Fri, Jun 28, 2013 - Page 3 News List

China at a crossroads: rights advocates

TWO-HANDED STRATEGY:China has projected itself as a rising power aligned with the world order, while cracking down on dissent at home, Chen Guangcheng said

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Chinese human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng, right, greets Wuer Kaixi, a prominent student leader in Beijing’s 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, left, yesterday at the Taipei launch of Chen’s book, China, the Book of Living and Dying.

Photo: CNA

Led by visiting Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng (陳光誠), human rights advocates yesterday said that China is at a “crossroads” and could collapse if it fails to effectively deal with rising public anger over human rights violations.

The groups, including advocates for Xinjiang, Tibet and Falun Gong, demanded that Beijing respect human rights and release 4,033 political prisoners.

They were at the Taipei launch of Chen’s book, China, the Book of Living and Dying, a collection of 81 essays, including 21 written by Chinese and Tibetan authors.

The essays covered a wide range of topics, including the human rights situation in China, persecution by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the cross-strait human rights movement and why Taiwan should support social activism in China.

“China has been adopting a two-handed strategy: on the one hand showing its intention to be aligned with the world power as a rising power, and on the other, cracking down on dissent, religion and so-called separatists at home,” said Chen, who arrived in Taiwan on Sunday for an 18-day visit.

Chen, who last year fled China for the US, said that public discontent in China has reached boiling point and social activism is booming, but the international community has only seen the tip of the iceberg because of Beijing’s strict control of information.

That is why the oppression in China has to be documented and published, so the world will know what is happening, Chen said.

The 41-year-old, who was jailed and placed under house arrest from 2006 to last year, declared a head-on war against the Chinese regime and demanded that officials be held accountable.

Earlier this year, Chen released a list of 44 CCP officials who had oppressed him, including former head of the CCP’s Central Political and Legislative Committee Zhou Yongkang (周永康) and Central Politburo Standing Committee member Zhang Gaoli (張高麗).

Chen yesterday praised the Legislative Yuan’s resolution to support 4,033 political prisoners in China, saying that Taiwan’s support of the democratic and human rights movement in China is important.

Chen also clarified comments he made the previous day, in which he said he supported the “one country, two systems” initiative and that the concept of independence “has become out of date in Taiwan.”

Chen said what he meant was Chinese people do not favor “one system” — the authoritarian system — and deserve to choose between democracy and a one-party state.

As for independence, Chen said, human rights transcend the traditional concepts of independence and unification, and “people should go from there to pursue a brand new idea for the future.”

“I just want to say that people have the absolute power to determine their political rights, and human rights should be a priority over political power and sovereignty,” Chen said.

Hong Kong Legislative Council member Albert Ho (何俊仁) said China is in a do-or-die situation as it cannot keep on pouring huge amounts of money to maintain social stability without implementing constitutional and legal reform.

Wuer Kaixi, a prominent student leader in China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests who has lived in Taiwan for 16 years, said he was certain that Taiwanese “would not leave the Chinese people alone.”

However, he said he was not sure about the Taiwanese government, which appears to be leaning toward China in recent years.

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