The Strawberry Republic of Taiwan

Strawberries. Ice cream. Peaches. It’s not just the taste of summer – it’s how youth and Taiwan are described. But the «Strawberry Generation» is more complicated than their elders think.

Every generation thinks the ones that come after them are worse. Last autumn the BBC found there were similarities between how millennials are viewed now, and how people talked about youth during Aristotle’s time. Self-obsessed, lazy, think they’re the best, complain too much…maybe you’ve heard it all before?

In Taiwan, millennials are known as the strawberry, peach, or ice cream generation. The stereotype goes that these youths are fragile and thin-skinned. They can’t take much pressure, like a strawberry or peach – a little push, and they’re hurt. Or even worse, they can’t take the heat, and melt at the first sign of conflict.

But since the 1980s there have been numerous student-led protest movements. They have occupied government buildings, stopped nuclear energy plants from being built, and started a political party that gained five seats in parliament after just three years. There is plenty of evidence that this is not a generation of weak strawberries.

In this series of articles, we tell the stories of Taiwan’s strawberry generation. We’ve met people who are engaged in LGBTQ activism. Women who confront sexual harassment at work. Youth who aren’t afraid to do their own thing.

Why put a spotlight on Taiwan? Because this is a story not unlike David and Goliath – but we don’t know who will win. We just know the result will have consequences.

The little island country is geographically about as large as Norway’s Nordland county, but with 23 million residents. Taiwan, or the Republic of China as it is officially called, is Asia’s seventh largest economy. The partially recognized state has a democratically elected president and is a complete state with all the implications that has. Beijing sees Taiwan as a Chinese province, and with all the power China holds, there are few countries that dare go against its will. Norway and 171 other countries do not recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty.

There is a political game at play here. Beijing is on the front lines, and the rest of the world can’t avoid the fallout. Whether Taiwan loses all recognition, is a sovereign country, or becomes a Chinese province in the future, much of the future will be up to the strawberry youth. This is a generation taken to task for bending under pressure. Is Taiwan on its way to becoming a strawberry republic?

This article series is a collaboration with, with the support of Fritt Ord. Read the first article here: Taiwan's working women lean in