An overseas Taiwanese academic yesterday urged Chinese expatriates in the US to learn from Taiwan's experience and help speed up the democratization process in China.
Peter Chow (周鉅原), a professor at the City University of New York, said that during the 1960s and 1970s, Taiwanese students studying abroad and other expatriates worked with democracy activists on the island, accelerating the collapse of the authoritarian regime in Taiwan.
Chinese students studying overseas and expatriates "should not just jeer at the negative reports about Taiwan's democracy," he told a seminar sponsored by the New York branch of the Global Alliance for Democracy and Peace. Instead, they should learn from Taiwan's democratization experience and avoid repeating its mistakes when they help their motherland democratize, the economics professor said.
As the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre approaches, Chow said most Chinese people, influenced by the Chinese regime's media distortion and society's fixation on making money, have gradually forgotten the June 4 student movement which sought democracy for China.
Chow said he does not see any possibility in the near future of China's communist regime acknowledging its mistakes in militarily cracking down on the student protesters in 1989 in Beijing.
"If the inheritors of power in Beijing were to boldly acknowledge that something very bad had happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989, they would probably win even greater support," he said.
Li Hongkuan (李洪寬), a Chinese pro-democracy activist and Internet expert, said two "good conditions" currently exist for a similar democracy movement to erupt again in China. These are the fact that the Beijing regime has not changed at all since 1989, in terms of opening itself up to dissident voices, and that communications technologies have progressed tremendously, making it impossible for the regime to suppress information to the same extent that it did 16 years ago. However, Li also said there is no doubt that the Beijing authorities will adopt a strategy of "nip it in the bud" when it comes to suppressing any democracy movement that may arise.
"They will never tolerate a similar democracy movement; they have better riot gear than before; they will never relent in arresting activists," he said.
Chow elaborated on his view that the Beijing regime has not changed, saying that it has failed to solve the social problems that led to the 1989 student movement and that the problems have actually expanded to the areas of education, housing and income, leading to feelings of frustration among a greater portion of society.
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