Lives and property across the Taiwan Strait would only be protected by the inclusion of human rights clauses in the texts of the agreements between Taiwan and China, and not by lip service, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday.
The response was directed at President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) after he said on Wednesday that he hoped cross-strait dialogue could extend beyond economic and trade issues, to encompass human rights and the rule of law.
“Human rights are the foundation of peace and people’s interests would not be protected before their human rights are protected,” said Honigmann Hong (洪財隆), director of the DPP’s China Affairs Department, in a press release.
Human rights protection should be the precondition of future cross-strait agreements and the beginning of exchanges between the civil societies of Taiwan and China, Hong said.
Otherwise, a cross-strait peace agreement, which Ma had previously hinted was one of his primary goals, would be nominal and meaningless, Hong said.
While the livelihoods of Chinese has improved after the nation’s economic rise, Beijing has not eased its oppression of human rights, evidenced by its relentless crackdown on Falun Gong followers, rights advocates, Tibetans and its tight control of the media, Hong said.
Beijing’s detention of Taiwanese Bruce Chung (鍾鼎邦) for 54 days last year was yet more evidence of China’s lack of respect of human rights, Hong said.
“Ma said human rights would be seen as the barometer to measure further cross-strait engagement. From what we’ve seen, the distance between Taiwan and China could not be farther,” Hong said.
There are many human rights-related areas the Ma administration could work on immediately, such as the inclusion of the right to appeal and safeguard mechanisms in bilateral negotiations, the establishment of an official bilateral human rights dialogue platform, a human rights watch mechanism, as well as legislation in the form of a refugee act (難民法) and a political asylum law (政治庇護法), Hong said.