Taiwan should be concerned about China’s democratic development, but should refrain from intervening in a high-profile way, a former secretary-general of the National Security Council said yesterday.
Su Chi (蘇起), who is also a senior adviser to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and chairman of the Taipei Forum Foundation, said Taiwan should have “sympathetic understanding of” and “low-key respect for” China’s democracy.
If Taiwan were to intervene in a high-profile way, the “effect could be counterproductive,” Su said.
He made the remarks at a forum in Greater Kaohsiung, which attracted prominent academics from Taiwan and China, including Yu Keping (俞可平), deputy director of China’s Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, who is said to be an adviser to Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).
Su said there are three forces in China that are pushing for democracy: demands for a better quality of life; the growing number of media and civic groups; and continued appeals from within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the private sector.
Five forces that have restricted China’s promotion of democracy, Su said — hope for stability from the government and the private sectors; authoritarian rule; scant notions of democracy in the private and government sectors; lack of democratic experience and the urban-rural gap.
Su said Taiwan should not view democratic development in China in a “simple-minded” or “wishful thinking” way, adding that as China searches for democracy, there will be twists and turns and even U-turns.
“Taiwan should be more pragmatic about China’s democratization and eliminate unnecessary expectations,” he said.
Beijing’s selection of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) — who is seen as the most capable of unifying different forces — as the next-generation leader, shows that China is preparing for political reforms, he said.
Meanwhile, former Mainland Affairs Council deputy minister Chao Chien-min (趙建民) said China “is a 100 percent authoritarian country,” but he also said that democracy is beginning to bud there, citing an anti-corruption protest in the village of Wukan, Guangdong Province, which forced the authorities to give in — a “previously unimaginable” development, he said.
Several Chinese academics spoke of the differences between Chinese and Western democracy, saying that China would definitely move toward democracy and that it has never given up political reforms.
Men Honghua (門洪華) of the Institute of International Strategic Studies at China’s Central Party School, expressed optimism about China’s democratic reforms, saying that democracy was a world trend and that it is inevitable that China would move in this direction.
Past Chinese leaders have stressed the importance of political reforms and China “has never given up political reforms,” Men said.
He Zhe (何哲), an associate research fellow at the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, said China’s democracy should start within the CCP.
Although there is consensus on political reform, there are differences on how to implement further reforms, he said.
The forum, sponsored by the Taiwan-based Love and Peace Foundation, was held under the theme of “creating a new Chinese civilization.” There was a series of panel discussions on Taiwan’s democracy, China’s democracy and democracy in other countries, followed by a roundtable discussion on the possible paths for China’s democracy through the inspiration of Taiwan’s experience and developments in other countries.