'Reforms or Violence,' Chen Tells Xi

Chinese blind activist Chen Guangcheng asks leaders in Beijing to emulate Burma's reform model.
2012-12-03
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Chen Guangcheng speaking to RFA in Washington, Oct 25, 2012.
RFA

Blind dissident Chen Guangcheng has called China's next generation of leaders to implement political reform, or else face a violent end to Chinese Communist Party rule.

In a video statement posted to the Internet by the U.S.-based Christian rights group ChinaAid on Monday, Chen called on leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping to follow a similar model to that of Burma, which is on the path of reforms after decades of harsh military rule.

He also hit out at the 39-month jail term handed to his nephew by a court in Shandong's Linyi county, where Chen himself escaped from more than 18 months of house arrest last April and sought refuge in the U.S. embassy in Beijing before going to New York as a visiting law scholar.

He told Xi, who was confirmed as head of the Party at its 18th Congress earlier this month: "Whether you follow the will of heaven and of the people and carry out reforms, or whether you hijack the government and maintain the Communist Party's grip on power will determine whether China will make its transition peacefully, or with violence."

But he warned: "There is no sign that [China's] rulers are willing to change and do the right thing."

Referring to Burma's president, Chen Guangchenghe said, "Thein Sein's open mind won him support from the Burmese people and global recognition."

"If Xi won't do this, it's not because he can't, but simply that he won't."

"Honorable Mr. Xi Jinping, the eyes of the whole country are on you!"

He said that if Burma's military regime had released democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi from years of house arrest, then China's new leader should release political dissidents currently being held in jail.

Family treatment

Chen also took issue once again with the treatment of his family members still in China.

Linyi authorities handed a 39-month jail term to Chen Kegui last week for "intentional injury," although the family says it was committed in defense of his family amid a violent attack by local officials.

Chen Kegui's father, Chen Guangfu, says officials invaded his home and attacked his family on April 27 following Chen Guangcheng's night-time, solo escape from his heavily guarded home in Yinan's Dongshigu village.

While the charges against Chen Kegui were downgraded from "intentional homicide" to "intentional injury" in the wake of his uncle's highly publicized escape, Chen Guangcheng has said the authorities are using his nephew as a hostage to ensure his good behavior while overseas.

"Officials have sought revenge on my nephew Chen Kegui and others [in my family]," Chen said. "[He] tried to defend our family, but he was arrested and is still in jail."

Chen Kegui's case has been shrouded in secrecy since Chen Guangcheng's arrival in the U.S. in May, with many lawyers reporting official harassment after they tried to advise or represent him.

Diplomatic crisis

Chen Guangcheng's daring escape from his closely guarded home and subsequent flight to the U.S. Embassy, where he sought refuge for nearly a week, came just ahead of annual strategic dialogues between U.S. and Chinese officials, prompting a diplomatic crisis and frantic behind-the-scenes negotiations.

The diplomatic crisis was defused after Chen Guangcheng was allowed to fly to New York, where he is now a special student at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute of New York University.

He has accused Beijing of failing to honor its pledge to investigate abuses that he and his family were subjected to in China.

The blind activist has said that he and his family experienced illegal detention and brutal beatings while under house arrest and that Beijing had promised him it would sack officials responsible for the mistreatment.

Reported by Yang Jiadai for RFA's Mandarin service and by Bi Zimo for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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Wales

As expected, Beijing's authoritarian one-party regime has failed to honor its pledge to investigate the Linyi, Shandong government functionaries who were illegally holding Chen Guangcheng and his family under house arrest and occasionally administering beatings and other forms of torture and cruelty. Instead of moving in the direction of Thein Sein in Burma, Xi Jinping's first actions have been aggressive threats of military interference in other countries shipping and fishing activities in the seas far to the south of Hainan Island (called the Eastern Sea in Vietnam, and the South Sea in China). So it would seem that Xi Jinping is moving in an ultr-nationalistic, militaristic direction, not in a direction of reform and openness. He thinks it doesn't matter that China's populace increasingly does not see itself as passive imperial subjects waiting for a good emperor or parent-like official to order them what to do. The world has changed, Mr. Xi.

Dec 05, 2012 12:14 PM