Char­ter 08 signer speaks

The Washington Times Weekly - - National Security -

A Chi­nese democ­racy ac­tivist who signed the re­cent hu­man rights man­i­festo called Char­ter 08 said in a speech that the con­di­tions for demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal re­form in the com­mu­nist state are the best since the ill-fated Tianan­men Square protests of 1989.

Yang Jianli, an aca­demic and fel­low at Har­vard Uni­ver­sity’s Com­mit­tee on Hu­man Rights Stud­ies, praised the 303 aca­demics, lawyers, busi­ness­peo­ple and some gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials who first signed Char­ter 08, the state­ment is­sued in De­cem­ber call­ing for democ­racy, rule of law and other ba­sic free­doms in China. Mr. Yang signed the doc­u­ment within days of its release.

“Rather than en­gage in di­a­logue with th­ese cit­i­zens, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment ar­rested Liu Xiaobo, a lead sig­na­tory, and ha­rassed and in­tim­i­dated the oth­ers,” Mr. Yang told the De­fense Fo­rum Foun­da­tion. “None­the­less, al­most 9,000 other Chi­nese cit­i­zens have signed Char­ter 08.”

“Not since 1989 have the forces for democ­racy so vis­i­bly formed in­side China,” Mr. Yang said.

Tens of thou­sands of prodemoc­racy ac­tivists massed in Bei­jing’s Tianan­men Square in the sum­mer of 1989 and even­tu­ally were at­tacked by Chi­nese troops, killing scores and wound­ing hun­dreds. China’s gov­ern­ment since then has said it will un­der­take po­lit­i­cal re­forms, but a 2005 white pa­per stated that any re­forms would keep the Marx­ist po­lit­i­cal sys­tem. China is ruled by a col­lec­tive dic­ta­tor­ship of five to eight se­nior Com­mu­nist of­fi­cials, headed by Chair­man Hu Jin­tao.

Mr. Yang, who was im­pris­oned in China for five years for prodemoc­racy ac­tiv­i­ties, said Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton’s re­cent re­marks “de­mor­al­ized Chi­nese ac­tivists and pro­test­ers, many of whom had gath­ered at the U.S. Em­bassy for her visit to seek her sup­port,” Mr. Yang said.

Mrs. Clin­ton said the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion would not let hu­man rights dom­i­nate its dis­cus­sions with China

“The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment can only read Sec­re­tary Clin­ton’s re­marks as giv­ing it a free hand to ex­er­cise their ar­bi­trary rule. The free­dom fight­ers can only see this as a slap in the face. The world can only see this as the rise of the Chi­nese po­lit­i­cal sys­tem over the weak U.S. model,” Mr. Yang said.

State Depart­ment spokesman Gor­don Duguid said Mrs. Clin­ton’s po­si­tion on Chi­nese hu­man rights was out­lined dur­ing the re­cent release of a re­port on the sub­ject. “I feel she well ex­plained that her ap­proach to hu­man rights pro­mo­tion is based on ex­plor­ing new meth­ods, non­tra­di­tional meth­ods, and work­ing through all chan­nels to achieve re­sults,” Mr. Duguid said.

Mr. Yang said Char­ter 08 is sig­nif­i­cant be­cause the au­thors are widely known and re­spected Chi­nese who risked their jobs and free­dom by sign­ing it.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the char­ter pro­vides a clear and detailed road map for af­fect­ing a peace­ful tran­si­tion to democ­racy in China.

The doc­u­ment states that “the Chi­nese peo­ple, who have en- dured hu­man rights dis­as­ters and un­count­able strug­gles, now see clearly that free­dom, equal­ity and hu­man rights are uni­ver­sal val­ues of hu­mankind and that democ­racy and con­sti­tu­tional gov­ern­ment are the fun­da­men­tal frame­work for pro­tect­ing th­ese val­ues.”

By ig­nor­ing th­ese val­ues, the Bei­jing gov­ern­ment’s mod­ern­iza­tion pro­gram had “dis­as­trous” con­se­quences, the char­ter states, be­cause “it has stripped peo­ple of their rights, de­stroyed their dig­nity and cor­rupted nor­mal hu­man in­ter­course.”

Per­haps most sig­nif­i­cant, the sign­ers of Char­ter 08 are “the cat­a­lyst for for­ma­tion of a vi­able op­po­si­tion,” the first con­di­tion for democ­racy to take hold in China, Mr. Yang said.

China’s gov­ern­ment has cracked down on the char­ter move­ment, ar­rest­ing or in­ter­ro­gat­ing all 303 ini­tial sign­ers.

The char­ter is mod­eled af­ter Char­ter 77, the 1977 hu­man rights man­i­festo by Soviet bloc dis­si­dents. That char­ter, like Char­ter 08, is based on the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights passed by the United Na­tions 60 years ago.

Wang Baodong, spokesman for the Chi­nese Em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton, said in re­sponse to Mr. Yang’s speech that “the Chi­nese po­lit­i­cal sys­tem and po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions in place gen­er­ally fit the na­tion’s con­di­tions and eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment, which have led to re­mark­able eco­nomic achieve- ment and so­cial progress.”

Mr. Wang said the po­lit­i­cal agenda of a “hand­ful of peo­ple in China” con­trasts with “the main­stream pub­lic will” for na­tional unity, so­cial sta­bil­ity and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

“Af­ter say­ing that, and to bet­ter safe­guard the peo­ple’s demo­cratic rights and main­tain so­cial jus­tice, China will con­tinue to push for­ward po­lit­i­cal re­struc­tur­ing with Chi­nese fea­tures,” he said. rule out the pos­si­bil­ity that the U.S. mil­i­tary will try to shoot down a Tae­podong-2.

“So we will be pre­pared to ex­e­cute any one of the range of op­tions once the pres­i­dent of the United States so di­rects us,” Adm. Keat­ing said. “We have not been di­rected as yet to take any par­tic­u­lar mea­sures in re­sponse. But be as­sured, we are ready, and we are watch­ing very care­fully.” to 1996. “I’m not as bad as you’ve writ­ten,” Mr. Pone­man told In­side the Ring.

In 1999, Mr. Einhorn’s nom­i­na­tion to be an as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of state was held up by the late Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Repub­li­can, who de­manded that the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion im­pose sanc­tions on China for sell­ing M11 mis­siles to Pak­istan. Mr. Helms said in an in­ter­view at the time: “No sanc­tions, no Einhorn.” Sanc­tions even­tu­ally were im­posed, and Mr. Einhorn was con­firmed.

A Repub­li­can Se­nate aide said Repub­li­cans think Pres­i­dent Obama is en­ti­tled to his ap­pointees but that Repub­li­can se­na­tors will look closely at non­pro­lif­er­a­tion ap­pointees and may hold some up if their ques­tions on the is­sue are not an­swered.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS/GETTY IM­AGES

Yang Jianli, a signer of Char ter 08, says: “The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment can only read Sec­re­tar y [of State Hil­lar y Rod­ham] Clin­ton’s re­marks as giv­ing it a free hand to ex­er­cise their ar­bi­trar y rule. The free­dom fight­ers can only see this as a slap in the face. The world can only see this as the rise of the Chi­nese po­lit­i­cal sys­tem over the weak U.S. model.”

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