Taiwan’s ‘strawberry generation’ rejects pro-China party

Special to WorldTribune.com

The landslide victory for Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) over the pro-China Kuomintang, (Nationalist Party) in the Jan. 16 elections was driven by the nation’s youthful “strawberry generation.”

A supporter shouts as attend at DPP headquarters during Tsai Ing-wen's victory speech on January 16 in Taipei, Taiwan. /Getty Images
A supporter shouts at DPP headquarters during Tsai Ing-wen’s victory speech on Jan. 16 in Taipei, Taiwan. /Getty Images

It was a particularly satisfying victory for Taiwan’s youth movement, who had been written off by their elders as soft, self-satisfied and apathetic – “strawberries.”

The “strawberry generation” began its rise two years ago with the “Sunflower Movement” when student protesters stormed parliament to voice their discontent over trade agreements with China that President Ma Ying-jeou had tried to push through.

The movement grew as it campaigned against what it saw as Ma’s pandering to China-tied corporations at the expense of smaller manufacturers who generate local jobs. Entry-level pay in Taiwan hasn’t changed in some 20 years, while housing costs have risen significantly.

President-elect Tsai Ing-wen rode the youth wave to power, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. “She hired campaign organizers sympathetic to the student cause, clambered aboard social media and used it as an engine for a national crusade for economic revival that excited the middle classes and small business holders too.”

“Meanwhile, the grey-haired grandees who run the Kuomintang missed the trend completely — and the party that Beijing had banked on to deliver a political deal on unification, to match the economic ones, may never recover,” the report said.

Sophie Su, a young Democratic Progressive said of China’s threat to use force to unify Taiwan with the mainland that “our position is simple. You can’t point a gun at our heads and ask us to be friends.”