04 June 2010

Ma Ying-jeou's "Thoughts on June Fourth"

To mark the 21st anniversary of the crackdown on protesters in Beijing, Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou's office issued a statement earlier today, which I translate into English below:

Thoughts on June Fourth

Today is the 21st anniversary of the June Fourth Tiananmen incident.

We commemorate this day just as we commemorate Taiwan’s 1947 February 28 Incident and the white terror of the 1950s. We profoundly hope the mainland authorities will consider Taiwan’s experience and sincerely confront the major human rights incident of June Fourth—not only in learning the painful lessons and preventing tragedy from repeating itself, but also in taking necessary actions to provide comfort for the harm and redress for the injustice done to victims and their families.

Historically, in any conflict between a government and its people that results in bloodshed, the government must bear the primary responsibility because of its control over public power. The existence of a government is closely tied to the trust of its people. Whenever a government uses force against the people, it is not only the people who are harmed—the trust between government and people is damaged as well, such that a long time is needed to repair it. For this reason, any government facing such a problem must confront it courageously and seek reconciliation through great patience and forgiveness.

The peoples on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are all Chinese, all descendants of the Yellow Emperor. We ought to support each other and cooperate with sincerity. Setting aside human rights, about which there have been many criticisms from outside, the people of Taiwan have been deeply impressed by the way that the mainland authorities have in recent years begun to promote Chinese culture, develop the economy, and improve people’s standard of living. The improvement in cross-strait relations and the major decrease in tensions in the Taiwan Sea have received widespread approval from peoples on both sides of the Strait, as well as the international community.

Under these new historical conditions, we hope that the mainland authorities will take this opportunity to display new thinking on the subject of human rights and, with full sincerity and confidence, take steps to resolve the problems this major human rights incident has left behind and be more open-minded towards those holding different opinions. This will not only do much to enhance the trust felt by people on the mainland towards the mainland authorities; it will also help to narrow the human-rights gap between the two sides of the Strait and convince the people of the world that the rise of the Chinese mainland is not only peaceful, but also reflective of the universal values of freedom, democracy, and human rights.