President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday called for China to respect human rights and defended Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s (艾未未) right to freedom of expression as he attended an exhibition of Ai’s work at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum.
Dubbed “Ai Weiwei, Absent,” the exhibition features 21 of Ai’s works, including photographs, installation pieces, videos, 12 bronze heads representing Chinese zodiac symbols and a new piece consisting of about 1,000 bicycles.
Ma praised the diversity, deep emotions and reflections on Chinese society shown in Ai’s artwork and installation pieces, such as a surveillance monitor made of marble, a comment on Ai’s life under the Chinese government’s scrutiny, and said it highlighted the difference between Taiwan and China.
Photo: Hu Shun-hsiang, Taipei Times
“In Taipei, local borough chiefs and residents urged the city government to install surveillance monitors as a public safety measure. It is an interesting observation of how monitors here are rarely used as a tool for the violation of human rights,” he said.
Defending his efforts to press China on improving human rights, Ma said he urged the Chinese government to release Ai and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) in his statement on the 22nd anniversary of China’s Tiananmen Square Massacre on June 4, urging China to respect human rights as a way to promote cross-strait relations.
“The distance between Taiwan and the Mainland depends on the two sides’ views on the protection of human rights. The more similarities we share on the issues of human rights, the closer that distance will become,” Ma said.
In a written statement this year marking the Tiananmen Square Massacre, Ma urged the Chinese authorities to release Liu, Ai and other Chinese dissidents, and called on China to “undertake political reforms and promote the development of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
Ai, an outspoken critic of the control the Chinese Communist Party exerts over Chinese society and censorship in the country, was imprisoned in April on his way to Beijing airport for a planned trip to Taiwan.
He was released in June after almost three months of detention that sparked outrage worldwide.
He is currently being investigated for tax evasion and has been prohibited from leaving the country.
Pan-green lawmakers have accused the Taipei City Government and the museum of failing to help Ai visit Taiwan and attend his own exhibition, which began on Oct. 29 and runs through Jan. 29.
Ma yesterday defended the city government, saying Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) had invited Ai to attend the opening of the exhibition and the city government has never had a problem with Ai visiting Taipei.
Accompanied by Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Cheng Mei-hua (鄭美華) and Taipei Secretariat Chen Yung-ren (陳永仁) at the exhibition, Ma spent about 15 minutes glancing over the works.
However, he passed over some of Ai’s well-known works, including Study of Perspective: Tiananmen Square, in which Ai gives the finger in front of the square.
A convenience store clerk in Taoyuan was yesterday allegedly stabbed to death by a customer after asking the customer to wear a mask. The incident occurred a little after 5am at a store on Guangfong Street in Gueishan District (龜山), police said. When the suspect, surnamed Chiang (蔣), 41, entered the store without wearing a mask, the 30-year-old clerk, surnamed Tsai (蔡), asked that he put one on, police said. Chiang exited the store and came back wearing a mask, they said, adding that after paying for his items he took it off and threw it at Tsai before leaving. Chiang returned shortly afterward
‘UNPRECEDENTED’: Taiwan’s envoy said that official wording framing Taiwan-China issues as not about unification or independence counters the narrative Beijing wants Use of the phrase “democratic Taiwan” by Germany’s new coalition government in official document shows that Taiwan-China issues are not about “independence” against “unification,” but about democracy against authoritarianism, Representative to Germany Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) said yesterday. Germany’s Social Democratic Party, Free Democratic Party and the Greens — known as the “traffic light coalition” for their colors — on Wednesday inked a coalition agreement following elections on Sept. 26. The agreement, a blueprint for their governance for the next four years, mentions “Taiwan,” which is unprecedented, showing that the new German government is paying close attention to cross-strait peace and supports Taiwan’s
BIDEN NOD: A China watcher said that the inclusion of Taiwan is notable, as it is the only democratic state on the list that Washington does not officially recognize Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳) and Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) are to attend the US-led Summit for Democracy on Dec. 9 and 10, the government said yesterday, after US President Joe Biden announced the list of guests for the virtual event. The US Department of State on Tuesday announced a list of 110 invited participants, including Taiwan, Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan and the UK. China and Russia were not invited, and Beijing expressed anger at the decision to invite Taiwan. The summit is to revolve around three key themes: Defending against authoritarianism, addressing and fighting
DEFYING PRESSURE: Lithuania said it has the right to expand cooperation with Taiwan, after China downgraded its ties with Vilnius to the ‘charge d’affaires’ level Lithuania yesterday said it “regrets” China’s decision to downgrade diplomatic ties in protest after Taiwan established a de facto embassy in Vilnius. “Lithuania reaffirms its adherence to the ‘one China’ policy, but at the same time has the right to expand cooperation with Taiwan,” including establishing non-diplomatic missions, the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. China has officially downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania in protest, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said earlier in the day. In Taipei, the Mainland Affairs Council said it was “rude and unreasonable” for China to interfere in other countries’ affairs and obstruct Taiwan’s normal