record-breaking protests in Hong Kong over the previous two Sundays, this past weekend, it was the people of Taiwan’s turn to show out in the tens of thousands to rally against Chinese infiltration.ollowing two consecutive
As rain poured down on Ketagalan Boulevard outside of the Presidential Office in Taipei on Sunday afternoon, nearly 100,000 gathered to call for measures to be taken in Taiwan against the threat of “red media.”
The term refers to those news outlets in Taiwan that are accused of reporting with a pro-Beijing slant, using propaganda and disinformation to support China-friendly politicians and policies to the people of Taiwan.
The rally was jointly organized by Holger Chen, an outspoken muscle-bound YouTube star with more than 600,000 subscribers, and Huang Kuo-chang, a legislator from Taiwan’s pro-independence New Power Party who rose to fame during the Sunflower Student Movement of 2014.
At the protest, demonstrators brandished signs reading “reject red media, defend Taiwan’s democracy.”
They are calling for legislation to be put in place which will ban or restrict China-backed media outlets in Taiwan, an issue that is becoming increasingly significant as the island’s 2020 presidential election looms.
“We say to the Chinese Communist Party, some things you can buy with money, but dignity is not something that everyone is willing to sell away,” Chen told the crowd when he took the stage.
The v-logger and MMA gym owner praised the crowd for coming out in such numbers even with the inclement weather, reasoning that such passion for Taiwan’s democratic system shows that China will never be able to take over Taiwan — though he isn’t backing down from such a challenge.
“As long as I am alive, if there ever comes a day when China dares to invade Taiwan, I will without hesitation stand with you on the battlefield,” vowed Chen who served three years in Taiwan’s armed forces. “It doesn’t matter if I die.”
Also taking the stage was a fiery middle school teacher named Huang Yizhong who riled the crowd up by declaring: “Taiwan is Taiwan! China is China! This is our country! This is our homeland!”
“We don’t want much,” Huang continued. “Freedom of speech, democracy, and freedom of the press. So that the next generation of Taiwan can live in a diverse, tolerant, and intellectually-free society.”
Huang then went on to note how recently only three out of Taiwan’s four major newspapers had reported on the millions of people taking to the streets in Hong Kong in protest of an extradition bill which would allow suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.
The king of “red media”
Here, Huang is referring to the China Timesnewspaper owned by local billionaire Tsai Eng-meng, fingered as Taiwan’s leading purveyor of “red media.”
Tsai is the chairman of the ubiquitous snack food company Want Want China which has numerous factories on the mainland and is headquartered in Shanghai. He is also a media mogul, owning a pair of Taiwanese television networks, CTi TV and CTV, along with the China Times.
Ahead of the 2020 election, Tsai’s outlets have been accused of biased coverage, charged with favoring Han Kuo-yu, candidate for the pro-China Kuomintang party, in an attempt to play “kingmaker” for Beijing. They’ve also been accused of effectively sweeping what’s going on in Hong Kong under the rug.
Creative sign spotted. The logo of one of the biggest pro-China media company, Want Want Group, is drawn onto a sign, with red dollars signs replacing the eyes of the logo. The sign simply says: “Say no to Red media and safeguard Taiwan.” pic.twitter.com/TV9AoMRuEZ
— William Yang (@WilliamYang120) June 23, 2019
Bringing things full circle, also speaking at Sunday’s rally was Lam Wing-kee, one of the five Hong Kong booksellers who disappeared in 2015, only to turn up months later in Chinese custody, “confessing” to crimes on state television.
Lam was eventually allowed to re-enter Hong Kong, “temporarily,” and used that opportunity to hold a high-profile press conference where he spoke out about being abducted by mainland authorities and held in detention for eight months.
After the extradition bill was proposed by the Hong Kong government, Lam left Hong Kong for Taiwan in April.
“If Taiwan is ruled by the mainland in the future, every one of you might have to run for your lives just like me,” he told the crowd in Taipei.