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Home The News News Taiwan marks Tiananmen Massacre

Taiwan marks Tiananmen Massacre

Political leaders yesterday marked the 35th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre with declarations that mostly emphasized shoring up democracy at home or sympathy for the pursuit of freedom in China.

President William Lai (賴清德) in a Facebook post said the world was mesmerized by young Chinese standing up for freedom in Beijing 35 years ago as a tide of democracy swept through Asia.

Taiwan was blessed by its forebears whose sacrifices transformed the erstwhile dictatorship into a democracy, and by generations of young people who picked up the torch and continued the fight for freedom, Lai said.

A man places a candle at Liberty Square in Taipei last night to mark the 35th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

The lineage of youth activism in Taiwan ran from the Wild Lily and Wild Strawberry student movements to the Sunflower and Qingniao (bluebird) movements, Lai said, referring to the latest protests against controversial legislative reforms.

A nation truly worthy of respect is one in which people can freely speak their minds and any polity should bravely face the voice of the people, especially young people, he said.

Societal reform cannot occur without allowing a diversity of opinions and empowering young people to act as catalysts of change, Lai said, adding that the state should encourage and protect young people, not suppress them.

A post with an image of the Goddess of Democracy statue commemorating the anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Square Massacre is pictured on President William Lai’s Facebook page yesterday.

Photo: screen grab from William Lai’s Facebook page

Taiwan would continue to strive to preserve the memory of the massacre so that it would never vanish in the tide of history, he said.

“We are committed to forming a consensus with democracy, responding to dictatorship with freedom and courageously confronting the challenge of authoritarian expansionism with solidarity, and to cooperating with like-minded nations to make the world a better place,” Lai said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) in a Facebook post said: “The two sides across the Taiwan Strait have never been closer in a historical moment and ideology than the days leading to June 4.”

Taiwanese students gathered at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial in a gesture of support for their Chinese counterparts at Tiananmen Square, later bearing witness to the massacre, Chu said.

The ties that bind the two sides are not only history, culture and blood, but the pursuit of freedom, democracy, human dignity and other universal values, he said.

“We must remember June 4 because the two sides across the strait are still bound together in destiny and because this page of Chinese history must never be forgotten,” he said. “The KMT will forever stand beside those who pursue freedom and democracy as its friends and we will always defend the Republic of China.”

Taiwan People’s Party Chairman Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) in a Facebook post said: “A nation will not make progress if it does not confront difficult moments in its history.”

The Tiananmen Square Massacre created a trauma in the Chinese psyche that 35 years of economic progress cannot heal, Ko said.

The Taiwanese government did not apologize for the 228 Incident in 1947 for 48 years, he said, adding that the families of the victims, including his own, had suffered in silence during that time.

Ko spent his childhood watching his father quietly shed tears every Feb. 28, turning the date into a bitter one for him as well, he said.

“I share my feelings with friends across the Taiwan Strait, which is that there can be no forgiveness without truth, no reconciliation without forgiveness and no peace without reconciliation,” he said.

“The time has come to rehabilitate” the Tiananmen Square protesters, he added.

Additional reporting by Shih Hsiao-kuang

Source: Taipei Times - 2024/06/05

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The Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday denied it would put more emphasis on Chinese history, saying a task force was still considering making changes to the high school curriculum.

“The Department of Secondary Education’s stance on the issue is clear. We respect the expertise of the task force,” department director Chang Ming-wen (張明文) told reporters at the ministry. “[The task force] has not finalized the changes. I believe members of the task force will consider public opinion when deliberating the issue.”