Chinese tourists and dissidents visiting the country during Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections said they admired its electoral politics for developing in a moderate and civilized way.
Near a polling station in Taitung County’s Chenggong Township (成功), a group of Chinese tourists marveled at the long line of voters waiting to cast their ballots yesterday.
“I’m curious how Taiwanese vote,” said a Chinese tourist who asked their tour guide to stop the bus near the polling station so they could take pictures.
Under Taiwan’s election rules, observers can only take photos about 30m away from a polling station.
In Taipei, where a group of Chinese academics and overseas dissidents gathered on Friday to discuss what they had seen during their week-long visit to Taiwan, many lauded Taiwan’s political progress.
Zhang Jian (張健), a Chinese dissident from France who was on his first visit to Taiwan, said that the electoral process was progressing “at a high level” and Taiwanese democracy was “truly remarkable.”
While observing a campaign rally for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in Greater Taichung on Friday, Zhang said he met an old lady who told him: “I want to tell you that each of us must take responsibility for our own future.”
He said he was deeply moved by the old lady’s comment and by her attitude toward her own political future.
This shows that “in terms of democracy, mainland China is indeed lagging far behind Taiwan,” Zhang said.
“I really feel so wonderful that everything we’ve lost in China has been rediscovered here in Taiwan,” he said, adding Tsai had said that Taiwan, with its democracy, would naturally attract Chinese people to visit.
“See? Here I am, attracted by Taiwan’s democracy,” he said.
Commenting on Beijing’s attempt to unify China and Taiwan under its “one country, two system” formula, Zhang asked: “Who will unify whom?”
“A democratic Taiwan will bring despotic China under its fold,” he said.
Yang Wei (楊巍), a long-time democracy activist living in New York, said that after visiting the Mainland Affairs Council and the campaign headquarters of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the DPP, his concern that the two parties “might be critical of each other” was dispelled.
“I hope they can cooperate because they have a more formidable challenge in front of them — the Chinese Communist Party across the Strait,” said Yang, who has been a democracy advocate since 1984.