The US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is not planning to change the way it operates, despite Beijing’s sanctions against US non-governmental organizations working in Hong Kong, NED president Carl Gershman told the Taipei Times in an interview in Taipei on Wednesday, adding that it hopes to work more closely with Taiwan to defend democracy.
Gershman on Tuesday received the Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon from President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in recognition of his contribution to the consolidation of Taiwan-US relations, as well as advancing freedom and democracy around the world.
The NED, along with the US National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the US International Republican Institute, US Human Rights Watch and US Freedom House on Dec. 2 were named by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as “abominable actors” instigating Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters to commit violent crimes and rebel against Beijing.
Photo: Lin Chia-nan, Taipei Times
The ministry said that it would sanction the US groups.
“We’re not gonna change what we do,” Gershman said when asked if the sanctions would influence the organization’s activities. “We’re not the reason that people in Hong Kong are demanding freedom.”
“They’re demanding freedom because China is trying to take it away from them... Obviously, they’re struggling for their own freedom. That’s something between people in Hong Kong and China. That has nothing to do with us,” he said.
“It’s a false issue,” Gershman said. “They’re [the Chinese government] trying to blame somebody for causing this problem,” when it is the Chinese government that is to blame for its attempt to control Hong Kongers.
Beijing does not support freedom and human dignity, as demonstrated by its concentration camps in Xinjiang and its imposition of secular rule over Tibetans, he said, describing what Beijing has done to the minorities as “cultural genocide.”
Asked if the NED has financed protesters in Hong Kong, Gershman said: “No.”
The NED provides three grants in Hong Kong for preparing periodical reviews for the UN on human rights and the rights of migrant workers, and to encourage dialogue between the government and civil society, as listed on its Web site, Gershman said.
“They’re very specific grants and nothing to do with what is going on today,” he said, adding that China’s accusations are “totally false and without any foundation whatsoever.”
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, signed into law by US President Donald Trump on Nov. 27, is largely a statement manifesting US support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, he said when asked if the US act would be effective in helping to alleviate the territory’s crisis.
Gershman expressed the hope that there could be some temporary settlement of the confrontation in Hong Kong.
Hopefully, the protesters’ immediate objectives, such as ending police violence, could be achieved, he said, while their other goals survive.
China is threatened by Taiwan’s liberal democracy, which has proved to be dynamic, stable and successful at a time when democracy has entered a period of crisis in other parts of the world, he said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in 2012 tasked the Chinese Communist Party with writing a secret communique, Document No. 9, which directs party members to intensify the struggle against the core principles of liberal democracy — constitutional government, universal values, civil society and a free media, Gershman said.
Yet, Taiwan’s experience proves that democratic principles are compatible with Confucian culture and are truly universal, and its success is more significant now that China is rising as a dictatorship, rather than a liberal democracy that it had once intended to become in the late 1990s, he said.
Asked about the possible areas of collaboration between the NED and Taiwan that would help defend democracy, he said Taiwan’s democratic transition in the 1980s and 1990s could be referenced by other nations undergoing a similar transition from an authoritarian to pluralistic system, such as Malaysia, Sudan, Tunisia and Armenia.
Taiwan’s experiences of defending against malign foreign interference, such as how it has responded to the biggest number of cross-border cyberattacks in the world, is also inspiring for other nations, he said, adding that during his stay in Taiwan, he has met with government officials and experts to discuss information security, as well as the usage of social media to enable people to participate more in the global systems that unite democracies.
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