The Tibet News Bureau of Central Tibetan Administration interviewed Mr Ford Fu-Te Liao（廖福特), President of Taiwan Foundation for Democracy（台灣民主基金會）and Research Professor at the Institute of Law, Academia Sinica Taiwan. Mr Laio has served as Secretary-General of the Taiwan Society of International Law, Deputy convener of the Presidential Office Human Rights Consultative Committee and Vice President of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights.
Following is the translation of the original interview in Chinese.
TNB: Today we would like to discuss with Mr Ford about recent protests in Hong Kong, democratic developments in Taiwan and their understanding of the Central Tibetan Administration’s Middle Way Policy. Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank Mr Ford on behalf of the Tibetan people for attending the 8th international conference of Tibet support groups and for his valuable interview.
Mr Ford, welcome to the Tibet News Bureau. My first question, how much do you know about Tibet and Tibet issue?
Mr Ford: I personally never got the chance to visit Tibet. Everything I know about Tibet I have learnt it through books, pictures, and videos. We came to know about Tibetan politics, religion and culture through Chinese media propaganda and such a situation is very much similar in Taiwan as well. After learning more about Tibet and Tibetan history we realized that Tibet is never a part of China.
TNB: What motivated you to participate in the 8th International Conference of Tibet support groups? And what do you expect from this conference?
Mr Ford: There are two main reasons. The first is that I am doing research on human rights law and we all know human rights violation in Tibet is quite serious. In the past, we have been vocal about freedom of Tibetan language, religion and culture. But now we must focus equally on the environmental issues of Tibetan plateau as the climate change on the Tibetan plateau is a serious issue that needs attention and appropriate actions.
The second reason is that I am the President of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. And our foundation prioritizes human rights and democracy. Under such circumstances which explains why I am motivated to pay more attention to human rights issues in Tibet and Tibetan democracy.
This conference will help all the Tibetan supporters to get united and exchange their views. So I have seen this is a very good opportunity. I hope this conference will help to bring Tibetan supporters spirit united for the Tibetan struggle.
TNB: What do you think about Hong Kong’s “extradition bill” and the mass protests that have been among the largest and longest in Hong Kong’s history? Given the current situation in Hong Kong, what do you think about minorities under the rule of the Communist Party of China? Do you think it will impact Chinese citizens?
Mr Ford: Here we are dealing with three different situations. Uygur, Tibet, Inner Mongolia and some other places that are directly under the control of the Chinese regime.
Hong Kong and Macau abide by the so-called “one country, two systems” policy. And Taiwan never comes under the control of the Chinese regime but China always insists that Taiwan is a part of China.
Because of “one country, two systems”, Hong Kong people feel that china’s oppression is getting more severe as the freedom they enjoyed under the British colony is stripped off by the Chinese regime.
The democracy which Hong Kong people are seeking has not been achieved and there is no more democracy in Hong Kong because freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association are wiped out under the existing regime.
I think it has two aspects; the first one is that Chinese oppression over Uyghur, Tibet and Inner Mongolia (southern Mongolia) still exist. The situation in Hong Kong has only emerged recently.
The second point, despite the so-called “one country, two systems” being implemented in Hong Kong, China has failed to achieve the desired effect. And Taiwan is a completely independent and sovereign state so I think the Chinese government has benefited from “extradition bill”.
TNB: What do you think about the “Middle Way Policy” which is proposed by the His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and Central Tibetan Administration? How aware are Taiwanese politicians and people’s regrading MWP and do they support the “middle way policy” and peaceful negotiation between China and the Central Tibetan Administration?
Mr Ford: Speaking from my personal point of view, whichever way it is, be it “Middle Way Policy”, autonomy or peace talks between the Chinese government and the Central Tibetan Administration. The fact is Tibet’s territory is completely occupied by the Chinese government. Under such circumstances, I think, Tibetans must need adjustment in their strategy or policy, only then the Middle Way Policy and Tibet-China peace talk can be possible.
This Middle Way Policy is a viable political strategy for the Tibetans which I can understand. And I must respect the decision of Tibetans regardless of their method. But I cannot compare the situation of Tibet to that of Taiwan. As I mentioned before Taiwan is not under the control of CCP so Taiwan and Tibet have its own political strategy.
TNB: This morning, the participants of the conference got the opportunity to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Can you share your feeling or experience on meeting with His Holiness? What did you learn from His Holiness?
Mr Ford: Today I feel blissful to have received an audience with His Holiness. For me, he is a very wise elder brother. I am very happy to know that His Holiness is in good health. He is an intellectual philosopher. I did not meet His Holiness from a religious point of view. His wisdom and philosophy are what I am inspired with. He also has a great sense of humour and speaks so generously to everyone.
TNB: Lastly do you have any message to your Chinese and Tibetan audience?
Mr Ford: Han people don’t know much about Tibet, its culture, religion, language and other fields. I think we Taiwanese know more about Tibet. So I would like to tell my Tibetan friends that there are many people around the world who are supporting the Tibetan issues. There were many supporters for Taiwan during the time Taiwan was under the authoritarian regime, likewise, there are many Tibet supporters around the world so I would like to request Tibetan friends not to feel alone.
You must hold on to your hope for the best and prepare for the worst. There is no doubt that in the near future Tibet will get its freedom back. Thank you.