Ezra F. Vogel, a professor emeritus at Harvard University and author of "Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China," said in Taiwan Saturday that China's former leader, Deng Xiaoping, and Chiang Ching-kuo, former president of the Republic of China, were two "leading reformers" of modern China.
Vogel made the remarks at a forum at the Buddha Memorial Hall in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan.
According to local media reports, Vogel quoted Lee Kuan Yew, former Singaporean prime minister, as disclosing that Deng had asked Lee to approach Chiang to see if the latter was interested in meeting with him.
Chiang declined, on the grounds that he did not believe in the
Communist Party of China, Lee was quoted as saying.
Vogel's comments on cross-Taiwan Strait affairs drew media attention in Taiwan, with major newspapers reporting on his comments as follows:
The United Daily News:
Vogel is an authority on China, having spent a decade interviewing key figures such as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Lee to complete his latest book.
He joined several Taiwanese academics and opinion leaders in the seminar in Kaohsiung, where Wang Li-hsing, publisher of CommonWealth Magazine, asked him if given a chance, what would be the first question he would pose to Deng.
"What I would like to ask him, he probably would not answer," said Vogel, who was in Taiwan to promote the Chinese edition of his book, newly released by the CommonWealth Publishing Group.
Vogel said Chiang and former Deng were rivals during their terms in office and that when Time magazine named Deng as 1985 Man of the Year, it prompted Chiang to quicken the pace of Taiwan's democratization.
He said Deng's reform policy definitely transformed China, making it one of the economic powerhouses in the world.
He forecast that interactions between China and the United States will become more close and frequent, but said Taiwan still has some roles to play.
He said that rivalry between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait has benefits and that "the present democratic experience of Taiwan will definitely stimulate China's politics to be more open."
Taiwan "could help China's economic development and provide direction for China's democratic development," Vogel said. (June 17, 2012)
Vogel said Deng changed not just China, making it a stronger country, but also the world, in which Taiwan was also affected.
If Deng were still alive today, witnessing the massive corruption in China, he might unleash a new wave of even bolder reform of the country, said Vogel.
Kao Hsi-chun, chairman of the Global Views Educational Foundation, compared his visits to China in 1988, when China was still quite "backward," and in 2002, when Shanghai and Beijing had "modernized beyond belief."
Credit must go to Deng when people discuss China's transformation, Kao said. (June 17, 2012)
(By S.C. Chang)