Wed, Jun 20, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Individual freedom is what China needs most

By Dan Bloom

Longtime observers of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have often said that the China question will remain open as long as the CCP rules China.

In fact, as long as the gate of freedom in China remains closed, it is not the "China question" alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all humanity.

Yet, today there is a message of hope inside China, a message of triumph, with Chinese slowly trying to take matters into their own hands and set up a democratic movement that can finally replace the CCP.

It can happen and it will happen.

Leaders of democratic countries understand that just as truth can flourish only when the press is free, so prosperity can come about only when the farmer and businessman enjoy sustained economic freedom.

China will learn that soon enough.

In fact, even now, in a limited way, the leaders of China may be coming to understand the importance of freedom.

We hear much from Beijing about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Some foreign news broadcasts and Internet sites are no longer being blocked. And some companies have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control.

Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the CCP? Are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West?

Or are they meant to strengthen the Chinese system without really changing it?

The West welcomes change and openness because it believes that freedom and security go together and that the promotion of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace.

There is one sign the Chinese communists can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.

If Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) truly seeks peace, liberalization and prosperity for China, Hong Kong and Macao, he must let freedom ring.

I understand the fear of war and the pain of division that afflict today's Chinese leaders. However, when freedom finally comes to the Chinese, they and their leaders will be surprised by how wonderful it feels.

Today represents a moment of hope. The West stands ready to cooperate with China to promote true openness, break down barriers that separate people and create a safer, freer world.

The totalitarian world produces backwardness because it does such violence to the spirit, thwarting the human impulses to create, to enjoy and to worship. The totalitarian world finds even symbols of love and worship to be an affront.

As one looks at China today, one can perhaps catch a glimpse of some words crudely spray-painted upon the gate of freedom, perhaps by a young Beijinger: "This gate will open. Beliefs become reality."

Yes, across China, the gates barring freedom will open because they cannot withstand the forces of faith, truth and freedom.

Dan Bloom is a freelance writer based in Taiwan.

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