China's Zhang Mingqing Lectures Taiwan on Human Rights

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Wednesday October 22, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Zhang Mingqing, the Vice Chairman of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, gets the award for the quote of the week. After he was jostled and booed by Taiwanese citizens, he decided it was time to lecture them in true authoritarian, patriarchal style. He said, "Such violent behavior not only infringes on human rights but also runs against the wish of the peoples on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Only uncivilized people do such a thing. A civilized society governed by the rule of law would never allow such violence to happen again." Wow, how such a brief statement can leave so much to comment on, where shall I begin?

Well first one could ask the question would Zhang even know a civilized society governed by the rule of law if it bit him in the proverbial (oops, let's be civilized) posterior.

Violent behavior? Hmm, how does one define violence? Does the slaughter of the peaceful demonstration and protest at Tiananmen Square in 1989 qualify as violence? Or is that the civilized application of rule of law? Anyway, a civilized society would never let it happen, and certainly not use tanks against unarmed students, right?

Or perhaps we should look to Tibet for a definition of violence and a civilized application of rule of law in destroying a culture and bhe beliefs of a people. Nope, not too much luck there either.

Then, Zhang said the Tainan protest runs against the wish of the peoples on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Again, a big hmm. Did someone take a poll on what were the wishes of the people on both sides (and I repeat both sides) of the Strait? I don't recall. On this side, Ma Ying-jeou was elected by 54 per cent of the vote, but that was based on Ma's disreputable promise that he knew something about the economy. Unfortunately under Ma the economy still tanked, and Ma's approval ratings at the last poll are now down to 23 per cent. So what are the wishes of the people on this side of the Strait? Unlike China, the people in Taiwan are allowed to have their own opinions and can voice them.

But let's go back to the idea of infringing on human rights and a civilized society. How about the persecution of dissidents and the Falun Gong and the harvesting of the body parts of them and others imprisoned and tortured? Now isn't that the civilized way to handle the human rights of people and their right to religious freedom.

Or let us look at the SARS epidemic and cover-up; now that was a civilized way to share SARS with the rest of the world; likewise the recent raft of poisoned milk products that our civilized neighbor across the Strait sent over. The poisoned products were found out last December, but they could not be admitted to until after the Olympics. After all, in a civilized society, one must consider image first and foremost.

Then there is the matter of Taiwan--China relations. China's flag has never flown over Taiwan, yet it wants this cash cow island republic for itself. China has pointed over 1000 missiles at Taiwan and promises to blast it to high heaven if it dares to express the reality that it is an independent, thriving democracy. Of course this would be done in a civilized manner.

Yes, Taiwan is lucky to have such a grasping, authoritarian neighbor; how else would we learn about human rights, civilization and rule of law. Unfortunately Zhang had to leave because Taiwan did not follow the script that China and Ma Ying-jeou had dreamed up for it. However, with good fortune China will send another patriarch to lecture Taiwan.