Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng (陳光誠), who is studying law at New York University, said on Wednesday that China should learn from Taiwan and move toward democracy.
He said that if China could respond to public calls and build a society based on the Constitution and ruled by law with justice, democracy and freedom, the Chinese Communist Party could, like Taiwan’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), find its right orientation.
Chen made the remarks during a discussion with Jerome Cohen, a professor of law at New York University, on the subject of China’s future legal system and human rights.
One Chinese student asked about his views on the idea that democracy is not suitable for China, to which Chen replied that he does not approve of a complete transplantation of Western-style democracy to China.
He cited the British monarchy as an example, saying that while the UK is a democratic county, it has a royal family.
He said he would be absolutely opposed to a monarchy in Taiwan.
Chen said that although China cannot copy Western democracy completely, “it is all right to be 98 percent similar.”
Even if it cannot learn from Western democracies, and a Western-style democracy is unsuitable for China, the country “could learn from the East and learn from Taiwan’s democracy,” he said.
He called on the Chinese authorities to respond to people’s aspirations and warned them that time is running out.
This is because Chinese have gradually lost patience, as injustice has become more serious and calls for reforms have become louder, he said.
Beijing should push for democratic reform to put its people at ease, he added.
The 41-year-old, a self-taught lawyer, suffered years of persecution in China for his legal actions against forced abortion and for citizens’ rights.
He was at the center of a diplomatic tussle between China and the US when he fled house arrest in rural China and sought refuge in the US embassy in Beijing.
China subsequently let him leave for the US.