Fri, Jun 04, 2004 - Page 3 News List

China won't trust its people: Chen

COMPARISONS The president said that the events of 15 years ago showed Beijing wasn't able to trust its people, unlike in Taiwan, where democracy flourished

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

On the eve of the 15th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday in his weekly newsletter that the crux of the difference between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait was how much the governments "believe in the people."

"The most memorable impression of the Tiananmen incident of June 4th is that of that small, thin person holding up a line of tanks, which was a heroic and disturbing impression," Chen said. "But in March of the following year, Taiwan also experienced the great Wild Lily Students' Movement (野百合學運) at the CKS Memorial Hall."

He said that China's Tiananmen movement and Taiwan's student movement, also known as the March Study Movement, were pleas for the same things -- democracy and reform, but that the different measures adopted by the two governments to deal with the events made for contrasting historical turning points for the two sides.

"What the June 4 Tiananmen incident brought was ruthless political suppression; stability was turned completely on its head and the progress of the Chinese people was unceremoniously halted," Chen said. "But the March Study Movement, in pressing for the establishment of a national affairs conference, changing the way the Legislative Yuan and the National Assembly are elected and a consensus on realizing the direct election of the president, also set a timetable for [further] reform," Chen said.

"Fifteen years ago we faced such comparable situations, but 15 years on the results are completely different," Chen said.

"And the reason is that we firmly embrace the principle of believing in Taiwan, believing in the people, which has enabled Taiwan's democratization to avoid unfortunate obstacles and stand on the right side of history," he said.

Chen also urged opposition politicians not to mislead the public by defining Taiwan's democratic development as "populism," which, he said, was no more true of Taiwan's experience than of the earlier experience of Europe and America in forging democratic societies.

He stressed that the people of Taiwan are extremely principled and practical, their eyes gleam with a vision for Taiwan's development, they have a fierce desire to be their own master and to grasp control of their own destiny.

"People who censure others as advocators of `populism' are completely denying the value of democracy and believe that the people are stupid and easily manipulated, so they preach that placing sovereignty in the people is dangerous -- and irresponsible," Chen said.

"In fact, Taiwan's democratization has nothing to do with `populism.' One cannot, just because one's views are different from other people's, say that those other people are populists," he said.

Chen said that on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, even more affirmation and respect had to be paid to Taiwan's 23 million people, who, he said, always bring the utmost wisdom to bear.

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