'I Have Changed a Lot'

A women's rights activist describes finding religion after fleeing a crackdown in China.

cailing-xiongyan-305.jpg Chai Ling (R) and Xiong Yan (L) share their memories in a discussion hosted by RFA's Mandarin service.

Chai Ling, a former leader of the 1989 student protests on Tiananmen Square who has lived in the U.S. since her escape from China in 1990, talks to RFA Cantonese service reporter Ho Shan about her conversion to Christianity and her charity, All Girls Allowed, which campaigns against rights violations, including forced sterilizations and forced abortions, under China's draconian "one-child" family planning controls:

My life is good right now. I have set up All Girls Allowed, partly because I was called to do so by God. I spend a lot of time flying around, and I'm very busy, but I am very happy. Lately, I got a physical check-up, and found that a lot of areas [of concern] have already got better, thanks to God's grace.

I think I have [changed a lot.] China is an atheist country, and later, in exile, I became a Buddhist for a while. I have only been a true Christian believer for about two years. Every day I can feel the power of God, not just written in the Bible, but God in everyday life. In particular I can feel the love of God and Jesus for China. They really want freedom for China. I think the links that we are seeing between churches in the U.S. and churches in China are a very good thing. So, from our point of view, things aren't the same as before.

I couldn't have imagined [that the Chai Ling of 1989 would ever become a Christian.] But if I had been a believer back then, the outcome would have been different. It has [been much harder to talk to me since I became a believer.] Sometimes a lot of what I say isn't easy to grasp if you don't recognize the Christian faith. This doesn't matter. Things will develop gradually. This isn't something that's up to us; it's up to God.

It wasn't the suffering caused by illness [that caused my conversion]. It was a panic attack on a plane two years ago, and I met a Christian [at that time].

I hope people will read my book ... because then they will understand what we do ... they will see it all there, our thoughts. I have had a lot of confidence since my conversion. [The women's rights movement] is a form of pro-democracy movement. In the past, the democracy movement was blind; this was its blind spot. It's a great shame.

[Morality] has an impact on every family in China, on the situation of every woman. We truly are working for democracy. We can't work for democracy in one small area; we have to work for it for the people as a whole, otherwise, it's not really human rights, not a real moral movement.

Reported by Ho Shan for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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