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Founder of pro-democracy publication receives presidential honor

05/19/2024 06:57 PM
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Taiwan Communique founder Gerrit van der Wees (left) and President Tsai Ing-wen. CNA photo May 19, 2024
Taiwan Communique founder Gerrit van der Wees (left) and President Tsai Ing-wen. CNA photo May 19, 2024

Taipei, May 19 (CNA) Gerrit van der Wees, a former Dutch diplomat and founder of a pro-democracy publication in Taiwan, was awarded a presidential medal by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Sunday for his contributions to the country.

Tsai conferred the Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon on van der Wees, primarily for his work as chief editor of Taiwan Communiqué, a bi-monthly publication chronicling developments in and around Taiwan's transition to democracy, from 1980 to 2016.

The publication was launched in the aftermath of the "Kaohsiung Incident" of December 1979, in which the then authoritarian Kuomintang regime cracked down on pro-democracy demonstrations in the southern Taiwan city.

Taiwan Communiqué brought attention to Taiwan's human rights developments to the United States and the international community, Tsai said.

It also documented Taiwan's transition from a martial law regime to a full democracy, as well as from one-party rule to a multi-party system, she said.

In receiving his honor, van der Wees, who currently teaches history at George Mason University in the United States, said the publication aimed to keep records of Taiwan's transformation for future generations.

He noted, however, that there remained challenges for Taiwan, such as continued threats from Beijing to isolate it on the international stage.

Other challenges facing Taiwan include how to ensure that future generations understand Taiwan's arduous path to freedom and the need to make a concerted effort to preserve the democracy and freedom Taiwan now has, van der Wees said.

(By Lai Yu-chen and Lee Hsin-Yin)


Source: Presidential Office
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