Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Yang Jianli is stronger than ever, upon freedom

Yang Jianli says he's
"stronger than I have ever been";
China's prison only "strengthened my resolve"

Freed from captivity and
reunited with his family in the U.S.,
Chinese dissident Yang Jianli held a Capitol Hill press conference

August 22, 2007 (CSN) -- During this past weekend, Chinese dissident Dr. Yang Jianli flew to the United States, arriving on Saturday. Dr. Yang lives with his family in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he has U.S. permanent residency. Five years and four months ago, he was captured by Chinese authorities while on a return visit to his native land, China. Authorities there had blacklisted him for his involvement in the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement. Yang is also the founder of the Foundation for China in the 21st Century, a pro-democracy group.

The Capitol Hill press conference was organized by the group Freedom Now, where its President Jared Genser has worked ceaselessly on Yang's case during the five years of his absense. At the press conference, Genser and Yang spoke, along with Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), and Chairman of the SEC Christopher Cox (formerly a Republican Congressman).

The China Support Network welcomes this development and congratulates both Jared Genser and Yang Jianli, and both of their groups. The reunion was a long time in coming, and a long overdue celebration is in order. What follows is an excerpt from Dr. Yang's remarks at the press conference, where the speeches were "exemplary, state of the art, and perfect" in the review offered by CSN's president, who added "If China is not listening to this material, it should be."

Yang Jianli:I am here today, stronger than I have ever been; more determined than I ever thought possible; more convinced that the one party system in China is fatally flawed. And deeply heartened by the knowledge --especially after the four months I spent in Beijing since my release-- that the democratization process in China is irreversible.

While the Chinese Communist Party may choose to fight this process every step of the way, it shouldn't. The Chinese people are increasingly demanding accountability from their government. They want to know that the resources being invested and spent are being used wisely, efficiently and without corruption, fraud, waste, or abuse. They want transparency and good governance. They want to know that their government has their best interests in mind. And most important, they are educated enough that they want a say in directing how those resources are invested and spent.

One only need to understand that there are literally tens of thousands of protests in China every year to see that the Chinese government is sitting on a powder keg, as frustration with the one party system mounts. The Chinese government claims that what's required is stability to deliver on its promise to the people, and that it needs to control people's lives. But, the tighter the grip onto power, the more difficulty they will have in holding on. If a thirsty man plunges his fist into a bucket of water to get a drink, and then pulls it out, he will have nothing. It is only by extending an open hand into the bucket that he can get the drink he requires. So too it is with the Chinese government.

While counterintuitive for those who are too convinced of the righteousness of their cause, it is only by opening up their hands and trusting the wisdom of its own people that China can reach its full potential.

The answer to China's major challenges is not suppressing the countless protests across the country for fear they will spiral out of control. But rather, it is to acknowledge that they are a symptom of a broader, deeper, and more fundamental problem: that the people do not believe that their government has their best interests in mind. It is only by embracing public debate and placing more power to make the decisions that affect people's lives into the hands of the Chinese people that the Chinese government has the opportunity to relieve the tremendous pressure it is under. And by making these decisions, inevitably China will also play a more responsible, and less self centered, role on the world stage.

Information is power. And with the internet, mobile phones, text messaging, education, trade, and greater travel abroad, the Chinese people have had a taste of freedom. And they like what they see. The Chinese government has a fundamental decision to make. It can swim against the tidal wave, or it can surf it in to shore. I believe that inevitably, we will see vibrant democracy take root in China. And my time in prison only reaffirmed and strengthened my resolve to continue this struggle.

Note that the above is an excerpt. The full transcript has been placed into the CSN Blog for readers who want the contextual remarks.

Published August 22, 2007 by the China Support Network (CSN). Begun as the American response group in 1989, CSN represents Americans who are "on the side" of the students in Tiananmen Square -- standing for democratic reform, human rights, and freedom in China. For dissident news; to support a stronger China policy; or get more information, see

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