Fri, Jun 01, 2007 - Page 3 News List

President urges China to change

DEMOCRATIZE In the latest edition of his e-newsletter, Chen Shui-bian said that the PRC should use its strength to become a peaceful, constructive force for good

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

With the 18th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre approaching, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday called on Beijing to make use of its increasing national power to make the transformation to democracy.

"The Chinese government must think about how to utilize its growing national strength and learn a lesson from the rise of other big powers," Chen said. "It will bring happiness to the people of China, Taiwan and the world if China transforms itself from the role of a potential invader, attacker and destroyer to a peaceful, safe and constructive force via a democratic system."

Chen made the remarks in the latest issue of his weekly electronic newsletter.

Chen said history has proven that a strong but undemocratic country is often dangerous and aggressive. Three of the most prominent examples were Japan, Germany and the Soviet Union, he said, because their rapidly growing economies and authoritarian rule led to militarism and hegemony.

Since the military crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, Chen said China's military spending has seen double-digit growth each year, well exceeding its economic growth and self-defense requirements.

As China has grown from a regional power to a global military power, Chen said its military buildup has a far-reaching influence on China itself and the world.

Over the past 18 years, China has experienced dramatic changes, but the only thing that remains unchanged is its one-party, authoritarian reign and merciless suppression of freedom and democracy, Chen said.

Likening Chinese Communist Party's rule to the wax and wane of the moon, Chen said that China has its bright side, but there is always the dark side to counter any positive developments.

While most people were overwhelmed by China's economic development, they tended to ignore China's notorious human rights record, social instability and the fact that it is not democratic, free or humane.

From 2003 to 2005, Chen said the frequency of demonstrations and the number of protesters in China has increased by 15 to 18 percent annually.

China has enjoyed unprecedented economic growth since President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) came to power, but China's suppression of human rights and other fundamental freedoms such as freedom of speech, media and religion has also been unparalleled, Chen said.

China has topped the chart of countries detaining journalists over the past eight years, Chen said, and it was hard to imagine that in a knowledge-based age China has more than 300,000 "Internet police" constantly monitoring the on-line activities of Chinese netizens.

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