Wed, Mar 18, 2009 - Page 8 News List

Pray for Tibet, struggle for Taiwan

By Su Tseng-chang 蘇貞昌

March is a significant month for Taiwan in many ways. Taiwan’s first presidential election, its first handover of power from one party to another and its first nationwide referendum all happened in March.

March of this year marks the 19th anniversary of the Wild Lilies student movement (野百合學運), the 13th anniversary of the Taiwan Strait missile crisis and the fourth anniversary of the enactment of China’s “Anti-Secession” Law.

These anniversaries represent the course of the Taiwanese people’s struggle for democracy and peace, their refusal to be intimidated by China and their brave determination to defend Taiwan.

March is also an unforgettable month for Tibetans. Fifty years ago, the Chinese government tore up its 17-point agreement with Tibet and sent in its army. Amid the bloodshed, many Tibetans fled abroad, never to return to their homeland.

China has never ceased its oppression in Tibet during the following five decades. A year ago, serious unrest erupted in Lhasa, the truth about which remains unclear. Indeed, for Tibetans, March is a month of harsh and painful memories.

Tibetan blood, tears and pain should serve as a warning to Taiwan that, when confronted with an oppressive power, compromise and concessions will not bring peace.

Four years ago, China enacted its “Anti-Secession” Law, specifying at what time and under what conditions China would use armed force against Taiwan. The passage of this law was a blatant attempt to intimidate the Taiwanese.

At the time, I was chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party. Determined to protest in the strongest terms against China’s threats and to make Taiwan’s voice heard around the world, our party joined 500 civic groups to launch a major demonstration.

Demonstrators converged on downtown Taipei along 10 routes — 40km altogether. One million people answered the call to take part, marching shoulder-to-shoulder and shouting, “democracy, peace, defend Taiwan,” sentiments that were heard and understood all around the world. The following year, I was appointed premier.

During my premiership, I declared that March 14 each year would be “Anti-Aggression Day” as an expression of the Taiwanese people’s determination not to tolerate aggression by their powerful neighbor.

Other parties, however, took a different attitude. At the very time that our country was being threatened, former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) chose to visit China, thereby helping Beijing to give the world a false impression of detente across the Taiwan Strait.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who was at the time mayor of Taipei, publicly criticized me for organizing a mass demonstration against China’s “Anti-Secession” Law, calling it a “provocation,” and he downplayed the size of the protest, claiming that only 270,000 people joined the march.

Every key point in history serves as a test of people’s words and actions.

Last year, four days before ballots were cast in the presidential election, Ma proclaimed six points of solemn protest against China’s bloody suppression of Tibetans following unrest in Lhasa.

Ma denounced Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) as “arbitrary, unreasonable, arrogant and foolish,” and said that if China continued its oppression in Tibet, he would not rule out boycotting the Beijing Olympics.

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