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But the demonstrators who have taken over parliament and massed in the surrounding streets for the past five days fear the deal could further swell Beijing's economic influence over their proudly democratic island. (Source)

I'm confused about what "further swell" means.

My perception: ... they fear that the deal may more and more (further) make the Beijing's economic influence bigger or swell it in their democratic island.

My second concern is why the writer says "their proudly democratic island." What is the relation between democratic island and proudly and swell?

  • I'll answer your second concern in a comment. The word proudly only modifies democratic. The proudly democratic island refers to Taiwan; the sentence means that the Taiwan – either its people, or its government, or both – are proud of they democratic system of government. This, by the way, is a great example of why it is so important to give a link to a news story when someone asks a question about a sentence. It's easy to tell which island is being talked about, once we see the article's headline. – J.R. Mar 23 '14 at 9:40
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    This fellow on ELU has perfected the art of these questions. Notice how his first line contains the title, the source (including the author), the date, and a link to the rest of the news story. All of that helps everyone else analyze the question in proper context, without having to scour the internet to find more information. Oftentimes, this little tidbits hold the key to unlock the mystery. (Dowd, for example, is known for stretching the boundaries of language with her political commentary.) – J.R. Mar 23 '14 at 9:43
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"Further swell" could be switched with 'widen more' or 'make bigger still' or 'complicate even more' or anything similar to that. Swell is a verb here, and 'further' is an adverb describing it.

The island is described as democratic, and they are proud of that democracy. This is what the end of the sentence means.

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