Speaking on the 24th anniversary of the Tiananmen incident, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday called on Chinese leaders to seize the current window of opportunity and create a new era for human rights.
He also urged Chinese authorities to broaden their minds to tolerate dissent.
In an article to mark the anniversary of the bloody crackdown on student protesters in 1989, Ma said several of his friends have asked him why he commemorates the June 4 event every year.
“This is because the June 4 Incident, like Taiwan’s 228 Incident, is a tragedy that resulted from the government’s improper handling of a popular protest,” Ma said.
The 228 Massacre was the brutal crackdown on an uprising against the then-authoritarian Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime on Feb. 28, 1947, and over the following weeks.
“Both the 228 Incident and the June 4 Incident are like mirrors, reminding the leaders on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to engage in soul-searching and learn lessons,” Ma said.
He expressed the hope that similar events would not happen again and that universal values of human rights can take root in China. Ma added that China last month issued a white paper on progress on its human rights last year.
Outsiders might still have a lot of misgivings, Ma said, “but as long as mainland authorities are willing to review their human rights issues regularly and accept outside inspections, it will be a positive development.”
Touting Taiwan’s own human rights record, Ma said that the Presidential Office had set up an advisory committee on human rights to issue reports on the implementation of two UN human rights covenants in the nation and invited 10 international human rights experts to Taiwan to review its human rights environment.
Ma said the protection of human rights has become a worldwide trend and that as long as the Chinese authorities have the will, they are capable of narrowing the gap in human rights between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.
The Mainland Affairs Council said that China should take an open and positive approach to re-examining its crackdown on student protesters in Beijing on June 4, 1989.
Beijing needs to face up to the event and reflect on the positive impact it has brought to China’s modernization, the council said.
China stepped up efforts to counter corruption after the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in November last year, and the white paper it issued demonstrated its determination to protect human rights, the council said.
These moves seemed to match the appeals of the students who launched the protests 24 years ago, the council said, and it urged Beijing to confront the historical fact and improve the welfare of its people.
The Chinese government should do so by treating the victims of the June 4 incident well and showing sincerity in trying to heal the societal scars left by the crackdown, the council said.