Hope for a new China
01:00 AM EDT on Tuesday, June 5, 2007
By G. Wayne Miller
Journal Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE — Declaring their intention to restore democracy to mainland China within a decade, some 40 Chinese expatriates yesterday convened the first congress of the China Democracy Party, which was founded inside China but is now outlawed there.
“We should not have to suffer under the repression of the Chinese Communist Party,” said CDP cofounder Xu Wenli, 64, an exile and former political prisoner who is a senior fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. Xu, who has lived in Providence since the end of 2002, delivered his keynote address through a translator.
Xu called China’s current leaders “a dynasty of rotten rulers.”
The two-day congress, which wraps up today, adopted a “Declaration of China’s Third Republic,” incorporating their intention to rid China of Communist rule — and establish the CDP as China’s dominant party.
Yesterday was the 18th anniversary of the bloody end to a spring of anti-government, pro-democracy demonstrations in China.
On June 4, 1989, the Chinese military attacked thousands of dissidents who had gathered inside Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. An untold number were imprisoned or killed in an end to the fledgling movement that was famously captured in one of the enduring images of the 20th century: a photograph of an unnamed, unarmed protester standing placidly in front of a line of tanks. The fate of The Unknown Rebel, as he is sometimes called, has never been determined, although many believe he was arrested and killed.
Xu was in solitary confinement in a Beijing prison during the Tiananmen Square protests — “in a one-meter by three-meter cell,” he said during an interview. His offense? Involvement in a pro-democracy publication and efforts to organize an opposition party, which the Communist successors to Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China, considered “an anti-revolutionary organization crime,” Xu said. Xu was later released and then re-imprisoned before being freed and coming to America. In all, Xu spent 16 years behind bars.
An audio broadcast of yesterday’s events, which included a speech by former Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee, was sent out over the Internet. It was unclear if residents of mainland China had access to the Web cast, although it seems certain that one way or another, accounts of the congress will reach the country.
Framed photographs of several CDP members who remain imprisoned in China lined tables next to the podium where Xu spoke. Noting that some are serving 10-year sentences for their affiliation, Xu said: “It is not fun, I can assure my friends, to spend 10 years in prison because I have been there myself.” Still, he said, “to go to jail for my beliefs was worth it.”
Xu urged party members and others to help with the “lot of work to be done.” Lamenting that the first congress could not be held in his homeland, Xu said: “We will return one day to mainland China, where we belong, to restore democracy to the Chinese people. I welcome all of you to join us in our trek and journey to mainland China.”
According to organizers, Chinese expatriates now living in Australia, Holland, France, Sweden, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States came to the congress. Maysing Yang, vice president of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and a Taiwanese government vice minister, said in an interview that she made the long trip because she shares the CDP’s ideals.
“I’ve supported them for a long time,” she said. “If China becomes democratic, it’s not only good for the Chinese people but good for the world.”
In his remarks, Chafee said: “We hope that more freedoms and liberties can come to all the people of China and that all prisoners can be released to express their politics freely.”
The official congress declaration notes two brief periods when the seeds of democracy were planted in China. It reads: “We shall pursue the spirit and tradition of the leaders of the Revolution of 1911 and their creation of Asia’s First Republic. We shall acknowledge and respect the 1946 People’s Constitutional Convention and the establishment of the Second Republic. And we solemnly declare our aspiration to build a Third Republic based on the principles of freedom, equality, human rights, and constitutional democracy.”
Founded in 1998 by Xu and four other dissidents, the CDP has set a goal of becoming a legal party in China by the year 2015 — and of becoming the ruling party by 2020. Xu said, however, that the goal of party dominance should not interfere with the larger objective of restoring democracy. Nonetheless, he said, “I hope we can truly be called the people who lead the people.”
The congress, which wraps up today, is being held at the Hope Club, which Xu chose after being warmly received there during earlier speeches. The juxtaposition of polished brass and wood paneling with photographs of jailed dissidents provided an odd contrast — although the name “hope,” some organizers said, was a happy, and perhaps promising, coincidence.
The China Democracy Party is at www.cdp1998.org/
Xu’s home page is 126.96.36.199/xu/
Boston Globe June 4, 2007
Chinese democracy leaders meet on Tiananmen anniversary
Forty exiled Chinese democracy leaders will gather in Providence today and tomorrow to launch an overseas branch of the China Democracy Party and commemorate the 18th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Among those attending is Xu Wenli, a prominent Chinese dissident who was imprisoned for 16 years and who was granted asylum in the United States in 2002. He's now at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies. (Associated Press story)
Chinese democracy leaders meet on Tiananmen anniversary
June 4, 2007
PROVIDENCE, R.I. --Forty exiled Chinese democracy leaders will gather in Providence today and tomorrow to launch an overseas branch of the China Democracy Party and commemorate the 18th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
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Some of those attending the summit include survivors of the massacre.
Among those attending is Xu Wenli, a prominent Chinese dissident who was imprisoned for 16 years and who was granted asylum in the United States in 2002. He's now at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies.
The Chinese Democracy Party was founded inside China by Xu in 1998. It has been unable to hold public organizing meetings in China.
© Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Chinese government should not earn world's respect until it respects human rights.
Published on 6/6/2007
The 18th anniversary Monday of the Tiananmen Square uprising was a reminder that while China has shown dramatic economic progress, it remains frozen in time when it comes to human rights.
The idealism and courage of the students who took control of Tiananmen Square for three weeks in the spring of 1989, erecting a mock statue of liberty and defying the communist government, was inspiring. The most indelible image from the uprising was the “Unknown Rebel,” an unarmed protester who stood passively in front of a line of tanks.
On June 4, 1989, the Chinese military attacked the thousands of dissidents who had gathered in the square. The faint flame of liberty burning in the heart of Beijing was extinguished. Hundreds and perhaps thousands were killed in the massacre that followed.
Nearly two decades later China remains under authoritarian control, the dominance of the Communist Party of China guaranteed by the Constitution. The government controls the press, the reproductive rights of its people. It prohibits freedom of speech, religion, assembly and movement.
Within this oppressive environment the Chinese leadership has moved to a more market-oriented economy, allowing the growth of private, small-scale enterprises and ceding some economic controls to industrial leaders and local authorities.
As a result the standard of living for many Chinese has improved, in some cases dramatically. In time the citizens of China will not be satisfied with economic progress alone, but will insist on political freedom as well.
On Monday, at Brown University in Providence, democracy's seeds were being sown. Some 40 Chinese expatriates, many of them former political prisoners, convened the first Congress of the China Democracy Party.
“We will return one day to mainland China, where we belong, to restore democracy to the Chinese people,” CDP founder, Xu Wenli, 64, told the delegates. Mr. Xu spent 16 years in Chinese prisons for his pro-democracy stance.
How shameful that so many Americans don't bother participating in their own democracy through the simple act of voting.
In Hong Kong, the former British colony where some degree of liberty is tolerated, an estimated 55,000 people held a candlelight vigil to remember the Tiananmen massacre. However, in Tiananmen Square itself all was quiet under the watchful eyes of security personnel.
The bravery of those who died there should never be forgotten.