Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chen Guangcheng: "Change is unstoppable in China"

"China needs to establish a constitution, follow the rule of law,
respect human rights, and promote democracy" Chen Guangcheng

Photo by Genie Nguyen 

Chen Guangcheng -  January 30 at the Washington National Cathedral

2013 IGNATIUS PROGRAM - In Search of China’s Soul

Washington, D.C: On January 30, 2013, during a winter rainy night, hundreds of Washingtonians and Asian Americans gathered at the Washington National Cathedral to support the courageous blind lawyer who escaped from China in order to search for China's Soul .

Chen Guangcheng's speech commanded a standing ovation as he identified the CCP's challenges and proposed the solutions: moving toward a country with respect for the rule of law based on a people constitution, respecting human rights, freedom, and democracy. Chen inspired the audience not only with his peaceful vision, but also with his fierce determination and his strong belief that 1.3 billions of Chinese have waken up. They will shake off their fear. They will courageously reclaim their universal rights. Changes in China will be inevitable.

"I do not think that the current Chinese leadership can change, but I am optimistic that change will come, in just a matter of time "

Changes will come from the power of the people, and it will be unstoppable, Cheng passionately said:

"According to a Chinese saying, there are no difficult tasks, but rather only people who lack the courage to act. And as more and more Chinese people speak out and demand their rights, change in China will become unstoppable. ...

 Our fate is in our own hands. People are overcoming their fears and when this number reaches a critical mass change will become inevitable. Nothing could scare the Chinese government more than the fact that the people are losing their fear.  In the past, threats and violence were effective.  But when people are no longer afraid, violence and threats lose their power.  Instead of silencing people, it motivates them. "

Photo by Genie Nguyen
Panelists (from left to right): Cheng Li (PhD, Brookings), James Fallows (Journalist, the Atlantic), Dorinda Elliott (Time Magazine, Asiaweek) and Jerome Cohen (Professor of law at New York University School of Law, an expert in Chinese law, a senior fellow for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

A panel of distinguished scholars and guests, moderated by James Fallows from The Atlantic, discussed in depth about China's current problems and how Chinese dissidents like Mr. Chen can contribute positively to the social changes . 

Dr. Cheng Li,  director of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, assessed that China has developed its economic power very fast, but it has lost its soul and is in need of reform. He discussed the case of Bo Xi Lai, Wen JiaBao, the systemic corruptions, the domestic instability, and the growing discontent of the middle class, small businesses, young generation.

Dorinda Elliott shared the experience she had when traveled to China one week ago. Dorinda noted that China has placed tremendous pressure on its younger generation, training them to compete at high level since the age of five. A five year old girl was expected to take extracurricular lessons every evening after school, seven days a week, in math, English, piano, even in psychology as how to interact with others. Confucianism is being taught to children at a very young age. 

Professor Cohen from NYU Law School stated the US should help China to be more engaged. He pointed out that current tension between China - Japan in the East China Sea could be a problem. The disputes in the South China Sea, with China claimed the 9-dash-line map,  were not acceptable,  prompting the Philippines to take the case to the UN Tribunal Court. China needs to play by the rule of law.

Chen Guangcheng - Genie Nguyen - at the Washington National Cathedral on Jan 30/2013
"We will fight together" - Chen Guangcheng

Chen Guangcheng pleaded for help from the US, and the international community . Chen shared his insight that the Chinese government pays attention to foreign media, international press, and articles written by foreign journalists are important. China needs to hear the truth from the media 

Toward Genie Nguyen from Voice of Vietnamese Americans, Chen Guangcheng shared a broad smile: "We will fight together!" . 


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