News / Asia

    Chinese Dissident Calls on US to Pressure Beijing

    Dissident Vows to Keep Pressure on Beijingi
    X
    February 01, 2013 2:20 AM
    In an exclusive interview with VOA, Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng called for human rights reform in China. Chen captured world attention when he sought protection in the U.S. embassy in Beijing last May. He was in Washington now to receive a human rights award. Jeff Swicord reports.
    Dissident Vows to Keep Pressure on Beijing
    Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng called on the United States Thursday to pressure Beijing to improve its human rights record as he urged his fellow citizens not to depend on foreign assistance in their push for change.

    In an exclusive television interview with VOA Mandarin, the 41-year-old legal activist said the U.S., as the global human rights leader, commands substantial leverage over China because "its economy is not really as powerful as it is made out to be."

    "Many of their statistics are inflated and the vast majority of China's citizens have not benefited from the country's economic successes, which are limited to a handful of cities," Chen said.

    Earlier, he had called on the Chinese people to end one-party communist rule and for Washington not to "give an inch" on human rights in its relations with Beijing.

    But analyst Michael Mazza of the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute said U.S. influence is "of course, limited by the nature of the [countries'] relationship and business interests."

    "There are things we can do to step up pressure to help alleviate - in minor ways - some of the human rights abuses that happen in China, and do so without putting the larger relationship at risk. Basically, it is public statements, public pressure in support of dissidents in China," said Mazza.

    Pivotal moment

    Chen told VOA that dictatorship is one of the greatest threats to human civilization but that the time is ripe in China for change.

    "In this key moment of transformation, international pressure is extremely important. But Chinese [youth] back home must understand that although others can help us, we cannot wait for outsiders to be the main actors in this effort," Chen said.

    He has encouraged China’s people to learn from Burma, which recently ended decades of military rule as well as media censorship.

    Chen was in Washington this week to receive the 2012 Lantos Human Rights Prize, named for the late U.S. congressman Tom Lantos, who was a Holocaust survivor and prominent rights advocate.

    The self-taught Chinese lawyer had endured four years of prison, followed by an illegal and abusive detention separated from his family after he led a campaign for the rights of the disabled and against forced abortions in China.

    He has been studying law at New York University since he dramatically fled house arrest and sought refuge at U.S. Embassy in Beijing last April.

    In a video message posted on the Lantos Foundation website, Chen thanked the world community for its "great concern for China's freedom, human rights, the rule of law and social justice."

    "In the wake of the Arab Spring," he said, while countries like Burma and Cuba liberalize, "China's human-rights situation is actually getting worse."

    Family persecuted

    Chen called on Beijing to keep its promise to investigate those responsible for persecuting him and his family in his rural community in eastern China for the past several years.

    He said the Chinese government has sentenced his nephew, Chen Kegui, to three years in prison as a punishment for his escape.

    "Not only has there been no investigation, but those officials - including the local police chief - who persecuted my family members were promoted. These robbers who stormed my brother's house with clubs, beat my sister-in-law and nephew and sent him to jail, continue their surveillance and harassment," he said.

    "That's the nature of dictatorship," Chen said. "There's no monitoring system, no watchdogs."

    Washington has urged China to stop further retribution against Chen's family members. Beijing has said it would abide by the Chinese legal system.

    Getting local officials to follow the law, even after a newly-announced policy or reform, can be a vexing issue in China, made worse by the country's rampant corruption. But Chen is hopeful, even in the face of state-sponsored repression.

    "Changes to the Chinese legal system are inevitable. While the country has good laws that protect citizens from robbery and other crimes, party officials are able to habitually invade your property, beat and interrogate you without reprisal," Chen said.

    But even under communist rule, he added, information is increasingly able to filter down through the Internet.

    "In the past, we could only get party-controlled media in China. [But] now, people have access to a much wider range of information and can express themselves through [new media]. This has led to more awareness and more protests. [Such actions] will only increase in the future," Chen said.

    Mark Snowiss

    Mark Snowiss is a Washington D.C.-based multimedia reporter.  He has written and edited for various media outlets including Pacifica and NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @msnowiss and on Google Plus

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Wu from: USA
    February 03, 2013 1:55 AM
    It is obvious that in America people can say whatever they want. But in China you can not say what you want abou the china chairman.
    This is a good example for the Chinese younger generation. If you want to compete with the West, you have to have freedom to education, express, and action.

    by: jack from: NY
    February 01, 2013 1:39 AM
    American government is mean, it even use a blind person, the blind person is pathetic, he thought he is valuable, in fact, nothing.
    In Response

    by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
    February 03, 2013 12:24 AM
    @ Hunonymous from: Canada, yeah, you bet. In last years jasmine revolution, totally how many Chinese went out to the street?
    100? maybe.
    Now China is stable, life is improving. Our "dictatorship" is much better than India's "Democracy", who is gonna be that stupid to protest a better life?
    In Response

    by: Hunonymous from: Canada
    February 02, 2013 11:25 AM
    Its up to the newer Chinese generation to step up for Democracy. But I am afraid unlike other governments, the Chinese communist party can be ruthless to its own citizens. They wouldn't mind mowing down a million and not feel a thing, but just their objective. Disgusting! I can't wait for that day - when the entire nation of China goes out on the streets protesting for change!! It has to happen eventually... I am afraid.
    In Response

    by: Trisha from: China
    February 01, 2013 10:53 PM
    yes, I agree with you

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    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 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 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 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.