The differences and parallels of Taiwan and Hong Kong

The differences and parallels of Taiwan and Hong Kong
Anti-government protesters react as the verdict is given at the Constitutional Court in Bangkok May 7, 2014. A Thai court found Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra guilty on Wednesday of violating the constitution and said she had to step down, although ministers not implicated in the case can remain in office.

Barely into the second half of 2014, Southeast Asia has already seen at least three massive protests that heightened the tension between people and their governments, two of which were at odds with the region's largest economy.

In February, anti-government protesters rioted against the government under Yingluck Sinawatra, calling for the sister of the corrupt former prime minister to step down. The protests ended with the establishment of a military junta and the removal of Yingluck from her position.

The following two months saw Taiwan's younger generation charge into the country's Legislative Yuan, protesting against the government's "backroom" signing of a trade agreement with China. The parliament siege lasted a little over three weeks, with the students and activists retreating after a vocal promise from the speaker of the Legislative Yuan, stating that no negotiations would be made concerning the pact before a clause-by-clause review was conducted by the Legislature.

And just this week, yet another cloud of pent-up anger was directed at China once more. Fairly recognized as China's most developed city since the handover in 1997, Hong Kong was promised an additional 50 years of freedom, during which "the people can dance, and the horses keep racing."

But regardless of the so-called promise, China's authority has been creeping over the border, trying to keep the former British colony tightly in its grasp. It did not help that the Chinese people flooded into Hong Kong to purchase enormous quantities of goods and let loose their less-than-hygienic habits that shocked the Hongkongers - 5.1 million of whom later took to the streets on July 1 for a democracy rally, arguing that Hong Kong deserved a "same country, two system" rule.

Different Yet Alike

The protests were different for participants and police officers alike, but somehow shared a connection that fueled one another, in terms of hopes and determination.

In Taiwan, the sudden and successful possession of the Legislature took the nation by surprise; and for the older generation, an ugly shock. Defying authority has never been the best way to garner support among Chinese societies, yet despite the admonishments from parents and government alike, hundreds of thousands of students and young activists joined in the "Sunflower Movement," which did not end without several nasty scuffles with the police around government buildings.

Many Taiwanese had joined the protests out of curiosity, but it was enough to motivate more and more people to care about their country.

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