A group of young Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politicians yesterday announced that they would submit a resolution to the party’s congress on Saturday to make human rights and democracy the foundation of cross-strait engagement.
The “Resolution on Human Rights Exchanges Across the Taiwan Strait” is aimed at shifting the direction of bilateral engagement from politics and economics to universal values and has earned the endorsement of 46 DPP members.
“The proposed resolution recommends that the universal values of human rights be established as the foundation of cross-strait relations, as well as a precondition for all future agreements between both sides. It also urges that Taiwan play an integral role in China’s democratization,” DPP Legislator Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) told a press conference in Taipei.
It is the second initiative to emphasize human rights as the foundation of cross-strait engagement that has been proposed in the past month. Civic group Taiwan Democracy Watch released a similar manifesto titled the “Declaration of Free Men” on April 22.
The latest initiative recommends the DPP establish a panel on cross-strait human rights exchanges, which would promote human rights values and collaboration with China’s civil society, and ensure that basic human rights are protected in all bilateral agreements.
All bilateral exchanges should protect the freedom of religion, speech, publishing, media, academia and Internet access for people across the Strait as well personal safety and due judicial rights for the people, the resolution states.
Cheng said that the resolution was aimed at ensuring the interests of people in China and Taiwan, given that there are currently about 1 million Taiwanese living in China. The proposal also comes amid growing concerns that bilateral exchanges are currently dominated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and that several high-ranking KMT officials and their families are benefiting financially from the exchanges, Cheng added.
Former DPP lawmaker Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) described the resolution as providing an “indispensable dimension” to cross-strait engagement as well as representing a “democratic offensive” against China.
DPP Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智) said the KMT has virtually ignored human rights in its dealings with Beijing, even though it has always boasted about its achievements in relaxing cross-strait tensions. Yao said the intiative would be “an extension of Taiwan’s pursuit of democracy and freedom.”
“Hopefully, a consensus on human rights and democracy could eventually replace the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ and pave the way for long-term, stable bilateral relations,” DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said.