[House Hearing, 111 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE TIANANMEN SQUARE PROTESTS: EXAMINING THE
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE 1989 DEMONSTRATIONS IN CHINA AND IMPLICATIONS FOR
CONGRESSIONAL-EXECUTIVE COMMISSION ON CHINA
ONE HUNDRED ELEVENTH CONGRESS
JUNE 4, 2009
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CO N T E N T S
Opening statement of Hon. Byron Dorgan, Chairman, Congressional-
Executive Commission on China.................................. 1
Walz, Hon. Tim, a U.S. Representative from Minnesota, Member,
Congressional-Executive Commission on China.................... 3
Barrasso, Hon. John, a U.S. Senator from Wyoming, Member,
Congressional-Executive Commission on China.................... 4
Smith, Hon. Christopher H., a U.S. Representative from New
Jersey, Ranking Member, Congressional-Executive Commission on
Pitts, Hon. Joseph R., a U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania,
Member, Congressional-Executive Commission on China............ 6
Wu, Hon. David, a U.S. Representative from Oregon, Member,
Congressional-Executive Commission on China.................... 7
Lord, Hon. Winston, U.S. Ambassador to the People's Republic of
China, 1985-1989............................................... 8
Levin, Hon. Sander, a U.S. Representative from Michigan,
Cochairman, Congressional-Executive Commission on China........ 10
Link, Perry, Chancellorial Chair for Teaching Across Disciplines,
University of California-Riverside, and Professor Emeritus of
East Asian Studies, Princeton University....................... 11
Shirk, Susan, Director, University of California Institute on
Global Conflict and Cooperation, Ho Miu Lam Professor of China
and Pacific Affairs, School of International Relations and
Pacific Studies, University of California-San Diego, and Arthur
Ross Fellow, Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations....... 13
Yang, Jianli, Tiananmen protest participant; President,
Initiatives for China; Fellow, Harvard University Committee on
Human Rights................................................... 15
Kaptur, Hon. Marcy, a U.S. Representative from Ohio, Member,
Congressional-Executive Commission on China.................... 23
Lord, Winston.................................................... 32
Link, Perry...................................................... 33
Shirk, Susan..................................................... 35
Yang, Jianli..................................................... 39
Dorgan, Hon. Byron............................................... 44
Levin, Hon. Sander............................................... 45
Smith, Hon. Christopher.......................................... 46
Submissions for the Record
Tiananmen Prisoners--Representative Cases of Persons Currently
Imprisoned or Detained Who Are Connected to the 1989 Tiananmen
Square Protests, submitted by Senator Byron Dorgan............. 48
China's Charter 08, translated from Chinese by Perry Link,
submitted by Perry Link........................................ 50
Prepared Statement of John Kamm, Executive Director, The Dui Hua
THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE TIANANMEN SQUARE PROTESTS: EXAMINING THE
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE 1989 DEMONSTRATIONS IN CHINA AND IMPLICATIONS FOR
THURSDAY, JUNE 4, 2009
Commission on China,
The hearing was convened, pursuant to notice, at 10:33
a.m., in room 628, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Senator
Byron Dorgan, Chairman, presiding.
Also present: Representative Sander Levin, Cochairman;
Representatives Tim Walz, Christopher Smith, David Wu, Marcy
Kaptur, and Joseph Pitts; and Senator John Barrasso.
Also present: Charlotte Oldham-Moore, Staff Director,
Congressional-Executive Commission on China and Douglas Grob,
Cochairman's Senior Staff Member.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. BYRON DORGAN, A U.S. SENATOR FROM
NORTH DAKOTA, CHAIRMAN, CONGRESSIONAL-EXECUTIVE COMMISSION ON
Chairman Dorgan. We're going to begin the hearing today.
This is the Congressional-Executive Commission on China's first
hearing in the 111th Congress.
We have a distinguished group of witnesses before us today
and they will help us examine the significance of the tragic
events that occurred in 1989 in China. They will also help us
explore the implications of the 1989 Democracy Movement on U.S.
policy toward China today.
We are honored to have a number of Tiananmen student
leaders and others who participated in those demonstrations
with us in the hearing room today. I want to welcome one person
in particular, Mr. Fang Zheng. I had an opportunity to meet Mr.
Fang Zheng, I believe, the day before yesterday over in the
Mr. Fang was an athlete at the Beijing College of Sports.
On June 4, 1989, he participated in the protests in Tiananmen
Square. Tragically, his legs were crushed under a tank during
that demonstration. He later was expelled from school because
he refused to publicly deny the source of his injury. Mr. Fang
later went on to become China's wheelchair discus and javelin
champion. Earlier this year he moved to the United States with
his family. We welcome Mr. Fang for being with us today.
Twenty years ago, peaceful protesters like Mr. Fang
gathered in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, calling for the
elimination of corruption and for political reforms. They asked
for the right to speak freely and for other freedoms that we
now take for granted in this country. Those protesters included
not only students, but government employees, journalists,
workers, in some cases the police, and even members of China's
Chinese authorities repeatedly tried to persuade the
protesters to leave Tiananmen Square, but they refused.
Thousands of armed troops carrying automatic weapons in large
truck convoys moved in to clear the square and the surrounding
streets of demonstrators. Then soldiers and columns of tanks
fired directly at citizens and into the crowds, inflicting a
very high civilian casualty rate.
Twenty years later, the exact number of dead and wounded
remains unclear. The wounded are estimated to have numbered in
the thousands. Detentions at the time were also in the
thousands, and some political prisoners who were sentenced in
connection with the events surrounding June 4 still sit in
Chinese prisons today.
I ask to be included in the hearing record a representative
list of Tiananmen Square prisoners who remain in jail today.
This list was developed from the Commission's Political
Prisoner Database, which is the largest publicly accessible
database of China's political prisoners.
Relatives and friends have a right to mourn their sons,
their daughters, their colleagues, and their friends publicly,
and they have a right to call, even now, for a full and public
accounting of the wounded and the dead. They have a right to
call for the release of those who remain in prison. But for
attempting to exercise these rights, relatives and friends of
those killed in 1989 have instead faced harassment, they have
faced arrest, suffered many abuses, and today we express our
sympathy with their cause. Most of all, we honor the memory of
those whom they loved whose lives were lost.
Chinese authorities frequently tell us today that the
Chinese people enjoy greater freedom to express themselves. At
the same time, they repeatedly show the world how the
government silences some who work for fundamental rights for
all the Chinese citizens. Chinese authorities today continue to
harass and detain human rights advocates.
These include Mr. Liu Xiaobo and his wife. Mr. Liu was a
Tiananmen Square protester. He is now an important writer and
thinker who signed Charter 08. It is a petition that calls for
peaceful political reform and the respect for the rule of law
in China. It has been signed by many thousands of Chinese. Mr.
Liu is now under house arrest because he endorsed Charter 08,
and his wife faces constant harassment.
Last month, I met in my office with the wife of a great
human rights lawyer named Mr. Gao Zhisheng. Mr. Gao has not
been seen or heard from since February. He represented
persecuted Christians, exploited coal miners, those battling
official corruptions, and Falun Gong practitioners.
After Mr. Gao was placed under house arrest his family
faced constant police surveillance and intimidation. His 16-
year-old daughter was barred from attending school. The
treatment was so brutal that the family decided their very
survival depended on escaping China.
After his family fled, Mr. Gao is believed to have been
abducted from his home by members of the security forces. He
remains missing, and no word has reached us of his whereabouts
or his condition. I have urged the Chinese Government, in a
speech on the floor of the Senate and in letters, to inform Mr.
Gao's wife and children, and us, about where he is and to
I also appeal to them to enforce internationally recognized
standards of fairness and due process and ask that they release
those individuals in prison solely for peacefully exercising
their rights, whether they exercised those rights in Tiananmen
Square in 1989 or in China today.
This hearing will examine the significance of the 1989
Tiananmen protests and their violent suppression by the
government 20 years ago. How have citizens' demands for
accountability and democracy changed in 20 years? What impact
did the 1989 demonstrations have on the Chinese Government and
the Chinese Communist Party over the last two decades? Of what
significance is the violent suppression of the 1989
demonstrations to U.S. policy today?
Let me conclude by saying that China is an extraordinary
country. It has had immense success on many fronts and is
justifiably proud of those successes. But China, in my
judgment, must now lead in strengthening the human rights of
its people and the integrity of its legal and political
institutions with no less skill and commitment than it has used
to lift millions of its people out of poverty. So let me thank
my colleagues for being with us today, and I will call on them
for brief statements, then we will hear from the witnesses and
have them respond to questions.
[The list of Tiananmen Square prisoners appears in the
[The prepared statement of Senator Dorgan appears in the
STATEMENT OF HON. TIM WALZ, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM
MINNESOTA, MEMBER, CONGRESSIONAL-EXECUTIVE COMMISSION ON CHINA
Representative Walz. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank
you to each of our witnesses who are here today. We truly
appreciate it, and I very much look forward to hearing what you
have to say.
For those of you in the room who were in Tiananmen that
day, I want to say thank you to you for some very personal
reasons. Twenty years ago today I was in Hong Kong preparing to
go to Fo Shon to teach at Fo Shon Number One Middle School. And
I can tell you that for people of my generation, here, too,
what you were doing in the democracy, that you were asking for
and what the goddess of democracy symbolized was as strong for
us as it was for you. It reinforced all that we care about, all
of those things that we hold most dear.
To watch what happened at the end of the day on June 4 was
something that many of us will never forget, we pledge to never
forget, and bearing witness and accurate telling of history is
absolutely crucial for any nation to move forward. I thank the
Chairman for this very insightful and timely hearing, and the
nature of it in terms of where we go from here, how our
relationships are shaped and what happens.
Every nation has its dark periods that it must come to
grips with. This Nation is no exception, and we still struggle
with that. I took the first teaching job that I had at a place
called Wounded Knee in South Dakota that many of us in this
room know well, and I hail from the city of Mankato, Minnesota
that has the distinction of being the site of the largest mass
execution of Native Americans in American history, 38 men,
women, and children hung the day after Christmas in 1863. Those
are issues that all must be addressed, and every nation, as it
matures and it deals with its human rights issues, moves to
become a better nation.
So I thank each of you for being here today. I thank the
Chairman for putting this together. I thank those of you who
are sitting in this room that know that something important
happened in world history, something that touches all of us on
this day, and your willingness to bear witness to that is truly
I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Dorgan. Senator Barrasso?
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN BARRASSO, A U.S. SENATOR FROM WYOMING,
MEMBER, CONGRESSIONAL-EXECUTIVE COMMISSION ON CHINA
Senator Barrasso. Thank you very much, Senator Dorgan. It's
wonderful to be joined by Representatives Walz, Smith, and
Pitts, representing Minnesota, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Both parties are well-represented here from both bodies. I am
very pleased to join the work of this Commission and to welcome
our witnesses and our many guests.
The United States has a long record, Mr. Chairman, as being
a champion for liberty and freedom around the world. The United
States also has a significant relationship with China. This
forum today is a very important tool in supporting China's
efforts to develop a government that respects the rights of
individuals. I look forward to the hearing today.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Dorgan. Senator Barrasso, thank you.
STATEMENT OF HON. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE
FROM NEW JERSEY, RANKING MEMBER, CONGRESSIONAL-EXECUTIVE
COMMISSION ON CHINA
Representative Smith. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I
would ask that my full statement be made a part of the record.
Chairman Dorgan. Without objection.
Representative Smith. I want to welcome our very
distinguished panelists, those who were there, those who
suffered, and those who have been fighting for human rights in
China for the entirety of their careers.
Let me just say, briefly, that the brave and tenacious
heroes of Tiananmen Square will never be forgotten, nor their
huge sacrifice--that means, for some, torture, others even
death--that that sacrifice never be in vain.
Future generations of Chinese and other advocates of
democracy worldwide will forever honor their courage, vision,
and dream of democracy. The Chinese people deserve no less than
the matriculation from dictatorship to democracy. The Chinese
people are a great people and deserve democratic institutions
and respect for the rule of law that reflects that greatness.
The Tiananmen Square massacre was a turning point in China,
but not for the better. With some notable exceptions, including
last year's savage crackdown on Tibetans, the Chinese
dictatorship has taken their ongoing Tiananmen behind closed
doors, where torture has routinely brutalized inmates, to get
them to sign confessions under duress, and often under that
duress to provide additional names, because who can stand
torture over the course of many days and weeks?
The hard-liners have practiced the politics of violence
against democratic activists, labor leaders, political
prisoners, as well as religious believers, including and
especially Falun Gong practitioners. Through forced abortion,
mothers and children have suffered crimes against humanity.
This is often the forgotten human rights abuse in China.
Brothers and sisters are illegal in China, and this terrible
crime against women, this gendercide, where young baby girls
are targeted simply because they are girls, is widespread and
For our part, since Tiananmen the international community
has failed, in my opinion. The United States has not done even
near what we have been able to do, or should have done, to try
to combat this gross violation of human rights that we have
The United Nations, for its part, pays more attention to
Israel, tiny Israel--is obsessed with Israel--while it looks
askance at the myriad of human rights abuses that are committed
every single day by the Chinese dictatorship.
Mr. Chairman, as you know, right before the Olympics,
Congressman Frank Wolf and I traveled to China to try to raise,
to bring some additional visibility, to these ongoing abuses,
this Tiananmen Square massacre that continues behind closed
doors each and every day. We had lists of prisoners, 730-plus
prisoners, painstakingly put together by this Commission. We
tendered that to the Chinese officials, and they as much just
threw it out the back and said we're not interested. That is
the reality. Yet, the Chinese diplomacy corps strides the
earth, including in South America and in Africa, and seeks to
provide additional influence in those countries, while their
human rights record is despicable.
The Olympics did not provide the hope that the Olympic
Committee and others said it might, an easement, if you will,
of human rights abuse. It has only led to additional
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I have been trying for three years--
and I will continue to try--to get the Global Online Freedom
Act up in front of my colleagues on the House side, and
hopefully here on the Senate side as well, so that the enabling
that groups like Google, Cisco, Microsoft, and Yahoo! have
done--the enabling of dictatorships--will stop.
Dictatorships need two basic aspects to survive and to
flourish, and they can flourish in perpetuity if they're not
combated: (1) secret police. Cisco has ensured that the secret
police are very well-connected in China; (2) they have their
hands on the tools of propaganda. We know that Google and the
others have enabled the message, the propaganda message of the
Chinese Government, to go forward while it has systematically
blocked everything else, all aspects of human rights advocacy.
I saw it myself, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Wolf and I went to an
Internet cafe. We Googled just about everything we could think
of, from the Dalai Lama to several leading names in the Chinese
Diaspora and the human rights community. Every single one of
them, including my own Web site, was blocked by Google. That is
the everyday reality. They are getting the propaganda message
that the dictatorship wants them to have.
This is a great hearing that you have put together, Mr.
Chairman, and I thank you for it. It is time to stop the
naivete and the enabling, wittingly or unwittingly, and say
this brutal dictatorship has to be held to account and we need
to help the forces, the dissidents, the human rights activists
that will have paid with their blood for freedom.
I yield back.
Chairman Dorgan. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Representative Smith appears in
STATEMENT OF HON. JOSEPH R. PITTS, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM
PENNSYLVANIA, MEMBER, CONGRESSIONAL-
EXECUTIVE COMMISSION ON CHINA
Representative Pitts. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you for holding this very important hearing on the 20th
anniversary of Tiananmen Square.
This week, in a number of events, we pause to remember the
lives of those who were tragically lost and the many who were
imprisoned in the Tiananmen Square massacre. We commemorate
their courage. We say to them, your stand for freedom will not
be forgotten. Those peaceful student protesters, in their
thirst for freedom, represent millions of people in China
I remember well 20 years ago being spellbound, watching on
TV as the student protesters in Beijing held peaceful
demonstrations, calling for freedom and openness and dialogue.
The government responded by declaring martial law. On June 3,
military troops and tanks were deployed in the square. No one
can forget the terrible massacre that ensued.
The extraordinary image of a man standing unarmed in front
of a row of China Type 59 tanks, preventing their advance, has
become one of the most famous photos of the 20th century and
will be forever ingrained in our memories.
Yesterday I met with Mr. Fang Zheng, a student at the time
who participated in the 1989 protest. He is with us today in
the audience. On this very morning 20 years ago, he stood in
the square, petitioning his government for freedom, when a
military tank approached him from behind. Noticing a female
student also in the tank's path, he ran to rescue her, and in
doing so he was run over by the tank. Both of his legs were
crushed by the tank and had to be amputated.
Mr. Zheng did not lose just his legs that day, he also lost
his right to speak openly and to live his life free of
interrogation. Since the massacre, police have closely
monitored and harassed him. He is a two-time gold medal-winning
athlete, but the government has even gone so far as to forbid
him from participating in the 2008 Special Olympics in Beijing
in retaliation. The Chinese Government has not only failed to
acknowledge the injustice endured by people like Fang Zheng, it
has continued to cover up the truth and harass those who dare
to speak out.
Now, China has made significant progress toward economic
reform, but sadly, political reform is still greatly needed to
ensure the fundamental rights of the people. China has
benefited greatly from opening its doors to trade, becoming one
of the world's most rapidly growing economies, and it stands to
benefit even more from creating an open and free civil society
that respects freedom of religion, speech, and assembly.
So today we call on China to release those who remain in
prison because of their involvement in the Tiananmen Square
protest, and we urge the government to open an official
investigation into the killings and detainings that occurred as
a result of the massacre. We urge them to stop the coverup, to
acknowledge the events, and to release all of the prisoners who
are still in prison as a result of that. Lastly, we encourage a
dialogue between the government and the families of the
I would like to extend a special welcome to all of our
witnesses. Thanks to each of you for your leadership, and we
look forward to hearing your testimony on this very important
I yield back.
Chairman Dorgan. Congressman Pitts, thank you very much.
Congressman Wu, did you have a statement?
STATEMENT OF HON. DAVID WU, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM OREGON,
MEMBER, CONGRESSIONAL-EXECUTIVE COMMISSION ON CHINA
Representative Wu. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am not going
to make a lengthy statement at all; I want to hear from the
witnesses. I just want to emphasize that for self-government
and for democratic government to thrive, it is very important
to always remember, and to remember the truth, and to see the
I yield back.
Chairman Dorgan. Congressman Wu, thank you very much.
I want to mention that because of other committee hearings
and votes that will occur, we will have several other people
who will have to take the Chair from time to time. But we
really appreciate the opportunity to hold this hearing and the
opportunity of the witnesses to be available for us.
I want to begin with the witnesses, but first I want to ask
those who are in the room who were part of the Tiananmen Square
demonstration 20 years ago, if you would stand up.[Applause.]
The Honorable Winston Lord, U.S. Ambassador to the People's
Republic of China in 1985 to 1989, Special Assistant to then-
National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, Mr. Lord played a
significant role in the historic opening of China in the early
1970s. In fact, he accompanied Dr. Kissinger on his secret trip
to China, as well as subsequent trips by Presidents Nixon and
Ford, and Dr. Kissinger.
Mr. Lord was the Ambassador to Beijing under Presidents
Reagan and Bush from 1985 to 1989. Mr. Lord served under
President Clinton as Assistant Secretary of State, in charge of
all East Asian policy, including China, from 1993 to 1997.
Ambassador Lord served in China until April 23, 1989, at which
time the student demonstrations were growing.
Ambassador Lord, thank you very much for being with us. The
complete statement of all of the witnesses will be made a part
of the permanent record, and we will ask you to summarize.
Ambassador Lord, you may proceed.
STATEMENT OF HON. WINSTON LORD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE PEOPLE'S
REPUBLIC OF CHINA, 1985-1989
Mr. Lord. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Before beginning, two brief tributes. First, to the members
and staff of this Commission, who have maintained a meticulous
record of what is really going on in China and have shone a
searchlight on some of the dark shadows lurking there. I
commend your work. Second, of course, above all, to those in
this room and elsewhere who were at Tiananmen Square in the
youth of their lives, including Mr. Fang, whom you mentioned.
My wife and I knew many of these people. I left just as the
demonstrations were taking full flight, for Hu Yaobang's
funeral, on the 22nd of April. My wife covered the
demonstrations for two months for CBS, and subsequently wrote a
book about it. We still have great, vivid memories of those
awful days, but also hope for the future.
Mr. Chairman and members of this Commission, I am honored
to participate in this commemoration of a most significant
event in recent history. Someday, June 4, 1989, will be
recognized as the seminal episode that evoked the political
future of one-fifth of humanity.
True, the Chinese authorities have shrouded, distorted, and
defaced what happened in the seven weeks that led to the
bloodshed in the square. True, the Chinese youth of today have
scant knowledge, and even scanter interest, in how, two decades
earlier, their age group stirred the hearts and minds of the
people. True, Tiananmen anniversary demonstrations around the
world have faded. Timid governments, visa-anxious academics,
contract-hungry entrepreneurs tiptoe semantically. The
Tiananmen massacre becomes ``the June 4 incident,'' if not ``a
valid response to chaos.''
History will render a just verdict. Let us recall what
happened. Common descriptions of that spring suggest only that
students marched in Beijing. Not true. Demonstrations
flourished in over 250 cities and towns throughout China, and
if students were the vanguard, people from all walks of life,
as the Chairman mentioned in his opening statement--workers,
peasants, teachers, merchants, journalists, lawyers, monks,
police, soldiers, and Party members--championed them.
In the capital, up to a million petitioned for 50 days
without an act of violence, and indeed, any vandalism, unless
one counts the paint sprayed on Chairman Mao's portrait.
No wonder the amazing spectacle in the square inspired
millions in Eastern Europe who went on to achieve more benign
For the Chinese people, the goddess of democracy symbolized
not only the hope for greater freedoms, but curbs on corruption
and inflation. Their requests were moderate: calls for dialogue
with the government, not its overthrow. By the close of May,
the petitioners camped in the square had dwindled to a few
thousand. Surely the ending did not have to be tragic. But the
red-faced patriarchs ruled to hammer home lessons and petrify
the public. Twenty years later, no one yet knows how many were
bloodied, maimed, or died in the massacre.
Meanwhile, the Party drew firm conclusions.
First, maintain a united politburo on sensitive issues, so
far a success.
Second, nip demonstrations in the bud. Despite a couple a
hundred per day by even official account, the authorities have
contained and isolated them.
Third, gain legitimacy through prosperity and nationalism.
Economic reforms accelerated after the massacre. To China's
credit, their standard of living has risen continually and
dramatically. The yuan, not Marxism and Maoism, is the
ideological glue. So, too, is nationalism, which innately goes
hand-in-hand with China's rise in the world.
Finally, control the media. Here, too, the government has
kept the lid on, screwing it tight on delicate topics. I share
Congressman Pitts' concern about the cooperation of many of our
companies in this enterprise and I trust his legislation will
Still, media outlets press the envelope. The Internet and
the cell phone haunt the party most. For every new censor,
there are dueling bloggers and hackers. Today, their weapons
are humorous double entendres. Tomorrow, what?
To date, therefore, Beijing defies history. The emerging
middle class and elite eschew politics, content to follow the
Party's lead. The only checks and balances they hanker to
expand are those held by their banks. Ironically, the most
disaffected today are the peasants and workers.
Evidently no Tiananmens lurk around the corner, but I have
learned my lesson on predicting China's future. In 1989, I was
overly optimistic, if not naive, about political reform. The
depressing record of repression and human rights violations
since then is amply documented by this Commission, the State
Department, and international monitors. The grieving parents of
Tiananmen, still harassed, still seek answers. The grieving
parents of Szechuan now suffer the identical fate.
Nevertheless, I remain convinced that China will move
toward greater transparency and liberty, not as a concession to
the West, but as the proven route to a brighter future. The
rule of law, a thriving civil society, the accountability
officials, freedom of the media and expression, would serve
Beijing's own stated goals: economic growth, political
stability, control of pollution and corruption, the improvement
of ties with Taiwan and the United States, the heightening of
its stature in the world.
How fast, how smooth, how democratic, who can predict? No
doubt, only Chinese can determine China's fate.
Meanwhile, we should strive for positive relations with
China despite this atrocious record. I have done so for 40
Supporting human rights and democracy is a salient
dimension of our policy, but America's vast and crucial agenda
with China cannot be subsumed to one element. This is a
painful, but prudent, calculation we apply to countries around
the globe. With a Burma, or Sudan, our values can be our
dominant preoccupation; with China or Saudi Arabia, we pursue a
more nuanced course.
In conclusion, therefore, let us encourage China toward a
more liberal society by appealing to its self-interests.
Let us cooperate with China on a host of bilateral,
regional, and global challenges.
Let us remain confident that one day the official verdict
on June 4 will be overturned, that hooligans will be heroes,
that black hands will be harbingers of history.
For fabrications litter the ash heap of time, while
authenticity survives. Zhao Ziyang was Premier, and then Party
Secretary. He was sympathetic to the petitioners and against
the launching of tanks. He wept in the square. He was thrown
out of office and into house arrest for 16 years. He died in
And yet? On this 20th anniversary, his recordings speak
truths. The journey toward freedom may begin with soft whispers
from a solitary grave.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Dorgan. Ambassador Lord, thank you very much for
the really terrific testimony, and for your service for many
We are joined by the Cochairman of the Commission,
Congressman Levin. Congressman Levin, would you like to make a
comment before we turn to the next witness?
[The prepared statement of Mr. Lord appears in the
STATEMENT OF HON. SANDER LEVIN, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM
MICHIGAN, COCHAIRMAN, CONGRESSIONAL-EXECUTIVE COMMISSION ON
Representative Levin. Thank you very much. I am grateful
for this opportunity to be here. The establishment of this
Commission was an important step a few years ago and I think
the efforts since then have reinforced the need for this
Commission, and I do believe fervently that the hearing today
is a further validation of its significance.
I regret that because of two issues, health and energy,
that I have had to be at another meeting and need to return,
but I did have a chance to read your stirring testimony.
Yesterday in the House, we passed a Resolution marking this
anniversary, and it passed unanimously, except for one vote.
I do think that it marks how vital it is that there
continue to be a recollection and a confirmation of the meaning
of those events and our determination, as constructively as we
can, to bring some fruits out of that tragedy.
So, Senator Dorgan, I am glad that you and I and our
colleagues here, with the support of the leadership of the
Senate and the House, on a bipartisan basis, are determined
that this Commission continue to be a very vital part of the
effort on human rights and the rule of law.
So, again, I think I will ask, if it hasn't been done, that
my opening statement be entered into the record.
Chairman Dorgan. Without objection.
Again, Congressman Levin, thank you for your leadership.
Dr. Perry Link is a co-editor of the 2001 publication of
the Tiananmen Papers. He is the Chancellorial Chair for
Teaching Across Disciplines at the University of California-
Riverside. He received both his B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard
University and specializes in 20th century Chinese literature.
Dr. Link, thank you very much for being with us. You may
[The prepared statement of Representative Levin appears in
STATEMENT OF PERRY LINK, CHANCELLORIAL CHAIR FOR TEACHING
ACROSS DISCIPLINES, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-RIVERSIDE, AND
PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF EAST ASIAN STUDIES, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
Mr. Link. It's my pleasure. I join Ambassador Lord in
congratulating this Commission on the fine work that you do. I
have a written statement that is too long to read in the time
that I have been given, so I will not.
I would also like to offer for the record a translation of
the Charter 08 that Senator Dorgan referred to a moment ago
that I did for the New York Review of Books. This is an
excellent statement of the political ideas of a broad range of
China's leading free thinkers 20 years after the events at
There's one more item that I would like to put on the
record, as it were, orally. That is that one of the harbingers
of the 1989 events was an open letter that dissident
astrophysicist Feng Lijur wrote to Deng Xiaoping, the top
leader, on January 6, 1989. In that letter, Feng suggested that
Deng declare an amnesty for political prisoners as a way to
celebrate the anniversary spirit of the French Revolution and
of the May 4 movement, China's May 4 movement of 1919, and to
bring a healthier and happier atmosphere to China.
At the end of the following month, February 1989, President
George H.W. Bush visited Beijing and hosted a banquet to which
Feng and his wife, Li Shuxien, were invited. As is well known,
Feng and Li were blocked from the banquet and humiliated by
Chinese plainclothes police for four hours.
When this story hit the world's headlines the next day,
Chinese leaders were intensely embarrassed, as of course they
should have been. What we have found odd, though, since then,
is some Americans who have commented on this, among my
colleagues in the academic community and also in government,
have chosen to assign blame not to the Chinese Government, who
was showing itself both narrow-minded and boorish that evening,
but to whoever it was inside the U.S. Embassy in Beijing who
had initiated Feng Lijur's invitation to dinner.
What I would like to enter into the record here is my own
view--although it is not just my view, I know--that whoever
that person was who initiated the idea of inviting Feng Lijur
to dinner, he or she showed vision, integrity, and courage of a
kind that echoes the finest traditions of our country.
Now, for the remaining time that I have I am just going to
go through seven points very quickly that are in my testimony.
One, is that the movement at Tiananmen was deeper and
broader than the Western media perceived it at the time.
Ambassador Lord suggested this just a moment ago as well. There
were demonstrations in more than 30 cities, large
demonstrations, all across China. The movement was animated
really more by a revulsion at state socialism, I think, than it
was by attraction to Western ideas. That does not mean that
Western ideas weren't attractive, they certainly were, but I
think it is not appreciated how deeply this movement came out
of the Maoist legacy and the state socialist legacy in China.
My second point is that, was it a turning point? Yes, it
was a turning point. Since then, as a broad generalization, the
signal to the Chinese people has been: economics, yes,
politics, no. By politics, there we need to understand broadly,
ideals, political ideals, religious ideals, and so on.
Point three is that this formula of economics, yes,
politics no, led to what Chinese intellectuals have called a
values vacuum, where the only publicly shared values that
course through the whole society are money, moneymaking, and
nationalism. These two kinds of values are too narrow to
satisfy what the Chinese culture, for millennia, has sought in
terms of shared ethical public values.
That is my fourth point, that the thirst for ethical values
in particular remains as a legacy of what happened that year. I
study literature in my real life and in recent Chinese fiction,
including television fiction, one finds a plethora of very
heroic people who are not necessarily smart, but they are good
people, they are honest, they tell the truth, they are willing
to sacrifice their own interests for principle. These
characters are very popular. The fact that they are popular
tells us that there is this thirst, a widespread thirst, in
Chinese society for pursuit of this kind of value.
Point five, is that despite surface appearances, personal
insecurity is a pervasive national malady in China--I don't
have time to go into detail here, but I could--extending in
different ways, all the way from ordinary people to the top
Point six. A portion of youth have internalized this
formula of economics, yes, moral values, no. They play the
system for their personal advantage and lack the idealism that
earlier generations of Chinese youth, the teens in the 1930s,
in the 1960s, showed. That is not to criticize them entirely;
one has to understand the situation that they're in.
So all of those points, points two through six, I believe
are related to the turning point of the Tiananmen massacre.
The final point I will make is that the main reason why we
shouldn't forget what happened that year is that the
fundamental nature of the regime has not changed. Much else has
changed, and we could go into that, but that fundamental nature
is the same.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Link and the Charter 08
translation appear in the appendix.]
Chairman Dorgan. Dr. Link, thank you very much for your
perspective. We appreciate that.
Next, we will hear from Dr. Susan Shirk, the director of
the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, University of
From 1997 until 2000, Dr. Shirk served as Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific
Affairs. She is currently senior advisor to the Albright Group.
Dr. Shirk's books include ``China: Fragile Superpower,''
published in 2007.
Dr. Shirk, thank you for being with us.
STATEMENT OF SUSAN SHIRK, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
INSTITUTE ON GLOBAL CONFLICT AND COOPERATION; HO MIU LAM
PROFESSOR OF CHINA AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS, SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL
RELATIONS AND PACIFIC STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-SAN
DIEGO; AND ARTHUR ROSS FELLOW, ASIA SOCIETY CENTER ON U.S.-
Ms. Shirk. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's a privilege to be
here and to share this commemoration of the heroism of the
demonstrators 20 years ago and to remember the sense of
possibility of peaceful political reform in China that was lost
that day, or at least deferred for two decades.
It was a turning point. I have longer testimony than I have
time to read, so I will just briefly summarize some of the main
points. It was a turning point for China's leaders, as well as
its citizens. Perry Link has talked about this pervasive sense
of insecurity on the part of China's leaders.
In 1989, during Tiananmen and the demonstrations that
occurred in more than 130 cities throughout China, the
leadership split over how to manage the demonstrations, and the
regime actually remained standing only because the military did
follow Deng Xiaoping's orders to come in and use force to put
down the demonstrations. After that day China's leaders have
never slept well at night because they've had a pervasive sense
that this could happen again.
It is important to remember, in that very same year
Communist governments in eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union
started to fall; the Berlin Wall toppled in November 1989.
Chinese leaders, with Tiananmen very much in mind, were
watching this occur and thinking that they could very well be
So today, two decades later, Communist rule has survived
and the system, as Perry Link said, is fundamentally the same,
but its leaders remain very anxious about the possibility of
another revolutionary moment occurring.
Now, to us outside of China, China looks like an emerging
super-power, very powerful economically and influential
internationally. But its Communist leaders feel much weaker as
they struggle to stay on top of this society that has been so
dramatically transformed by the market reform and opening over
the past 30-plus years. So they have a pervasive sense of
insecurity, and everything they do is aimed at prolonging their
time in power.
They drew three lessons from the Tiananmen experience. As
we look at their domestic policy and their international
policy, you can see that their choices are designed to follow
these lessons of Tiananmen: first of all, to prevent large-
scale protests; second, to avoid any public splits in the
leadership; and third, to keep the military loyal.
Now, these lessons are interconnected because if the
leadership can maintain its cohesiveness, then they are likely
to be able to use repression, police power, as well as control
over media, and co-optation in order to manage the protests.
But if the leaders split on how to manage the protests, people
will feel they have ``permission'' to protest and protests will
continue and grow. And let us remember that these people are
politicians, they are competing for power, and how do you
prevent that competition from spilling out, outside the inner
circle, in an effort to mobilize support? That is one of the
greatest challenges that the Chinese leaders face today. Then,
third, keep the military loyal, because if you have widespread
unrest and the leadership splits, then the last line of defense
is the People's Liberation Army, and the People's Armed Police,
and having them come in to support the Party leadership.
So what my testimony does, is go through these three
lessons and describe how the leaders have managed to prevent
large-scale protests and maintain a public face of unity among
the leadership, and third, keep the military loyal.
I just want to point out that it is a mixed picture. It's
not simply the story of continued repression. In order to
maintain themselves in power and prevent protests, they have
become more responsive to the concerns of the Chinese public on
such issues as tainted food and medicine, environmental
quality, the demand for a social safety net such as healthcare,
and they have improved the performance of the government in
order to make sure that the public does not become so unhappy
that they protest and challenge the leadership.
They also have opened up the media in order to serve as a
watchdog, especially on local officials. The central leadership
may want to carry out policies to protect the environment, say.
But local officials have different interests, and how do you
check those local officials without elections and without civil
society, independent, non-governmental organizations? From the
standpoint of the leaders, it looks somewhat safer to use the
media as a watchdog on those local officials. We do see a
market-oriented media and an Internet which is playing an
increasingly important role in China today.
There is also institutionalization of elite politics in
order to prevent public leadership splits, and of course
increases in the defense budget in order to keep the military
loyal. We often look at those increases in the budget as being
driven by concern about Taiwan or other international
objectives, but I think it is important to understand that
there is a domestic political logic underlying it as well.
So those are the three lessons that they drew from
Tiananmen. The CCP's actions in order to maintain themselves in
power has been a mixture of repression, co-optation, and
Chairman Dorgan. Dr. Shirk, thank you very much.
I'm going to ask consent that the record contain a
statement from John Kamm, the Executive Director of the Dui Hua
Foundation. We had asked him to be present to testify, and John
Kamm was not able to be here. So, we will include his statement
in the record.
Dr. Yang Jianli is president of the Initiatives for China
and a Fellow at Harvard University's Committee on Human Rights
Studies. During the spring of 1989, Dr. Yang traveled from
U.C.-Berkeley to Beijing to support the student demonstrators.
Subsequently, the Chinese Government, in 1991, refused to renew
his passport, which had expired at that point.
In 2002, using a friend's passport, Dr. Yang returned to
China and was arrested and held incommunicado for over a year
before he was eventually tried, convicted, and sentenced to
five years' imprisonment for illegal entry into China and for
espionage. Dr. Yang was released in 2007 and returned to the
United States. He is a signatory of the Charter 08 and he has
published many articles on democracy and human rights.
Dr. Yang, we appreciate your courage and your willingness
to continue to speak out, and welcome you to this commission.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Shirk appears in the
STATEMENT OF YANG JIANLI, TIANANMEN PROTEST PARTICIPANT;
PRESIDENT, INITIATIVES FOR CHINA; FELLOW, HARVARD UNIVERSITY
COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Mr. Yang. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is a great honor for
me to testify here today, to provide the point of view of a
Chinese human rights and democracy advocate. I'm not going to
repeat what the other panelists have said. Twenty years ago,
Tiananmen Square swelled with tens of thousands of Chinese
students and citizens. They called for the Chinese leaders to
address government corruption, protect individual rights, and
allow transparency and public participation in policymaking.
These reasonable requests conform with China's Constitution and
law. However, on June 4, 1989, the petitioners were rewarded
with machine guns and tanks.
The massacre left thousands dead and injured, and thousands
more imprisoned. Tiananmen Mothers have identified and
documented 195 fatalities and, according to their assessment,
``these are definitely not all, nor even a majority.'' Hundreds
of activists fled China into exile and most of them, joining
the existing overseas dissidents of China, have been
blacklisted from returning home ever since.
The massacre also set China's reforms down on the wrong
path. If the recently published memoirs of Zhao Ziyang tells us
anything, it is that we were so close to embarking on the road
of peaceful transition to democracy, but now as then, very few
people believe that China stood a real chance. The truth is the
tragedy took place only because of four or five hardliners. The
massacre created universal fear and universal cynicism in
China, that, in turn, has resulted in a moral disaster, a human
rights disaster, and an environmental disaster. These three
disasters have in the past 20 years minimized the short-term
cost of capitalists and that of government embezzlement. That
is how China's economic miracle has become possible.
The Chinese regime is a four-legged table. The regime will
collapse should any one of the four legs be cut. One leg is
fear, behind which is violence. One leg is untruth; the Chinese
Government, for example, has kept the truth about the 1989
movement and the magnitude of this tragedy from the ordinary
people. One leg is economic growth; this is the only source of
the legitimacy of its rule. The fourth leg is corruption; the
Chinese Government exchanges the loyalty of the elite with
opportunities for corruption. It has not only co-opted the
Chinese elite but also the foreign elite who are the
sinologists, the business people, and the policymakers. The
Chinese Government appeals to the universal tendency for
corruption, which conflicts with the universal value of human
This is the so called ``China's model'' and this model is
now challenging the democratic way of life worldwide. The model
is not sustainable for many reasons but primarily because the
Chinese people will abandon it. One evidence being that every
year there are hundreds of protests against corruption, such as
the incident when Chinese people were outraged by tainted milk
or by the tragic deaths of children in the earthquake. We also
have seen a growing willingness to make public statements
through publication, as is the case with the Internet posting
of Charter 08 last December.
People are eager to find a breakthrough point. A reversal
of the verdict on the Tiananmen incident is widely considered
one such breakthrough point. I agree. With this good intention,
some democracy-oriented intellectuals have recently called for
reconciliation with regard to the tragedy. I think the notion
of reconciliation is very important; we sooner or later will
have to come to terms with our troubled past. But putting forth
the proposal of reconciliation now is premature; primarily
because the Chinese Government has not even acknowledged any
mistake in all this. One cannot reconcile to a non-event. The
admission of the events of June 4 must precede any
reconciliation. Rather than acknowledge the past events, the
CCP continues on the path of untruth. It continues to persecute
the victims and their families, tens of those known as ``June 4
prisoners'' are still being imprisoned, no compensation has
been made to victims or their families. The government remains
a one-party repressive regime continuing to lie about the
tragic events, to ignore the pleas from its own people and to
demonstrate an unwillingness to listen. They repeatedly show us
that they have no intention to change.
The truth is not out. When it is, perhaps it will be
through an impartial truth-seeking committee, one of the major
demands from Tiananmen Mothers. It should be the regime, the
more powerful party, not the victims that first raises up the
issue of reconciliation. First an honest admission of the
incident. Truth must be before reconciliation.
The democratic forces in China are not strong enough to get
the regime to sit at a negotiation table and begin a process
toward the truth and toward reconciliation. And the regime has
no willingness to engage in any such program because it has
accumulated too many grievances of incredible magnitude.
Tiananmen is just one of the many tragedies. So, to reach the
end point of reconciliation, we must first develop the critical
mass of democratic forces. This is necessary for any
breakthrough. The key to reconciliation is the growth of the
democratic forces in China.
What the international community, particularly the United
States, can and should do: First, we should put the Chinese
regime on the defensive by raising the human rights issues on
any occasion possible. It is the Chinese that should worry more
about economic relationship with other countries. This is one
of the four legs on which the Chinese Government stands.
Second, we should nurture the growth of Chinese democratic
forces. Third, we should help tear down the firewall that has
been erected by the Chinese Communist Party [CCP]. If the
United States is not in a position to face down the regime's
violent forces--one of its four legs--it is most certainly in a
position to expose its lies--another leg. Truth liberates.
Fourth, when a movement similar to the one in 1989 arises
national leaders in the United States should openly recognize
and support the democratic forces and any democracy-oriented
factions within the party. Had U.S. leaders had access to
Zhao's memoirs beforehand, I believe they would have openly
supported his faction during the Tiananmen uprising. The least
the United States should do would be to press the CCP to enter
into dialogue with the opposition leaders.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Yang appears in the
Representative Walz [presiding]. Well, thank you to each of
our panelists. Very enlightening. We'll go to some questions
here from each of us, but there's a couple of things. First of
all, Dr. Link, I would like to say, you admitting being naive
back in 1989 made me feel better. I, too, was right there and
it seems like a lifetime ago when I remember the debate in the
early 1990s over most-favored-nation status and how many of us
thought that economic reforms would instantly translate into
social reforms. It does seem like quite some time ago.
I remember just a couple of years ago I asked Secretary
Albright to characterize the U.S.-China relationship. She said,
oh, it is really easy. It's like a drug user and a pusher, only
we don't know which is which. It's very difficult. I ask this,
Dr. Link, because I thought you brought up a very interesting
point, having a newly-minted bachelor's degree holder, and
someone who, my students said, spoke beautiful baby Mandarin,
when I got there I watched and I saw the values, and trying to
learn the culture.
This issue you bring up is something I, too, notice. It's
always very troubling for me because I don't want to pass
judgment, but this values vacuum you spoke of is something that
I find very troubling. I have seen it as my generation has aged
into middle age and my friends in China, and I have seen this.
I think many of them are reevaluating this, as many of us do,
what's truly important.
My question to you, as you think of it, I know it's
incredibly subjective: what will fill that? How will that be
filled? What's the outcome of that? Because a country with a
values vacuum is troubling. Just to hear your thoughts on it.
Mr. Link. Well, it's easy to say what some of the feeling
has been already. There has been a revival of religions.
Christianity has boomed in China. About 60 times as many
Christians have been produced by this value vacuum than were
produced by one century of American missionaries between 1850
and 1950 going to make converts. Then Daoism and Buddhism have
seen revivals. The problem here is that anytime someone
organizes something that is not either controlled by, or
controllable by, the Party, it gets crushed. Falun Gong is a
good example of that.
Representative Walz. The Falun Gong example.
Mr. Link. But underground churches are good examples of
that, too. So religions have been creeping back. I think some
of the assiduous watching of these television programs is
almost a communal thing, too. There's a wonderful television
series called ``Xerbing Tudzhe'' about a soldier in the
People's Liberation Army who's actually kind of mentally
retarded. He's not smart, he's not fast, he doesn't shoot well,
he doesn't do any of these things well, but he's honest and he
tells the truth and he acts on principle. It becomes essential
phenomenon to talk about him and to indirectly praise these
values. That, to me, is pretty eloquent testimony for the kind
of values seeking that I see that, again, can't be organized,
but certainly is widespread.
Representative Walz. And that hits that cultural nerve.
What was it that we learned from Li Fong, that we all did, the
soldier who selflessly gave the Cultural Revolution, that it
was a sense of that, of trying to instill values from the top
Mr. Link. That was top down. This is sort of mid-level
media, up and down, I would say.
Representative Walz. Thank you.
Mr. Link. But it does show a popular thirst for ethical
values. What eventually will fill it is still an open question,
Representative Walz. Thank you.
Dr. Shirk, two years ago now you wrote ``The Fragile Super-
Power.'' Has anything changed, in your mind? I always watched,
over these last several years, when I would ask my friends
every time I would travel back, especially over the last decade
or so, what's going on, what are you doing, they said we're
just watching you to see how a super-power acts. I thought to
myself, gee, I don't know, necessarily. But what do you think?
Ms. Shirk. Internationally China's influence has grown in
the last two years. Its presence in Africa and Latin America, I
talk about it in my book, but it has certainly become a much
bigger story. Of course, in the global financial crisis,
China's role is recognized and even deferred to. So
internationally, China's influence has grown.
Domestically, a couple of things have changed that are very
significant. One, cross-strait relations with Taiwan have
improved. This is very important from the standpoint of U.S.
security interests because----
Representative Walz. Do you think that is anything China
has done or the lack--the opposition party in Taiwan is not
Ms. Shirk [continuing]. Well, President Ma Ying-jeou in
Taiwan created the opportunity, but Beijing has exploited this
opportunity by appointing a very able diplomat, Wang Yi, as
head of the Taiwan Affairs Office. They have just gone full
steam ahead for economic integration and moving as quickly as
they can toward a kind of reconciliation. They've been trying
to win the hearts and minds of the people of Taiwan, which is a
positive dynamic, and it reduces the risk of a military
conflict in the strait into which we could be drawn. So, it's
very important from our security interests.
But then the third thing I just want to point out is that
the Tibet issue has become more prominent. I argue in my book
that Chinese foreign policy on the hot-button domestic issues
of Japan, Taiwan, and the United States are driven by the
insecurity of China's leaders and their hyper-responsiveness to
nationalist public opinion.
Well, Tibet used to not be a particularly salient issue to
the public in China, until those violent demonstrations last
spring in Lhasa, which were all over the Internet in video and
photographs. The pictures of Tibetans beating Chinese
shopkeepers just infuriated the Chinese public, as did the
disruption of the torch relay by Tibetan protesters in Paris.
It became a very emotional issue of nationalism.
What has been the result? It is very bad. Beijing now has
elevated Tibet to a core issue of sovereignty, the same level
as the way they treat the Taiwan issue. They have launched an
international campaign to strong-arm everyone into isolating
the Dalai Lama, and they are taking a very tough stand. This
could become--I predict, unfortunately, it will become--a major
obstacle to U.S.-China cooperation on other issues.
Representative Walz. Well, thank you very much. My final
question before my colleagues take over--this is probably the
toughest one for all of you--is the criticism of spending time
on these types of issues and looking back. Several days ago I
was sitting down in a meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan and
mentioned the Armenian genocide. Not a very happy subject with
Prime Minister Erdogan. But I am absolutely convinced that
getting these things out and getting them in a historical
context that is as accurate as we can possibly get is
What do you say to those people who say the work that is
done by this great commission, and there is a great commission
staff, on keeping the lists, the prisoners' list and things
like that, is detrimental to those relationships? How would
each of you, as experts with lots of experience respond? Why
are we here today on June 4, and why is it important, as the
Mr. Lord. Well, there are many reasons. I paid tribute to
the Commission for all these reasons at the opening. First of
all, we owe it to the people in China who are looking for
greater freedom, not to mention those who sacrificed 20 years
ago. We owe it to our value system. We owe it to maintaining
domestic and congressional support for an overall policy of
engagement with China, which I do favor. But if we engage with
China and ignore these dimensions, we will lose support for
We owe it because promoting human rights and democracy--and
that is one of the reasons why one should remember what did
happen--is in our national security interest, as well as
promoting our values. The fact is that more democratic
countries and those who observe the rule of law and human
rights are much better partners on the world scene. Democracies
do not fight each other. Democracies don't spawn refugees, they
don't harbor terrorists. They are better economic partners.
They don't cover up swine flus and SARS and tainted milk.
So there are very concrete reasons to keep this as part of
our agenda beyond just the values which are traditional in our
foreign policy. Thus, I think it is very important, what you're
doing, and it's very important that this remain, as I said in
my statement, a major part of our policy with China. It is
painful, just as it is, say, with Saudi Arabia and their
treatment of women, and even North Korea, where we can't get
progress on any subject, where you have to sometimes assign
higher priorities to other issues. I'm afraid that's prudent.
I'm afraid you have to do it, because much as I believe
strongly in promoting human rights and democracy, it cannot
dominate our agenda with some of these big, important
countries. But it is an essential part of that agenda.
Representative Walz. Thank you. If anyone else wants to
take that, otherwise I'll move to Mr. Smith.
Representative Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I again want
to thank this very distinguished panel for your insights and
your wisdom at this hearing, but really through the course of
your lives. So many of you have spent so much time thinking
what ought to be done and it makes a difference.
Let me just ask a couple of questions. Ambassador Lord, I
do thank you for your comment about the Global Online Freedom
Act, and suggesting that it may eventually get done.
Unfortunately--and I have been here 29 years as a Member of
Congress--I am not as optimistic about my own bill because the
Googles and the other Internet giants have spread money ad
nauseam on this place and in other places in town to prevent
that legislation from coming to the Floor. It was ready for
floor action last Congress.
It is ready right now, having gotten through all three
committees of jurisdiction, only to be held up and never
brought to a floor vote. Just for those who may not be familiar
with it, that legislation is all about providing or promoting
non-violent political speech and non-violent religious speech.
That is what is in the bill. It would provide for a very
What is it that Google is censoring, working hand-in-glove
with the propagandists in Beijing, that allows the people in
China right now who would love to know, on June 4, what
happened 20 years ago, from getting that basic information
without getting the big lie, if you will, that they do get each
and every day. So your help, any of your help in getting that
legislation through would be of enormous impact.
I would note that some of the giants, including Yahoo!,
have taken some corrective action, especially in Vietnam, where
they put personally identifiable information, information that
could so easily be gleaned by the secret police, outside of the
control of Vietnam and in another country. Now the secret
police can't walk in the door and say, we want to know
everything about Shi Tao and to whom he's talking.
That was in direct relationship to a previous remembrance
of Tiananmen Square, as you all know so well, and Shi Tao got
10 years in prison after Yahoo! coughed up all those names.
Well, at least they have learned, and I think they are to be
applauded for taking that action. But, unfortunately, others
have not taken corrective action and it continues to be a
serious problem. So, we appreciate any help you can give us.
Despite the good work that has been done in busting through
this new bamboo curtain, if you will, this new censorship is
stifling. As we all know, if you go online in China and you put
in your information, if you do something, like talk about the
Dalai Lama, within an hour or so they'll be at your door--that
is to say, the secret police. They could hold onto control
forever, I think, with that kind of censorship--so your help on
that legislation is appreciated.
Mr. Lord. May I comment on that?
Representative Smith [presiding]. Ambassador Lord? Sure.
Mr. Lord. First of all, in terms of getting the truth into
China, I want to take this occasion to urge that we expand
funding for Radio Free Asia [RFA] and Voice of America [VOA].
That is something the Chinese block and so on, but it does get
through. They do terrific reporting on China for its people and
what is happening there indirectly to us. So, that is one
specific step that I strongly urge: not just maintain, but
expand this. It is money well spent and related to the issue
you're talking about.
One final comment on the computer companies. I think
there's different degrees of culpability here. I don't agree
with this completely, but I see the dilemma of some of the
companies where they say, by having these Web sites, Google,
and search engines in China, even if they're partially blocked,
it is subversive and over the long run it can be helpful, even
if it's not perfect. If we don't do it, the Europeans or the
Japanese will do it. That's not a frivolous argument, that part
of the rationale, in terms of submitting themselves to some
Then you've got people providing hardware to help the
police. That's unacceptable. Then you have people giving up
email addresses and getting people run down. That's not
acceptable. So I think there are some distinctions here. To be
candid, I'm not familiar with the latest specific portions of
your bill--and I'd like to look at it--but I do think there are
some tougher dilemmas on part of this spectrum of issues than
on other parts.
Representative Smith. I appreciate that. We have worked
with a coalition of human rights organizations, and Chinese
human rights organizations especially, and it's been endorsed
by virtually all of them, Reporters Without Borders, and
others. Your point is well taken, there are gradations.
But I think when we're talking about an active
disinformation campaign--for example, when Manfred Nowak did
his incisive inspection of the use of torture, the pervasive
use of torture by the Chinese Government, his findings were
totally blocked online by the Chinese. But you can get Manfred
Nowak's commentary on Gitmo and you can get other publications
he has done, but not the one about China. Google is a part of
that. VOA and Radio Free Asia are blocked by Google as well, I
know because I tried to get their sites, and others have tried
it. In China, they block it. Yes? Please.
Mr. Yang. We all agree, nationalism in China is
phenomenal. But if you get online, look at what the Internet
users say, mostly the younger generation people in China, you
will find a pattern. When it comes to the issue of local
issues, maybe domestic issues like government corruption,
people will side with the victims. When it comes to the issue
of the relationship with the United States, the across-the-
strait relationship, and Tibetan issues, the Internet users
will very likely side with the Chinese Government. Why?
Information. Because people in China, when it comes to the
issue, domestic issues, local issues, they just base it on
their experiences to make a judgment.
But for the issues of the international relations and
Tibetan issues and any issues like that, very largely they are
based on the information provided by the Chinese Government. So
in that way, for a long time they have been brainwashed. So I
think Internet freedom is a very important issue. Actually,
technology exists to bypass the firewall erected by the Chinese
Government. So modest investment will make much progress in
this field. Thank you.
Representative Smith. Unfortunately, House Members need to
leave for a vote. But let me ask, and maybe for the record you
can give an answer, when you talk about next steps, we have had
20 years of thinking, naively, but I think with good faith, and
I believe it, that trading would lead to a matriculation from
dictatorship to democracy. Has that not happened?
I believe it has gotten demonstrably worse and now they're
spreading these errors to Africa, as Dr. Shirk pointed out. I
held two hearings on Africa--on China's influence on Sudan,
Zimbabwe, and other countries with egregious human rights
records; they're fleecing Africa of its minerals, its wood. I
can go on and on.
But it's time to revisit things like reestablishing a trade
link or some kind of link. There's no penalty phase. China gets
away, literally, with murder. It attacks its women in the worst
violation of women's rights, I believe, in the history of human
kind with its forced abortion policy. And they get more money
from the United Nations, rather than less, money from the UN
Egregious behavior cannot be rewarded or we'll get more of
it, no matter how insecure these individuals happen to be. The
Nazi leadership, we know from historians and psychiatrists who
have looked back, were very insecure men, men with phobias and
problems. That made them even more dangerous in the execution
of their policies. We have the same thing happening in China,
and they are expanding rather than contracting.
PNTR [permanent normal trade relations] shouldn't be PNTR
anymore. It needs to be revisited, I would suggest,
respectfully. This is an unbridled bully. I have many other
questions. IRFA, the International Religious Freedom Act;
they've been on that list for five, almost six years with no
penalty phase ever from the Bush Administration, nor now from
the Obama government. Thank you. If you'd like to touch on next
steps, I'd appreciate it.
Mr. Link. Maybe I can jump in here. This is sort of a next
step, and it is also a second to Ambassador Lord's plea for
more funding for RFA and VOA. It's also a sort of answer to the
question of why this Commission's work is important. In
addition to everything that's been said, I think that public
articulation of our values, not arrogantly and pushing it on
people, but articulation of it, is important.
Now, an authoritarian regime like China's wants to say in
response, just do this privately. Don't say these things
publicly. Let us tuck it in our pocket and talk about it. That
doesn't work. I think that the articulation of values publicly
works not only for those Chinese citizens that are eagerly
wanting to hear it, like the signatories of Charter 08 and like
the other people in this room. It also works for the people
inside the authoritarian system. I don't know what my friend
Susan would say, but this is part of what I mean by the
insecurity of the people inside the system. They, too, have
many levels in their psychology and they're obliged, in
official contexts, to hew to the Party line, to the government
line. I'm going to tell you one very quick anecdote to
illustrate this and then I'll yield the floor back.
A few years ago I edited this compilation called
``Tiananmen Papers'' with my friend Andy Nathan, which
immediately was highly radioactive in Beijing. They didn't like
it at all. They said, this is illegal and the people that did
it had bad motives. He, I, and many others were denounced that
were in connection with it.
A few months later, a delegation of Chinese academics, a
high-level delegation, came to Princeton where I was teaching
at the time to talk about academic exchange. We had a cordial
lunch. After lunch, they came to my office and one of them
excused himself to go to the men's room. As soon as he did, the
other one said, do you have a copy of the ``Tiananmen Papers?
'' Can you give it to me? Yes, I can. Okay. Here it is. I
signed it for him.
Then he said, do you have a manila envelope that you could
put it in? Because he didn't want his colleague coming back--
they were friends in other ways, but that man was genuinely
interested. There are levels in the psychology of the people
that are inside the system to whom we speak when we articulate
our values, even though they can't give us, and won't give us,
an immediate response to it. So I find it baffling sometimes
that we are not more relaxed, but open about articulating our
Representative Smith. Dr. Shirk?
Ms. Shirk. One quick word. That is that I think something
we could do that would be very constructive would be to spend
more money helping promote legal system development and the
free press and civil society in China, which will be the
foundation for an effective democracy if one is ever to develop
in China. I understand why we have restrictions on the money we
can spend because we feel it as a matter of principle we
shouldn't support the Chinese Government. But the time has come
for us to reduce those restrictions. If you compare what we do
in China compared to other smaller countries, it is much less
even though the need is very great in China. Congress could
help a lot by allowing the U.S. Government to help support the
development of China's legal system, civil society, and free
Representative Smith. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF HON. MARCY KAPTUR, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM
OHIO, MEMBER, CONGRESSIONAL-EXECUTIVE COMMISSION ON CHINA
Representative Kaptur. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I
wanted to also thank Chairmen Dorgan and Levin for this
opportunity to remember, with all of you, the Tiananmen Square
I just wanted to put two minutes of formal testimony on the
record since I wasn't here initially, and look to the degree
that China has not changed its policies in the last 20 years. I
thank you very much for your testimony. Despite what many laud
as progress in China, obviously the Commission's research shows
that a number of cases demonstrating the 1989 mentality remain.
The protesters two decades ago presented a list of seven
demands, including elections, admission of past government
mistakes, independent press, and free speech. Today, with a
number of Tiananmen participants still imprisoned, and some in
the audience with us today who have paid the price of free
expression, we have seen little progress on these fronts.
In fact, we have seen labor, expression, and other human
rights deteriorate. In the past few days, China has further
restricted freedom of speech by blocking Web sites like Flickr
that may describe the actual events of 1989, and though the
Chinese have still not given in to the protesters' demands, the
protests are still fresh in the government's mind.
In the United States, however, though we know the full
extent of the tragedy of that day, we, too, are keen to forget.
President George H.W. Bush implemented a number of sanctions as
a result of the Chinese Government's heinous reaction to the
protests, and since 1989 all but a few have been effectively
revoked, either by a wholesale or consistent case-by-case
Indeed, one of the very few so-called Tiananmen sanctions
still in force to any degree puts export controls on crime
control devices, but is waived in a wide variety of cases,
despite the Chinese Government's documented use of these
devices against dissidents. For example, after the United
States allowed various crowd control devices in for the U.S.
Olympics, including cameras, Keith Bradsher reported, ``The
autumn issue of the magazine of China's Public Security
Ministry prominently listed places of religious worship and
Internet cafes as locations to install new cameras.''
Although China has made little progress toward meaningful
elections or freedom of expression or basic human rights for so
many protesters who gave their lives and livelihoods, our
country appears to make few demands for true reform, while
sending American jobs and tax dollars abroad and borrowing to
unprecedented levels, supporting that closed economy and strict
In fact, many attribute directly the weakening of labor and
human rights to the United States granting permanent normal
trade relations [PNTR] to China--relations I do not regard as
``normal'' at all, but highly abnormal--which also led to the
wholesale repeal of a number of the Tiananmen sanctions.
So I want to commend the Commission, and all of you, for
revealing the course that China has followed and the progress
it has yet to make on the human rights and democracy front.
I have a few questions I would like to ask.
Dr. Shirk, I wanted to ask you, before PNTR was passed you
stated that you believe that most favored nation would give the
United States more tools to address human rights. So I would be
very interested to ask you today, what are these new tools that
you thought might occur as a result of PNTR when the debate
occurred here in the Congress? What has resulted? What are
these new tools?
Ms. Shirk. The tools are largely the channels of
communication and cooperation at every level between our two
countries, starting from every agency in the Federal Government
that has some programs or dialogues with counterparts in China.
For example, our Department of Labor went to China, bringing
the ideas of free organization of labor to China just a couple
of years ago. So at every level in the government, in our
Federal Government, we have those kinds of channels.
Also, I'm sure in your State, your district, there are many
more interactions at the sub-national level, too. For example,
in California, the State of California is cooperating with a
number of provinces in China on climate change issues and
helping develop capacity to verify and monitor actions that we
hope will be taken in the future on climate change.
Then, of course, the amount of investment in China has
absolutely skyrocketed after China's entry into the World Trade
Organization. So you have all of those international companies
and their employees and people going back and forth, and cross-
strait interactions with Taiwan. All of those kinds of contacts
in the long run do make China a more open place, a more
responsive place. I don't think any of us argued that PNTR and
China's entry to the World Trade Organization were going to
achieve full-fledged democracy in China overnight. I admit that
progress has been slow, but I think there has been progress
Representative Kaptur [presiding]. What kind of body
politick is China today where there is no democracy, but there
is a type of state-run capitalism? How does one describe that
polity? Some of you have called it Communism, but what is it?
Dr. Link, what about yourself? Ambassador Lord?
Mr. Link. Nicholas Kristof had a clever phrase. He called
it ``market Leninism,'' which is sort of a new animal on the
world political scene. I think the Russian polity is evolving
in that direction. It doesn't have the label ``Communist,'' but
domination of a political economic elite that is corrupt--I'm
not ready to go point-by-point. I came from a hearing this
morning where we were comparing these and parallels were
striking to me, but I can't recall them one-by-one now.
Representative Kaptur. How many members of that political
elite are there?
Mr. Link. Well, it depends on how far down the tip of the
iceberg you want to measure the elite.
Representative Kaptur. The top 25 percent.
Mr. Link. Pardon?
Representative Kaptur. The top 25 percent. How many
individuals would you say are in that, what is described in
your testimony as ``masters of the regime? ''
Mr. Link. Well, I knew just a few dozen families.
Representative Kaptur. A dozen.
Mr. Link. Interlocking families. Yes. In that testimony,
that's what I meant by that, yes.
Representative Kaptur. I'm being given a signal. I have to
run back to the House and vote, and I will return. But I'm very
interested in all of the witnesses stating for the record, and
I will ask the Staff Director to sit up here in our absence, to
struggle with us over the issues of democracy and capitalism
and what kind of society China is today.
I was very taken by the numbers of young people being
recruited into the regime and what that bodes for the future. I
do not for a minute believe that capitalism brings democracy,
it's the other way, at least a capitalism that we know is free,
or even partly free and open.
But I am very troubled about what I see, and I am very
troubled by the statement made in Ambassador Lord's formal
statement, ``With a Burma or Sudan, our values can be our
predominant preoccupation, but with a China or Saudi Arabia, we
pursue a more nuanced course.'' Does that mean a valueless
course? What are our key values as a society? I'm very
interested in each of you talking about, politically, what type
of society China is today. Marxist? How did you describe that?
Mr. Link. Market Leninism.
Representative Kaptur. Market Leninism. How each of you
would describe the society today. Then in terms of what kind of
political economy, what kinds of values does that political
economy have today globally? What does it represent? It
obviously does not represent freedom, so what is it? What is it
galloping toward from a value standpoint, a political value
standpoint? I would be very interested in your comments on
Mr. Lord. Have you got time now or do you have to leave?
Representative Kaptur. Well, I am going to let you,
Ambassador Lord, answer that question for the record and we
will come back.
Mr. Lord. These are big questions and there's not much
time here. But first of all, China so far has defied history,
as I said in my statement. In other examples--for example,
Taiwan and South Korea----
Ms. Oldham-Moore. Excuse me, Mr. Lord. As you know, the
Constitution requires them to vote, and we have a series of
votes in the House. The Chair, I hope, will return by 4
o'clock. He also has another hearing he is chairing right now.
So Ambassador Lord, if you could respond to her question.
Mr. Lord. Yes.
Ms. Oldham-Moore. And also I sense that you wanted to talk
about the description of the body politick.
Mr. Lord. Yes. As I started to say, in examples like
Taiwan and South Korea, once the economic engine got going, you
brought up a middle class, then man or woman does not live by
rice alone, if you will, and there was pressure for political
liberalization. That's what all of us hoped, 20 years ago,
would happen in China.
So far, as I said in my statement, a combination of
repression, great economic growth, and an appeal to nationalism
has allowed China to actually carve out a unique path. I would
agree with Perry Link, on the political side it is still
Leninist. On the economic side, it is partly capitalist, partly
socialist, and partly state-run. So it's a unique phenomenon.
So the question is, how long can they defy history? Have we
found something new? This is a very important question, because
if China's model does prevail, that's going to set a very
unfortunate example for other countries around the world. So we
have a real interest in hoping that China does evolve in a more
politically liberal direction, and that the Indias of the world
are not discredited, while the Chinas of the world triumph.
I remain optimistic, as I said, because I don't think the
Chinese can defy the laws of history forever. They have done it
longer than I thought possible. Without taking the time it
deserves, let me just tick off the reasons why I think, over
time, China will evolve. I think it's going to come from the
bottom up. I strongly support what Susan Shirk said about
building up civil society. That's about the best we can do at
this point, in addition to articulating, privately and
publicly, our values and our concerns and funding VOA, RFA, and
some of the other steps that have been mentioned.
But it seems to me in an age of information and
globalization, China can't go on forever trying to censor the
Internet and flows of information and manage to segregate out
various topics. At some point they're going to pay a price for
the lack of information and freedom. Also, if you do not have
the rule of law, at some point you're going to lose
investments. So, therefore, economic growth is going to depend,
I think over the long run, on a freer society. They cannot get
at corruption without a freer press or the rule of law, and
that is crippling them. So at some point, in their own self-
interest, they are going to have to move for economic reasons.
Second, political stability. If people can't go to the
courts, if they can't go to a free press, if they can't elect
their officials, the only alternative if they have gripes--and
it doesn't have to be about political freedom; it could be
about the environment or local land grabs or pollution--then
they take to the streets. So in terms of political stability,
there has got to be a safety valve.
If China wants Taiwan to get closer, beyond economics, and
reunify, that will never happen as long as Taiwan is a
democracy and China is repressive. If they want full-fledged
relations with us that can equal, say, those with Japan or
Great Britain, we have got to share values as well as
interests. The Chinese want strong ties with the United States
and to lift their stature in the world.
So on all their major goals--economic growth, political
stability, ties with Taiwan, ties with the United States--
they're going to have to move in this direction. I'm not going
to naively predict, as I did 20 years ago, that it will come
soon, but I think it will come, and I think we can encourage it
with some of the steps we have all discussed today.
Ms. Oldham-Moore. You all have watched our China policy for
a very long time. One of the critiques of our human rights
policy has been that it has been ``ghettoized,'' and run out of
a small division in the State Department. Therefore, it has not
been taken seriously by the Chinese, or by our own leadership
What is your assessment of this view? Do you think that
more of our leverage on these issues resides in other branches,
other departments such as Treasury? The Strategic Economic
Dialogue is occurring this July. Many issues which inherently
concern the rule of law will be considered in that forum. I
would just be interested in your view on a better architecture
for U.S. foreign policy toward China in regard to raising rule
of law and human rights concerns? Dr. Yang, do you have any
Mr. Yang. Yes. I want to talk about it in general terms,
first. As far as I see, the U.S. policy toward China has a
major problem, and that is inconsistency. It changes so quick,
so many times. A lot of people think engagement with China,
with the human rights issue openly, creates resentment among
the Chinese people, which is not true. It is inconsistency that
has actually damaged the U.S. image among the Chinese people.
So I think public articulation of this country's values has
no problem with the Chinese people. If the United States has a
consistent policy toward China and shows its sincerity in this
field, I think eventually it will win the respect of the
Chinese people. So I would say consistency is a key word.
Ms. Oldham-Moore. Thank you.
Dr. Link, do you have anything on that?
Mr. Link. Well, I think Dr. Shirk is better at this
question of the American Government and how to unify policy
within the government.
Ms. Shirk. I think our rule of law initiative is too small
and that we have bound our hands because of a distaste for
cooperation with the Chinese Government, a political distaste.
I think we should have a much more expansive effort because
China has itself said that it wants to have rule of law, that
rule of law is important for their own objectives.
In fact, their legal system lacks autonomy, lacks
professional capabilities. It is at a very early stage of
developing an independent autonomous legal system. The
Europeans and other countries have a lot more active programs
than the United States does, and that is also to the detriment
of our commercial interests because they will end up following
other legal systems other than our own.
Ms. Oldham-Moore. Thank you.
Mr. Yang. I want to add a few words.
Ms. Oldham-Moore. Yes. We have five more minutes. Yes.
Mr. Yang. Three conditions must be present to effect
political change in China: (1) viable opposition; (2) crisis;
(3) international support. So I don't know why so many people
are afraid of talking about opposition. I think a part of U.S.
policy toward China must be nurturing the growth of opposition
in China. Democracy forces, if you will. Opposition may be too
harsh a word. But without that, I don't see there is a
possibility for China to change. So I always call for open
engagement with democratic forces in China.
Democratic forces in China, for a long time, have not been
visible, but the most significant thing about Charter 08 is now
people are organizing around Charter 08 and the opposition is
visible. I do not think a lot of people do not like opposition.
Democracies in China are visible and we have to help them to
become viable, become a force that can apply necessary pressure
on the regime to have a political change.
Ms. Oldham-Moore. Dr. Shirk, you're shaking your head.
Ms. Shirk. I think that's actually a pretty dangerous
policy, to nurture an insurgency or a democratic opposition
overtly in China. It would be a suicidal policy for U.S.-China
relations. I also think that it would undercut the potential of
such an opposition if it is viewed as somehow just the puppets
of the United States. Unfortunately, our leverage is very
limited. The demand for political reform in China has to be
Ms. Oldham-Moore. Do you have anything to add, Ambassador
Mr. Link. There's a big distinction in my mind between
speech and action here. If we're going to go in and organize a
resistance, I would agree with Dr. Shirk, that's going to be
counterproductive. But it doesn't follow from that that we
shouldn't be open in speaking about ideas and ideals and
speaking with all of the Chinese people, not just with the
Representative Kaptur, as part of her question, referred to
young people joining the regime and she seemed worried about
that. The young people who are joining the Party these days, as
far as I can figure it out, are doing it for very personal,
practical reasons. It is pretty far removed from any ideals,
not only about Communism or Marxism, that's way in the past,
but even public ideas that the Party now is promoting. Most of
them are more cynical than that. They're joining the Party
because it's the ladder up. That is part of what I mean by that
group of people in Chinese society, too, being insecure and
multi-leveled, and can be spoken to openly. I still think
that's the best policy.
Ms. Oldham-Moore. I think we have the topic for our next
Mr. Yang. But Ambassador Lord, you take the last one.
Mr. Lord. I quickly want to get at that question on
promoting democracy and human rights. Two points. First, to get
to your question, it has got to be consistent throughout the
U.S. Government. It cannot just be the State Department. I had
a painful experience in the early 1990s where we had modest
conditions on trade with China, and the State Department was
pushing it. It was the President's policy. His own economic
Cabinet officers totally undermined it and the President didn't
back up the Secretary of State. The Chinese saw we were
disunited, and the modest progress we were making with these
modest conditions went down the tubes and we had to reverse
Therefore, you have got to have a consistent message across
the government. It can be in strategic dialogues, where you
have many ministers and Cabinet officials in the same room.
It's important that we're all singing from the same tune.
Now, second, she took exception to my saying we need a
nuanced policy with a Saudi Arabia or with a China. It is
painful, but prudent. As I said in my statement, Mr. Obama is
pursuing this approach, e.g. when he was in Saudi Arabia, and
now in Egypt. This man is clearly for democracy, but he has got
to worry about other issues. So I do not apologize for a very
uncomfortable double standard we have to apply.
When it is Burma, we don't have many other interests, but
when you are trying to fight terrorism or not have nuclear
weapons get around the world, or fight crime or pollution, or
maintain American jobs, these are concrete interests that we
have. We can't just throw them away for one other interest, as
much as we would like to.
Ms. Oldham-Moore. Thank you. Thank you so much to our
panelists. It was extremely stimulating testimony. Thank you
for having mercy on me in my promotion, however unexpected.
We'll have the transcript of this full hearing on our Web site.
Due to Judy Wright, our Director of Administration, we have a
Web cast as well.
Thank you so much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Kamm appears in the
[The prepared statement of Dr. Minxin Pei appears in the
[Whereupon, at 4 p.m. the hearing was concluded.]
A P P E N D I X
Prepared Statement of Ambassador Winston Lord
june 4, 2009
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission:
I am honored to participate in this commemoration of a most
significant event in recent history. Someday June 4th, 1989 will be
recognized as the seminal episode that evoked the political future of
one fifth of humanity.
True, the Chinese authorities have shrouded, distorted, and defaced
what happened in the seven weeks that led to the bloodshed in the
Square. True, the Chinese youth of today have scant knowledge and even
scanter interest in how two decades earlier their age group stirred the
hearts and minds of the people. True, Tiananmen anniversary
demonstrations around the world have faded. Timid governments, visa-
anxious academics, contract-hungry entrepreneurs tip-toe semantically:
The Tiananmen massacre becomes the ``June 4th incident,'' if not a
valid response to chaos.
History will render a just verdict. Let us recall what happened.
Common descriptions of that spring suggest only that students marched
in Beijing. Not true. Demonstrations flourished in over 250 cities and
towns throughout China. And if students were the vanguard, people from
all walks of life--workers, peasants, teachers, merchants, journalists,
lawyers, monks, police, soldiers and Party members--championed them. In
the capital up to a million petitioned for fifty days without an act of
violence, indeed any vandalism--unless one counts the paint sprayed on
Chairman Mao's portrait.
No wonder the amazing spectacle in the Square inspired millions in
Eastern Europe who went on to achieve more benign outcomes.
For the Chinese people, the Goddess of Democracy symbolized not
only the hope for greater freedoms but curbs on corruption and
inflation. Their requests were moderate--calls for dialogue with the
government, not its overthrow. By the close of May, the petitioners
camped in the Square had dwindled to a few thousand. Surely the ending
did not have to be tragic. But the red-faced patriarchs ruled to hammer
home lessons and petrify the public. Twenty years later no one yet
knows how many were bloodied, maimed or died in the massacre.
Meanwhile, the Party drew firm conclusions.
First, maintain a united Politburo on sensitive issues. So far,
Second, nip demonstrations in the bud. Despite a couple hundred per
day by even official count, the authorities have contained and isolated
Third, gain legitimacy through prosperity and nationalism. Economic
reforms accelerated after the massacre. To China's credit, the standard
of living has risen continually and dramatically. The Yuan, not Marxism
and Maoism, is the ideological glue. So too is nationalism which
innately goes hand in hand with China's rise in the world.
Finally, control the media. Here, too, the government has kept the
lid on, screwing it tight on delicate topics. Still, media outlets
press the envelope. And the Internet and the cell phone haunt the Party
most. For every new censor, there are dueling bloggers and hackers.
Today, their weapons are humorous double entendres. Tomorrow, what?
To date, therefore, Beijing defies history--the emerging middle
class and elites eschew politics, content to follow the Party's lead.
The only checks and balances they hanker to expand are those held by
their banks. Ironically, the most disaffected today are the peasants
Evidently no Tiananmens lurk around the corner. But I've learned my
lesson on predicting China's future. In 1989, I was overly optimistic,
if not naive, about political reform. The depressing record of
repression and human rights violations since then is amply documented
by this Commission, the State Department and international monitors.
The grieving parents of Tiananmen, still harassed, still seek
answers. The grieving parents of Sichuan now suffer the identical fate.
Nevertheless, I remain convinced that China will move toward
greater transparency and liberty--not as a concession to the West but
as the proven route to a brighter future. The rule of law, a thriving
civil society, the accountability of officials, freedom of the media
and expression would serve Beijing's own stated goals: economic growth,
political stability, the control of pollution and corruption, the
improvement of ties with Taiwan and the United States, the heightening
of its stature in the world.
How fast, how smooth, how democratic--who can predict?
No doubt only Chinese can determine China's fate.
Meanwhile, we should strive for positive relations with Beijing. I
have done so for forty years.
Supporting human rights and democracy is a salient dimension of our
policy. But America's vast and crucial agenda with China cannot be
subsumed to one element. This is a painful but prudent calculation we
apply to countries around the globe. With a Burma or Sudan our values
can be our dominant preoccupation. With a China or Saudi Arabia we
pursue a more nuanced course.
Let us encourage China toward a more liberal society by appealing
to its self-interests.
Let us cooperate with China on a host of bilateral, regional and
And let us remain confident that one day the official verdict on
June 4th will be overturned, that ``hooligans'' will be heroes, that
``Black Hands'' will be harbingers of history.
For fabrications litter the ash heap of time while authenticity
survives. Zhao Ziyang was Premier and then Party Secretary. He was
sympathetic to the petitioners and against the launching of tanks. He
wept in the Square. He was thrown out of office and into house arrest
for sixteen years. He died in ignominy.
And yet? On this 20th Anniversary, his recordings speak truths. The
journey toward freedom may begin with soft whispers from a solitary
Prepared Statement of Perry Link
june 4, 2009
I wish to alter our question, slightly, to ``What is the
significance of the crackdown that ended the demonstrations?'' I do
this because it is the crackdown more than the demonstrations
themselves that has made a profound difference in shaping the China
that we see today.
First we must understand that the 1989 demonstrations sprang from
discontent that was much deeper and broader in Chinese society than the
feelings of some students at elite universities who had become enamored
of Western political ideals. There were, that spring, large
demonstrations in more than 30 Chinese cities; these protests were
usually led by students, but workers and many kinds of other citizens
supported them broadly. The major complaints were about corruption,
special privileges for the political elite, and the urban ``work unit''
system that was restricting personal freedoms and was seen as holding
China back. The 1989 movement was a nationalist movement in an
important sense. And it was animated much more by revulsion against
Chinese state socialism than by attraction to foreign ideas.
For the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the challenge of the 1989
upsurge was how to handle it (stifle it, adjust to it, accommodate it--
or a combination) while continuing to serve the Party's top priority,
which was, and still is, monopoly political power. The Party offered
the Chinese people a new bargain in the 1990s: make money, in almost
any way you can, and we will also allow you more personal freedoms in
your daily lives; but you may not challenge CCP power in public and may
not form organizations--political, religious, or otherwise--that the
CCP does not monitor and (if it chooses) control. In short: money, yes;
The Chinese people have accepted this bargain and it is hard to
blame them for doing so. Freedom in one sphere of life, after all, is
better than freedom in no sphere. People pursued what they could,
worked hard, and have greatly improved their material lives. At the
same time the consequences of rejecting the bargain were set out in
unmistakable terms, beginning with the 1989 massacre itself. Why did
the regime use tanks and machine guns in 1989, instead of tear gas,
water hoses, or (as it did in breaking up the April 5, 1976 Tiananmen
protests) billy clubs? The use of overwhelming force with bloody
consequences served to put an exclamation point on the regime's message
of ``no more politics!'' In the ensuing months, policies of mandatory
military service for students, ``patriotic education'' in textbooks and
schools, and thoughtwork in the media aimed at consolidating the new
The regime was very successful in the 1990s in turning the latent
nationalism of the 1989 movement into an explicit version of
nationalism that served CCP interests. The message that ``to be a
patriot is to support the Party'' was constantly stressed in the media,
in textbooks, in bids for the Olympic Games (as well as the eventual
staging of the Games), and in conflicts, real and imagined, with
``foreign forces'' such as Japan, the United States, and the Dalai
Lama. By the end of the 1990s, money-making and nationalism were the
dominant public values in Chinese society, and both were strong.
But this left the society with a badly distorted value system. It
is a deeply-rooted assumption in Chinese culture--and ``Confucian''
cultures generally--that a society needs values that are both ethical
and public. In the mid-1990s Chinese intellectuals began to speak of a
``values vacuum'' because they found this kind of public morality to be
missing. In recent years Chinese popular fiction has made clear a
strong appetite among the public for characters who--as if in
contradiction to the society that readers live in--are honest, sincere,
decent, and ready to do what is right even if it is not in their
material self-interest. During the same years China has seen revivals
of religion--Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Taoism, and others--but the
project of letting religions lead the way to shared public values has
been frustrated by CCP repression, which happens any time a religious
organization is seen to be wandering outside Party control. Chinese
people continue today with their frustrating search for public ethical
values, and personal insecurity remains a problem among people at many
levels of society. These problems must be viewed as important long-term
consequences of the 1989 repression.
The generation of people now in their teens and twenties comprise
an important special case. This generation has grown up with the
``money, yes; politics, no'' bargain, and many have internalized the
formula so well that it seems to them simply odd--counterintuitive--to
work for political ideals when one could be pursuing self-interest
instead. (The focus on self in this generation is reinforced by the
fact that almost all of them, at least in the cities, have grown up
without siblings.) For them, allegiance to the Party is built on self-
interest. It would be a mistake to view them as deeply committed to
Party principles; they could veer in other directions in the future.
Few among the young have very clear ideas about what happened in
1989 or much desire to dig deeply into the question. Their education
has taught them that the events were only an ``incident'' caused by
troublemakers and that ``the Chinese people'' long ago reached a
``correct historical verdict'' and have moved on. In this generation,
the Party policy of distorting the record and inducing amnesia has
But among the middle and older generations, much remembering
continues. The families of victims of course remember, and people like
Ding Zilin, head of the Tiananmen Mothers group, have done courageous
work to help these families ``come out'' with their painful memories.
Many others--not themselves victims but direct or indirect witnesses--
also continue to remember, if only privately. The June Fourth massacre
remains a festering sore in Chinese political culture.
Among those who certainly do remember are the top leaders
themselves. Why else would early June be declared a nationwide
``sensitive period'' year after year? Why else would the regime
dispatch a bevy of plainclothes police, during these sensitive periods,
to accompany the 72-year-old Ding Zilin as she goes out to the market
to buy vegetables? To ``protect her'', as they put it? Clearly not. The
purpose is to protect themselves, the masters of the regime, from the
power of the ideas that this elderly woman symbolizes. It is hard to
imagine a clearer demonstration that memories of 1989 are alive in the
minds of the men on top.
For the past twenty years critics of the 1989 repression have been
calling on the regime to ``reverse the verdict'' on it. This would
mean, in essence, declaring that the Tiananmen demonstrations were a
``patriotic'' movement--not, as in the official formulation that has
held for twenty years, ``anti-Party and anti-socialist''. It would also
entail an admission that the military repression was a ``mistake.'' So
far the Party leaders have rebuffed demands for ``verdict reversal'',
and it is likely for the foreseeable future that they will continue to
rebuff them. For critics of the repression, the important issues are
that truth should be acknowledged and justice should be done. Not so
for the regime leaders. For them, the key question (always their key
question) is whether ``reversing the verdict'' would add to or detract
from the Party's grip on power. On the one hand, to admit to the truth
and make amends with aggrieved parts of the populace would reap a
certain harvest in popular support; on the other hand, it would entail
admission that the regime had made a serious ``mistake,'' and this
admission might endanger the claim to monopoly power. The top leaders
are aware, too, that certain ones of their own number could use the
``mistake'' at Tiananmen as a political weapon to discredit rivals, and
the possibility remains that this kind of opportunism might appear some
day. But there is no current sign of it, and for now a verdict-reversal
appears highly unlikely. Beneath the surface, though, the issue
continues to fester and shows little sign of healing.
Prepared Statement of Susan L. Shirk
june 4, 2009
Ever since 1989, Chinese leaders have been haunted by the fear that
their days in power are numbered. The massive prodemocracy protests in
Beijing's Tiananmen Square and 132 other cities nearly ended communist
rule in China. The regime was shaken to its roots by six weeks of
student protests and the divisions within the Communist Party
leadership over how to handle them. The regime remained standing only
because the military followed Deng Xiaoping's order to use lethal force
to crack down on the demonstrators.\1\
\1\ This essay draws on the author's book, China: Fragile
Superpower (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).
Just months after the crackdown, the Berlin Wall was torn down, a
popular uprising overthrew the Romanian communist dictatorship, and
communist regimes in Eastern Europe were toppled in rapid succession.
The Soviet Union itself, the strongest communist power the world had
ever seen, collapsed two years later. China's leaders watched with
horror and had every reason to believe they could be next.
Today, two decades after the ``life-and-death turning point'' of
Tiananmen, Chinese Communist rule has survived, but its leaders remain
anxious about the possibility of another revolutionary moment. To
foreigners, China appears like an emerging superpower, strong
economically and influential internationally; but its communist leaders
feel much weaker as they struggle to stay on top of a society roiled by
thirty years of market reform and opening to the world. They have a
deep sense of domestic insecurity and perceive latent political threats
all around them.
Since 1989, everything China's leaders do is aimed at preventing
another Tiananmen. They are fixated on what they call ``social
stability.'' They use that euphemism to convince the Chinese public
that Communist Party rule is essential for maintaining order and
prosperity, and that without it, a country as large as China would
descend into civil war and chaos.
Although never publicly articulating it, the Chinese Communist
Party has devised a formula for survival based on the lessons they drew
from the Tiananmen experience. First, prevent large-scale protests.
Second, avoid public leadership splits. And third, keep the military
loyal to the Party.
The three rules are interconnected. If the leadership group remains
cohesive despite the competition that inevitably arises in it, then the
Party and the security police can stop the protests from spreading and
challenging the regime. Unless people receive some signal of
``permission'' from the top, protests are likely to fizzle out or be
extinguished before they grow politically threatening. But if the
divisions among the top leaders come into the open as they did in 1989,
people will take to the streets with little fear of punishment. Then,
if the military splits too, or refuses to use armed force to defend the
Party leaders, the entire regime could collapse. For the past twenty
years, with the specter of another Tiananmen crisis haunting them,
China's leaders have worked hard to shore up all three fronts--social
quiescence, elite unity, and military loyalty.
The fear of large-scale protests that could topple the Communist
Party has made economic growth a political imperative for China's
leaders. They calculate that the economy must grow at a certain annual
rate (7 or 8 percent) to create enough jobs to prevent widespread
unemployment and labor unrest. Today, when they acknowledge an
unemployment rate approaching double digits (9.4 percent), you know
that for them, a stimulus that effectively restores jobs is their
highest political priority.
As protests have increased in number over the past two decades, the
jittery leaders have sought to protect themselves by demonstrating
their responsiveness to public concerns. Premier Wen Jiabao,
accompanied by television crews, rushes to disasters like the 2008
massive snowstorms and Sichuan earthquake, to dramatize the
government's compassion and competence; on camera, he apologizes for
mistakes, tearfully expresses sympathy for victims, and directs rescue
efforts. Individual officials are promptly fired for government
failures or corruption once they become publicized by the media.
Government responsiveness is more than just a show. Anxieties about
unrest have spurred the central government to address problems that
anger the public, such as taxes on farmers, environmental pollution,
tainted food and medicine, and inadequate healthcare. But local
officials do not have the same interests as the central leaders in
Beijing. Local officials care more about rapid growth and big
construction projects that enable them to build political machines and
line their pockets by doling out patronage. Getting the local bosses to
implement central policies is a persistent dilemma for central leaders.
Rent-seeking behavior by local leaders that outrages citizens could
endanger the survival of Communist Party rule.
The possibility of gradually introducing direct elections from the
bottom-up as Taiwan successfully did has been on the table for decades,
but remains stalled at the village level. Since 1989, the CCP
leadership has felt that its hold over society was too tenuous to risk
losing control over the selection of officials, which is the linchpin
of Party rule. Political reform efforts have instead focused on
creating non-institutionalized substitutes for elections like
petitioning or public hearings.
In the absence of elections, national officials increasingly rely
on the media and Internet to serve as watchdogs over local officials.
They have learned that when they suppress news of epidemics like SARS,
tainted food and medicine like the melamine in baby formula,
environmental disasters like the poisoning of rivers by chemical
plants, it aggravates crises. The trend is to allow the media to report
problems--official mouthpieces like the Xinhua News Agency are
beginning to publish exposes and reporting protests--but to spin the
coverage so the public is persuaded that the government is competently
Worries about political unrest also cause China's leaders to do
everything they can to impede organized collective action against the
regime. They view any independent social organization, no matter how
innocuous and non-political it may be, as a potential threat. Every
organization must be licensed and its leadership approved by the
political authorities. Many organizations, such as the Falun Gong,
unregistered churches, and labor organizations, are declared illegal
and suppressed. Even in the environment and public health space which
is relatively more open, NGOs operate under tight political
constraints. Collective petitioning is discouraged. And many
petitioners who find their way to Beijing are detained and then shipped
home as trouble-makers.
To co-opt the groups who are most likely to oppose Party rule, and
the individuals most likely to become the leaders of an opposition, the
Communist Party has made a big push to recruit college students and
private businesspeople as members. College students are the most
rapidly growing group within the Party. In 1990 only 1.2 percent of
college students were CCP members, but as of 2003, 8 percent of them
were members, and the percentage has continued to rise. For political
activists who are not susceptible to co-optation, including the urban
lawyers who are helping rural people assert their rights in court, the
CCP contains their influence by harassing them, putting them under
house arrest, or sending them to prison.
The Internet has become an arena for virtual collective action
particularly among young people. Netizens organize petitions online and
form Internet mobs called ``human flesh search engines'' that gang up
on individuals accused of corruption or other crimes. Party leaders,
who feel too insecure to simply allow Netizens to vent, go all-out to
prevent online activism from spilling over into the streets. Using
ingenious filtering technologies, site managers who screen and censor
postings, paid stooges who post pro-government views, and career
incentives to encourage self-censorship, the Party maintains a
surprising degree of control, but not air-tight control, over Internet
At the same time, China's leaders are hyper-responsive to media and
online public opinion and try to deflect it from targeting them. For
example, when newspaper and Internet opinion strongly attacked as too
lenient a sentence of life imprisonment for an organized crime figure
convicted of several crimes, Party leaders pressed the
Supreme Court to review the case, and the crime boss was executed the
same morning. In a more positive example, the media outrage over the
beating to death of a young college-trained migrant in Shenzhen who
been picked up by the police for not carrying a temporary residence
permit led the central government to abolish the detention system for
CCP leaders are particularly sensitive to nationalist criticism
focused on the hot-button issues of Japan, Taiwan, and the United
States. Nationalism is intensifying in China, in part as a spontaneous
expression of China's revival as a powerful nation and in part as a
result of the Communist Party's efforts to enhance its legitimacy and
build popular support for itself. China's leaders are well aware that
the previous two dynasties, the Qing and the Republican government,
both fell to revolutions in which the various discontents of different
rural and urban groups were fused together by the powerful emotional
force of nationalism. They want to make sure that the same fate doesn't
befall them. For example, when Chinese Netizens reacted with outrage
against the March 2008 violent attacks by Tibetan protesters against
Chinese shopkeepers in Lhasa and the feebleness of the government's
response, the leaders defended themselves by vilifying the Dalai Lama
and intensifying their diplomatic campaign to isolate him
internationally. Foreign policy related to Tibet and other issues that
arouse popular nationalism is motivated in large part by political
Whenever protests over domestic issues do break out, Beijing has a
standard approach to containing them: The central leaders deflect blame
away from themselves to local officials; buy off the demonstrators by
satisfying their economic demands, and punish the organizers. Local
police sometimes enlist local citizens as a kind of police auxiliary to
keep order by beating up demonstrators.
CCP strategies for averting another Tiananmen constitute a mixture
of responsiveness, cooptation, and coercion. So far these strategies
have succeeded in keeping protests small scale, localized, and not
targeted on the central government or Communist Party. But China's
Communist Party leaders continue to worry that a crisis, or a
politically significant anniversary of a historical event like
Tiananmen, might be the spark that ignites a firestorm of opposition to
The CCP leaders appear to have learned the lesson of Tiananmen. If
they don't hang together, they could hang separately, as the Western
saying goes. Still, each individual politician has moments of
temptation, when an interest in gaining more power for himself might
cause him to exploit a crisis situation and reach out beyond the inner
circle to mobilize a mass following, as many Chinese officials believe
that Zhao Ziyang attempted to do during the Tiananmen crisis (Zhao
denies this charge in his recently published memoirs.) Large protests
increase the risk of a split by showing leaders that a following is
already in place and forcing them to take a stand on the protests.
Social unrest actually can create schisms at the top. The danger is not
a matter of the particular personalities in the Party leadership at any
one time, but is built into the structure of communist systems. Changes
in the mass media heighten the risk of the public being drawn into
elite disagreements. Leadership splits telegraphed to the public
through the media or over the Internet have triggered revolutionary
upheavals in other authoritarian regimes. To reduce this risk, the CCP
bans all reporting of leadership competition or decision-making at the
top, even though the Hong Kong media has provided lively and sometimes
accurate analyses of Beijing politics for many years. It was big news
recently when the Chinese media were permitted to report that the CCP
Politburo held a meeting and some of the topics it discussed. No
Mainland newspaper or website dares publish leaks about was actually
said at the meetings, however. The handful of journalists who have
dared violate this taboo were accused of leaking state secrets and
Beginning with Deng Xiaoping, CCP leaders have sought to reduce the
risk of destabilizing splits by introducing institutional rules and
practices that bring greater regularity and predictability to elite
politics. Fixed terms of office, term limits, and mandatory retirement
age regularize leadership competition. When Jiang Zemin, having reached
the age of seventy-seven, retired as CCP general secretary (2002) and
president (2003), it was the first time that a leader of a large
communist country had ever handed down power to a successor without
putting up a fight of dying. As the price of retirement, Jiang managed
to hang on to his job as head of the Central Military Commission. But
without the institutional authority of the top Party post, Jiang's
influence began to evaporate, and two years later in September 2004, he
retired completed. During the two years when Jiang and Hu shared power,
subordinate officials were uneasy. The last time China had had two
different voices coming from the leadership they caused the near
disaster of the Tiananmen crisis. Anxious to prevent a repetition,
senior and retired leaders reportedly convinced Jiang that the best way
to preserve his legacy was to retire completely.
Today's top leaders--President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, and
the seven other members of the Politburo Standing Committee--constitute
an oligarchy that strives to prevent divisions among themselves, or at
least to hide them from the public. The current leaders lack the
personal charisma or popular following of their predecessors Mao Zedong
and Deng Xiaoping. They are comparatively colorless organization men
who came up through the Party ranks and are more or less
interchangeable and equal in stature. So far, at least, they have shown
themselves willing to subordinate themselves to the group to maintain
the Party's hold.
The authority of Hu Jintao, and Jiang Zemin before him, as the
number one leader who fills the three top positions--CCP General
Secretary, President, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission--
is sharply circumscribed. The top leader is only first among equals in
the senior leadership, reversing the decades of domination by the top
leader as the ``core'' of the leadership. Judicious balancing of major
institutional constituencies--the party apparatus, government agencies,
and representatives of the provinces--in the Politburo and its Standing
Committee is aimed at inhibiting any one group from dominating the
On the surface, relations within the CCP's inner circle appear
impressively smooth. There is no daylight between the public positions
of the top leaders even in the face of the tension created by China's
current economic downturn and this year's important political
anniversaries. In 2007, the oligarchy managed to get agreement on the
next leadership succession which should occur in 2012-13. Xi Jinping
and Li Keqiang were selected to succeed President Hu Jintao and Premier
Wen Jiabao respectively when their terms expire; if not challenged,
these two men will be leading China until 2022-23. (In what other
country could we identify the individuals who will be in charge so many
years into the future?)
Despite all that Chinese leaders have accomplished in
institutionalizing and stabilizing politics at the top, they know that
maintaining the unity of oligarchic rule remains a difficult challenge.
That is why they strive to keep elite politics inside a black box, well
hidden from public view. But in a society undergoing explosive change,
political outcomes are unpredictable because the political game is
evolving too. Every day new opportunities present themselves to
ambitious politicians in China. Keeping leadership competition under
wraps is becoming increasingly difficult as the media and Internet
compete for audiences by testing the limits on what they can report.
Nationalism is a natural platform for an ambitious politician who wants
to build a public reputation. We should anticipate the very real
possibility that an international or domestic crisis in the text few
years could tempt a challenger to reach out to a public following and
challenge the status quo.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been a key player in Chinese
politics since before the founding of the People's Republic in 1949.
During the Revolution, the People's Liberation Army and the Chinese
Communist Party were practically merged. Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and
other CCP leaders served as commanders, and the top generals were
members of the CCP Politburo.
When Deng Xiaoping led China, he was so confident of the loyalty of
the PLA that he squeezed it financially in order to concentrate on the
civilian economy. Deng encouraged the PLA to become a more professional
force, but he didn't provide the resources to accomplish it. Official
defense spending stayed almost flat during the 1980s at a time when
investments in the domestic economy were dramatically increasing. If we
factor in inflation, defense spending actually declined in real terms
to the point by the late 1980s that PLA budget chiefs confessed that
the official budget could only meet around 70 percent of the military's
actual spending requirements. The number of soldiers was cut almost in
half, from 4.5 million in 1981 to 2.31 million in 2001. By cutting the
size of the bloated military, China's capabilities got stronger. But at
the same time, military units were told to earn money by running
businesses to ease the financial burden on the state.
In 1989, when CCP rule was threatened by widespread protests and
divisions within the leadership, Deng turned to the military to save
the Party and end the crisis. And with only one exception, the PLA
units obeyed Deng's orders and turned their tanks and guns against the
Today's leaders have not served in the military, and cannot count
on its automatic allegiance. Hu Jintao, like Jiang Zemin before him,
lavishes resources on the PLA to make sure that he can count on it to
defend him. Defense spending has risen in real terms and as a
percentage of GNP since 1999. Official military spending has increased
at double-digit rates up to the present.
The PLA is enjoying bigger budgets in large part because today's
leaders are less politically secure and have a greater need to win the
military's allegiance. The strategic justification for increasing the
military budget in the late 1990s was that China was preparing to solve
the Taiwan problem militarily if need be. The emergence of
democratically elected presidents in Taiwan who appeared to be moving
the island toward formal independence provided the main impetus. At
present, trends across the Taiwan Strait are moving in the direction of
reconciliation, but new missions related to protecting Chinese imports
of oil, gas, and other resources over the sealanes of communication
give the PLA a new rationale for acquiring advanced naval and air
capabilities. Yet reinforcing these international justifications is the
logic of domestic politics that Mao Zedong identified many years ago
and that was dramatized in Tiananmen, i.e. ``political power grows out
of the barrel of a gun.'' Since 1989, China's insecure leaders have
placed a high priority on keeping the military well-funded, satisfied,
the political significance of tiananmen
Today, twenty years after the Tiananmen crisis, most Chinese
citizens probably have forgotten all about it, or been kept ignorant of
it because of the official silence imposed by the Chinese Communist
Party. Only a small minority of politically aware citizens are focused
on the significance of the event.
The memory of Tiananmen is felt most intensely by China's leaders
who still worry that it could happen again. As the twentieth
anniversary approached, the leaders revealed how insecure they are by
tightening press and Internet censorship and blocking former protest
leaders now living abroad from visiting the Mainland or Hong Kong. But
the leaders' efforts to avert another Tiananmen go much beyond these
recent actions. They are reflected in the larger patterns of Chinese
politics that have extended the lifespan of Party rule for two decades:
namely, the mixture of responsiveness, cooptation, and coercion the
leaders employ to avert large scale protests and maintain social
quiescence; the institutionalization of elite politics designed to
prevent elite competition from breaking out into the open and
mobilizing a mass opposition; and the generous military budgets
intended to guarantee that should all else fail, the army will loyally
defend the Party.
Prepared Statement Yang Jianli
june 4, 2009
I wish to make the following statement regarding the significance
of the 1989 Demonstrations in China and their implications for U.S.
It is important to understand why events of June 4th, 1989 occurred
as they did. China started market oriented reform in 1978. Three
results soon came from this economic reform. First, fast growth.
Second, it led to the negation of the CCP's revolution and the
legitimacy of the CCP regime itself. The purpose of the revolution and
the communist new regime was to destroy capitalism and establish
socialism. Now that you have got rid of socialism and reintroduced
capitalism, don't you have to admit the revolution was a mistake?
Therefore, economic reform is not the self perfection of the revolution
and of the one-party dictatorship, but their negation. The third result
is corruption. As economic reform went, official business dealings and
manipulations thrived, and corruption became more widespread. The
widespread corruption caused widespread discontent and became a reason
for the 1989 democracy movement.
The 1989 democracy movement had two slogans. One was ``freedom and
democracy,'' and the other was ``no official business dealings, no
corruption.'' The 1989
democracy movement caused unprecedented split within the CCP
leadership. The moderate faction led by Zhao Ziyang was opposed to
martial law and crackdown. At that time, a quarter or even a third of
the officials in Beijing joined the protesters. Most of the rest also
were sympathetic towards the students. Such was the degree of the
split. However, Deng Xiaoping cruelly suppressed the democracy movement
with the army. Why did Deng suppress the democracy movement? Is it
because he still believed in socialism? No. Not at all. Deng stopped
believing in socialism a long time before. Deng's aim was solely to
maintain CCP's autocratic power.
The June 4th massacre set the reforms in China down the wrong path.
During the first year or two after the massacre, as a result of the
dramatic changes in Soviet Union and East Europe, the CCP was very
anxious and fearful. To maintain their power, CCP leaders proposed
guarding against ``peaceful evolution.'' They opposed capitalism not
only politically, but economically as well. As a result, economic
reforms came to a sudden halt and even backslidden.
Yet, in the spring of 1992, Deng Xiaoping proposed accelerating
economic reforms without asking whether they were socialist or
capitalist. He clearly understood that the socialist economic system
was not working, and ending reforms meant running into a dead end. He
knew that, after June 4th and the changes in Soviet Union and East
Europe, socialist ideology was all but dead, and the CCP regime lost
its ability to cheat in this regard and could rely only on naked
violence. In this situation, it was impossible, and unnecessary, to
maintain a socialist facade. Violence had its advantages. It required
no pretense and therefore was subject to no restraint. Earlier economic
reforms were handicapped by the fear of being labeled capitalistic. Now
the fear was gone, and more capitalist elements could be introduced. In
this way, China's economic reforms moved faster and further after 1992.
Because the democratic forces in the CCP and the nation were
suppressed after June 4th, the economic reforms in China after 1992
unavoidably became privatization among the powerful. In the name of
reform, government officials of all ranks morphed into capitalists;
assets owned by the people as a whole became private
assets of officials. Such reform could not have happened without the
June 4th massacre. In the reform of publicly owned companies, for
example, hundreds of thousands of workers were laid off and given very
little compensation. Without the June 4th massacre, those workers would
have formed unions, and the government would not have dared to abandon
them. In short, the massacre, by creating universal fear and cynicism,
gave the rise to the economic efficiency based on the deficiency in
The irony is that this kind of reform, while morally reprehensible,
was perhaps for a certain period of time the easiest to carry through
successfully. The economic reform of socialist countries consists of
making the transition from public ownership to private ownership. It is
a task much easier said than done. Some people compared it to ``turning
fish soup back into fish.''
Russia and East Europe mainly used the method of ``division'':
assets were divided into shares and then awarded to everyone. The
advantage of this method is that it is fair and acceptable to all.
Since assets were supposedly owned by the whole people, the most
reasonable privatization plan was to award assets to everyone equally.
This is the so called the privatization among the masses.
But this method has its own shortcomings. Shares are left far too
dispersed in this approach; everyone has a share, but at the same time,
everyone has only one share: in the end, no one really cares about
operational efficiency, thus perpetuating a managerial weakness
inherent in past ownership. It requires a period of competition during
which certain qualified individuals will consolidate an ever greater
concentration of shares, and finally become true ``capitalists''
capable of managing their enterprise. However, in the early stages
prior to the ``arrival'' of these capitalists, an enterprise's
efficiency will not necessarily improve, and may in fact decline.
China did not practice privatization among the masses. Without
democratic participation and public supervision, the privatization in
China became privatization among the powerful. CCP government officials
of all ranks made public assets their own. Factory directors and party
secretaries became rich capitalists in an instance. Today's CCP is the
Board of China and the government officials its CEOs. In this way,
China avoided the economic hardship of Russia and East Europe.
Thus, the essence of the ``China's economic miracle'' can be
briefly summarized as follows: economic reform has been implemented
under the iron fist of a one-party dictatorship, providing officials
with an opportunity to get rich by plundering state assets, thus make
every official an enthusiastic reformer; officials have reaped fortunes
through deception and the use of force, and have implemented instant
privatization by making public assets their own. They have been
dedicated advocate of economic development and efficiency, deficiency-
in-human-rights induced-efficiency, if you will. Due to the
interweaving of power and money, those with most power are most likely
to rapidly accumulate a massive abundance of capital. Such an
arrangement provides a fertile environment for the privatization of
former state-owned enterprises and the development of larger
enterprises, and thus drives economic development in general.
Because China remains governed by a one-party dictatorship that
nips any and all sources of instability in the bud (for example, by
banning independent workers' or peasants' unions), Chinese society
appears to have attained a state of extreme stability . Meanwhile, the
government's control over the economy, its highly consistent and
predictable economic behavior and the absence of any opposition or any
prospect of a change in leadership all serve attract international
businesses, while also providing the domestic economy with resilience
against international economic shocks. Similarly, because China remains
governed by a one-party dictatorship, many fields of activity--
especially political activity--have been designated ``off limits, ''
leaving the majority of people with no choice but to focus on economic
activity. These restrictions, combined with the emergence of spiritual
vacuum, individual greed and an unprecedented emancipation of material
desires, have added fuel to the fire of economic development. Meanwhile
those at bottom of social ladder who have suffered at the hands of
bigwig officials and their manipulation of economic reform have no
outlets to pursue justice with the present system. Chinese labor is
already quite cheap, but the creation of slave labor through the CCP's
policy has naturally made labor even cheaper, further boosting China's
``great advantage'' in global economic competition.
As we know, one of the most important strategies the Chinese
government uses in economic development is export processing. It
attracts huge amount of foreign capital into China, takes advantage of
the deficiency in human rights in general, uses China's low cost labor
in particular, and then exports the products. The Chinese government
becomes very rich this way, but the purchasing power of the ordinary
people do not increase accordingly. In countries that imported Chinese
products, the capitalists make a fortune and ordinary people get cheap
merchandise, but capital flows out, and industries shrinks rapidly.
Workers lose jobs, welfare tends to decline, and public finances run
into trouble. In other words, by exploiting the low levels of human
rights of Chinese workers, China is able to maintain a competitive
edge. Even free market economies such as the U. S. find it hard to
compete with China, to say nothing of the welfare states.
But China's model has a fatal flaw: it lacks any legitimacy
whatsoever. This fact is without precedent in China or abroad, and is
therefore little understood by most people.
When we speak of the widening gap between the rich and the poor in
China today, what I want to strongly emphasize is that not only is the
gap very large, but the character of the problem is particularly
malevolent. China's economic disparity problem is a unique one; it was
not created by history or by the market forces, but by autocratic rule.
In China, the reason why the poor live in poverty is because their
possessions have been seized by those in power; the rich live in wealth
because they are able to use their influence to snatch away the things
that others have produced. Most people look at the Chinese economy and
only see the breakneck speeds at which it has developed. Indeed, when
compared to Russia and other former Communist countries in Eastern
Europe, China's economic reform appears superior. But the problem is,
no matter how many difficulties that Russia and the former Soviet
countries have encountered in their economic reform and development,
these difficulties occurred, at least, within systems of public
supervision and democratic participation. In those countries, the
citizens have the right to express themselves and the right to vote--
which gives their reforms a certain kind of basic legitimacy.
China's situation is exactly the opposite. No matter how many
dizzying accomplishments that China's reforms seem to achieve, because
they take place in a system that lacks public supervision and
democratic participation, it all inevitably leads to the plundering of
the masses' property by the rich and powerful. First, the party used
the name of revolution to transform the common people's private
property into the public property of the ``whole people.'' Then it used
the name of reform to turn the whole people's public property into the
private property of its own members. First it stole in the name of
revolution, then it divided the spoils in the name of reform. Yet these
two opposite crimes were both committed in the space of 50 years by the
same Party. This kind of reform bears no legitimacy whatsoever.
Therefore, the twisted pattern of wealth distribution that it has
spawned cannot be recognized or accepted by the people.
Is the Chinese model sustainable? My answer is No. The first and
foremost reason is that the ``Chinese model'' is built upon an unfair,
illegitimate foundation that goes against humanity, against both human
rights and democracy; people in China, as elsewhere in the world,
demand for fairness, human rights and democracy. That is, they are
My mind at this moment cannot help but going back to May 30, 1989.
In the midst of a national movement of millions--millions--demanding
democratic reforms in China, the statue of the Goddess of Democracy was
unveiled in Tiananmen Square by students who declared:
``The statue of the Goddess of Democracy is made of plaster, and of
course cannot stand here forever. But as the symbol of the people's
hearts, she is divine and inviolate. . . . Chinese people, arise! Erect
the statue of the Goddess of Democracy in your millions of hearts! Long
live the people! Long live freedom! Long live democracy! ''
The statue, together with thousands of young lives, was crashed
four days later by government tanks. But the desire for democracy was
not crushed by these tanks. Indeed, the desire for democracy cannot be
crushed in the hearts of any people. On December 10, 2008, the 60th
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 303 Chinese
intellectuals published Charter 08. Its opening statement asserts:
``A hundred years have passed since the writing of China's first
constitution. 2008 also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the
promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the
thirtieth anniversary of the appearance of [the] Democracy Wall in
Beijing, and the tenth of China's signing of the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights. We are approaching the twentieth
anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre of pro-democracy student
protesters. The Chinese people, who have endured human rights disasters
and uncountable struggles across these same years, now include many who
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 departing
from these values, the Chinese government's approach to `modernization'
has proven disastrous. It has stripped people of their rights,
destroyed their dignity, and corrupted normal human intercourse.''
Despite the Chinese government's heavy-handed measures against the
organizers of the Charter 08 petition, the number of signers continues
to rise, and today it stands at nearly 10,000.
The meaning of numbers is important to understand. Some academics
in China and in the United States cite the scales of popular
participation in activities encouraged or even orchestrated by the
authorities as evidence of the people's approval of the government. But
statistics based on the coercion of the tyrant's baton obviously
misrepresent the true state of the minds of people living under
dictatorship. More telling indicators are the numbers of people who
engage in activities the government aims to prevent--or actually cracks
down upon once they have begun. ``Mass incidents'' is the term the
Chinese government uses to describe protests in which 100 or more
people participate. The number of these ``incidents'' has risen to
100,000 per year--which means that, on average, a new, large protest
against the policies of the Chinese government takes place every five
People are eager to find a breakthrough point. A reversal of the
verdict on Tiananmen incident is widely considered one such
breakthrough point. I agree. With this good intention, some democracy-
oriented intellectuals have recently called for reconciliation with
regard to the tragedy. I think the notion of reconciliation is very
important; we sooner or later will have to come to terms with our
troubled past. But putting forth the proposal of reconciliation now is
premature; primarily because the Chinese government has not even
acknowledged any mistake in all this. One cannot reconcile to a non-
event. The admission of the events of June 4th must
precede any reconciliation. Rather than acknowledge the past events,
continues on the path of untruth. It continues to persecute the victims
and their families, tens of those known as ``June 4 prisoners'' are
still being imprisoned, no compensation has been made to victims or
their families. The government remains a one-party repressive regime
continuing to lie about the tragic events, to ignore the pleas from its
own people and to demonstrate an unwillingness to listen. They
repeatedly show us that they have no intention to change.
The truth is not out. When it is, perhaps it will be through an
impartial truth seeking committee, one of the major demands from
Tiananmen mothers. It should be the regime, the more powerful party,
not the victims that first raises up the issue of reconciliation. First
an honest admission of the incident. Truth must be before
The democratic forces in China are not strong enough to get the
regime to sit at a negotiation table and begin a process towards the
truth and towards reconciliation. And the regime has no willingness to
engage in any such program because it has accumulated too many
grievances of incredible magnitude. Tiananmen is just one of the many
tragedies. So, to reach the end point of reconciliation, we must first
develop the democratic forces, the viable opposition in China. That is
I am often asked by American friends: ``What you say is all well
and good, and I am myself convinced about the universality of democracy
and freedom, but other than that, why should we care about whether, and
how fast, China becomes democratic? '' My answer is simple. If China
continues its path of economic development under a one-party
dictatorship, it will pose a serious threat to our democratic way of
life in the United States. China will serve as a model for dictators
and juntas. In fact, it is already a model and a leading supporter of
these regimes. Pick a dictator anywhere on the globe--from North Korea
to Sudan, from Burma to Zimbabwe, from Cuba to Iran--and you'll almost
certainly find that the Chinese regime is supporting it today.
In the United States today, the Chinese government takes advantage
of our freedom and democracy to solidify its position at home. It, or
its surrogates, have wide access to our universities, think tanks, and
media through which they can advance their opinions and rationalize
their actions. The Chinese government has co-opted numerous American
businessmen and academics by providing them with favorable business
opportunities and all manner of privileges; in turn, they serve the
purposes and interests of the Chinese government back in America as
lobbyists for favorable policies towards China. Indeed, are not many of
our opinions on China clouded by what has been the ``business-first''
priorities of our China policy which has benefited neither working-
class Americans nor ordinary Chinese?
Make no mistake, the expansion of China's military power is also a
significant and alarming development. Throughout the past decade,
China's defense budget has increased at an annual rate double that of
its GDP growth. The Chinese People's Liberation Army is acquiring more
than enough power to intimidate surrounding East Asian countries, some
of them America's allies. It seems clear that at present, China wants
to minimize military confrontation with the United States and seeks
instead to concentrate on developing its economy. Yet this could well
be a temporary strategy, aimed at delaying conflict with the United
States while giving China the time it needs to develop a more powerful
military. Who can say what grandiose dreams and ambitions Chinese
leaders may harbor 20 or 30 years hence if their regime is richer and
stronger? History and a well-developed body of political theory show
that established democracies rarely go to war with one another. If this
is true, then the United States has a clear national security stake in
whether China becomes an established democracy.
But what leverage do we have with the Chinese government to push
for positive change in China in the field of political rights? Some--
even those who want to restore human rights as a centerpiece of foreign
policy--will say that we have little leverage to effect meaningful
Exactly the opposite is true. But a detailed list of effective
policies can emerge only after we rid ourselves of the delusions and
false assumptions upon which our China policy has long been based.
Above all, we must understand democracy in China is homegrown and not
imposed by outside world as many have suggested and many others would
worry it would be. But this does not mean that we must sit back and
wait for democracy to bloom. Instead, it means engaging with and
nurturing democratic forces already at work in China. People often talk
about prerequisites for democratization; for me, the most important of
all is that there must be democratic forces in Chinese society and I
believe today more than ever that a visionary part of the U.S.
engagement policy with China is to openly and systematically engage
with the Chinese democratic forces and to nurture their growth.
More than this, we need political leaders who will call attention
to the fact that trade has not yet brought, and will never alone bring,
an end to political repression or the Chinese Communist Party's
monopoly on power. America has been carrying out a policy that benefits
business interests in both the United States and China far more than it
helps ordinary people in either country. It is time for change.
To that end, I want to offer the idea of Reciprocity as a foreign
In 1997, Harvard University invited Jiang Zeming, then President of
China, to speak at the campus. In response to this invitation, I
organized a student demonstration which became the largest campus
protest at Harvard since the Vietnam War. Those in favor of Jiang's
visit argued for it on the basis of freedom of speech. Our protest
argued against it on the grounds of Reciprocity.
The lack of reciprocity gives the Chinese government a huge
advantage in the field of world opinion, and in tamping down internal
dissent. By insisting on reciprocity, the United States and the rest of
the world's democracies can showcase their own freedoms while forcing
the Chinese government into an untenable position with respect to its
denial of basic rights to its own citizenry.
As I said earlier, in the United States today, the Chinese
government and its surrogates have wide access to our universities,
think tanks, and media outlets through which they can advance their
opinions and rationalize their actions.
When U.S. government officials travel to China, their movements,
their contacts, and their communications are tightly controlled. If
officials give a speech it is not typically broadcast to the Chinese
people. Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey reported that on his last
trip to China, his meetings with reform-minded Chinese citizens were
suddenly canceled and that he could not access his own website on the
Internet. Even Presidents Bush and Clinton had their speeches to
Chinese citizens blocked when they visited China. Virtually all
American media are blocked or jammed in China. Here in the United
States, China can freely broadcast. In fact it is estimated that over
90% of the Chinese-language media in the United States are Chinese-
government controlled. The Chinese government exploits our freedoms to
extend its influence with Chinese communities in the United States.
In short, there exists no reciprocity between China and the
It is fair and appropriate to ask the Chinese government for the
same freedoms for its people that we ourselves enjoy; the same access
to the Chinese people for our officials and delegations; the same open
discussion and exchange of ideas that we extend to the Chinese
government here in the United States. This idea of Reciprocity will
allow us to directly and indirectly infuse the issue of human rights
into all sectors of our dialogue with China in a way that would make it
very difficult for the Chinese government to refuse. It would give the
United States, and the other democracies of the world, further leverage
in their discussions with China and help to restore the moral compass
of the United States as it navigates the choppy seas of world
The United States was founded on the principles of freedom,
democracy, and certain inalienable rights. But the desire to meet
short-term interests tends to compromise faithfulness to these
principles. That inconsistency weakens American credibility. But the
United States remains a great country, and its people a great people. I
have an incurable confidence in American democracy, know as I do that
its structure always makes it possible for its citizens to correct past
mistakes. At present, isolationism is not the solution to the problem
of a tarnished international image. Promoting democracy and freedom
around the world will panic dictators and gain the interest of even
those who have been hoodwinked by their rulers. We should always
remember Reverend Martin Luther King's admonition that ``injustice
anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.''
Prepared Statement of Hon. Byron Dorgan, a U.S. Senator From North
Dakota, Chairman, Congressional-Executive Commission on China
Welcome to the Congressional-Executive Commission on China's first
hearing in the 111th Congress. We have a distinguished group of
witnesses before us today who will help us examine the significance of
the tragic events of June 4, 1989, and aid us in exploring the
implications of the 1989 democracy movement and its crackdown on U.S.
policy toward China today.
We are honored to have a number of Tiananmen student leaders and
others who participated in those demonstrations here with us in the
hearing room today. I want to welcome one person in particular--Mr.
Fang Zheng. Mr. Fang was an athlete at the Beijing College of Sports.
On June 4, he was participating in the protests. When he sought to pull
a girl out from in front of a tank, his legs were crushed under the
tank. Refusing later to publicly deny that the source of his injury was
a military tank, Mr. Fang was expelled from school. Despite enormous
hardship, he went on to become China's wheelchair discus and javelin
champion. Earlier this year, he moved to the United States with his
family. Welcome, Mr. Fang.
Twenty years ago, peaceful protesters like Mr. Fang gathered in
Beijing's Tiananmen Square calling for the elimination of corruption
and for political reforms. In Beijing and hundreds of other cities
across China, the asked for the right to speak freely, and for other
freedoms we take for granted here in the United States. These
protesters included not only students. Government employees,
journalists, workers, police, and even members of China's armed forces
also demonstrated that day.
Chinese authorities tried to persuade the demonstrators to leave
Tiananmen Square. But they refused. Thousands of armed troops carrying
automatic weapons in large truck convoys moved into to ``clear the
Square'' and surrounding streets of demonstrators. Then, soldiers in
columns of tanks fired directly at citizens and into crowds, inflicting
high civilian casualties, and killing or injuring unarmed civilians.
Twenty years later, the exact number of dead and wounded remains
unclear. The wounded are estimated to have numbered in the thousands.
Detentions at the time were in the thousands. Some political prisoners
who were sentenced in connection with the events surrounding June 4th
still sit in Chinese prisons today.
I ask to be included in the hearing record a representative list of
Tiananmen Square prisoners who remain jail today. This list was
developed from the Commission's political prisoner database, the
largest publicly accessible database of China's political prisoners.
An untold number of Chinese citizens died in the government's
bloody crackdown. Relatives and friends have a right to mourn their
sons, their daughters, their colleagues and their friends publicly.
They have a right to call for a full and public accounting of the
wounded and dead. They have a right to call for the release of those
who are still imprisoned.
But for attempting to exercise these rights, relatives and friends
of those killed in 1989 have faced harassment. They have faced arrest.
They have suffered abuses. Today, we express our sympathy to them. Most
of all we honor the memory of those whom they loved whose lives were
Chinese authorities frequently tell us that today the Chinese
people enjoy greater freedom to express themselves. I believe that it
is true. But, at the same time, they repeatedly show the world how they
violently silence those who work for fundamental rights for all of
Right now, Chinese authorities are harassing and detaining human
rights advocates. These include Mr. Liu Xiaobo and his wife, Liu Xia.
Mr. Liu was a Tiananmen Square protester. He is now an important writer
and thinker who signed Charter 08, which is a call for peaceful
political reform published on-line last December by over 300 citizens.
It has since been signed by thousands of individuals. For his
endorsement of Charter 08, Mr. Liu is now under house arrest, and his
wife faces constant harassment.
Last month, I met in my office with Geng He, the wife of the great
human rights lawyer, Gao Zhi Sheng. Mr. Gao has not been seen or heard
from since this past February. He represented the poor and politically
dispossessed, persecuted Christians and Falun Gong, exploited coal
miners, and those battling official corruption. After Mr. Gao was
released from prison on politically-related charges, he was placed
under house arrest, and his family faced constant police surveillance
and intimidation. For a period, even his 16-year-old daughter was
barred from attending school. The treatment became so brutal that the
family decided that their very survival depended on escaping from
China. After his family fled, Mr. Gao was abducted from his home by
members of the security services. He remains missing.
I urge the Chinese government to inform Mr. Gao's wife, and his
children, about where he is and to release him. His family is
desperately worried about his well-being. I also appeal to the
government to enforce internationally recognized standards of fairness
and due process in judicial proceedings, and ask that it release those
individuals imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their rights--
whether they exercised those rights in Tiananmen Square in 1989 or in
China today. China is an extraordinary country which has had immense
success on many fronts and is justifiably proud. China must now lead on
strengthening the human rights of its people and the integrity of its
legal and political institutions with no less skill and commitment than
it has used to lead millions of its people out of poverty.
Prepared Statement of Hon. Sander Levin, a U.S. Representative From
Michigan, Cochairman, Congressional-Executive Commission on China
june 4, 2009
Two decades ago, the Chinese people stood up at Tiananmen, but
China's leaders ordered them to stand down. Many defied that order,
choosing instead to remain faithful to their democratic aspirations.
The world took note. And we preserve that memory for history today.
In the last 20 years since Tiananmen Square, the significance of
the U.S.-China relationship has grown dramatically--on a variety of
foreign policy issues and in our economic relations. In pursuing these
relations successfully, a key challenge has been to find the right
combination of factors in pursuit of basic American values.
That was a challenge in consideration of trade relations with China
in its accession to the WTO. There was incorporated in the legislation
before Congress in 2000 the creation of the Congressional-Executive
Commission on China to pursue issues relating to human rights,
including labor rights, and the rule of law. The Commission actively
has engaged on these issues and has issued a comprehensive report every
year since its inception.
When peaceful protesters gathered in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in
1989--and in over 100 other Chinese cities--it represented a burst of
freedom. But after thousands of armed forces moved into Beijing, and
surrounded protesters--students, government employees, journalists,
workers, and police alike--bursts of gunfire killed that burst of
freedom on June 4, 1989. Training its firepower directly into the
crowds around Tiananmen Square, the People's Liberation Army killed and
injured thousands of unarmed civilians.
We express our sympathy to the relatives and friends of those
killed on that day, and we stand with them today as we honor the memory
and the courage of those whose lives were lost, of those who were
unjustly wounded or detained, and those who continue to suffer today,
including prisoners of conscience still languishing in Chinese prisons.
We have asked our distinguished panelists here today in part to
help us determine whether we ever will or even can know the exact
number of dead, wounded, and detained. As we ask China's leaders for
full and independent investigations into the Tiananmen Square crackdown
with a full commitment to openness, we turn to you to help us
understand whether there can be any realistic cause for optimism that
such a public accounting can or will take place.
As we call on Chinese authorities to release those individuals
imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their internationally
recognized rights, we ask you to help us better understand what else we
may do to enhance the prospects that the Chinese authorities will
respond appropriately. When we call on Chinese authorities to end the
harassment and detention of those who were involved in the 1989
protests, and to end the harassment and detention of those who continue
to advocate peacefully for political reform, we ask you to help us
identify the factors that most determine the nature of the response we
realistically may expect from Chinese authorities.
But let us be absolutely clear: in all of this, we ask of China
nothing that is inconsistent with commitments to international
standards to which China in principal already has agreed. So we are not
looking for more agreements. We are waiting for action. We are looking
for China's leaders to demonstrate true commitment, not just in words
but in deeds, to prioritizing human rights, including worker rights,
and the development of the rule of law in no lesser measure than they
have prioritized economic reform.
The first meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue
in Washington, DC during the last week of July 2009, provides an
important opportunity to underline how the challenges of protecting and
advancing the welfare of citizens--American and Chinese citizens
alike--must neither be separated nor distinguished from a demonstrated
and full commitment to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, anti-
corruption, democratic processes, and other fundamental human rights.
In closing, I note again that, two decades ago, the Chinese people
stood up at Tiananmen, but China's leaders ordered them to stand down.
Many defied that order, choosing instead to remain faithful to their
democratic aspirations. We must preserve that memory for history today.
To remain faithful to our pursuit of basic American values, we must do
nothing less. If we do not, the world will take note.
Prepared Statement of Hon. Christopher H. Smith, a U.S. Representative
From New Jersey, Ranking Member, Congressional-Executive Commission on
june 4, 2009
On this tragic 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, I
am afraid that, even today, American technology and know-how is
enabling the Chinese Government to repress the truth about what
happened on that day--about which it is absolutely vital that the
Chinese people know the truth. After all, it is the truth about their
Similarly, while the Internet has opened up commercial
opportunities and provided access to vast amounts of information for
people the world over, the Internet has also become a malicious tool: a
cyber sledgehammer of repression of the government of China. As soon as
the promise of the Internet began to be fulfilled--when brave Chinese
began to email each other and others about human rights issues and
corruption by government leaders--the Party cracked down. To date, an
estimated 49 cyber-dissidents and 32 journalists have been imprisoned
by the PRC for merely posting information on the Internet critical of
the regime. And that's likely to be only the tip of the iceberg. Of
course, one of the points on which the Chinese Government is most eager
to crack down is dissemination of the truth about Tiananmen.
Tragically, history shows us that American companies and their
subsidiaries have provided the technology to crush human rights in the
past. Edwin Black's book IBM and the Holocaust reveals the dark story
of IBM's strategic alliance with Nazi Germany. Thanks to IBM's enabling
technologies, from programs for identification and cataloging to the
use of IBM's punch card technology, Hitler and the Third Reich were
able to automate the genocide of the Jews.
U.S. technology companies today are engaged in a similar sickening
collaboration, decapitating the voice of the dissidents. In 2005,
Yahoo's cooperation with Chinese secret police led to the imprisonment
of the cyber-dissident Shi Tao. And this was not the first time.
According to Reporters Without Borders, Yahoo also handed over data to
Chinese authorities on another of its users, Li Zhi . Li Zhi was
sentenced on December 10, 2003 to eight years in prison for ``inciting
subversion.'' His ``crime'' was to criticize in online discussion
groups and articles the well-known corruption of local officials.
Women and men are going to the gulag and being tortured as a direct
result of information handed over to Chinese officials. When Yahoo was
asked to explain its actions, Yahoo said that it must adhere to local
laws in all countries where it operates. But my response to that is: if
the secret police a half century ago asked where Anne Frank was hiding,
would the correct answer be to hand over the information in order to
comply with local laws? These are not victimless crimes. We must stand
with the oppressed, not the oppressors.
I believe that two of the most essential pillars that prop up
totalitarian regimes are the secret police and propaganda. Yet for the
sake of market share and profits, leading U.S. companies like Google,
Yahoo, Cisco and Microsoft have compromised both the integrity of their
product and their duties as responsible corporate citizens. They have
aided and abetted the Chinese regime to prop up both of these pillars,
propagating the message of the dictatorship unabated and supporting the
secret police in a myriad of ways, including surveillance and invasion
of privacy, in order to effectuate the massive crackdown on its
Through an approach that monitors, filters, and blocks content with
the use of technology and human monitors, the Chinese people have
little access to uncensored information about any political or human
rights topic, unless of course, Big Brother wants them to see it.
Google.cn, China's search engine, is guaranteed to take you to the
virtual land of deceit, disinformation and the big lie. As such, the
Chinese government utilizes the technology of U.S. IT companies
combined with human censors--led by an estimated force of 30,000 cyber
police--to control information in China. Websites that provide the
Chinese people news about their country and the world, such as AP, UPI,
Reuters, and AFP, as well as Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, are
regularly blocked in China. In addition, when a user enters a forbidden
word, such as ``democracy,'' ``China torture'' or ``Falun Gong,'' the
search results are blocked, or you are redirected to a misleading site,
and the user's computer can be frozen for unspecified periods of time.
Google censors what are euphemistically called ``politically
sensitive'' terms, such as ``Tiananmen,'' democracy,'' ``China human
rights,'' ``China torture'' and the like on its Chinese search site,
Google.cn. A search for terms such as ``Tiananmen Square'' produces two
very different results. The one from Google.cn shows a picture of a
smiling couple, but the results from Google.com show scores of photos
depicting the mayhem and brutality of the 1989 Tiananmen square
Google claims that some information is better than nothing. But in
this case, the limited information displayed amounts to disinformation.
A half truth is not the truth--it is a lie. And a lie is worse than
nothing. It is hard not to draw the conclusion that Google has
seriously compromised its ``Don't Be Evil'' policy. It has become
And that continues. Last summer Frank Wolf and I were in Beijing.
We tried to look up ``Tiananmen Square'' on the tightly-controlled
Chinese Internet. Of course, mere mention of the slaughter has been
removed from the Chinese Internet. We walked across Tiananmen Square--
officials searched us before we entered the square, and squads of
police surrounded us while we were on it, terrified we might hold up a
simple sign or banner.
Standing for human rights has never been easy or without price, and
companies are extremely reluctant to pay that price. That's why our
government also has a major role to play in this critical area, and
that a more comprehensive framework is needed to protect and promote
This is why I have re-introduced The Global Online Freedom Act,
H.R. 2271. I believe it can be an important lever to help disseminate
the truth--about Tiananmen and so many more things in the history of
China--to the Chinese people by means of the Internet.
I'd like to ask you to support this bill, which would prevent U.S.
high-tech Internet companies from turning over to the Chinese police
information that identifies individual Internet users who express
political and religious ideas that the communists are trying to
suppress. It would also require companies to disclose how the Chinese
version of their search engines censors the Internet.
In the last Congress, the bill passed the Foreign Affairs Committee
and was ready for a floor vote, but influential lobbies prevented a
vote on the bill.
I also want to mention the exciting firewall-busting technology
that a group of dedicated Chinese human rights activists are promoting.
They have technology that enables users in China to bypass the Chinese
government's so-called ``Golden Shield'' censorship effort and surf the
Internet freely. With this technology, which has been demonstrated to
me in my office, Chinese users can visit the same Internet you and I
do, and there is nothing the Chinese government can do about it. I
think we should all ask the State Department to financially support
this technology--which could produce a human rights and rule of law
revolution in China.
Today provides us an important reminder that the fight the
Tiananmen protesters took on 20 years ago is still going on, in the
streets, the Internet cafe's and here today. To the brave men and women
who continue to fight for the rights of the Chinese people--we say, we
stand with you, we remember you, and we will not abandon the fight for
Submissions for the Record
[From the New York Review of Books, Volume 56, Number 1, January 15,
China's Charter 08
(Translated from the Chinese by Perry Link)
The document below, signed by more than two thousand Chinese
citizens, was conceived and written in conscious admiration of the
founding of Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia, where, in January 1977, more
than two hundred Czech and Slovak intellectuals formed a
loose, informal, and open association of people . . . united by
the will to strive individually and collectively for respect
for human and civil rights in our country and throughout the
The Chinese document calls not for ameliorative reform of the
current political system but for an end to some of its essential
features, including one-party rule, and their replacement with a system
based on human rights and democracy.
The prominent citizens who have signed the document are from both
outside and inside the government, and include not only well-known
dissidents and intellectuals, but also middle-level officials and rural
leaders. They chose December 10, the anniversary of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, as the day on which to express their
political ideas and to outline their vision of a constitutional,
democratic China. They want Charter 08 to serve as a blueprint for
fundamental political change in China in the years to come. The signers
of the document will form an informal group, open-ended in size but
united by a determination to promote democratization and protection of
human rights in China and beyond.
A hundred years have passed since the writing of China's first
constitution. 2008 also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the
promulgation of the ``Universal Declaration of Human Rights,'' the
thirtieth anniversary of the appearance of the Democracy Wall in
Beijing, and the tenth of China's signing of the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights. We are approaching the twentieth
anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre of pro-democracy student
protesters. The Chinese people, who have endured human rights disasters
and uncountable struggles across these same years, now include many who
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 departing from these values, the Chinese government's approach
to ``modernization'' has proven disastrous. It has stripped people of
their rights, destroyed their dignity, and corrupted normal human
intercourse. So we ask: Where is China headed in the twenty-first
century? Will it continue with ``modernization'' under authoritarian
rule, or will it embrace universal human values, join the mainstream of
civilized nations, and build a democratic system? There can be no
avoiding these questions.
The shock of the Western impact upon China in the nineteenth
century laid bare a decadent authoritarian system and marked the
beginning of what is often called ``the greatest changes in thousands
of years'' for China. A ``self-strengthening movement'' followed, but
this aimed simply at appropriating the technology to build gunboats and
other Western material objects. China's humiliating naval defeat at the
hands of Japan in 1895 only confirmed the obsolescence of China's
system of government. The first attempts at modern political change
came with the ill-fated summer of reforms in 1898, but these were
cruelly crushed by ultraconservatives at China's imperial court. With
the revolution of 1911, which inaugurated Asia's first republic, the
authoritarian imperial system that had lasted for centuries was finally
supposed to have been laid to rest. But social conflict inside our
country and external pressures were to prevent it; China fell into a
patchwork of warlord fiefdoms and the new republic became a fleeting
The failure of both ``self- strengthening'' and political
renovation caused many of our forebears to reflect deeply on whether a
``cultural illness'' was afflicting our country. This mood gave rise,
during the May Fourth Movement of the late 1910s, to the championing of
``science and democracy.'' Yet that effort, too, foundered as warlord
chaos persisted and the Japanese invasion [beginning in Manchuria in
1931] brought national crisis.
Victory over Japan in 1945 offered one more chance for China to
move toward modern government, but the Communist defeat of the
Nationalists in the civil war thrust the nation into the abyss of
totalitarianism. The ``new China'' that emerged in 1949 proclaimed that
``the people are sovereign'' but in fact set up a system in which ``the
Party is all-powerful.'' The Communist Party of China seized control of
all organs of the state and all political, economic, and social
resources, and, using these, has produced a long trail of human rights
disasters, including, among many others, the Anti-Rightist Campaign
(1957), the Great Leap Forward (1958--1960), the Cultural Revolution
(1966--1969), the June Fourth [Tiananmen Square] Massacre (1989), and
the current repression of all unauthorized religions and the
suppression of the weiquan rights movement [a movement that aims to
defend citizens' rights promulgated in the Chinese Constitution and to
fight for human rights recognized by international conventions that the
Chinese government has signed]. During all this, the Chinese people
have paid a gargantuan price. Tens of millions have lost their lives,
and several generations have seen their freedom, their happiness, and
their human dignity cruelly trampled.
During the last two decades of the twentieth century the government
policy of ``Reform and Opening'' gave the Chinese people relief from
the pervasive poverty and totalitarianism of the Mao Zedong era, and
brought substantial increases in the wealth and living standards of
many Chinese as well as a partial restoration of economic freedom and
economic rights. Civil society began to grow, and popular calls for
more rights and more political freedom have grown apace. As the ruling
elite itself moved toward private ownership and the market economy, it
began to shift from an outright rejection of ``rights'' to a partial
acknowledgment of them.
In 1998 the Chinese government signed two important international
human rights conventions; in 2004 it amended its constitution to
include the phrase ``respect and protect human rights''; and this year,
2008, it has promised to promote a ``national human rights action
plan.'' Unfortunately most of this political progress has extended no
further than the paper on which it is written. The political reality,
which is plain for anyone to see, is that China has many laws but no
rule of law; it has a constitution but no constitutional government.
The ruling elite continues to cling to its authoritarian power and
fights off any move toward political change.
The stultifying results are endemic official corruption, an
undermining of the rule of law, weak human rights, decay in public
ethics, crony capitalism, growing inequality between the wealthy and
the poor, pillage of the natural environment as well as of the human
and historical environments, and the exacerbation of a long list of
social conflicts, especially, in recent times, a sharpening animosity
between officials and ordinary people.
As these conflicts and crises grow ever more intense, and as the
ruling elite continues with impunity to crush and to strip away the
rights of citizens to freedom, to property, and to the pursuit of
happiness, we see the powerless in our society--the vulnerable groups,
the people who have been suppressed and monitored, who have suffered
cruelty and even torture, and who have had no adequate avenues for
their protests, no courts to hear their pleas--becoming more militant
and raising the possibility of a violent conflict of disastrous
proportions. The decline of the current system has reached the point
where change is no longer optional.
ii. our fundamental principles
This is a historic moment for China, and our future hangs in the
balance. In reviewing the political modernization process of the past
hundred years or more, we reiterate and endorse basic universal values
Freedom. Freedom is at the core of universal human values. Freedom
of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of
association, freedom in where to live, and the freedoms to strike, to
demonstrate, and to protest, among others, are the forms that freedom
takes. Without freedom, China will always remain far from civilized
Human rights. Human rights are not bestowed by a state. Every
person is born with inherent rights to dignity and freedom. The
government exists for the protection of the human rights of its
citizens. The exercise of state power must be authorized by the people.
The succession of political disasters in China's recent history is a
direct consequence of the ruling regime's disregard for human rights.
Equality. The integrity, dignity, and freedom of every person--
regardless of social station, occupation, sex, economic condition,
ethnicity, skin color, religion, or political belief--are the same as
those of any other. Principles of equality before the law and equality
of social, economic, cultural, civil, and political rights must be
Republicanism. Republicanism, which holds that power should be
balanced among different branches of government and competing interests
should be served, resembles the traditional Chinese political ideal of
``fairness in all under heaven.'' It allows different interest groups
and social assemblies, and people with a variety of cultures and
beliefs, to exercise democratic self-government and to deliberate in
order to reach peaceful resolution of public questions on a basis of
equal access to government and free and fair competition.
Democracy. The most fundamental principles of democracy are that
the people are sovereign and the people select their government.
Democracy has these characteristics: (1) Political power begins with
the people and the legitimacy of a regime derives from the people. (2)
Political power is exercised through choices that the people make. (3)
The holders of major official posts in government at all levels are
determined through periodic competitive elections. (4) While honoring
the will of the majority, the fundamental dignity, freedom, and human
rights of minorities are protected. In short, democracy is a modern
means for achieving government truly ``of the people, by the people,
and for the people.''
Constitutional rule. Constitutional rule is rule through a legal
system and legal regulations to implement principles that are spelled
out in a constitution. It means protecting the freedom and the rights
of citizens, limiting and defining the scope of legitimate government
power, and providing the administrative apparatus necessary to serve
iii. what we advocate
Authoritarianism is in general decline throughout the world; in
China, too, the era of emperors and overlords is on the way out. The
time is arriving everywhere for citizens to be masters of states. For
China the path that leads out of our current predicament is to divest
ourselves of the authoritarian notion of reliance on an ``enlightened
overlord'' or an ``honest official'' and to turn instead toward a
system of liberties, democracy, and the rule of law, and toward
fostering the consciousness of modern citizens who see rights as
fundamental and participation as a duty. Accordingly, and in a spirit
of this duty as responsible and constructive citizens, we offer the
following recommendations on national governance, citizens' rights, and
1. A New Constitution. We should recast our present constitution,
rescinding its provisions that contradict the principle that
sovereignty resides with the people and turning it into a document that
genuinely guarantees human rights, authorizes the exercise of public
power, and serves as the legal underpinning of China's democratization.
The constitution must be the highest law in the land, beyond violation
by any individual, group, or political party.
2. Separation of Powers. We should construct a modern government in
which the separation of legislative, judicial, and executive power is
guaranteed. We need an Administrative Law that defines the scope of
government responsibility and prevents abuse of administrative power.
Government should be responsible to taxpayers. Division of power
between provincial governments and the central government should adhere
to the principle that central powers are only those specifically
granted by the constitution and all other powers belong to the local
3. Legislative Democracy. Members of legislative bodies at all
levels should be chosen by direct election, and legislative democracy
should observe just and impartial principles.
4. An Independent Judiciary. The rule of law must be above the
interests of any particular political party and judges must be
independent. We need to establish a constitutional supreme court and
institute procedures for constitutional review. As soon as possible, we
should abolish all of the Committees on Political and Legal Affairs
that now allow Communist Party officials at every level to decide
politically sensitive cases in advance and out of court. We should
strictly forbid the use of public offices for private purposes.
5. Public Control of Public Servants. The military should be made
answerable to the national government, not to a political party, and
should be made more professional. Military personnel should swear
allegiance to the constitution and remain nonpartisan. Political party
organizations must be prohibited in the military. All public officials
including police should serve as nonpartisans, and the current practice
of favoring one political party in the hiring of public servants must
6. Guarantee of Human Rights. There must be strict guarantees of
human rights and respect for human dignity. There should be a Human
Rights Committee, responsible to the highest legislative body, that
will prevent the government from abusing public power in violation of
human rights. A democratic and constitutional China especially must
guarantee the personal freedom of citizens. No one should suffer
illegal arrest, detention, arraignment, interrogation, or punishment.
The system of ``Reeducation through Labor'' must be abolished.
7. Election of Public Officials. There should be a comprehensive
system of democratic elections based on ``one person, one vote.'' The
direct election of administrative heads at the levels of county, city,
province, and nation should be systematically implemented. The rights
to hold periodic free elections and to participate in them as a citizen
8. Rural--Urban Equality. The two-tier household registry system
must be abolished. This system favors urban residents and harms rural
residents. We should establish instead a system that gives every
citizen the same constitutional rights and the same freedom to choose
where to live.
9. Freedom to Form Groups. The right of citizens to form groups
must be guaranteed. The current system for registering nongovernment
groups, which requires a group to be ``approved,'' should be replaced
by a system in which a group simply registers itself. The formation of
political parties should be governed by the constitution and the laws,
which means that we must abolish the special privilege of one party to
monopolize power and must guarantee principles of free and fair
competition among political parties.
10. Freedom to Assemble. The constitution provides that peaceful
assembly, demonstration, protest, and freedom of expression are
fundamental rights of a citizen. The ruling party and the government
must not be permitted to subject these to illegal interference or
11. Freedom of Expression. We should make freedom of speech,
freedom of the press, and academic freedom universal, thereby
guaranteeing that citizens can be informed and can exercise their right
of political supervision. These freedoms should be upheld by a Press
Law that abolishes political restrictions on the press. The provision
in the current Criminal Law that refers to ``the crime of incitement to
subvert state power'' must be abolished. We should end the practice of
viewing words as crimes.
12. Freedom of Religion. We must guarantee freedom of religion and
belief, and institute a separation of religion and state. There must be
no governmental interference in peaceful religious activities. We
should abolish any laws, regulations, or local rules that limit or
suppress the religious freedom of citizens. We should abolish the
current system that requires religious groups (and their places of
worship) to get official approval in advance and substitute for it a
system in which registry is optional and, for those who choose to
13. Civic Education. In our schools we should abolish political
curriculums and examinations that are designed to indoctrinate students
in state ideology and to instill support for the rule of one party. We
should replace them with civic education that advances universal values
and citizens' rights, fosters civic consciousness, and promotes civic
virtues that serve society.
14. Protection of Private Property. We should establish and protect
the right to private property and promote an economic system of free
and fair markets. We should do away with government monopolies in
commerce and industry and guarantee the freedom to start new
enterprises. We should establish a Committee on State-Owned Property,
reporting to the national legislature, that will monitor the transfer
of state-owned enterprises to private ownership in a fair, competitive,
and orderly manner. We should institute a land reform that promotes
private ownership of land, guarantees the right to buy and sell land,
and allows the true value of private property to be adequately
reflected in the market.
15. Financial and Tax Reform. We should establish a democratically
regulated and accountable system of public finance that ensures the
protection of taxpayer rights and that operates through legal
procedures. We need a system by which public revenues that belong to a
certain level of government--central, provincial, county or local--are
controlled at that level. We need major tax reform that will abolish
any unfair taxes, simplify the tax system, and spread the tax burden
fairly. Government officials should not be able to raise taxes, or
institute new ones, without public deliberation and the approval of a
democratic assembly. We should reform the ownership system in order to
encourage competition among a wider variety of market participants.
16. Social Security. We should establish a fair and adequate social
security system that covers all citizens and ensures basic access to
education, health care, retirement security, and employment.
17. Protection of the Environment. We need to protect the natural
environment and to promote development in a way that is sustainable and
responsible to our descendants and to the rest of humanity. This means
insisting that the state and its officials at all levels not only do
what they must do to achieve these goals, but also accept the
supervision and participation of nongovernmental organizations.
18. A Federated Republic. A democratic China should seek to act as
a responsible major power contributing toward peace and development in
the Asian Pacific region by approaching others in a spirit of equality
and fairness. In Hong Kong and Macao, we should support the freedoms
that already exist. With respect to Taiwan, we should declare our
commitment to the principles of freedom and democracy and then,
negotiating as equals and ready to compromise, seek a formula for
peaceful unification. We should approach disputes in the national-
minority areas of China with an open mind, seeking ways to find a
workable framework within which all ethnic and religious groups can
flourish. We should aim ultimately at a federation of democratic
communities of China.
19. Truth in Reconciliation. We should restore the reputations of
all people, including their family members, who suffered political
stigma in the political campaigns of the past or who have been labeled
as criminals because of their thought, speech, or faith. The state
should pay reparations to these people. All political prisoners and
prisoners of conscience must be released. There should be a Truth
Investigation Commission charged with finding the facts about past
injustices and atrocities, determining responsibility for them,
upholding justice, and, on these bases, seeking social reconciliation.
China, as a major nation of the world, as one of five permanent
members of the United Nations Security Council, and as a member of the
UN Council on Human Rights, should be contributing to peace for
humankind and progress toward human rights. Unfortunately, we stand
today as the only country among the major nations that remains mired in
authoritarian politics. Our political system continues to produce human
rights disasters and social crises, thereby not only constricting
China's own development but also limiting the progress of all of human
civilization. This must change, truly it must. The democratization of
Chinese politics can be put off no longer.
Accordingly, we dare to put civic spirit into practice by
announcing Charter 08. We hope that our fellow citizens who feel a
similar sense of crisis, responsibility, and mission, whether they are
inside the government or not, and regardless of their social status,
will set aside small differences to embrace the broad goals of this
citizens' movement. Together we can work for major changes in Chinese
society and for the rapid establishment of a free, democratic, and
constitutional country. We can bring to reality the goals and ideals
that our people have incessantly been seeking for more than a hundred
years, and can bring a brilliant new chapter to Chinese civilization.
--Perry Link, December 18, 2008
Prepared Statement of John Kamm, Executive Director, The Dui Hua
june 3, 2009
How Tiananmen Changed China
In ``The Book of Laughter and Forgetting,'' Milan Kundera tells the
story of an official who falls from power in Communist Czechoslovakia,
is executed and airbrushed from history. Because he gave his hat to
another official on stage with him, his hat was not airbrushed from
history. Whenever people saw the hat, they remembered the man. Kundera
gives voice to the hope of those who would erase history and those who
would remember it: ``Before long the nation will forget what it is and
what it was. The world around it will forget even faster. The struggle
of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.''
By that measure, the struggle that began in Tiananmen Square 20
years ago continues today. It lives in memory and in legacy. It gave
birth to an era of protest and the rise of a human rights consciousness
among the Chinese people. For the first time in history, the Chinese
government faced massive international criticism for its human rights
record. Pressure from abroad and rising dissent at home have together
helped bring about significant developments in the area of human
rights, though much work remains to be done.
During the last two weeks there has been an outpouring of memories
of June 4. We have heard from many of the June 4 protest leaders,
including Bao Tong, Wang Dan, Chai Ling, and Wu'erkaixi, as well as
many more lesser-known dissidents who went to prison for what they did
in the square and in hundreds of cities across the country. (Zhejiang
prisoners have eloquently spelled out what it means to be branded as a
June 4 prisoner: ``We are waiting to die.'') The New York Times devoted
an entire page to remembrances of June 4 by four Chinese artists. Ma
Jian, author of ``Beijing Coma,'' has written a particularly moving
testimony of what he went through in June 1989. I recommend it to you.
Ding Zilin and the Tiananmen Mothers, those who lost children in
the suppression of the protests, have released another in a series of
calls for the government to take responsibility for the large number of
civilian deaths in Beijing. In Hong Kong--the only place administered
by China where June 4 is remembered publicly--a huge candlelight vigil
is to take place in a few hours. Hong Kong University students
overwhelmingly condemned the killings and subsequent repression, even
voting out the student body president for attempting to take a softer
line on Tiananmen. Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule almost 12 years
ago, but the memory of Tiananmen lives on.
Striking from the grave, ousted party secretary Zhao Ziyang has
provided fresh and vivid reporting in his recently published memoirs of
how the crackdown against protesters came about. His book is flying off
the shelves in Hong Kong and is doubtless already available in some
form or another inside China itself.
After years of seeming apathy among China's students, there are
signs that China's youth are taking more interest in what happened on
June 4. In a recent article in Hong Kong's South China Morning Post,
the story is told of a lecture by 83-year-old Professor Zhang Sizhi to
a rapt audience of 300 students at the China University of Political
Science and Law in Beijing. Professor Zhang, who is also a criminal
defense lawyer, spoke openly of his work defending leading June 4
dissidents, including Wang Juntao and Bao Tong, and admonished the
students to face truth and history with courage.
While the professor spoke, security agents hovered around the
perimeter but never actually intervened. There have been small--no,
tiny--signs that Beijing is willing to allow a little more leeway for
discussion of June 4. Private memorial services are held with the
knowledge of the police. A proxy for the government writes an op-ed in
which it is acknowledged that ``mistakes were made.'' Mention is made
of June 4 in an official newspaper, Global Times.
Chinese police have reacted in familiar fashion to those identified
as trouble-makers in the run-up to June 4, hustling dissidents out of
town, detaining them for brief periods, or inviting them to ``drink
tea''--a euphemism for a mild form of interrogation, cutting off their
access to outsiders. Yet, so far, Beijing has shown relative restraint,
at least when compared to the past. Interference with media, extending
to shut-downs of Twitter, Flickr, hotmail, and numerous websites is
intensifying and monitoring of emails is at an all-time high. But the
days when the Chinese government can effectively control the access of
its citizens to information and opinions not sanctioned by the state
are coming to an end. As China's citizens become wealthier and have
more time to debate and ask questions, travel more and enjoy more ways
of finding out information, interest in what happened 20 years ago will
grow, not subside. China has produced many of the world's great
historians. The history of Tiananmen is yet to be written.
Tiananmen lives on in memory, but it also lives on in legacy. What
happened in Tiananmen Square twenty years ago changed China in big but
as yet undetermined ways. When asked more than 50 years ago for his
assessment of the French Revolution, Zhou Enlai replied that it was too
early to say. We should bear Premier Zhou's wisdom in mind as we seek
to understand how China changed and is changing because of Tiananmen.
In trying to assess how Tiananmen changed China, we not only lack the
benefit of time--twenty years in the sweep of Chinese history is, after
all, not a long time--we also lack key information on the events in
Beijing and the subsequent uprisings all over the country.
Vitally important questions remain to be answered before the
history is written and verdicts passed. What was the decision process
whereby martial law was
declared? Zhao Ziyang says that the decision to send in the troops
violated Party procedure. Was martial law itself legally declared? In
terms of operational responsibility, which units did what under whose
What is so striking to me as someone whose human rights career
spans the entire 20 years since Tiananmen is that we still don't know
the answers to critical questions such as these.
How many died in the massacre? The Chinese government has released
a figure of 241 dead and 7,000 wounded. I go with Nicholas Kristof's
estimate of 800 deaths in Beijing; Kristof won a Pulitzer Prize for his
coverage of the 1989 protests. It is increasingly accepted that
students were not shot in the square itself. The majority of deaths
occurred throughout the city as enraged citizens took up arms and
fought with soldiers.
How many were executed? In Beijing, we know of one dozen executions
shortly after Tiananmen. There were also executions in the provinces.
All told, fewer than 100 people were probably executed.
How many were detained? The Dui Hua Foundation keeps track of
statistics on political cases discovered and solved by China's
political police, the First Bureau of the Public Security Ministry.
Estimates based on statistics covering 11 percent of China's population
show that political cases quadrupled in 1989 from 1988's total to reach
a level of 13,500 cases, of which about 10,000 were solved. If we
subtract cases not related to June 4, and assume two individuals per
case, we arrive at an estimate of at least 15,000 people detained in
political cases arising from June 4. It is possible that not all
instances of rioting were classified as political cases, so the number
of people detained post-June 4 around the country could be higher.
Whatever the number is, it is staggeringly high. Dui Hua maintains
a database on individuals arrested in political cases since 1980. We
have records on 2,125 individuals detained for the actions they
committed on or around June 4. We add names all the time. Recently, a
Chinese NGO released a report with new names of people detained. Based
on this report, we will add 100-200 names to the database, but we still
probably know fewer than 15 percent of the names of people detained.
How many places were affected by the protests? This is where it
gets really difficult. I was in southern China on June 4, within range
of Hong Kong TV, which broadcast footage of the suppression of the
protests. I would hazard a guess that every township of any size in the
Pearl River Delta witnessed protests in the aftermath of the bloodshed
in Beijing. The number of places affected by protests certainly exceeds
a thousand nationwide. About a quarter of political cases from June 4
apparently went unsolved, a percentage much lower than 90 percent
solution rate for other periods. Like today, China's police simply
couldn't cope with the number and intensity of protests.
As with our work uncovering the names of those detained, Dui Hua
records accounts of local protests in China's police records about June
4. Recently we discovered a detailed account of the protests in
Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province. The city witnessed protests
that began in April and lasted for nearly a week after June 4. Marches
before the killings already exceeded 30,000 participants. Citizen
organizations arose to manage the protests. According to official
statistics, there were 68 incidents of industrial unrest, 130 street
protests, and 51 hunger strikes. Seventeen cases of
``counterrevolution'' were solved. A total of 61 individuals were
detained, of whom 25 were formally arrested and brought to trial, 16
sent to ``reeducation-through-labor,'' and 20 handled through other
methods. This in a city of more than two million inhabitants.
Despite the difficulties in assessing how Tiananmen changed China,
I would like to offer three observations on how the 1989 protests and
their suppression impacted the Chinese government and the Chinese
(1) Tiananmen delayed economic reform and growth by at least three
years, probably more.
It took Deng Xiaoping's Southern Tour in 1992 to affirm the export-
driven, wealth-generating model developed largely by the purged Zhao
Ziyang. Wherever China is today economically, it would have gotten
there sooner and with much less sacrifice had Tiananmen not taken
place. Tiananmen also stifled legal reform. Perhaps the best example is
the removal of counterrevolution as a crime. It was well on track to be
removed in 1988. Tiananmen, labeled a counterrevolutionary riot, put
paid to the idea of getting rid of counterrevolution. It wasn't until
1997 that China removed counterrevolution from its criminal code. At
that time, there were just under 2,000 counterrevolutionaries in
prisons under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice. Today, 12
years later, there are still more than 100 counterrevolutionaries in
prison, including several convicted of counterrevolutionary sabotage
during the June 1989 protests. Their continued incarceration has
affected China's ability to ratify the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights.
Another area where Tiananmen might have affected legal reform is
with regard to the death penalty. Unfortunately, we have too little
data on the number of executions in China to draw firm conclusions. The
only county for which detailed statistics have been found is Maguan
County in Yunnan. These numbers show a big jump in the number of
executions in 1989 and thereafter.
China has recently made great strides in reducing the number of
executions nationwide, from about 15,000 a year a decade ago to around
a third that many in 2008. However, what strikes me about this fact--
other than the sheer numbers involved--is that it took over a decade
after Tiananmen until serious reductions in the use of capital
punishment began to take place.
(2) Tiananmen ushered in the era of ``mass protests,'' and gave rise to
a greater human rights consciousness among the Chinese people.
The Chinese government has, since Tiananmen, had to contend with
mounting protests covering a wide range of grievances, including some
of the very grievances, many economic, that led to the 1989 protests.
Dui Hua keeps track of mass incidents in a database that currently
holds information on nearly 1,400 incidents over the last three years--
a small fraction of the total. Not only are protests erupting every day
somewhere in China, the vast majority are peaceful expressions of
discontent and more often than not they are resolved without recourse
to violence. When violence takes place and offenders are sentenced by
courts, the sentences are less harsh than those imposed on the 1989
June 4 protesters.
China's police are more sophisticated and less heavy-handed in
dealing with mass incidents today than they were in 1989, and to some
extent this appears to be the case with dissent by intellectuals
(witness the relatively lenient treatment of ``Charter 08'' drafters,
at least thus far). The exception to this lighter touch is in Tibet and
Xinjiang. In these autonomous regions and in other areas of the Tibetan
plateau, a severe crackdown is underway. In 2008, there were more than
1,600 arrests for ``endangering state security'' crimes in China, more
than double the number in 2007. Large-scale arrests in protests
classified as endangering state security have taken place in Tibetan
areas and in Xinjiang, accounting for well over 50 percent of all ESS
(3) For the first time in Chinese history, a Chinese government had to
contend with an outpouring of negative international public
opinion after the suppression of the 1989 protests.
Perhaps the best illustration of what happened to China's
favorability rating in the United States is a graph of results obtained
by the Gallup Poll's annual survey of American opinion towards foreign
countries. Before Tiananmen, China was viewed favorably by more than 70
percent of the American people. After Tiananmen, only half that number
still had a favorable impression of the country. Although there has
been movement up and down over the years, the percentage of American
people who view China favorably has never exceeded 50 percent since
Tiananmen, and today stands at 41 percent. (I am very concerned by data
that suggests that China's unpopularity has metastasized in the US.
Thee separate polls released so far this year have a majority of
Americans holding negative views of China).
Of course, it is not only American public opinion that was badly
affected by Tiananmen; opinion elsewhere in the world was equally
negative. The EU imposed an arms embargo that it has to this day
refused to lift because of Tiananmen. As in North America, there is
little to suggest that opinion towards China has changed in European
countries and in other democracies. A BBC poll taken in January this
year shows a sharp drop in China's popularity across the board in the
last 12 months.
In part to counter the bad image that arose after Tiananmen, the
Chinese government has, in a sense, ``discovered human rights.'' To my
way of thinking, this is one of the most significant changes
originating from what happened in Tiananmen 20 years ago. China now
takes into account what the world thinks about it, not as much as the
world might want, but far more than in any other period, certainly
within the life of the People's Republic. Chairman Mao didn't give a
damn about what foreigners thought, and he presided over far greater
horrors than Tiananmen. Consider what China has done in human rights
policy and diplomacy since 1989:
Sharply reduced the number of executions (a
development especially popular in Europe);
Passed a new labor law that increases protections for
Reduced use of Reeducation through Labor from more
than 300,000 inmates in RTL camps five years ago to roughly
170,000 today (China has yet to carry out the promised
``fundamental reform'' of RTL);
Established a network of rights dialogues and
Held talks with the Vatican and Tibetan exiles;
Hosted UN rapporteurs, and taken a leadership role in
the UN Human Rights Council;
Published a National Human Rights Action Plan;
Signed but not ratified the ICCPR; and
Released and reduced the sentences of hundreds of
political prisoners presented on lists to the Chinese
It should be remembered that, prior to Tiananmen, the Chinese
government had never released a political prisoner as a result of
international diplomacy, public and private. In the years since
Tiananmen, the practice has become commonplace. I myself have been
involved in hundreds of what I call ``transactions'' in this area.
Polling data suggests China's image has improved when prisoners are
released. In my opinion, China's international image could benefit from
a large-scale special pardon on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of
the founding of the People's Republic of China this fall. This proposal
is being vigorously debated in China, and I am told that some senior
leaders have shown an interest, but it is too early to say if Beijing
will in fact issue a 60th anniversary special pardon, and if it does,
who will benefit..
What took place 20 years ago today in China not only changed China,
it also changed the world.
It presaged the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet
Union. Governments faced with mass protests decided against using
force, in part because of the revulsion so widely felt after the
killings in Beijing.
It fueled the rise to power of a San Franciscan congresswoman who
led the fight against the renewal of China's Most-Favored-Nation
Status. Had she succeeded in imposing conditions that the Chinese
government refused to meet, China would have lost its access to the US
market. It is no exaggeration to say that, had that happened, there
would have been no Chinese economic miracle.
It ushered in the era of cable news. A fledgling network by the
name of CNN covered the protests live, and gave us pictures which
remain vivid in the memory of the world, including that iconic picture
of a man facing down a tank on Chang An Jie, or the ``Avenue of Eternal
Tiananmen changed my life forever. Twenty years ago, I was a
successful businessman, a business leader in Hong Kong. Today, I run
The Dui Hua Foundation in San Francisco, a group promoting respect for
human rights in China and the United States. My first intervention in
May 1990 was on behalf of a Tiananmen protester. The last release Dui
Hua announced was of a June 4 hooligan, maybe the last person convicted
of hooliganism for his involvement in the protests. (Hooliganism, like
counterrevolution, was removed from Chinese law in 1997). In all, I
have asked the Chinese government about more than 250 prisoners
convicted of June 4 related offenses. The great majority have been
released before the end of their sentences.
Dui Hua estimates that there are about 30 people still in prison
for offenses committed on or around June 4, 1989, in China. They are
now mostly middle-aged men who were once young workers swept up in a
tide of anger and destruction, youngsters like Wang Jun in Xi'an, who
at 18 was sentenced to death, suspended for two years and ultimately
commuted, for burning two police motorcycles and stealing a policeman's
calculator. All of those who remain in prison for June 4 related
offenses have received sentence reductions. They have served more than
half of their sentences, in most cases at least 80 percent. Several are
serving sentences for crimes removed from the criminal code 12 years
ago. They no longer represent a threat to society.
When I first pleaded for the release of a prisoner at a business
dinner in May 1990, I fumbled to express sentiments not yet completely
formed, even in my own mind. As I struggled to find the words that I
needed to convince the Chinese official to release the young protester,
I found myself quoting what Shakespeare said about the quality of
mercy: ``It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. Tis mightiest
in the mightiest.''
China today is not the China of 20 years ago. It is a mighty
country, full of success on many fronts and justifiably proud. It
should shed its insecurity about June 4 and boldly face its history. To
start the process of healing the country's deep wounds, I hope the
Chinese government will temper justice with mercy, and release those
still serving sentences for what they did in the Tiananmen protests of
20 years ago.