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

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs