Harvard professor emeritus Ezra Vogel said Taiwan’s democracy was inspiring for China and could serve as a model for China’s democratic development, even though Beijing would not publicly admit it.
Vogel, who is currently in Taipei in conjunction with the release of the Chinese edition of his new book, Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China, also speculated that if former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping were still alive, he might coin a new term to replace the so-called “one country, two systems” formula that China has hopes to use as a strategy to unify Taiwan with China.
Because most Taiwanese do not accept Beijing’s “one country, two systems” unification overture, Vogel said Deng might have invented a new term to characterise China’s policy toward Taiwan if he were alive.
Vogel said Deng was a pragmatic man who would not mind using another term more appealing to Taiwanese, so long as it would not undermine China’s ultimate goal of taking over Taiwan, Vogel said in a recent interview with Taiwanese media.
Vogel, now in his 80s, spent more than 10 years writing the new biography of Deng since he retired from Harvard in 2000.
The release of the Chinese edition of the book on June 1 by Taipei-based Commonwealth Publishing Group has drawn great interest from local academics studying China’s historical, political and economic development.
Vogel said Deng desired “very much” to unify Taiwan with China during his lifetime. Nevertheless, Vogel said, Deng would not pursue unification in a rash or reckless manner, because he tended to consider issues from a broad perspective.
Vogel said in the interview that even though cross-strait exchanges have focused on economic issues in the past few years, dialogue between Taiwan’s ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party has played an important role in bilateral engagements.
Such a phenomenon indicates that the two sides have maintained a certain degree of political contact, Vogel said.
He said that peace in the Taiwan Strait over the past few years has made him optimistic about the future of cross-strait ties.
Asked about the possible impact of Taiwan’s democratic experience on China’s development, Vogel said more Chinese people should be allowed to visit Taiwan to see for themselves the vitality of its democracy.
Saying that Taiwan’s democracy can serve as a model for China’s democratisation, Vogel said it would take time for China to move toward that goal because China was a big country. Any reform or new measure would only be experimented with in certain selected areas at first and the process might take a long time, Vogel added.