Wed, Sep 07, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Tiananmen mother has message for KMT head

By Wang Dan 王丹

On Aug. 25 Ding Zilin (丁子霖), leader of the Chinese Tiananmen Mothers movement, passed on a letter to me, through an intermediary, which I was to present to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). The letter has already been posted on an overseas Internet site, and although it is actually addressed to Ma, it is really for the eyes of the KMT as a whole. There are many ideas expressed in the letter that I believe the KMT should take note of, in particular Ding's take on the KMT's cooperation with Beijing.

The letter opens by thanking Ma for his long-term support over the Tiananmen Square massacre, before changing its tone and moving on to the issue of the KMT's policy regarding China. She says, "In all honesty, for many years now, I have become disillusioned with the KMT, not only because of their defeat in the 2000 presidential elections, but more because of their vacillating cross-strait policy. Former KMT chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) visit to China in June of this year was, however, more than one could take. On one side we have Taiwan, with its constitutional government, and on the other we have Mainland China, still mired in a dictatorship. Isn't it ridiculous, in a world where democracy has become an irreversible force, that democratic Taiwan should bow down to, and pay obeisance to, dictatorial China?"

I have known Ding for many years now, and know her to be a gentle and refined person. Therefore, it came as quite a surprise to me when, referring to Lien's trip to China, she resorted to language such as "more than one could take," and "ridiculous." It is quite apparent just how rattled Ding was by the incident.

She offers the following suggestion to the KMT: "A politician, and in fact even a political party, can lose everything except for one thing: It cannot lose the courage to stand up to a stronger power."

Surely, the KMT would do well to take this advice to heart.

On accepting the position of KMT chairman, Ma took on a serious challenge: whether or not to continue on the "Lien Chan route." To this, Ding says, "as far as I can see, there is nothing complicated about cross-strait relations. When it comes down to it, it is a conflict between two systems. If talks are to be held, then everything should be laid out on the negotiating table, not just the three links, and not just fruit and pandas. They need to discuss human rights, they need to discuss political reform and they need to discuss freedom of the press. They certainly cannot limit the negotiations merely to issues that Beijing wants to talk about. On the contrary, the less Beijing wants to discuss a certain issue, the more important it is to broach it, as these issues tend to concern the welfare of the people."

This is no longer a mere suggestion: It is a heart-felt hope, it is sincere advice. However, one does wonder whether the KMT will actually listen.

For a long time now there has been a major blind spot in the way Taiwan has approached the cross-strait issue. It has paid exclusive attention to what the Chinese Communist Party is doing, while entirely ignoring what the Chinese people think about the issue. This shows a lack of understanding of China. In fact, as Ding has pointed out, "a more humane system is sure to take root in China eventually."

The Chinese communists may well represent today's China, but they certainly don't represent tomorrow's. Any Taiwanese politician with foresight should seek out, and listen to, the voice of the Chinese people, which even now is getting louder.

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