Taipei (AFP) Jan 1, 2011
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou on Saturday called for democracy in China, saying the island's experience could serve as a model for the future development on the mainland.
"We hope one day that all descendants of Emperors Yen and Huang will enjoy freedom, democracy and rule of law, as we do here in Taiwan," Ma said in a New Year's address.
"Descendants of Emperors Yen and Huang" is a poetic and politically neutral reference to people who are linguistically and culturally Chinese.
"This is not a far-off dream, because these values have all been realised in Taiwan. They are not exclusive to the West. Taiwan's experience can serve as a reference for the future development of mainland China," Ma said.
He added that the human rights situation in the mainland was a "key yardstick" for the distance between the systems in China and Taiwan.
China wants eventual reunification with Taiwan, even if it has to go to war to bring it about.
Ma was speaking on the first day of year 100 of the calendar in official use in Taiwan.
It counts time from the establishment of the Chinese republic after the collapse of the imperial system in 1911.
The Chinese republic in turn was defeated by communist rebels who set up the people's republic in 1949.
However, surviving elements of the republican government fled to Taiwan, where the republic survives to this day.
earlier related report
Known by many in Hong Kong as Uncle Wah, the veteran activist had been in hospital for several months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Recent media reports had suggested his condition was deteriorating rapidly, and he died on Sunday morning.
In a statement Sunday, Hong Kong's chief executive Donald Tsang said he was "deeply saddened" at the death of the outspoken campaigner.
"Passionate about China and Hong Kong, Mr Szeto Wah was devoted in promoting democracy. Upright, industrious and unwavering in the pursuit of his ideals, Mr Szeto earned great respect from across the community," he said.
"He will be dearly missed," Tsang added.
Szeto was re-elected in November as chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, which routinely criticised Beijing for human-rights abuses and pushed for political reforms in the former British colony.
"I think his greatest achievement was to keep this movement alive and kicking all these years," Martin Lee, a founder of Hong Kong's Democratic Party, told AFP.
"He contributed greatly to that movement," Lee added.
The Alliance was founded less than a month before the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 which saw Chinese troops crush weeks of pro-democracy protests in Beijing, killing hundreds if not thousands of demonstrators.
Szeto formed the Professional Teachers Union in 1973 and was a long-time legislator and key Democratic Party member.
Time Magazine once named him one of the 25 most influential people in Hong Kong, calling him "democracy's foot soldier".
In April, a wheel-chair bound Szeto joined a rally in Hong Kong's glittering financial district against what was described as "political persecution" following the arrest of several Alliance members during an earlier protest.
Hong Kong has maintained a semi-autonomous status since its return to China in 1997, and guarantees civil liberties not seen on the Chinese mainland, including freedom of speech and the right to protest.
Hong Kong's political system consists of directly elected legislators and Beijing-appointed representatives, sparking regular calls for full democracy in the city of seven million.
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Asian 'martyrs' underscore poor year for human rights
Hong Kong (AFP) Dec 30, 2010
In some of 2010's most compelling images, Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi emerged from her home after years in detention and an empty chair marked the absence of Liu Xiaobo from his Nobel prize ceremony. Asia's two human rights martyrs serve as compelling reminders that a region celebrated for its economic vibrancy also harbours some of the world's most intractable and brutal regimes. And des ... read more
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