Friday, January 1, 2010

U.S. should stand up to China's hard-liners 魏京生/美国必须承担道德义务

陈凯一语: Kai Chen's Words:

美国必须承担道德义务,否则世界将面临二战以来最严重的道德理念的危机与以中共为首的专制对世界自由与安全的重大威胁。 奥巴马的对世界专制政权的绥靖将导致人类前所未有的灾难。 --- 陈凯

America must bear the burden/responsibility of assuming the leadership role for all freedom-loving people in the world, especially now when the world is thrown into moral, economic and ideological chaos with the advancement of despotism/tyranny by an increasingly daring communist China. Obama administration's appeasement toward world despotism/tyranny serves only to embolden evil around the world and will lead to unprecedented disasters. --- Kai Chen



U.S. should stand up to China's hard-liners 魏京生/美国必须承担道德义务

Activist Liu Xiaobo's harsh sentence despite Western pleas for leniency underscores China's authoritarian arrogance. If the U.S. doesn't push back, China's hard-liners will push on.

By Wei Jingsheng

January 1, 2010

Liu Xiaobo, a moderate reformer in China, was sentenced Dec. 23 to 11 years in prison by the Chinese government for the mere act of organizing and signing a petition, Charter 08, calling for political reform and the basic human rights much of the world already enjoy.

The message was clear for all those who sought restraint from a newly powerful China that now sits prominently at the tables of global governance: Because you made a fuss about releasing Liu after his arrest, we will punish him even more severely. In no uncertain terms, that will let you know that not only don't we care what you think, we don't have to care.

Though diplomats from Germany and Australia were among the two dozen people allowed to observe the "public trial," the fact that no one from the American Embassy was admitted should be read as a particularly clear and open challenge to the United States.

We Chinese are intimately acquainted with this authoritarian arrogance.

During the eras of Mao Tse-tung and Deng Xiaoping, when I was jailed for 15 years for, among other charges, the "heinous crime" of putting up a wall poster, the Chinese government regarded international public opinion with this same attitude. If the Chinese people saw how the government blithely dismissed the concerns of powerful foreigners, the Communist Party rulers reasoned, they would also see they had no alternative but to submit to the overbearing authority of the government.

During Jiang Zemin's time, there were some changes. In an effort to reduce international pressure and develop the economy under favorable trade conditions from the United States, the Chinese regime yielded. Among other actions, I was released from jail in 1997 and deported to the United States. That resulted in a strong backlash from the hard-liners inside the party despite the fact that, over the years, America's huge trade deficit is what largely fueled China's rapid growth.

Now that China's leaders believe their prospering nation has emerged as a player in world history -- as America's prestige has been weakened by the Iraq war and the recent financial meltdown -- the hard-liners have been able to wrest the upper hand again.

No doubt there is some truth in the notion that their revived arrogance is inspired by China's role as America's largest creditor. Surely this is one reason China's leadership feels free to insult President Obama, as it did during his November visit to China, when it blocked broad news coverage of his public speech, and in December, when it sent lower-level officials to negotiate with him at the Copenhagen climate talks until the last minute, when Premier Wen Jiabao finally granted him an audience.

Beijing's humiliation of Obama was not personal. It served to mark China's power on the world stage. But more important, as under Mao and Deng, standing up to the American superpower is meant to stem growing internal opposition and cow China's restless people into subservience under a one-party dictatorship. This is particularly critical as greater democracy in China would expose its own economic problems.

How Obama responds to this challenge is not just a matter of his own honor and position; it is a matter of defending the democratic values system of the West against a challenge for ideological leadership in the 21st century.

The case of Liu Xiaobo presents an opportunity for Obama to save face and stand up to the hard-liners' untoward arrogance. As Liu's case is appealed to a higher court, the U.S. and the rest of the West should insist that his sentence be suspended. Such a strong stance would weaken the hard-liners while strengthening the voices of peaceful reform within China. If the U.S. doesn't push back, the hard-liners will push on -- with negative consequences across a whole spectrum of issues, from trade and currency valuations to global security and climate change.

The United States may owe a great deal of debt to China, but it owes a greater debt to its founding principles of freedom and human rights. If the West, led by the United States, does not counterbalance China's new might in the world order, who will?

Wei Jingsheng, one of China's best-known human rights activists, now lives in Washington and is the chairman of the Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition and president of the Wei Jingsheng Foundation.
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

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