Fu Tzun-fong (胡俊鋒), the author of Taiwan Could Be Better (台灣你可以更讚) and Taiwan in the Eyes of a Foreigner author Nick Kembel will share their experiences of living in Taiwan in a forum on Saturday titled Taiwan in the Eyes of a Chinese and a Westerner.
Fu is among the first wave of Chinese students to study in Taiwan, and is currently studying for a graduate degree in psychology at National Taiwan University. Kembel, who hails from Canada and has lived in Taiwan for six years, works as an English teacher when not traveling around the nation. In the following interview with contributing reporter Sung Shih-hsiung, Fu discusses his experiences living in Taiwan as a Chinese student, cross-straight relations and China’s democratization.
Taipei Times: On page 155 of your book, you say: “Democracy is an inevitable process [in China] and the people and government hope for democratization.” You also say that as a democracy, China observes Taiwan. What sort of democracy does China need? How should it achieve democracy?
Fu Tzun-fong: Democracy is an inevitable trend and China is no exception. The Chinese government has been working assiduously on various fronts. I am not sure how China will achieve democracy; however, we can “cross the river by feeling the pebbles” to quote the first PRC premier Chen Yun (陳雲) and develop a democratic system suitable to China’s actual needs.
Taiwan’s experience with democracy is not suited to China because circumstances between both places differ. However, Taiwan remains an important reference point for China. From Taiwan’s experience with the White Terror era to the lifting of martial law is similar to the path China has been on. After the end of the White Terror, martial law was lifted, the economy took off and political reform was carried out. These are all like the opening up and reform China went through in the 80s and these are all things that can be of valuable reference to China.
TT: What sort of influence do you think Chinese students who have studied in Taiwan and have experience of Taiwan’s society will have on China in the future? What possible help could this have for cross-strait relations?
FTF: An academic once published a piece in the Chinese-language United Daily News urging Chinese students in Taiwan be treated better. I totally agree with the part of the article that said: “These people will all go back and will inevitably become the next generation within Chinese institutions and this will influence the future development of Taiwan and China.” Many people within [China’s] Taiwan Affairs Office lack knowledge of Taiwan. After living in Taiwan for so many years, these students will make friends and develop some sense of identity toward Taiwan. After they return to China and take up work, this will influence things.
TT: Did coming to Taiwan make you view Chinese and Taiwanese history in a new way?
FTF: All my years of education have made me identify with the idea of a Greater China. This year, after taking part in the celebrations for Taiwan’s Double Tenth Festival, I referred to Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) as president in a post on my microblog. Many people replied saying that, at most, he is a provincial governor. This shows that it is just not me, but also some of my friends, who find it hard to accept Taiwan as being independent. This is even truer when it comes to my parents and grandparents.