Fri, Dec 07, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Beijing touts democracy in Taiwan

By Joseph Bosco

It certainly did its best to affect the outcome and deserves much credit for trying to learn how voters think, what they want and what kinds of appeals could motivate them to decide.

This is an admirable step forward for China’s leaders, whose previous experience with exercise of the franchise was “democratic centralism,” whereby a few thousand stage-managed party members robotically wave their placards in unison to demonstrate their passionate unanimity with whatever their dear leader wants to do.

China is definitely getting the hang of the democracy thing, having honed its skills by consistently tampering with Hong Kong’s partial autonomy under the promise of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s (鄧小平) “one country, two systems.”

Before too much longer, Beijing will have developed enough self-confidence in navigating the shoals of democratic politics that it will want to try it on a moderate scale in China itself.

All the years of hard practice in Hong Kong and Taiwan (and possibly even the US) will have been proved worthwhile and the world will rejoice that democracy has finally come to China.

As China’s leaders are convinced of their superior governing style, they will enjoy persuading Chinese to keep them in power. If not, they can always try again.

After all, as Zhang Wensheng (張文生), deputy head of the (Taipei City) Research Institute at Xiamen University, said of the election results: “Any party or politician would be dumped by voters if they ignore the interests of the public.”

The long-ignored citizens of China can hardly wait.

Joseph Bosco served as China country director in the office of the US secretary of defense and taught a graduate seminar on US-China-Taiwan relations at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He is a fellow at the Institute for Taiwan-American Studies.

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