Thu, Sep 22, 2005 - Page 8 News List

China's role in global democracy

By Arthur Waldron

What would Chiang say?

So what, I wonder, would former president Chiang Ching-kuo say today to those who criticize or underrate or abuse the democracy that he, his successors, and you, this country's people, have created? Chiang Ching-kuo could, after all, have gone to China easily and received a welcome to end all welcomes. He had the power and could easily have delivered this country to Beijing, while himself retiring to luxury and an exalted position. But he did not. Chiang Ching-kuo, as we all know, was a complex man, who long controlled the secret police and had plenty of blood on his hands. But having been a prisoner in the Soviet Union, he knew the truth about communism. Here he learned a great deal about Taiwan, growing wiser as he grew older. He once declared, "I am a Taiwanese." So when Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) sent an ever-so-polite letter inviting him to talk, and the US waited expectantly for the solution of the long-standing Taiwan problem, Chiang Ching-kuo did not reply. He never bent. His defects were many, but in the end he set the rudder decisively toward freedom. Today he is buried here, as is meet and right.

As a foreigner, all I can say is value, nay treasure, the freedom and democracy that you have created; take pride in it. And defend it. I know that the parties here are deadlocked over arms purchases. Some argue that costs are too great or even suggest that the attempt to defend this country is futile. Yet what, I wonder, would Chiang Ching-kuo have said if he had been given the opportunity to buy submarines and other advanced weapons from the US? What would he have said of those who opposed doing so?

Let me speak once again to you. Above all be confident. China's economy will not grow to the sky nor will her military gobble up Asia. Her people will not be silent forever. Your democratic values will prevail -- in China and in the other countries where you struggle today. Sooner or later, China and these other countries will change. Remember that even Mao Zedong paid eloquent lip service to democracy. Who could forget his definitive statement on the topic, made on Sept. 25, 1945, when he responded in writing to questions placed to him by the Reuters correspondent in Chongqing. One question had asked what was the "Communist Party's understanding of a free and democratic China." Mao's response read: "A free and democratic China will have the following characteristics: Its governments at all levels, including even the central government, will all be chosen in universal, equal and secret elections, and will be responsible to their electors. It will carry out Sun Yat-sen's Three People's Principles, Lincoln's principle of `of the people, by the people, and for the people,' as well as Roosevelt's Atlantic Charter. It will guarantee the independence, solidarity and unity of the country, and its cooperation with other democratic powers." If even Mao could imagine democracy for China, can it really be impossible or inconceivable?

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