Human rights should be added to ECFA: forum

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Jun 02, 2010 - Page 1

A panelist attending a forum commemorating the 21st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre proposed yesterday to include the protection of human rights of Taiwanese investors in China in a trade pact the government seeks to sign with Beijing this month.

Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉), an assistant research fellow at the Institute of Political Science at Academia Sinica, said the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) should demand the inclusion of a “human rights clause” in an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China when the deal is deliberated in the legislature to ensure working conditions in Taiwanese-owned factories in China are up to standard.

He said the DPP should play a more proactive role in enhancing cooperation with civil society on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

“There is a growing civil society in China ... and it is growing strong because of the emergence of the Internet,” Hsu said.

He cited a recent case in which Zhao Zuohai (趙作海), a Chinese farmer, served 10 years of a 29-year sentence for murder. He was released and compensated for the time he spent in jail after the authorities found that the man he had allegedly killed was still alive.

Hsu said the news about the miscarriage of justice spread widely on the Internet, forcing Chinese authorities to deal with the matter.

Other panelists urged the DPP to play a more active role in pushing China toward democracy.

They also accused President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his ­administration of siding with the Chinese elite as the strength of grassroots organizations grows.

The forum was organized by the DPP’s Department of International Affairs to discuss human rights and democracy in China ahead of the 21st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown on June 4, 1989, where hundreds, if not thousands, of protesters are believed to have been killed by the Chinese military.

Tseng Chien-yuan (曾建元), an assistant professor of public administration at Chung Hua University, said younger Chinese have little knowledge about the massacre, nor was it discussed in Chinese media.

“Beijing did not keep official records and people have refrained from talking about it [openly],” he said.

Ma has issued statements on the June 4 movement in the past two years that were toned down from those of previous years. His administration last year urged countries with poor human rights records to make improvements, without naming China.

His Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) blocked a resolution in the legislature that would have supported a Chinese apology and reassessment of the miscarriage of justice surrounding the massacre.

“If Ma forfeits the chance to encourage the democracy and human rights movements in China, it is tantamount to helping the Chinese authorities remove pressure to democratize. China will then have more energy to oppress its democracy movement and to exert united-front tactics toward it,” Tseng said.