Friday, February 06, 2009

Charter 08 and Taiwan

Journalist Jonathan Adams has an interview in FEER with one of the drafters of Charter 08, Zhang Zuhua. The whole interview is excellent, but one part is especially relevant to Taiwan:
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.

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.
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.

Sadly, as Jim Mann chronicled in The China Fantasy, global foreign policymakers have ignored the possibility of creating real change in China.


Anonymous said...

One of the growing themes of this blog is that Taiwan can change China, but only as Taiwan.--

lol.. no realy.. Taiwan is realy not that inportant inside of PRC. I mean all local people who know Taiwan only from TV and imperialistic bullshit of Chinazis and their friends inside of CCP. so around 99% of PRCs population.

Anonymous said...

"One of the growing themes of this blog is that Taiwan can change China, but only as Taiwan."

This proposition is true, no matter what 99% of the PRC population thinks. (And I leave it to you, Anonymous, to figure out why and how.)

But Michael, do you think the DPP is ready to support this approach? They never have been in the past. The KMT -- lip-service, anyway -- has talked up this idea, and the DPP has derided it as politically incorrect. Are you on the verge, dear blogger, of formally going beyond KMT-DPP dialectics?

That would be so good. I say "formally," because in so many ways you already do go beyond those stale, pathetic, and dreary DPP-KMT dialectics.

Anonymous said...

I wish someone would approach Ma Ying-jiou for his comments on Charter '08. In theory he ought to be willing to sign it!