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

In the past, it never occurred to China that there would be another political power in Taiwan apart from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party — the power of civil society.

I believe the TAO has learned its lessons and will start paying more heed to this particular power. Efforts will also be made to get in touch with Taiwan’s civic society.

With regard to President Ma’s performance, his recent approval ratings suggest that there is still ample room for improvement. While the president has repeatedly reassured the public that he has always listened to the voices of the people, I doubt he is truly willing to open his mind to different opinions.

For instance, Ma held a forum with a number of young people after the conclusion of the Sunflower movement to solicit their opinions, but none of the prominent participants of the Sunflower movement were invited.

LT: You have been teaching in Taiwan for nearly five years. What is your impression of Taiwan and what advice would you give?

Wang: Taiwan has experienced plenty of changes over the past years, but far too many them were in the political spectrum. The country has been unable to find a clear path forward and many of the changes were made in the absence of a national consensus.

The country’s next tasks will be more profound than democratization, including making changes to existing ideas and creating a new set of social values.

China has been luring Taiwanese with high salaries, but that trick does not seem to work on Europeans and Americans.

This phenomenon poses a tough question to Taiwanese society: Is being able to live freely and with dignity more important than being wealthy?

If you choose money, it is only a matter of time before you are drawn to China’s bait, particularly at a time when its rapid economic growth has turned it into a powerful magnet for global talent. However, if you attach more importance to your values, then there is no need for you to move to China.

Following the student movement, Taiwan has seen a new generation of youth who are concerned about public affairs and are no longer indifferent to reality and politics.

From this point of view, I believe there is still hope for Taiwan.

Translated by Jake Chung and Stacy Hsu

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