸協議的簽署變得透明,可以被監督的話,那這個協議本身一定也是要公開透明,它才有可能去透過這個平台來辦到這件事情。

所以我是希望兩岸協議監督條例的立法是需要一個更長的過程,以及嚴謹的訂定。因為包括說民間版所提出的兩岸協議監督條例,也是有來自產業界的聲音說這個定下的門檻太高,導致在實務上真的很難簽署通過。這樣其實也是可以來討論,但是就是要將這個法案充分地在內政委員會裡面去交流,然後去做逐條地審議,而不是為了政治目的,為了要通過服貿,既然前面卡著,我趕快把他擠過去。

要怎麼讓我們的這些意見被聽到,我覺得是說現在台灣的主要關注焦點在選舉上,不過選舉會結束,但是這些法案還是會繼續的在立法院審下去,那傳統上我們讓社會關注到這件事的方式是透過抗議。但是我覺得不一定只有侷限在街頭,我們的聲音才能擴散出去。像是之前我們一直詬病的是政府公聽會的場次不足,那其實我們應該讓這些對話的平台能夠更廣泛地在台灣社會上去建立一個溝通的方式。而且我覺得社運團體的確需要在和立法院裡面的政黨互相配合,就是一方面我們看看裡面現在狀況怎麼樣,二方面是如果他們有需要的話,看看我們能給予什麼樣的意見和支援,那這樣互相配合,讓兩岸協議監督條例可以朝比較理想的方向去推動。

魏:我覺得這兩個東西都需要在被審之前經過公民社會的討論或是政府與民間的對話。因為像自經區,連學界都還在探討它的衝擊跟影響。它要是通過了,很多縣市也可以運用這個條款來變成自經區。它也會導致中國農產品的進口,或是在台灣製造的機會。所以這些東西對於台灣的產業有很大的影響。

就我所知,自經區的第一場公聽會那時候是在學運期間辦的,那到現在也不過才半年而已。而且公聽會一開始是非常密集的舉辦,所以在那段期間大家根本不可能專心的討論這個議題。所以我們在這之前不應該這麼快去審這個東西。現在看到行政院提出的兩岸監督條例版本,根本就是兩岸不監督條例,只是把過去政府與中國經貿協議不成文的規定把它變成一個成文的法律。其實嚴格說起來,一旦通過了,未來監督中國跟台灣之間的經貿互動只會更加綁手綁腳。這兩個都是一旦通過就不可逆的東西,所以我覺得政府應該要讓人民有更多的時間去討論。

而就我的個人立場而言,我會覺得我完全反對,因為就內容來看,它其實也就是在做所謂的高階服務業。先不要看說它開放了多少高階服務業的市場,因為你看到的幾乎都是一些沿海的舊工業區,那到底有哪些人會在裡面發展高階的服務業,又或者是這些東西到底對一般人會有怎樣的利益,或是他根本就只是炒地皮而已?我覺得這些東西沒有被回答之前,自經區都不應該存在。

我覺得面對政府要強推這些東西的時候,我們還是要從一個比較高的角度去想,不只是要在程序上把它擋下。我們更應該拉高到一個層次去說:今天要討論自經區,那這個東西到底對台灣的產業有什麼意義?我們如果要去做產業轉型或是實際上要去在法律上對產業有所謂的補助或是什麼樣的效果,自經區會是我們要的東西嗎?還是應該去思考說我們這幾年來產業不平衡的發展?兩岸監督條例也是。未來不只是跟中國,跟任何國家,我們要如何去有一個更透明,更廣納社會大眾意見的,然後更讓國會能夠參與在其中的監督機制。而不只是一個因為人民在吵,所以就弄一個兩岸監督條例出來,這完全無法解決根本性的問題。

KM: 四月學運結束以來,似乎支持學運的民調有下降的現象。你們覺得這是為什麼?如何奪回這些人的支持?

吳:我覺得太陽花的支持度沒有下降,下降的是關注度。這也是一件很殘忍的事情。因為不可能大家 365 天每天都在 follow 太陽花,所以在這個事件的高峰過了以後,這個關注自然下降是可以理解的事。而且我覺得社會運動本來就有他的一個週期跟高峰和低峰。就像之前我們一直講太陽花運動不是憑空出現的,它是過去台灣社會經過很長一段時間,透過一波一波的社會運動, 一直的討論公共事務。 所以累積到太陽花我們看到一個比較劇烈的高峰出現。

那現在很自然又進入的一個累積的狀況,社會在儲蓄能量,為下一波的運動做準備。我們在繼續在社會上做公共事務討論的累積。我們都希望一個運動可以長期的持續推展下去,那以現在來看的確服貿協議是暫時被暫緩擱置住的。但是它本身牽扯到很多台灣中國之間來往的複雜因素,包括台灣在全球化浪潮下的衝擊,還有 China Factor。我認為說現在進入了累積的時刻,但是這些問題的討論並沒有在學運結束而消失,反而是因為運動,這些議題和問題被更多人看見。

我們可以看到有很多相關的座談或者是論壇都有開始去對於議題在做認識。我相信越來越多人在台灣社會上會認知到所謂中國因素在台灣帶給我們的影響,還有台灣分配不正義的問題。我相信在未來如果中國因素以及社會正義的挑戰再度變得嚴峻的時候,社會運動的熱潮還是會被啓動。那到時候大家還是會再度給予這件事情關注。

魏:我不會覺得說我們可以去證明社會對於太陽花運動的支持下降,我只能說這個東西本來就是一個運動的週期。在過去有很多具體的辨識的行動,例如說佔領行動,記者會或是晚會,當然那時候整個社會上的氛圍會很高昂,但是本來運動就是要去進入到一個比較沈潛的階段。像是這個東西或許是組織要重整,或是要讓論述能夠產生,或是我們要提出一些具體的修法內容,這東西其實本來就比較要求低調,你不會看到說報紙人民每天都在討論這些事情。

但這不代表說這就是一件壞事。糟糕的是說,如果社運團體在太陽花學運之後就不再關注這些事情了,那我覺得那才是問題。但是如果大家都是說在街頭之外的地方默默耕耘的話,那其實不用太擔心。因為就像我們這場運動捲入了很多社運素人進來,那我們現在能做的事就是讓他們能夠成長,讓他們有更多的論述能力,或者是自己能夠成為組織者。那這東西有可能就會下一場更大的運動所開啓契機。這問題應該要想說那到底再太陽花運動之後,你要怎麼去利用這個動力和社會的氛圍,你要怎麼去讓那些被捲進來的人變成更積極的行動者。那如果都做到這些,就不用去擔心支持度的高低,因為你就是能夠把事情做好。

KM: 那你們個人有什麼長遠的計畫呢?例如參選,繼續做 NGO,或是還有什麼其他的想法?

吳:我個人的想法是基本上我現在還在唸書,沒有畢業,就是我個人會比較想要唸一些管院方面的背景。我認為這牽涉到台灣長期推動社會運動的人士們,我們有非常豐富的法律界,政治界,或是法政相關背景的人,但是對於其實在經濟或管院這邊是相對比較缺乏的。我覺得對於一個運動發展很重要的是,要有來自不同角度的分析,或是多元的想法。因為同質性太高,久了就變成一個狹隘,單一的看事情的角度。這會對社會運動本身造成危險。所以我個人是希望在台灣的社會運動或民主進程有越來越多元的聲音。也能有不同的角度來看事情。我自己也覺得商管這塊相對是比較少的。所以我希望未來能有機會朝這個方向去充實自己。

魏:改變台灣長遠的計劃,是否要不要競選或是在 NGO 工作,就以我們黑島青年,我們期許自己是倡議型的 NGO。也就是說,我們不會期許自己是每個衝場都會到的團體。我們是希望自己可以發展出比較務實的論述,例如說在中國政策或是台灣獨立的問題上面,或是說在台灣的經貿產業政策上面, 這些東西過去是很零碎地被討論,我們能夠去談出一些東西。現在我們面對的是一個越來越全球化中國的影響力,無論是以政治或經濟的形勢出現,那麼台灣面臨到了一個區域政治的問題,或是在世界體系當中我們要如何定位的問題。我們期許自己能夠就政策的修改方向討論出非常具體的改變。我個人會認為說我適合在學界或是 NGO 工作,那一樣是發展論述,這大概是我未來會從事的道路。

 

(Feature photo of Michael Danielsen, Wei Yang, Nikki Lin and Wu Cheng, from left. Provided by Nikki Lin)

 

About The Ketagalan Project

History and culture are the frames that prescribe how we understand the world around us. Our co-hosts present in-depth interviews on how art, culture, history and politics intertwine throughout time and space to connect us. Find out about the cosmopolitan modern Taipei downtown in the 1920s, regional trade, the future of aboriginal culture and more.