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FACING THE PAST: The president called on Beijing to learn from its history and pursue democracy, as Taiwan did after the 228 Incident and the Kaohsiung Incident
/ Staff writer, with CNA
President Tsai Ing-wen （蔡英文） yesterday on Facebook urged Beijing to face the Tiananmen Square Massacre — also known as the June 4th Incident — with an open mind, and said Taiwan is willing to share its experience of transforming into a democracy with China.
On June 4, 1989, many peaceful protesters were killed when Chinese troops opened fire on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
On that day, “a group of students and citizens challenged the reality of mainland China,” Tsai wrote, saying that their actions enlightened am entire generation.
Today, many people in many places are asking for democracy by commemorating the Tiananmen Square protest, particularly Hong Kongers, Tsai wrote.
Over the past few years, there have been more and more Hong Kongers visiting Taiwan to “see democracy and freedom,” she wrote. “When there is democracy ahead, no country can walk backward.”
Tsai urged Beijing to address the incident with an open mind and suggested that the Chinese authorities redefine its meaning.
In that regard, Taiwan is willing to share its experience of transitioning to a democracy so that pain in China can be kept to a minimum, she wrote.
Chinese authorities treated the Tiananmen Square protest as a “counter-revolutionary riot” and used troops and police to suppress it, she wrote.
The 228 Incident and the Kaohsiung Incident were once described by the ruling authorities as “riots,” she wrote.
However, “reality becomes history and history can provide examples,” the president said.
“Mainland China would impress the world if it re-examined the June 4th Incident,” Tsai wrote.
The 228 Incident refers to a crackdown launched by the then-Chinese Nationalist Party （KMT） regime against civilian demonstrations following an incident in Taipei on Feb. 27, 1947. The event marked the beginning of the White Terror era, during which thousands of Taiwanese were arrested, imprisoned and executed. Historians estimate as many as 30,000 people were killed.
The Kaohsiung Incident was a pro-human rights and pro-democracy rally in Kaohsiung on Dec. 10, 1979, that was broken up by police and led to the arrest of most of the well-known opposition leaders, most of whom later became prominent politicians. It is considered an important turning point in the nation’s transition to democracy.
Separately, former president Ma Ying-jeou （馬英九） yesterday on Facebook called on China to allow family members of detained Taiwanese human rights advocate Lee Ming-che （李明哲） to visit him, saying that Beijing should adhere to its promise to “govern the country according to the law.”
Ma, of the KMT, reiterated his proposal that Taiwan should not enter into unification talks with China until it has rehabilitated the victims of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
“At this juncture, we must not ignore the case of Lee Ming-che,” a Taiwanese human rights and democracy advocate who has been detained by China since March on charges of attempting to “subvert the state,” Ma said.
However serious the allegations against Lee, in accordance with Chinese law, he should be given assurances of his personal safety, his case should be investigated and, if charged, he should stand trial, Ma wrote, adding that his family should be allowed to visit him as soon as possible.