The people and government of Taiwan should offer more support for a Chinese “Jasmine Revolution” because democracy and human rights are universal values, and a democratic China would serve Taiwan’s interests, rights activists said yesterday.
Several human rights advocates held a press conference in Taipei to comment on the rumblings of revolution that have surfaced on Chinese Web sites over the past week.
A Boxun.com blog post on Feb. 17 called on people to gather at 2pm last Saturday in 13 Chinese cities to protest for “food, jobs, living space, fairness and justice.”
The movement, described as the “Jasmine Revolution,” ended with the arrest of protesters and a wave of Internet censorship.
The rights activists said that people in Taiwan — independence supporters and unification supporters alike — should support China’s democratic movement and the government should lead the charge.
Taiwan Association for China Human Rights president Yang Hsien-hung (楊憲宏) urged the government to actively voice its opinions on human rights and democracy, and make clear that it will not hold political dialogue unless China addresses these issues.
“President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), as a head of state, should have the courage to single out China’s human rights problems,” Yang said.
Ruan Ming (阮銘), a former Chinese academic who now has Taiwanese citizenship, said: “China and other authoritarian regimes are witnessing a new era of political movements driven by youth, who present their ideology with a new strategy — the Internet.”
The political movement that has swept through Africa and the Middle East is destined to arrive in China eventually, he said, adding that even though the number of people answering the call this past week may be small, “the Chinese government is obviously nervous.”
John Wei (魏千峰), a human rights attorney, urged the Chinese government to initiate dialogue with dissidents and called on Taiwanese to pay attention, and support human rights and peaceful democratic movements in China.
“A collapsed China is not necessarily a good thing for Taiwan,” he said.
Chang Tieh-chih (張鐵志), a well-known blogger, warned that Taiwanese know too little about China, especially its “dark side,” despite warming cross-strait ties. The crackdown on dissidents and the censorship of the Internet showed that “China might be powerful on the outside, but it is, in fact, fragile on the inside.”
“No one can predict when a revolution will happen,” Chang said. “However, the social situation in China has reached a boiling point and the Chinese people are now more courageous than ever in voicing their opinions.”
Posts circulating on the Internet have hinted that there could be a second wave of protests tomorrow.