China should learn from Taiwan's democracy: blind dissident

New York, Feb. 6 (CNA) Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who is studying law at New York University, said Wednesday that China should learn from Taiwan and move toward democracy. He said that if China can respond to public calls and build a society based on the Constitution and ruled by law with justice, democracy and freedom, the Communist Party of China could, like Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang, find its right orientation. Chen made the remarks during a dialogue with Jerome Cohen, a professor of law at New York University, on the subject of the future legal system and human rights in China. One Chinese student asked about his views on the idea that democracy is not suitable for China, to which Chen answered that he does not approve of a complete transplant of Western-style democracy to China. He cited the United Kingdom's monarchy as an example, saying that while the U.K. is a democratic county, it has a royal family. He said he would be absolutely opposed to a monarchy in Taiwan. Chen said that although China cannot copy Western democracy completely, "it is all right to be 98 percent similar." Even if it cannot learn from Western democracy, and Western democracy is indeed unsuitable for China, the country "could learn from the East and learn from Taiwan's democracy," he said. He called on the Chinese authorities to respond to the people's aspirations and warned them that time is running out. This is because the people of China have gradually lost patience, injustice in society has become more serious, and calls for reforms have become louder, he said. The Beijing authorities should push for democratic progress to put its people at ease, he went on. The 41-year-old, a self-taught lawyer, suffered years of persecution in China for his legal actions against forced abortion and for citizens' rights. He caused a diplomatic tussle between China and the United States when he fled house arrest in rural China and sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. China subsequently let him leave for the U.S. (By Leaf Chiang and Lilian Wu)