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June 28, 2017

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Various views on protest among Taiwan's mayors

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- With the ending of the occupation of the Legislative Yuan, citizens of Taiwan are still conflicted over the Cross-strait Trade in Services Agreement. The pact and the subsequent 23-day long demonstration sparked what a BBC Chinese online report refereed to as the "Divide of Taiwan." Even within the two main political parties, the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), members hold different opinions regarding the Cross-Straight Trade in Service Agreement with China, the student protest and the occupation of the Legislative Yuan. This was perhaps most evident in the statements and actions of Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who has been widely argued to be against the general consensus within the KMT and particularly the positions of President Ma Ying-jeou.

The positions held by the mayors of the five major Taiwanese cities are also quite varied. Some give praise and criticism, while others hold a more academic and neutral perspective.

Mayors of the Five Major Cities

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) and Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) have, as DPP members, toed the party line and have been at odds with how Ma has chosen to handle the situation.

Chen has been more focused on the student movement. Following the storming of the Executive Yuan, Chen forbade the Kaohsiung police from supporting any additional actions against protesters. Chen has also openly declared that the students have achieved an honorable victory for democracy after the announcement of their departure from the Legislature was made earlier in the week.

Though a KMT member, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) has held a more neutral stance towards the movement, and has been noted to have encouraged both parties to put themselves in each other's shoes.

Following the announcement of the student's departure, Hau openly lauded the student's efforts and encouraged the government the day before to quickly resolve issues surrounding not only the cross-strait agreement supervisory act and the Cross-strait Trade in Services Agreement, but also the core civic issues that directly affect the rights of the people.

Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) was more vocal in his support of the KMT. Though agreeing with the Legislative Speaker's support of some of the student protesters' goals, Hu has shown obvious signs of disapproval toward the surprising nature of Wang's statements.

Unlike Hu, New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) was arguably the most public about his views during the movement. In two popular Facebook essays titled "The Honor of Self-Realization" (自我實現的光榮) and "Becoming a Blue Magpie or Ring-Necked Pheasant" (變成一隻藍鵲或環頸雉), targeted toward student audiences, Chu openly praised the efforts of students, recognizing their achievements while encouraging young people to not lose sight of their goals and to leave the Legislature premises when the time was right.

Chu has also publicly talked about mistakes made by his generation and said it is not proper to leave the next generation with the burdens of the past. In his writings, Chu also focused strongly on the wellbeing of the general public.

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