Fri, Sep 16, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan a model for Asia: Chen

DEMOCRATIC BEACON The president said that the nation will struggle on to consolidate its gains so it can continue to inspire political reforms elsewhere


Taiwan will step up its efforts to consolidate its political system as a tool to drive democratization in Asia, because the stability of the region has been jeopardized by several countries -- including China -- which are resisting democracy, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday.

Chen made the remarks while giving the opening speech at the first biennial World Forum for Democratization in Asia (WFDA) which began yesterday in Taipei and runs through today.

The president said that an ongoing worry in Asia is the persistence of non-democratic political systems.

"For the sake of both peace and prosperity, driving democratization in Asian countries and supporting civil society in the Asian region are crucial," Chen said.

Regional stability has been jeopardized by the actions of several non-democratic regimes, including North Korea's development of nuclear weapons, Myanmar's oppressive dictatorship and China's deployment of hundreds of missiles targeting Taiwan, the president said.

"China has placed people across the Taiwan Strait under the shadow of a war. The imbalance in military strength threatens not only the democratic system embraced by 23 million Taiwanese people but also Asian regional safety and order," Chen said.

A light to nations

He added that Taiwan's democratization sets a good example for other countries, pointing out that Taiwan was the first Asian country to establish a national democracy assistance foundation -- the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD), launched in 2003 by an initiative supported by the Legislative Yuan. In addition, Chen said that Taiwanese democracy has been a foundation of long-term peace and stability in the region, and a great asset treasured by international society.

Taiwan has to take on the duty of opening up a closed society in Asia, assist democratization in other countries controlled by autocratic regimes, and strengthen the roots of democracy in democratized countries, Chen said.

Of great attention on the conference's agenda yesterday was the Leaders Forum which included former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), called the "founding father of modern Taiwanese democracy" by Michael Kau (高英茂), president of the TFD.

Democracy besieged

Lee pointed out in his speech the probable factors leading to the erosion and weakening of democracy in Taiwan.

One of the main reasons, Lee said, was the election of parties that are anti-democratic, relying on ideology rather than the people's will. Democracy, Lee added, should be enforced by law and order.

The factors facilitating Taiwan's democratization are its particular history, the courage of its immigrants, vibrant economy, political activities and the existence of opposition parties and leaders that have been committed to bringing democracy to Taiwan, Lee said.

Concluding his speech, Lee shared his advice for deepening democracy in Asia. The existence of democratic neighbors in the region would help spread democracy in the area, he said.

"Taiwan is a model of freedom and democracy for other countries in Asia," Lee said. "These countries should support each other to bring democracy and human rights to non-democratic countries."

In addition, the government must continue educating people so they can continue to enjoy democratic freedoms, understand and respect human rights and learn new democratic values, Lee added.

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