Date: Thursday 26 June 2014, 6pm-8pm
Venue: The Graham Wallas Room (AGWR), Old Building, London School of Economics
Chair: John McNeil Scott
Anti-Nuclear Power Plant Protests: then and now
Fang-long Shih (LSE Taiwan Research Programme)
Social Media and Civic Movement
Charlie Beckett (Director, LSE Polis)
Nuclear Power and Economic Development
Yih-Chyi Chuang (Department of Economics, National Chengchi University)
Protests against Taiwan’s Fourth Nuclear Plant have erupted intermittently since 1988, and they have recently revived in the form of mass demonstrations inspired by a hunger strike by Lin Yi-hsing, a respected elder statesman of democratic struggle in Taiwan.
On 27 April President Ma Ying-jeou announced “a halt to the work” on two reactors. However, he spoke in an ambiguous way that seemed designed to give the impression of a permanent cancellation, but without promising more than a temporary halt. Feeling that their demands had not been met, thousands of concerned citizens occupied the streets of Taipei. The government responded with repression, and Taipei police have said they are considering pre-emptive arrests to “protect social stability and control civil unrest”.
The protests fit a pattern that reflects a long-term systemic crisis in Taiwan. The current debate has also re-ignited concern about the deployment of a referendum law, which social movements and opposition politicians see as having been drafted to frustrate, rather than to express, the popular will.
However, social media is being deployed as a primary means of mobilising social actors and of calling state power to account, attempting to circumvent party-state deployment of official and corporate media power.
All of these elements highlight an unresolved tension at the heart of the Taiwanese polity between formal and substantive understandings of democracy, with heightened concerns about human rights and a widespread feeling that Taiwan’s democratisation has been uneven and incomplete. This panel discussion draws on academic expertise and international perspectives to reflect on and analyse the recent development of the Anti-Nuclear Power Plant Movement.