Zhang Zuhua: First of all, we have a very moderate attitude to such comments and critics. We welcome people to comment on this Charter, and we can learn from them.One of the growing themes of this blog is that Taiwan can change China, but only as Taiwan. It cannot do so as Taiwan, satrapy of Beijing. Zhang's words show that two things are absolutely crucial to creating democratic change in China: first, the existence of Taiwan as an independent entity whose democracy is authentic, not a sham veneer over one-party rule; and second, commitment from other nations to making change in China.
I'm one of the charter's main drafters. When the police questioned me, I acknowledged that most of the ideas are Western ideas. The ideas of the charter come not only from the U.S. Bill of Rights, but also from the 1215 reforms in England [the Magna Carta], from the French Declaration of the Rights of Man, and from the Czech Charter 77 [a 1977 call for political reform by Czech activists during the days of Communist rule].
But we also have a "native" (bentu) inspiration: that is, Taiwan. Before 1986, there were also many activists, people fighting for democracy and human rights in Taiwan, and publishing calls for those things. [Taiwan began democratizing in the late 1980s].
JA: Many Chinese say that China needs stability most of all, that it must focus on economic growth, and political reform can wait.
ZZ: Personally, I agree with this. China should take time to develop. [This] year will be the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident. And so we hope China can move toward democracy and the rule of law with a very low cost. I hope China can accomplish this transition in a peaceful and nonviolent way.
JA: What will be needed for China to change?
ZZ: In my writings, I use a method of analyzing called "three plus one" analysis. Looking at all of the factors affecting China's future, I came up with three political elements and one economic. The political ones are the ruling party, civil society and international society.
The CCP is the ruling party and its choices about the future are obviously very important to Chinese society. However, the efforts of the ruling party are not enough. Without the participation of civil society and international society, it will be difficult to lead China down the right path.
Sadly, as Jim Mann chronicled in The China Fantasy, global foreign policymakers have ignored the possibility of creating real change in China.