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Talk of the Day -- Say no to communist leanings

2012/05/05 21:18:22

Yu Ying-shih, a renowned U.S.-based historian, has faxed a letter to the Taipei Society urging local intellectuals to help safeguard Taiwan's liberal democracy from erosion by communist apologists, a local newspaper reported Saturday.

The Liberty Times said Yu, an academician of Taiwan's highest research body Academia Sinica, sent the letter a day earlier to Huang Kuo-chang, head of the Taipei Society, to throw his support behind a campaign launched by the civic group to boycott a local daily over what it calls the media outlet's China-leaning stance.

Yu said in his letter that he is increasingly concerned about Taiwan's political development, as the Chinese authorities are penetrating Taiwanese society through local politicians and business groups.

Citing the recent downfall of former Chongqing Communist Party chief Bo Xilai and the dramatic escape of blind Chinese human rights activist Cheng Guangcheng from house arrest, Yu said the Beijing regime's corruption and brutality exposed in the two cases are only the tip of the iceberg that threatens to shake China's stability.

Also Saturday, the United Daily News quoted Yoshikazu Kato, a noted China-based Japanese columnist and commentator, as having predicted that China might not necessarily carry out political reforms following Bo's ouster and that China's politics could become even more rigid.

The following are excerpts from the two papers' reports on the latest developments in cross-Taiwan Strait affairs:

Liberty Times:

The Taipei Society, a civic group composed of liberal scholars and professors, launched a campaign earlier this year to boycott the Taipei-based China Times to protest what it called controversial comments by the daily's chairman, Tsaid Eng-meng, about the 1989 Tiananmen massacre in Beijing. Tsai concurrently heads the Want Want Group, which has big business interests in China.

The society will join with several other like-minded non-government groups in sponsoring a seminar Sunday to discuss the predicament of liberal thought and democracy as reflected in the recent laying off of a senior opinion-page editor by the Chinese-language China Times.

Yu, a co-winner of the 2006 John W. Kluge Prize for the Study of Humanity -- a coveted award that honors lifetime achievements in the humanities and social sciences -- said in his letter to Huang that he fully supports the Taipei Society's move to organize the symposium.

Noting that some Taiwanese politicians and business moguls seem to be determined to cater to China's cause out of selfish motivations, Yu said he hopes Taiwan's intellectual community will do more to help ordinary Taiwanese people break free of the shackles of communist leanings in order to protect the country's young democracy.

Yu, who has a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University, further said that nobody familiar with China's internal situation will be confused by its superficial economic prosperty into believing it will continue to be stable.

The Chinese leadership's anxiety and apprehension about the communist regime's fortunes can be seen in the fact that its spending on maintaining domestic stability far outpaces its annual defense budget, Yu noted.

Responding to Yu's letter, China Times editor-in-chief Chang Ching-wei said he understands Yu's concerns about Taiwan's well-being. Nevertheless, Chang said, Yu apparently has many misconceptions about the China Times.

"We hope to have an opportunity to clarify our stance and cause to him," Chang added. (May 4, 2012).

United Daily News:

Yoshikazu Kato, who is a columnist for the London-based Financial Times' Chinese website and a regular commentator on a number of programs on Beijing's CCTV and Phoenix TV, visited Taipei recently to promote his new book "How Far Is It Between Izu and Beijing."

Born in Izu in Japan and a graduate of the School of International Relations of Peking University, Kato is one of the most recognizable post-80s Japanese critics and columnists focusing on China-Japan relations. He has many fans in China.

He visited Taiwan recently to shoot a special report on Taiwan that will be broadcast on his new program on Japan's Asahi TV.

After interviewing some Chinese tourists at the National Palace Museum in suburban Taipei, Kato told this newspaper that Chinese people visit Taiwan mainly for spiritual pursuits such as tracing Taiwan's historical and cultural links with China.

In contrast, he said, Chinese tourists visit Hong Kong primarily for material purposes. "Chinese people tend to go on shopping sprees when they visit Hong Kong," Kato added.

Touching on Bo Xilai's fall from grace, Kato said he once had close contact with Bo and described him as the most charismatic politician he had ever met, and unlike most other Chinese officials.

"It's good to have politicians with unique personal characters because they can offer different ways of thinking and solutions," Kato said, adding that Bo's ouster could stymie rather than boost political reform in China. (May 4, 2012).

(By Sofia Wu)