30 Questions for Democracy Opponents

While relatively satisfied with—or relieved by—the results, Beijing viewed recent elections on Taiwan with deep suspicion, even going so far as to order that visitors from the mainland remain quarantined in their hotel rooms. Naturally, the occasion was a hot topic among weibo users, some of whose comments have been compiled and translated by CDT. One congratulated the people of Taiwan for having “once and for all … destroyed the hundred year demonization of the Chinese people” as being unsuited to or unready for democracy. For those who remain unconvinced, however, a set of thirty questions has circulated on Sina Weibo. From China Media Project:

3. You emphasize that our people are intelligent, hardworking, courageous and good, the most excellent people on earth. How then do you explain that this most excellent population, having passed through 5,000 years of corrupt history and then having subsequently lived through 50 years under the most advanced and ideal system replacing [the old corrupt system], are still of such low character that they aren’t suited to the most basic democratic rights?

14. You have publicized that, “Revolution is guiltless, and revolt is rational.” But now you emphasize that “stability is the overriding priority,” afraid of the wind even stirring the grass. In this era of peace, how is it that you work along contrary lines?

20. You say that the Party was established for the people, that [the Party] is single-minded in serving the people, but the expenses of the Party are from the national treasury and the people don’t have the right to ask questions about them. Why is that?

James McGregor, meanwhile, has re-posted a column he wrote for The Wall Street Journal after the 1989 elections, in which he argued that democracy was Taiwan’s best defence against China:

As is usual in Taiwan, the average citizens are way ahead of their government. Voters interviewed during the campaign and since the voting say they were seeking to establish a two-party system. Their foremost concerns are stability and furthering the island’s economic development while solving the problems of horrible pollution, a soaring crime rate, rampant financial speculation and an antiquated infrastructure that provides a quality of life that is far from commensurate with the citizenry’s $7,200 per-capita income.

Voters here seem to realize something else that has yet to dawn on this island’s politicians: A functioning democracy can provide Taiwan with an effective poison-pill defense against China. If Taiwan can develop full democracy in the next few years, China has good reason to keep the island at arm’s length. The last thing China’s rulers want is to absorb an island where people are accustomed to speaking their minds and electing their government representatives.

January 18, 2012 9:07 PM
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