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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

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