News and Notes

Issue Date July 1996
Volume 7
Issue 3
Page Numbers 186-88
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NED Honors Taiwan’s President Lee

On April 16, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) honored recently reelected Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui at a reception on Capitol Hill. Co-sponsoring the event were Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rep. Gerald B.H. Solomon (R-N.Y.), and Rep. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.). A tribute to President Lee was read by Paula Dobriansky, vice-chairman of NED’s Board of Directors, who praised him as “the central figure and driving force behind [Taiwan’s] remarkable political transformation” and lauded his wisdom in understanding “the need to integrate the two competing camps of contemporary Chinese political thought: the Confucianists and the advocates of Westernization.”

There were more than 400 people in attendance, including 34 members of Congress. Among those who spoke were 7 U.S. senators and 12 members of the House of Representatives, including Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and House committee chairmen Benjamin Gilman (R-N.Y.), Bob Livingston (R-La.), and Gerald B.H. Solomon.

On behalf of President Lee, Taiwan’s representative in the U.S., Benjamin Lu, accepted the Endowment’s gift of an embossed, four-volume set of the Encyclopedia of Democracy as a token of NED’s esteem for Lee’s contributions to the cause of free government.

Hong Kong Legislator Awarded Freedom Prize

On March 17, the executive committee of the Liberal International announced that Martin C.M. Lee, chairman of the Democratic Party (DP) and a leading member of the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, had been awarded its 1996 Prize for Freedom. The prize, awarded annually to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the cause of freedom in the world, was presented at the Liberal International Congress [End Page 186] held at Noordwijk, the Netherlands, on June 5–8.

Lee has been a staunch advocate of democratic reform in Hong Kong, calling for a system of government that respects individual freedom, human rights, justice, and the rule of law.

Prior to the award ceremony, Liberal International president Da- vid Steel expressed outrage that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) had excluded DP members from the committee charged with overseeing Hong Kong’s transition to Chinese control in 1997. The DP captured more seats than any other party in the September 1995 elections for Hong Kong’s 60-member Legislative Council.

On accepting the award, Lee praised Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng and other political prisoners in the PRC who have risked their lives in the name of democracy.

Steel also noted that Burmese authorities continued to deny him permission to enter their country to present last year’s Liberal International Freedom Prize to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Burma has told Steel that his visit was “not convenient.”

The Meaning of Modern Revolutions

On May 17–19, the University of Chicago’s John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy hosted a conference on “The Meaning of Modern Revolutions.” The conference sought to examine the development of the idea of revolution with the objective of arriving at a clearer understanding of the nature of the momentous political changes of 1989–91, and their implications for the future of revolution.

The conference opened with a theoretical session featuring papers by Nathan Tarcov on the ancient understanding of revolution and Pierre Hassner on the modern understanding. There followed four sessions devoted, respectively, to the English Revolutions (J.C.D. Clark and Mark Kishlansky); the American Revolution (Paul Rahe and Gordon Wood); the French Revolution (Keith Baker and François Furet); and the Russian Revolution (Abraham Ascher and Martin Malia).

The concluding session, featuring papers by Francis Fukuyama and Charles H. Fairbanks, Jr., focused on the collapse of European communism and the future of revolution. The participants differed in their views as to whether the Soviet collapse was really a revolution, a restoration, or something else, but there was surprising agreement that the idea of revolution has now been thoroughly discredited.

On the evening before the conference, radio station WBEZ and the University of Chicago hosted “The Future of Revolution: Anti-Democratic and Democratic,” as the second Sondra Gair Memorial Lecture program. A panel discussion featuring four of the conference participants, it was taped for subsequent airing on National Public Radio. [End Page 187]

Report on NED’s International Forum

On April 16, the Forum cosponsored with the Institute for National Policy Research (INPR) of Taipei a conference in Washington, D.C., on “Consolidating Democracy in Taiwan.” The meeting, which featured luncheon addresses by former Congressman Stephen Solarz and former UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, brought together leading scholars from both Taiwan and the United States.

The conference sessions focused on the recent elections in Taiwan; the implications of the elections for democratization; the economic and social aspects of democratic development; and the impact of external factors. The Forum and INPR will publish a report summarizing the conference proceedings.

During the spring the Forum held four luncheon seminars: Martin C.M. Lee, chairman of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, spoke on “The Future Prospects for Freedom, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law in Hong Kong.” Jonathan Hartlyn (University of North Carolina) addressed “The 1996 Presidential Elections in the Dominican Republic: Transition or Trauma?”; Ergun Özbudun (Bilkent University, Ankara) spoke on “Turkish Democracy in Comparative Perspective”; and Ghia Nodia (Academy of Sciences of Georgia, and a visiting fellow at the Forum) discussed “What Is Special About Postcommunist Transitions?”

On June 19–20, the Forum cosponsored a conference on “Consolidating Democracy in South Korea” with the International Relations Institute, Korea University. The meeting, held in Seoul, featured sessions on parties, elections, and the party system; civil society; economic performance; international dimensions; issues of democratic reform; and comparative and theoretical implications. A keynote address was delivered by Philippe Schmitter of Stanford University. A report summarizing the proceedings will be published in the fall.

Two major meetings in Washington, D.C., are scheduled for the fall. On September 20, the Forum will cosponsor a one-day conference on Russia with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. On November 18–19, the Forum will host an international conference on political parties and democracy.

The Forum’s Democracy Resource Center recently launched “Democracy_News,” an open electronic discussion group that uses e-mail technology to exchange news and information. Democracy_News contains announcements of new publications, upcoming conferences, new resources on the Internet, and reports of organizational activities. Subscribers are encouraged to contribute information and comments on items that have been posted. To subscribe to Democracy_News, send an e-mail to, and in the message section, type: subscribe democracy_news. For additional information or assistance, contact Allen Overland at 202-293-0300.