Taiwan must remain committed to China’s democractic movement and take more substantial measures as cross-strait ties deepen, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday.
“We must clearly show the world the steadfast importance that Taiwan attaches to the values of democracy and human rights,” Tsai told a forum marking the 22nd anniversary of China’s Tiananmen Square Massacre on June 4. “We must use Taiwan’s democratic assets to support Beijing’s democratization.”
The crackdown on student activists by the Chinese military in June 1989 was a “very important historical event” that has shaped and will continue to influence the development of contemporary China, Tsai said.
Hundreds are believed to have been killed during the crackdown, although the exact number remains uncertain.
Since 1989, China has experienced astonishing growth, but that rise has not been followed by corresponding increases in freedoms and human rights, Tsai said.
Replacing “democracy with stability” has been one of the justifications used to curtail Chinese democratic activists, she said.
“[However,] human rights are a universal value and the principle of democracy is the bedrock of protecting that [value],” Tsai said, as she called on Beijing to “come to terms with the public voices in support of democracy” and start political reforms to foster its development.
Tsai, who is the party’s presidential candidate for the upcoming presidential election, also told the DPP-organized forum the party would continue to “closely monitor” affairs in China and seek to help advance its democracy movement by conducting dialogue with China-based democratic activists.
Not only would this strengthen Taiwan’s own democracy, “it would also help steer China toward a more free and democratic path,” she said.
The government should also offer more “substantive measures,” Tsai said, by including topics relating to human rights and democracy in cross-strait diplomacy discussions and signed agreements.
Last year, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) drew criticism from human rights groups and lawmakers, who accused the government of softening its support for China’s democracy movement amid growing ties with Beijing. Critics said Ma had toned down his comments on human rights abuses.
While the president has yet to make a statement about the massacre this year, Tsai said it was “regrettable” that Ma had chosen to remain relatively silent in the past in favor of facilitating ties with China.
“To remain silent about China’s crackdown on freedom of speech and its suppression of democratic activists does nothing to help China move in the right direction. Instead, it will lead to a reversal of Taiwan’s human rights and democracy,” Tsai said.