Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou on Wednesday described the Tiananmen crackdown as “an enormous historical wound”, urging China to redress the wrongs of the crushed pro-democracy protests 25 years ago.
Ma made the call in his annual statement marking the anniversary of the 1989 crackdown but was not scheduled to make an appearance at a candle-lit vigil in Taipei later on Wednesday, his office said.
“Facing such an enormous historical wound, I sincerely hope that the mainland authorities will seriously consider and speedily redress the wrongs to ensure that such a tragedy will never happen again,” the leader said in his yearly statement.
Ma reiterated calls on Beijing to treat its dissidents well and to tolerate different opinions.
He also urged Beijing to continue carrying out political reforms such as abolishing the forced labour camps last year and to make more efforts to promote democracy and human rights protection.
“We hope to see it take more actions to realise democracy and the rule of law and protect human rights,” said Ma.
Taiwan’s government has repeatedly urged China to learns lessons from the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters when troops killed hundreds of unarmed civilians - by some estimates more than 1,000.
The Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan’s top China policy-making body, on Tuesday renewed calls on China to face up to history and protect the rights of dissidents.
Reacting to Ma’s statement, Yang Jianli, a prominent US-based Chinese dissident who fled China after the protests, offered praise for his call “for a speedy redress of the wrong of the June 4th incident”.
The vigil in downtown Taipei is expected to attract some 2,000 people, according to organisers.
Ties between Taiwan and China have improved markedly since Ma took office in 2008 on a Beijing-friendly platform, following eight years of tensions under the previous pro-independence government. He was reelected in 2012 for a final four-year term.
Beijing however still claims the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification by force if necessary although they have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.