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.

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