Wednesday was the 19th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. In 1989, in order to maintain its authoritarian regime, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a bloody crackdown on students and dissidents gathered at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to urge the government to pursue political reform. The government labeled these peaceful protesters the face of a counter-revolutionary rebellion and ruthlessly crushed those guilty of “subverting the state.”
Democratic freedoms and human rights are universal. The US Declaration of Independence upholds the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 proposes that “men are born and remain free and equal in rights.” The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
Such appeals for the realization of democracy and the protection of human rights have become the standard for determining what makes a civilized country.
A civilized and progressive country is built on the foundation of democracy and the rule of law and it is the duty of the government to respect and protect the basic rights of each and every person and uphold universal values such as equality, justice, democracy and freedom.
Since its 1978 decision to pursue “reform and openness,” China has in this relatively short time become the world’s biggest manufacturer and increased its influence by wielding this economic clout.
The international community often labels this as the rise of China, referring to Beijing’s growing political and military weight as well. The West is pressing China to exercise its newfound influence responsibly.
China is making every effort to give the impression of a rising power, and this is evident in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics in August.
Unfortunately, nearly two decades after the massacre at Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government still refuses to admit its past transgressions. In the face of the March protests in Tibet and the calls by Tibetans for Beijing to respect religious freedom and other human rights, China has chosen again to respond to an appeal with cruel military suppression rather than dialogue.
The Chinese government’s brutal treatment of Tibet demonstrates that its gains in economic development and international influence have not shaken the government’s authoritarian hand, which systematically oppresses democratic freedoms and denies 1.3 billion people basic human rights.
How long will such a regime last?
Chen Lung-chu is chairman of the Taiwan New Century Foundation.
TRANSLATED BY EDDY CHANG
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