President Ma urges China to release Liu from captivity

The China Post news staff

President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday urged China to release imprisoned human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, the winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

“We hope the Chinese authorities can release Liu Xiaobo as soon as possible,” Ma said while addressing a gathering in Taipei held as a warm-up to today’s National Day celebrations. Ma already congratulated the activist on Friday soon after the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded Liu the peace prize. But in the Friday message released through the Presidential Office, Ma did not call on Beijing to release Liu. “If Liu Xiaobo can regain freedom, I believe the Taiwanese people would very much appreciate China’s move,” the president told the gathering. The Nobel awarded Liu the prize “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.”

China described Liu as a “criminal,” calling the committee’s decision a “blasphemy” of the peace prize, but Ma said he believes the entire Chinese community would be happy to see Liu win the peace prize, which is not just the activist’s personal honor, but represents everyone’s high expectations for China. The president said he hopes China can follow the Chinese cultural tradition where ordinary people are treated “kindly,” and that China should realize that freedom of speech is a very important foundation of modern society. He noted that China signed two United Nations’ human rights protocols in the last few years of the last century, and Taiwan also confirmed its signing of the two protocols May 2009, Ma said. He said the protocols can serve as common grounds in cross-strait relations.

Chinese leaders have been pushing for political reforms, which is a turning point in Chinese history, said Ma. He said he hopes China can implement these reforms. Ma said he has devoted many efforts to improving cross-strait ties since taking office more than two years ago, in order to ease tensions between the two sides and to promote peace and prosperity. Taiwan and China signed the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) in June to clear the obstacles to cross-strait trade, Ma said. He said his administration hopes that the gap between Taiwan and China in other areas, such as, freedom, democracy, human rights and rule of law, can also be narrowed. He said both sides of the strait are from the same people of Chinese, sharing the cultural and historical roots. Under the guidance of Chinese culture, Ma said, both sides should be able to find ways to resolve their disputes.