Sunday, October 31, 2010

Martyr for Democracy: Hu Changxin

Martyr for Democracy:
Hu Changxin, 1968-2010

- First of three stories in this update -

October 31, 2010

The China Support Network, and the pro-democracy cause more generally, has lost a much-loved friend and compatriot in the cause of freedom, democracy, and human rights. Hu Changxin was a student in Tiananmen Square during the 1989 uprising which led to the infamous June 4 massacre. Initially, he was a rank-in-file student, not recognized as a famous "student leader" of Tiananmen Square.

Hu would often tell his story of being in the final group of students which left Tiananmen Square near dawn on June 4, after a tense standoff and negotiations with the army, which had reached Tiananmen earlier overnight. Hu was with those who stayed to the bitter end.

After surviving Tiananmen and making his way to refuge in the United States, Hu had the opportunity to network his way to the center of the democracy movement in exile. He became a consistent and persistent advocate for the political reform of China, without elitism. As a supporter and booster of democracy, he became ubiquitous, assisting many different groups in the pro-democracy cause.

Often, his was not a starring role at pro-democracy events. He would travel hundreds of miles simply to hold a sign, or to be in the audience. We can say that he had no "brand loyalty." His flag was democracy, not specifically the China Support Network, nor the World Chinese Federation, nor the Wei Jingsheng Foundation, nor the China Democracy Party, nor Falun Gong, nor the coalitions outside of Chinese embassies and consulates. Hu would and did help all of these groups, becoming everybody's friend and wing man.

He may have published more often in Chinese, and less often in English. In English, he wrote fond personal remembrances when another dissident, Zhao Pinlu, died of cancer. (Published by the China Support Network in 2004.) There he said, "as a direct survivor of the great incident [June 4's Tiananmen massacre], I had cherished my sincerest hope that the Chinese government would last no longer than ten years after 1989."

Networking with the democracy movement, he was seeking "genuine national heroes, able to sweep away the cruelest power in light of ultimate justice."

In 2008, the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] caused disturbances on the streets of Flushing, New York. Falun Gong practitioners came under attack. Hu rose to their defense, and was quoted in The Epoch Times saying,

"Please take a careful look at their banners—'The Gods bless the Chinese nation.' The Chinese nation includes all Chinese people. So everyone should take a look or they will be fooled again. It is sad for us, the common people, to be fighting each other again as if it was the Cultural Revolution. Our Chinese nation has gone through too many disasters. I hope everyone will finally live a happy life."

Also in 2008, Hu was included in the recording of a new American rock song, 'Chinese Democracy (defiled).' The song is sung in English, but in the middle the musical instruments turn quiet, and for 12 seconds, the voice of Hu Changxin speaks in Mandarin. After the sound bite, the music returns to being louder. A rough translation of the sound bite says, "We students went to the Square extending an open hand to the government, which met us only with violence, tanks, and guns. It was then that we students realized -- the government is nothing but a wolf." As a result, the voice of Hu Changxin will live on in rock music from the China Support Network. (Hear the song at

Hu Changxin spent a life doing right by the Chinese democracy movement. The life of Hu Changxin was a call to the world to heed the noble intentions of China's would-be reformers. It was ultimately a wish that the Chinese nation "will finally live a happy life," and a challenge to the pro-democracy leaders to be "genuine national heroes, able to sweep away the cruelest power in light of ultimate justice."

We can only wish that the world, his nation, and dissident leaders will heed the final wishes of Hu Changxin.

Tang Baiqiao works on a high-octane project

June 4 student leader Tang Baiqiao is teed up to reclaim prominence in the coming new year. Together with a co-author, Damon DiMarco, and publisher Prometheus Books, he is preparing to publish a new book in March, 2011. Tang was the top student leader in Hunan Province during the 1989 uprising, and was able to have 500,000 people go out to the streets to march and rally for democratic political reform. He was captured during the post-Tiananmen crackdown; spent time in prison; and subsequently escaped to exile through Hong Kong. In the early 1990s, he was covered by news outlets including Newsweek magazine and the Wall Street Journal.

While the book is his personal memoir, it is also one part back story on a major world event, and one part follow up -- casting light on the Chinese democracy movement in exile, where the fight continues. The book will add yet another perspective on the Tiananmen story.

The project becomes very high-octane in terms of the people lining up behind it. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is writing a foreword, and AP photographer Jeff Widener (famous for snapping the "tank man" photograph) is the author of a preface. Many noted China experts and high level dissidents are also contributing endorsements for this book.

Even though the book is not released yet, it has already prompted rumblings about a possible movie adaptation to be made of it.

Wei Jingsheng likes the tone of U.S. elections this year

The United States is experiencing a year of political attack ads, knocking Communist China. America's Mao-regime-friendly politicians and media have played out their hand, and they can no longer suppress the sound of American people, raising concerns about trade with Communist China.

The emergence of the Tea Party in U.S. elections is inspiring new hope for leading Chinese dissidents, including Wei Jingsheng.

Translated by the Wei Jingsheng Foundation, a recent article in the Chinese Epoch Times explored the newly vocal U.S. angst about Red China.

In part, Wei said: "In the past, Chinese and some U.S. politicians have made a partnership of scheming together....average people of both countries did not get benefit in return. The scheme is the so-called 'China model' that rose [out of private interests]. Many U.S. politicians supported granting China permanent Most-Favored-Nation (MFN) status....But this situation is not bilateral, not free trade. In fact, the U.S. unilaterally offered China the preferential treatment. The CCP did not give the United States an open market."

As Wei sees it, "The result is that American workers lost their jobs, while China is in serious inflation. Now, the Chinese workers get less and less [purchasing power]. Both Chinese people and American people are put at a disadvantage." He reiterated, "Capitalists can buy very cheap in China and sell high in the U.S. market, from which they earn large excess profits. The excess profits exploit the Chinese labor, while harming the American workers as well."

"Then, the Communist regime uses these excess profits to buy Western politicians."

The rise of the Tea Party matters. As Wei said, "the Chinese people cannot do much, they do not dare to speak. But the American people dare; they dare to say they that they do not believe in this gang of politicians anymore. So in this election, American politicians are trying to cleanse themselves."

Wei expressed that, "Now people realize that this trade imbalance is the root cause of the depressed U.S. economy and American workers' unemployment....the politicians of both political parties in the USA are responsible. The rise of the Tea Party in the United States is the result. Though not formal, it has been important. After people realized the politicians' role, they began to organize a new faction."

The situation at hand highlights the fact that U.S. and Chinese political systems are indeed different, even though under the 'China model', "the politics of Western countries increasingly lean toward the Chinese Communist Party." The whole point in this season of China-bashing advertising is that the 'China model' is fracturing and is no longer a consensus for America's powerful.

The Tea Party teaches us that "In the United States, money cannot buy everything the politicians want when the people recognize and agree on the nature of the problem. When the politicians lose votes, they have nothing."

Wei Jingsheng concluded with a hopeful prediction: "This election has publicly exposed this problem....Through this election, there will be a change in policy
about China. Now as this information propagates, starting from the White House politicians will become increasingly hard-line against the Chinese Communist Party."

Also translated were some reader comments from the Chinese blogosphere. They included, "The free American people, go!! Go!!!!" and, "Support the people, wish the success of Tea Party election."

# # #

Friday, October 8, 2010

Free Liu Xiaobo!

Demand to Chinese government:
free Liu Xiaobo!

With Liu's win of Nobel Peace Prize, Chinese dissidents
gain a first down; Chinese government stands indicted

October 8, 2010 (CSN) -- The China Support Network today welcomed the announcement, made in Norway, that jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has won the Nobel Peace Prize and reiterated its call for the Communist party government to release Liu.

"This year, it is time to praise the wisdom of the Nobel prize committee," said the organization's founder John Kusumi. "They are highlighting a very revealing specific case of persecution which is egregious and timely for being yet-ongoing. This is a massive loss of face for Beijing. They were hoping that Liu and related issues would not come to world attention. Conversely, we were hoping for just such an occurrence."

The China Support Network (CSN) has stood with the Chinese pro-democracy movement since 1989, when the infamous June 4 massacre, perpetrated by the Communist party government, forcibly cleared out Tiananmen Square and killed some 3,000 unarmed protestors. Since 2008, when it opposed the Beijing Olympics, CSN has highlighted four high-profile prisoner cases: those of Liu Xiaobo, Gao Zhisheng, Wang Bingzhang, and Zhou Yongjun.

"I think that Liu would approve of CSN's use of today's occasion to remind the West that the Chinese democracy issue never went away; that Gao, Wang, and Zhou all have family members and children in the United States, which should escalate their cases at the State Department; and that these prisoners are patches in a wider tapestry that is the Chinese pro-democracy movement.

Kusumi opined, "Further, because the Chinese democracy issue never went away, all that changed was the attitude of those in the U.S. news media, which used to accord valuable coverage to China's human rights abuses. As they jumped on a bandwagon called free trade--which gutted the U.S. economy--they decided that human rights issues inconvenienced free trade. They have now delivered 10 years of one-sided news; they've been largely silent about human rights abuses in China. Today's news makes it obvious that those abuses are still ongoing. Coverage is not. 'No film at 11!'

He continued, "I bet that most Americans don't remember the 2009 crackdown against Uighurs in western China (alternately, in occupied East Turkestan). That crackdown got swept under the rug by the U.S. media just like the Falun Gong crackdown, and those crackdowns got less coverage than the 2008 crackdown against Tibet."

He fumed, "If I were a communist, dictator, tyrant, or thug, I would want a DC Beltway managing editor in my corner, because they make the most trusty assistants for the work of oppression out of view of the American public. More specifically, they are why Beijing's oppression has been out of view of the American public."

Elsewhere, the China Support Network blog has the full text of the Nobel Peace Prize citation. The committee correctly noted, "China is in breach of several international agreements to which it is a signatory, as well as of its own provisions concerning political rights." And it lamented, "freedoms have proved to be distinctly curtailed for China's citizens."

It noted that on Christmas Day 2009, "Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years' deprivation of political rights for 'inciting subversion of state power'." His crime, of course, was no crime. He was the non-violent author of a political tract called Charter 08, which spoke of challenges and necessary reforms which China must face in the near future.

For Americans in the home audience, it won't require deep reading into the issue, because here's the issue on the face of it: Liu Xiaobo, a good guy, is in jail. The immediate conclusion to draw is that China's government should free Liu Xiaobo, and today the China Support Network is demanding exactly that.

Wonks and analysts can note that Charter 08 was criticized by hardline Chinese dissidents for being "way too moderate." (China's dissidents come in moderate and hardline camps. Charter 08 called for reform, not revolution. In theory, Chinese authorities could lead reform, simultaneously ameliorating the perceived need for revolution.)

And yet, even for the hardline Chinese dissidents, there is a victory in today's announcement, which will reverberate in the halls of power around the world. Soviet dissidents once spoke of the relief they felt when U.S. President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union "an evil empire." The external pressure was music to the ears of jailed dissidents. Today, the junior evil empire is getting its external wake up call. The China Support Network approves of this year's committee decision for Liu Xiaobo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.