Faced with an increasingly threatening China towards Taiwan, Jenny Huan has made preparing her fellow citizens for armed conflict the fight of her life. Beyond survival in a war zone, it is the affirmation of a Taiwanese identity outside the Chinese system that it promotes.
At first glance, you might take her for an ordinary sports coach. Muscle strengthening, lifting weights, stretching… for the ten or so participants present at the session that evening, Jenny Huan made them increase their efforts to improve their physical condition. But with her, the session takes another turn. “ You will first apply a tourniquet to the victim before transporting them to a safe location », she tells her flock, before giving them the basics of first aid and self-defense. Because if this energetic forty-year-old has been leading intensive training sessions every Wednesday evening for a year in her free time, it is so that her fellow citizens are able to react to a conflict between Taiwan and the China.
In Taiwan, the threat of a Chinese invasion is significant. Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, repeats: this territory is an integral part of China and their reunification is “ inevitable “, even if force must be used for this. So Jenny Huan decided to fight and take as many Taiwanese as possible with her, in the name of saving her homeland.
A marketing employee without history »
However, nothing predestined her for this role. A mother and employee of an online marketing company in suburban Taipei, the capital, she was “ without history “. At six feet tall and with a slightly frail physique, she is far from the profile of a war leader. But in 2018, a mix of fear and anger ignited the spark.
“The results of local elections across Taiwan that year struck me as strangeshe relates. I talk about it around me and everyone is surprised. So this idea no longer leaves my head, I need to understand what could have happened. We then learned of Chinese interference in the elections. This is where I really realize how much Beijing is trying to influence life in Taiwan, to change our way of thinking, and it’s a terrible shock. I experienced it as an attempted invasion. »
She then invests in social networks, and launches into the fight against online disinformation. Unmasking Chinese propaganda, “debunking” them fake news…Jenny Huan tries to “empty the ocean with a teaspoon”notably during the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong in 2019, a territory in the process of losing its autonomy from the Chinese Communist Party.
His commitment takes another turn in 2022, with the war in Ukraine. “Can China do to Taiwan what Russia did to Ukraine? Their speeches are the same, their imperialist wishes are similar. The risk of conflict suddenly became very concrete”, she explains. Panicked, obsessed all day long by an existential threat against which she feels powerless, Jenny Huan decides to take control of her destiny to never feel this distress again.
The forty-year-old signs up for civil defense training sessions. Up to three sessions per week, she learns how to do a cardiac massage, how to make a tourniquet, how to evacuate an injured person without putting herself in danger or hurting herself… Useful techniques to be able to help others. But alone, her abilities were limited, so she coordinated several different small groups so that they pooled their resources and founded her own branch, in her district in the suburbs of Taipei.
“ Affirming a Taiwanese identity »
“I felt that there were quite a few people interested, who felt the same need, we needed to increase our resources and make ourselves easily accessible to attract as many people as possible. » Her work in marketing helps her spearhead an online promotion and dozens of people flock to her neighborhood to participate. Teachers, computer parts sellers and even high school students, everything except soldiers. So does her twelve-year-old daughter, to whom she tries to explain the situation and provides her with little training at home.
“It’s everyone’s job to prepare to know how to react in the event of war with China”Jenny Huan tells them, angry and more determined after each speech Xi Jinping makes about Taiwan. “It pushes us to bring out the best in ourselves, to think about the world around us and what we can do at our level to change things. She is a true leader”assure volunteers during an exercise.
Because beyond defense issues, Jenny Huan is creating a community. Close-knit members, sharing values of freedom and democracy, thus solidifying their Taiwanese identity. “If we are close to each other, if we support each other, if we share our ideas and our fears and face them together, then there is no more room for isolation or defeatismshe hopes. This is the importance and meaning of this project. I want to show the Taiwanese that they are not alone, that they can count on each other. » A flame that it must constantly maintain in the face of an ever more pressing Chinese threat.
Read alsoTaiwan: Han Kuo-yu, in favor of rapprochement with Beijing, elected president of Parliament