Tue, Jun 03, 2014 - Page 3 News List

TIANANMEN REFLECTIONS: INTERVIEW: Wang Dan looks back on Tiananmen — and ahead

Tiananmen Square student leader and exiled Chinese dissident Wang Dan met with Wen Chun-hua, a staff reporter with the “Liberty Times” (the sister newspaper of the “Taipei Times”) to discuss the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Wang said he does not regret his actions 25 years ago and spoke about the impact of the Sunflower movement on cross-strait relations and Taiwan’s democracy

Exiled Chinese dissident Wang Dan, one of the student leaders of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing, holds a sign opposing monopolization of the media in December 2012 on the campus of National Tsing Hua University in Hsinchu County, where he now teaches.

Photo: Hung Mei-hsiu, Taipei Times

Liberty Times (LT): How do you feel about the Tiananmen Square Massacre with the 25th anniversary just over the horizon? Do you have any goals you would like to set for China’s democratization efforts?

Wang Dan (王丹): My heart is heavy when looking back [at what happened] 25 years ago. There was never a political rehabilitation of the event and historically, it has not yet received the redress it deserved. It has always been a great sadness that many sacrificed themselves in that event, yet it seems China’s democratization is still far off.

Despite my heavy feelings over the subject, I do not regret my actions. Although I have not accomplished much, I have struck to my course and have done my best to be consistent.

The ideals and passion of youth are the valuable assets of any society, and the most important thing I can do is to ensure that such vitality is passed down from generation to generation and influences more young men for the betterment of the country and the nation.

As a participant in the June 4 Incident, I feel it is my duty as a witness to pass on the truth of this particular event in history. I hope for the day when China will be ruled by democracy, but this is not just a problem stemming from the Chinese Communist Party. I also hope to see more Chinese come to the realization [that China needs democracy] and seek to reorder their lives and politics under a new system.

LT: After Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) came to power, he started to crack down on corrupt officials. What do you think his actual goal is?

Wang: Of course Xi’s crackdown on corruption is fake; it is simply a ruse he has been using since he came to power. Xi is calling for anti-corruption, [but] he is looking the other way when it comes to his own family. It is evident the anti-corruption crackdown is selective, and targets the action of corruption, not the corrupted system.

The system is important, especially if one wishes to provide a solution to corruption. Targeting specific actions for correction — ie, limiting spending on extravagant meals — will not solve corruption. The only way to solve corruption is [to allow the] democratization [of China], but Xi is unwilling to do so.

Xi’s anti-corruption crackdown, in this sense, is phony and is only a ploy to strike at his enemies and consolidate power. Ultimately, the target is not corruption, but power.

LT: Xi has adopted a more aggressive strategy on diplomacy than his predecessor, Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), and is actively challenging the US strategy of pivoting toward Asia. What are your thoughts on this?

Wang: The tougher stance the Xi regime has adopted on foreign policy [may stem from] Xi wishing to emulate Mao [Zedong (毛澤東).] Both in terms of language and policy, there are hints that Xi is strongly influenced by Mao. Xi’s wish to put himself in the role of the leader of nationalism, or his tendency to use blunt, straightforward methods to handle otherwise sensitive diplomatic situations [are examples].

However, the international diplomatic situation is quite complex, and Xi’s simplistic approach in handling it cannot allow him to arrive at his goals; quite the opposite, it will only bring him more trouble. I feel that he has taken on an erroneous attitude in this regard.

LT: Both the leaders of the Sunflower movement, Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) and Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), were once your students. What do you think of their performance during the movement’s protests? And what kind of advice would you give to young students if they were considering joining a civic movement?

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