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April 26, 2017

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Ma call on Beijing to embrace democracy

TAIPEI -- China will endear itself to the Taiwanese people more by being kind to political dissidents and tolerant of different opinions than by yielding benefits to Taipei, President Ma Ying jeou said Wednesday.

By doing this, the president said in remarks marking the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, Beijing could not only raise its leaders' moral stance and legacy but also narrow the gap in thinking between the people of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

On June 4, 1989, Chinese troops stormed Tiananmen Square in Bejing to break up a student-led pro-democracy demonstration, killing more than 1,000 students by some accounts.

After three decades of rapid economic development, Ma said, China has helped its people enjoy an abundance unseen in China's 5,000-year history. Its gross domestic product, at US$6,747 per capita, has surpassed the level of Taiwan in 1987, when martial law was lifted.

With these higher living standards, and the higher education its people now have, China is capable of developing a society with freedom of expression, an independent judiciary, and a government that protects human rights and rule of law.

Lauding Beijing's decision last year to abandon its 45-year-old "education through labor" program, Ma said he hopes the Beijing authorities will engage in political reforms with the same great energy it uses to push for economic reforms, and make democracy the shared language, and prosperity the shared dream of the people on both sides of the strait.

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