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Taiwan should do more for China's human rights: scholars

2010/12/18 20:10:52

Taipei, Dec. 18 (CNA) Scholars had mixed feelings about thedevelopment of human rights and democracy in China Saturday butagreed that Taiwan could serve as a good example and should do morefor its neighbor across the Taiwan Strait.

Various signs showed that some high level officials within theCommunist Party of China (CCP) were ready for the introduction ofjudicial and human rights reforms, but it all came down to the topleader and the implementation of the law, said Jerome Cohen,Co-director of the U.S.-Asia Law Institute of the New York UniversitySchool of Law.

Cohen, a respected law professor who had spent decades observingTaiwan and China, made the comments in a symposium on China's humanrights development, organized by Taipei Bar Association, Lei ChenHuman Rights Foundation and Hong Kong-based China Human RightsLawyers Concern Group.

The Chinese leaders always said they supported human rights, butthe human rights they supported were ones with "Chinesecharacteristics, " which were different from the Western standards,Cohen said.

"I always advised them that Taiwan, South Korea and Japan haveall overcome the odds (when promoting human rights)," he said, adding"History is not an excuse for violating human rights."

A self-proclaimed optimist, Cohen said he could not afford to betoo optimistic about China's future human rights development beforeChina's political system changes because "within the CCP, it's veryhard to tell the real thinking and mindset of the Chinese leaderbefore he seizes the complete power."

Cohen, who met President Ma Ying-jeou -- his student at HarvardUniversity in the 1970s -- yesterday, also said "the Taiwangovernment should not avoid talking with China about human rightsissues".

Taiwan should demand protection of Taiwanese businessmen in Chinasince now the cross-strait negotiations have touched upon the humansafety issues, he said, referring to the recently stalled talks of abilateral investment protection agreement.

Hsu Szu-chien, a researcher at Academia Sinica, urged Taiwan'snon-governmental organizations (NGOs) to partner with their Chinesecounterparts in offering assistance and sharing experiences.

Hsu also called on authorities on both sides of the strait tolaunch a human rights dialogue, saying that the move would be helpfulto China's grassroot human rights and democracy movement.

"It seems to me that the power of a rising China grows strongerevery day. But at the same time, its moral position keeps fallingback, " Hsu said, because it can no longer persuade its people withthe same excuses and the people of China no longer believe everythingthe government says.

"What will happen to China in the future? I don't know, " Hsusaid.

"I see the potential and momentum right there. What Taiwan can dois to help the Chinese society to be ready for the moment whenopportunities come, " he said.

(By Chris Wang)