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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid