The delegates included Mr. Su Huan-chih, political activist, member of the Tainan Parliament and Secretary of the Tainan County, Ms. Wen Hui, a member of Friends of Tibet in Taiwan and Ms. Zhang Su-Hua,journalist of the Taiwanese Radio Station, ‘Dreaming Country'.
Mr. Su, completed his studies in Physics and Political Science at the Taiwan University. He worked as an activist during the Taiwanese struggle for democratic reforms under the National People's Party (Kuomintang), and participated in the Beautiful Island Movement along with many others. During the period from 1993-2001, he was elected thrice as a member of the Tainan Parliament. From 2001-2010, he was designated Secretary of the Tainan county twice- a designation through which he hopes to be nominated as President in order to effect a greater change in his country.
He spoke in length about the current political climate and struggle in Taiwan. "The Taiwanese Democratic Movement has created a new situation along with many complications in the country, he said. "I personally feel that the TDM is critical to the development of the country, therefore the Taiwanese people need to work harder and participate more actively in it".
He also observed that there are many similarities between the political struggles of Taiwan and Tibet, because both of them are under the power and pressure of China. Many governments empathize with the Tibetan struggle, but cannot openly support the cause of the Tibetan government under Chinese rule. According to Mr. Su, the future of Taiwan, the culture of China and the development of Tibetan culture are intertwined.
He compared the rapid development of China's economy to Taiwan, stating that the yearly income of a single Chinese person living in China is $4000 while Taiwan pales in comparison with a per capita income of only $2000. "The issue of Chinese economy has become important because up until now, it has been under the control of a single party (PRC) but many people worry that they will not be able to sustain this level of development under a single party in the future. A single party will not be able to remedy all the problems of the economy in the long-term".
His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Succession and Return to Tibet
In relation to the issue of His Holiness' succession, Mr. Su remarked, "Time is a crucial element. The recognition of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's reincarnation could happen in as long as 10 or 20 years and the political situation in China might also have changed within that span of time. If we will have to recognize His Holiness' reincarnation within 5 years, however, then the situation will be difficult. Nevertheless, political interference in religious matters is not appropriate by any means".
"If there is a sufficient level of change in the policies, there is hope that His Holiness the Dalai Lama might be able to return to Tibet, but this process will take time". In his opinion, His Holiness' return to Tibet will have an immensely positive impact on the development of democracy and freedom of religion in China. However, without the Chinese's implementation of a plan to move towards democracy, it will not be possible for His Holiness the Dalai Lama to return.
The Benefits of China Shifting to Democracy
Mr. Su claims, "Some people in Taiwan believe it will not be beneficial for the country, but I personally believe it will. Democracy is not just about elections, but about the protection of fundamental human rights and the welfare of the minorities But if the system doesn't include the basic elements of democracy, it will be difficult for China to make the transition". He maintained that a transition would only be possible if China decided to respect and respond to the determination of the minorities.
Tibet-Taiwanese Cooperation in the Struggle for Democracy
Mr. Su describes the current political situation in Taiwan as much worse than before. In previous years, two Taiwanese presidents invited His Holiness to visit Taiwan, "But now, for many reasons, it is not possible for the current president to extend an invitation to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, neither is it possible to participate in the democratic activities in the mainland". These political setbacks have hindered Taiwan's ability to extend full support to Tibet. "Internationally, there have been more results and support in the Tibetan struggle as compared to Taiwan, but the Chinese government has paid no heed to it."
He reiterated that Taiwanese's participation and hard-work, along with their cooperation with the Tibetan administration, is crucial to the development of democratic conditions in both countries. " If both of the countries experiences are put upon the same platform, it will be possible to reap bigger results". He also commented on Buddhism as being benefecial in remedying the current problems of their society.
Purpose of Taiwanese Delegation in Dharamshala
Mrs. Wen Hui (Friends of Tibet), stated that "The ambition of Taiwan's Friends of Tibet, is to better understand the Tibetan issue. Usually, our organization facilitates discussions and movements regarding Tibet, but this time, the purpose of our visit to Dharamshala was to witness first-hand the realities of the struggle and to garner more supporters". Her organization has visited Dharamshala a total of three times- in April, July and finally, in this month, inspiring them to work more diligently for the cause of Tibet. Regarding increasing support for Tibet, Mrs Wen Hui says, "Through our declaration, visitors have come forth voluntarily to participate. Through our movement, we have at least been able to give the Taiwanese people an insight into the reality of Tibetan refugees living in exile in India".
After each visit to Dharamshala, awareness regarding Tibet spread in Taiwan by way of delegates from different spheres of knowledge. In the first delegation, most of the people were affiliated to art and media. In the second delegation, all of them were university students. "This time is different than before", claims Mrs. Wen Hui. "We have leaders, teachers, religious and political people. We also have a variety of interesting, new activities tailoring to the specific interests of different delegates".
Mrs. Su Hua (journalist, ‘Dreaming Country', Taiwan) agreed that such delegations would be favourable in helping the two communities better understand and help each other.
In conclusion, the meeting proved successful in verifying the support of the Taiwanese in the Tibet struggle and further solidifiying the bond between the two countries under Chinese dominance.
"The Taiwanese could help the economic situation of Tibet whereas Tibet could provide Taiwan with a better understanding of religious and cultural matters", said Mrs. Su Hua.
N.B. This has been translated from the original interview in Tibetan and Chinese. If there is any discrepancy between the two, please treat the Tibetan and Chinese version as authoritative and final.