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

    Video How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Scientists Detect Gravitational Waves in Landmark Discovery

    Researchers likened discovery to difference between looking at piece of music on paper and then hearing it in real life

    Prince Ali: FIFA Politics Affected International Fixtures

    Some countries faced unfavorable treatment for not toeing political line inside soccer world body, Jordanian candidate to head FIFA says

    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.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    X
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of the city. They vow a siege will not be over quickly. But their plans are not being helped by squabbles breaking out among insurgent commanders.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Co-Ed Selective Service Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.