News / Asia

Chen: China's Communists Must Obey Own Laws

Chen Guangcheng speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, May 31, 2012.Chen Guangcheng speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, May 31, 2012.
x
Chen Guangcheng speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, May 31, 2012.
Chen Guangcheng speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, May 31, 2012.
Peter Fedynsky
NEW YORK -- Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, who recently arrived in the United States, today called for government and party officials in China to honor the country’s constitution and laws.

Addressing the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, his first formal speaking engagement since arriving on U.S. soil, the blind lawyer said the problem in China is not the absence of laws, but lack of respect for laws already in place.

Speaking through an interpreter, he said rule of law begins with its observance by senior Communist Party officials, including President Hu Jintao.

“You are supposed to be in charge of law and order -- the party secretary -- and if you are not going to observe the law, how do you expect people to observe the law?" he said.

Chen, who is expected to study international law at New York University, said its rules and principles should apply to China if its leaders exhibit inappropriate behavior toward citizens. As an example, he described a vicious physical attack on his brother and nephew in his native Shandong province after he had fled their home. Although central authorities promised to investigate the incident, he said, they never did.

Responding to a question about possible democratic models for China, Chen said that while it is true China cannot simply copy Western democracy, it can look to other models of democratic rule.

“We also need to learn Eastern democracy," he said. "Japan, South Korea and China, what is wrong with having our own democracy? Taiwan has democracy, too. I still remember, there is an ancient Chinese phrase, ‘We learn from what is good, and what is bad we try to avoid.' "

The self-taught lawyer spent four years in a Chinese prison and had been under house arrest for two years before fleeing to the U.S. embassy in Beijing in April. In 2007, Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience who had been incarcerated for angering Chinese officials by opposing the country's strict population control laws, and for helping people fight government abuses.

After weeks of negotiations last month, Beijing allowed Chen to come to the United States to study at the New York University Law School. His wife and children were allowed to come with him, but his mother and other relatives remain under tight security in China.

In his Council on Foreign Relations appearance, Chen said he has not had a free weekend in seven years and needs some rest. But having been isolated from the world, he explained that he must replenish his knowledge of current developments.

"I want to know, what are the differences between English and American law versus continental law, so I can have some comparisons," he said. "And also, what role does law play in a society? Why is it that while everybody has laws, in some societies law does function, [while in other] societies, [people] act as if [they] can do without it.”

China, he predicted, will change very quickly because of information technologies, which have developed to the point that "if public officials do not want others to know about their misdeeds, they better not do them."

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: sheo white from: Australia
June 05, 2012 3:20 AM
The CCP will soon self destruct, in accordance to cosmic law,... in relationship to its horrific invasion and brutal occupation of its peaceful neighbour Tibet. The only hope for China to avoid complete disintegration, is to Peacefully leave Tibet Now.


by: Wangchuk from: NY
June 04, 2012 10:46 AM
So according to 50 Cent Party member Jon Huang the CCP is doing a great job even though Tibet is under martial law & thousands of Chinese, Tibetan & Uighur dissidents are in jail. Yet the CCP won't allow free & fair elections to see if the Chinese people want the CCP to rule them. Perhaps the CCP is afraid of the result of elections if not everyone has the same opinion as Jon Huang? Or maybe CCP can't afford to buy off all 1.2 billion people like Jon has been bought? It seems w/ Jon the CCP is infallible. Who know the CCP was perfect like a god?


by: Anonymous
June 03, 2012 5:20 AM
Jerry, there has been not a legal opposition party in China ever since 1949.


by: Jonathan Huang from: Canada
June 02, 2012 2:00 AM
I am not sure when China will accept fully west democracy. But I am sure about two things, CCP is trying her best to make China a superpower of the world, and CCP is trying to improve normal Chinese's life. These two things are priorities to China, and CCP is doing incredible job. We are so proud that China has a much better system than democratic India has. One day when China passes over US, you will admit this system is better than west democracy.


by: Wangchuk from: NY
June 01, 2012 11:51 AM
China, Tibet, Xinjiang & Inner Mongolia all need more democracy & human rights & rule of law as the Party officials in these lands frequently ignore the law, the Constitution & human rights. But I'm not optimistic as Chen that the CCP is moving in that direction. The CCP is moving towards less freedom for Chinese, Tibetans, Uighurs & Mongolians, not more. I'm afraid it will take either another revolution or a CCP leader who will call for elections before China can finally become a democracy.


by: alex from: philippines
June 01, 2012 11:42 AM
I think that China is willing to take a path to democracy at the proper time and in the proper way. For now, the world must wait for this transformation though I am certain that the Chinese government doesn't want a revolution: a revolution is hurtful both for the government and the people. Besides, China has been used to strong central government. A democratic type should still be evolved.


by: Fan from: China
June 01, 2012 10:24 AM
Chen Guangcheng is a hero. His voice should be heard by all Chinese.


by: jerry from: US
June 01, 2012 9:50 AM
Where can we watch his speech?


by: jerry from: USA
June 01, 2012 9:39 AM
Ierry Mei, are you talking about Singapore? The last thing I remember is that almost all leaders of opposition parties of Singapore are overseas seeking political asylums. Tell me if it is not true.


by: GE from: China
June 01, 2012 5:34 AM
Indeedly,the similar cases will happen in the future.Repression come from local forces and government,which make risidents did not feel good,even feel so badly.Even so,people have no way to release its emotion,so depression feeling is more and more.

Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid