Exiled Chinese democracy activist Wang Dan (王丹) held an event to launch his memoirs in Taipei yesterday, saying that through the new book he hopes to remind younger generations about an era when young people believed in something.
A former student leader involved in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Wang, now 43, said that while he is not really old enough to write a memoir, he believed it was a good idea to do so as public interest in the 1989 protest, and the brutal government crackdown that followed, has grown.
“More and more people — including young Chinese — are showing interest in Tiananmen Square, so I thought I should write down my own testimony about the incident,” Wang said. “But for the most part of my book, I wrote about the atmosphere of Chinese society back then in the 1980s — it was a time when many people were looking for change, and many took action.”
He added that he wanted to remind his compatriots about the 1980s.
“Although now China has grown to be a global economic power, it’s like a giant with a strong body and muscles, but without a soul. As a Chinese person, it’s sad to think of China as a country with only money, but nothing else,” he said. “If some young people — from China, from Hong Kong or from Taiwan — read my book and come to the conclusion: ‘If they did it, we should do it too,’ then the book is worth it.”
Taiwanese singer and songwriter Chen Sheng (陳昇), a personal friend of Wang, also attended the presentation.
“I’m a singer, Wang Dan is a democracy activist; I’m not very well educated, but Wang Dan has a PhD, we may not seem to be the same type of people, but we have a shared value — and that is a belief in freedom,” Chen said.
Chen said that a few days ago someone in the entertainment business had learned he had been invited to the book launch and the person tried to persuade him not to attend.
“The person reminded me that my presence may put me on the Chinese government’s blacklist and they told me to think about the opportunities and the money that I can make on the Chinese market,” Chen said. “Well, I’m not really that short of cash, I’m leading a decent life with the Taiwanese market — and the point is, no one can tell me with whom I can be friends.”
“Freedom is the basis for everything, if I have to think about how the other side of Taiwan Strait might react before I write a song, I can never be a good songwriter,” he added.
Meanwhile, Wang said he “regrets, but understands” the changing attitude of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) toward him as cross-strait exchanges have increased.
“When Ma was mayor of Taipei, we met just about every time I came to Taiwan — we met not only at formal occasions, but also casually. It was usual that we would meet,” Wang said. “But we’ve never met since he became the president.”
Wang said he had contacted the Presidential Office several times, but he is always told that Ma is busy.
“I do believe he is actually busy and he should be busy, given that he has led the country into such a predicament,” he said. “But, I do feel that there’s a change of attitude in how Ma and the KMT treat me, it’s a feeling of distance.”
“I understand why they have changed, but I regret to see such change,” he added.