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September 21, 2017

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Beijing should better tolerate dissidents: Ma

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that mainland China should be more tolerant toward dissidents, during a speech commemorating the 24th anniversary of the Tiananmen Incident.

"A lot of my friends have asked me why I commemorate the Tiananmen Incident every year. Mainland China's Tiananmen Incident is (in many ways) similar to Taiwan's 228 Incident. Both saw tragedies as a result of the mishandling of public protests," Ma said.

The two incidents are like mirrors which remind the leaders of mainland China and Taiwan to reflect on and learn from history, Ma said, adding that this is the reason why he commemorates the incidents every year.

"It has been more than 60 years (since the 228 Incident took place), and I sincerely hope that tragedies such as these never take place on either side of the strait again. (I hope that) the universal value of human rights will take root in Greater China," Ma said.

Mainland China published a report in May, describing the human rights-related developments in the region, and despite doubts about the report, the fact that the authorities are willing to review the issue of human rights periodically is a sign of progress, the president said.

Gov't Committed to Human Rights in Taiwan: Ma

Coincidentally, Taiwan also released a human rights-related report in April, discussing its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Ma said, adding that the government incorporated these two covenants as part of its regulations in 2009.

The government will review the nation's regulations periodically to see if there are any inconsistencies between R.O.C. laws and the covenants, the president said.

The Presidential Office set up a human rights committee and wrote a human rights report, which was then translated into English, Ma said, adding that 10 international experts, along with local nongovernmental organizations, were invited to examine the condition of human rights on the island.

The protection of human rights has become a global trend; therefore, the issue of human rights is no longer a domestic affair, the president said.

Covenant Can Help Boost China's Image, Soft Power: Ma

If the mainland Chinese authorities are astute, they should commit to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and invite international experts to participate in its reports, which will help boost mainland China's image and soft power, Ma said.

Cross-strait relations have improved vastly over the past five years, while peace and prosperity have become the wishes of both the people in Taiwan and mainland China, the president said, adding that the government's concern over the state of human rights in mainland China stems not only from an adherence to universal values, but also because both sides share a common heritage.

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