Statement by Democratic Progressive Party Chair Tsai Ing-wen at the conference on “Tibet, June 4th, human rights and democracy in China.”
This is a very important year, as it is both the fiftieth anniversary of the Tibetan uprising and also the 20th anniversary of the June 4th Tiananmen event. The Democratic Progressive Party held this seminar with all those concerned about human rights and democracy issues to explore the status of Chinese democracy and human rights in Tibet because the development of China’s democracy and human rights will not only affect Taiwan but, over the next decade or two, will affect development and stability throughout Asia.
Fifty years ago, China tore up the “peace agreement” it had signed with Tibet, invaded Tibet, undertook a bloody suppression of the people and drove countless Tibetans into exile. To this day the suppression of the Tibetan people continues under the Chinese government’s heavy hand.
Twenty years ago on June 4 the Chinese government responded with violence to the student call for democratic reforms. To this day the Chinese government has never apologized for this tragedy.
In recent years China’s economy has grown by leaps and bounds, enhancing its national strength as it strives to join the great powers of the world. However, many people forget the authoritarian nature of this regime. If we take a closer look at the major countries in Asia, and leading economies in the world, almost all of them are democratic countries and, if not fully democratic, at least have had political parties’ alternation of power.
However, since the end of the Second World War, we have yet to see signs of democratization of the Chinese government nor the possibility of political parties alternating power. We remember the Tibetan uprising and the June 4th events and note that the Chinese government continues unhesitatingly its policy of internal repression of any pro-democracy movement.
As a matter of fact, Taiwan also suffered and has been the object of Chinese hegemonic suppression. Democratic Taiwan, on behalf of the human rights of Tibetans and the pro-democracy movement in China, cannot and must not shirk its moral responsibility.
Unfortunately, because it is so actively promoting exchanges with China, the Ma Administration thinks only of trade and economic matters and has no concern about democracy and human rights. This past year the Ma Administration turned a blind eye toward the Chinese government’s oppression of the Tibetan people and also publicly rejected the Dalai Lama’s request to visit Taiwan.
All this is tantamount to an acknowledgement before the whole world that the Taiwan government agrees with China’s suppression of the Tibetan people. The Ma Administration has also not said a word about the Charter 08 members who have been arrested by the Chinese government and remain missing. President Ma also has made no mention of “seeking redress for the June 4th victims”, something he has talked about each year in the past.
“Democracy” and “human rights” are Taiwan’s values most respected by all the countries of the world. They are also the most commendable and Taiwan’s “comparative advantage’ vis-à-vis China. Now, however, these have become taboo topics for the Ma government when dealing with China. Is this not the Ma government, in exchange for uncertain, short-term economic interests, unilaterally “disarming” and facing a heavy price to pay over the long run?
If today we do not talk about democracy and human rights with China, one day Taiwan’s own democracy and human rights may not be secure. We believe that future cross-strait exchanges and interaction should include discussions about democracy and human rights. We need to express solidarity with the Tibetan people as they resist China’s brutal suppression and we must support the efforts of pro-democracy activists to pursue democracy and human rights.
This is not only because democracy and human rights are universal values, but also because as long as China continues to deny democracy and human rights the results of any consultations between Taiwan and China are likely to be dangerous, fragile, and lacking any protections. Only if there is democracy in China can the two sides find a common value system and thus there will be equality and normal exchanges between the two sides. If this condition is met, then and only then will Taiwan and China’s development not be in danger of turning upside down overnight.
Today, we are here to show our concern about human rights in Tibet and to commemorate the June 4th incident. We want to express our concern about democratization in China. Since democracy and human rights are the Taiwanese people’s most cherished values, Taiwan should help with the democratization of China.
So today we make this appeal:
First, the Ma government should call upon the Chinese government to stop oppression of the Tibetan people, respect the human rights of the Tibetans and their desire for autonomy. The Ma government should also call upon the Chinese government to publish the truth of what happened last March 14th in Tibet.
Second, the Ma government should call upon the Chinese government to apologize for June 4, 1989, vindicate those involved in this movement and allow the students in exile to return to China as soon as possible.
Third, the Ma government should call upon the Chinese government to release the members of Charter 08 who have been arrested, like Liu Xiaobo. China should not continue to suppress the basic human right of freedom of speech.
Fourth, the Ma government should include democracy and human rights in the list of topics of cross-strait exchanges, so that interaction between Taiwan and China is based on the universal values of human rights and democracy. This should be a prerequisite for normal cross-strait exchanges.
Even if the Ma government does not act on these important issues, the people of Taiwan must! The Democratic Progressive Party will work with all concerned about democracy and human rights, and working together our action will be positive and effective. We will also work with the democratic movement in China to start a dialogue, exchange experiences, sharing Taiwan’s history and achievements in the pursuit of democracy and human rights. By doing so, democracy and human rights will continue to grow in Taiwan; attention will be brought to the drive for human rights and freedom of choice in Tibet, as well as for the flowering of democracy and human rights in China.