Ma urges China to ‘face history’ on Tiananmen anniversary
President Ma Ying- jeou followed his practice of years past yesterday by offering remarks on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing in which peaceful protests led by student demonstrators were crushed by the People’s Liberation Army in 1989.
In a speech titled “Facing History, Healing Wounds, Creating the Future,” Ma urged China’s political leadership to reflect on and “redress the wrongs of the June 4th Incident” as a means of facilitating the normalization of relations between Taiwan and China. While Ma did not elaborate on atrocities committed by the Chinese military against its own citizens 26 years ago, he said that political reforms in China have lagged behind the economic reforms that have increased the standard of living for the now second-largest world economy.
The president described China’s lack of reflection on the crackdown as a pall that continues to tarnish the economic powerhouse’s international reputation, especially in the realm of human rights. He likened economic and political reforms to wings on a bird where each is complimentary to the other and required for flight.
Ma highlighted “psychological differences” that separate the thinking of those living in Taiwan and those in China, and said an eventual “meeting of the minds” between the two sides depended on China pursuing democratic reforms. He presented Taiwan’s postwar history as a lesson for China, in which the government had come to reflect and commemorate painful incidents of political suppression including the 228 Incident (February 1947) and the White Terror (1950s). This process of acknowledging the realities behind these tragedies and the eventual empathy between the government and aggrieved victims allowed Taiwan to leave behind authoritarianism and transition to democracy, he reasoned.
Ma linked political reforms in China with developing cross-strait relations. “If mainland China ac- tually strengthens its democratic processes, that will give us a common foundation for more intensive dialogue in the future.”
Political Parties Call for China’s Democratization
Meanwhile, Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu ( ) urged China to take the great efforts needed to pursue the “universal value of democracy.” He mentioned his personal experience as a foreign student when the Tiananmen Massacre occurred, which made “a deep impression” on him.
The opposition Democratic Progressive Party ( DPP) on Wednesday urged Beijing to halt the suppression of free speech, stating that freedom of its citizens can not only be achieved with economic growth as the human rights dimension must also be considered.