Mon, Jul 28, 2003 - Page 8 News List

No democracy in China is tragic

By Chang Ching-hsi 張清溪

The case of Hong Kong's anti-sedition legislation, which has been temporarily suspended due to massive opposition, enables one to see clearly that the territory's fundamental problem lies with Beijing. As long as China remains undemocratic, similar problems will persist. In fact, Taiwan's social instability also has its roots in an undemocratic China.

It was very heartening to see a 500,000-strong protest in Hong Kong taking to the streets to oppose the Article 23 legislation. Many people used to think that Hong Kong's commercial society only cares about making money and ignores politics. But a good portion of the demonstrators came from the middle class. The "middle-class effect" seems to be taking shape: after gaining economic independence, people turn around to demand political democracy.

However, it won't be easy for this effect to take shape in China. This is because wealthy Chinese people have made their fortunes through political privileges, and they dare not demand democratic reform after achieving economic independence. There is also another important reason -- Hong Kong is an area with free circulation of information, allowing its people to obtain news from a plethora of sources with varying viewpoints. In stark contrast, information exchange in China is muzzled.

People in China were denied access to the news of the demonstration and the large crowds turning up at the July 1 demonstration because China imposed a news blackout on non-official news about Hong Kong when people started to congregate. Phoenix TV reported on the activity attended by 60,000 people to celebrate Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule but said nothing about the 500,000-people demonstration. China's newspapers made no mention of the massive protest.

Internet users said they would have thought that July 1 was a peaceful and joyful day in Hong Kong if they had only received news from China's TV programs and newspapers.

Conflicting opinions are often seen and heard in Taiwan's legislature or among the public. Different opinions do not cause social instability, but a lack of mutual trust. Worries that some are selling out Taiwan under the table while pandering to the locals above board fosters this kind of mistrust, and therefore an undemocratic China is the root of this mutual distrust. If China is democratized, this mutual distrust can then be eliminated.

The information blackout in China allows the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to distort truth and weave webs of lies. Recently, several TV stations in Taiwan reported that a person in China's Zhejiang Province had poisoned more than 10 beggars and homeless people to death. They also said this culprit is a Falun Gong member and that, according to Falun Gong theory, being a beggar is humanity's highest state and that killing beggars can enhance their practice.

Such blatant lies are very easy to see through. If the theory is correct, then why haven't Taiwan's hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners rushed to become beggars before killing each other?

An international organization probing into the persecution of Falun Gong members made phone calls to the region where the murders occurred. It found out that when local police were still investigating the case, the Xinhua News Agency had already reported on its Web site that the killer was a Falun Gong follower.

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