On March 18, Taiwanese student protestors took over the Legislative Yuan assembly hall in Taipei, Taiwan, and have been camped out there ever since.  On March 26, President Ma Ying-jeou agreed to meet with the protestors to attempt to end the standoff and get Taiwan’s government back to business as usual.

The protests are over a service trade pact with the People’s Republic of China, which would allow greater investment on both sides of the Formosa (or Taiwan) Strait.  It would open eighty percent of China’s service sectors to Taiwan, and sixty-four percent of Taiwan’s to China.  The protestors are up in arms about the fact that not only does it threaten Taiwan’s independence in their eyes, but the majority party, the Kuomintang, signed the pact without bipartisan deliberation, leaving the  Democratic Progressive Party completely cut out.  The students are demanding not only the rejection of the pact, but legislation governing any further agreements across the Strait.

While the protests have remained, for the most part, peaceful, the overall situation is quite similar to that in the Ukraine over the last month.  Both the Kuomintang and President Yanukovych made economic agreements with foreign powers without the approval of their people, and have faced unrest and protest on account of it.  Both China and Russia have been pursuing policies of economic expansionism.  Ukraine belonged to the Soviet Union before independence in 1991; Taiwan separated from mainland China in 1949.  Taiwan has never, in fact, declared independence–China considers it a breakaway province, and has threatened action against Taiwan if it ever officially declares independence.

So far, there has not been the sort of military saber-rattling one might expect coming from China.  There has been no movement to move into Taiwan like the Russians moved into the Crimea.  While accurate information coming out of China can be hard to come by, it should be noted that there are definite differences between the two situations, largely as concerns Russian and Chinese military power.