Taiwan diplomat: China unlikely to democratize soon

TAIPEI, TaiwanTaiwan’s second-ranking diplomat said Tuesday he does not believe China will become democratic in coming decades, arguing that the Chinese Communist Party is unlikely to allow a true opposition anytime soon.

“I cannot say that I can see [that] China will become a democratic society within one or two decades. I don’t think that it will happen,” Deputy Foreign Minister Kuoyo Tung told a group of reporters on a trip sponsored by the East-West Center.

Even though China has become more open — especially in its economy — in recent decades, it is “still a totalitarian society” dominated by the Communist Party, Mr. Tung said.

“I think that they may have some thought to take some political reform, but it’s difficult for them to become a democratic country in a decade or even two,” he said.

Since 1949, Taiwan has been politically separated from mainland China, which claims the island as part of its territory. Taiwan itself transitioned from autocracy to democracy in the 1980s.

Mr. Tung said he believes the population of mainland China is not ready for democracy.

“If you go into the inner land or talk to the ordinary people, you will see that they still don’t know too much about what democracy is,” he said.

“I always believed democracy is not just [that] you have a regular vote for your leaders. To me, I think democracy is a true way of life,” Mr. Tung said. “The basic element of democracy is that all people are equal, and you have to respect your opponent.

“Can the Chinese Communist Party respect the opponent of the Communist Party? I doubt it.”

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About the Author

Ben Birnbaum

Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.

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