An exiled student leader of the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing said yesterday he wanted to meet with a wealthy Taiwanese entrepreneur to settle a dispute over whether the Tiananmen Incident in 1989 was a massacre.
Wang Dan (王丹), who now lives in Taiwan, said on his Facebook page that he hoped to challenge the views of Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明), chairman of Want Want Group — which owns many major media outlets, including the China Times, a Taipei-based Chinese-language daily.
Wang called for a boycott of the China Times last month after Tsai appeared to have denied in an interview with the Washington Post that the 1989 crackdown in Beijing constituted a massacre.
According to the US newspaper, Tsai said he was struck at the time by footage of a lone man standing in front of a People’s Liberation Army tank and said that the man was not killed showed that reports of a massacre were not true.
“I realized that not that many people could really have died,” Tsai was quoted as saying, which elicited criticism from Wang and hundreds of other netizens.
“I am furious about Tsai’s comments on the Tiananmen protest, which are misleading,” Wang said on Jan. 23, two days after the Post interview was published.
In response, Tsai said in an open letter posted on Wang’s Facebook page on Tuesday that his remarks had been distorted and taken out of context by the Washington Post, and asked Wang to check the recording of the interview with Post reporter Andrew Higgins.
“Do you think I would ever make such a thoughtless ‘simple’ remark during an interview with international media?” asked Tsai, who was also cited in the article as saying that the unification of China and Taiwan was inevitable and something he really hoped he could see.
In his letter Tsai offered to apologize if anything he said in the full body of the interview was disrespectful to “mainland compatriots who suffered during the Tiananmen Incident” or hurt his Taiwanese compatriots.
Acknowledging Tsai’s comment, Wang said he would reserve judgement until after finding out if the Washington Post report did indeed take Tsai’s comments out of context.