A few months ago I wrote about Charter 08 and its relevance to Taiwan. With the 20th anniversary of the Tian’anmen Square Massacre approaching the issue of democracy in China is again in the spotlight.
Chinese democracy activist Wang Dan (王丹) has recently accepted a teaching position at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University (政治大學). Wang was one of the leaders of the student movement during the 1989 protests in Beijing. He spoke at a seminar in Taipei yesterday. The Taipei Times reports:
Taiwan must show strong bipartisan support for the democratic movement in China, which is gaining prevalence in Chinese civil society, exiled Chinese democracy activist Wang Dan (王丹) said in Taipei yesterday.
“Regardless [of whether it is the] ruling or the opposition party, Taiwan must not be silent or absent from urging China to apologize and compensate [the victims] for what the government did in Tiananmen Square,” Wang said, adding that he was “disappointed” with apparent Taiwanese apathy to the event.
As I wrote in my earlier post about Charter 08, China should not necessarily look to Taiwan as a model for its democratisation. However, there is a great deal that the Chinese can learn from Taiwan through engaging in dialogue and better understanding the Taiwanese experience of democracy.
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu’s (陳菊) visit to Beijing this week showed that engagement with China does not have to come at the expense of sacrificing Taiwan’s dignity. She directly mentioned “President Ma Ying-jeou” during a meeting with the Beijing Mayor (video).
Li Ao (李敖) made a speech at Peking University in 2005 where he criticised the CCP and emphasized the importance of freedom of speech. Some might criticise Li Ao for his pro-unification views, but at least he wasn’t afraid to say what he believed in.
Chen Chu and Li Ao provide a stark contrast with other Taiwanese politicians who have visited China. KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) had kind words for Chen Chu, but still refused to say whether he would refer to Ma as the President during his visit to China next week.
There is some debate within the DPP about whether or not its politicians should visit China. Chen Chu has set an example to follow. Politicians from all parties visiting China should not be afraid to refer to the “President” or to Taiwan as a “nation”. Furthermore they should be open about the itinerary and purpose of their visit in accordance with the democratic principle of transparency.
If Taiwanese politicians that visit China merely acquiesce to the CCP and tell the Chinese what they think they want to hear this undermines Taiwan’s status and does nothing to promote the values of democracy. Through clearly promoting democratic values during their visits to China, Taiwanese politicians can both safeguard Taiwan’s sovereignty and encourage China’s nascent democracy movement.