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It Is Not Worth It Indeed If a Nation Does Not Want to Pay Price For Democracy

Wei JingSheng's Speech and Answers in Q&A at Chicago Concert "Ode to Freedom" in Remembrance of the 20th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre and the Fall of the Berlin Wall
By Wei JingSheng
June 10, 2009

The concert arranged by Yang Fengshi is a very good commemorative event. It has been 20 years and we remember and commemorate those brothers and sisters who suffered and died in the June 4 Tiananmen massacre. We never forget them, because they died for us and they suffered for us. 20 years is long enough to make people calm down. Now we can recall the history more objectively. It is imperative to do so in memory of those heroes for what they have done for us.

First, it is important for use to review and summarize the lessons from the June 4 event since now Chinese people are still doing the same thing -- fighting for their basic rights and freedom. They are paying great efforts and continuously sacrificing their lives and freedom for this noble goal. Even though the fighting methods might be different from those that Chinese people used 20 years ago, the lesson from June 4 is very useful to guide our Chinese friends to reach the goal of finally obtaining freedom and democracy.

From my observations, our Chinese friends on the mainland are not only paying attention to the current situation, but also to the lessons from 20 years ago, and even the lessons from the experiences earlier than the June 4 events. Those younger ones want to know what really happened in history: what was done correctly and what went wrong? What are the common rules and reactions that the Chinese Communist Party usually has, etc. People want to know more. So a good summary and review of the past is very imperative. It would be very helpful for Chinese people in their fight for freedom and also helpful for us in supporting the China democracy and freedom movement.

"The communist party is impervious to reason":

In reviewing the history, the massacre from tanks and machine guns made Chinese people realize that the Communist Party is impervious to reason. Some Taiwan friends often told me that "The Chinese Communist Party is as bad as the Kuomintang". I disagree. The Kuomintang had done many bad things in China, such as suppressing common people etc, but it had a basic principle and an unchangeable goal -- to build a democracy in China. Eventually, after walking in such a long, bumpy, and rough road, the Kuomintang brought Taiwan to democracy through a peaceful evolution. It is very remarkable indeed. Please do not belittle what the Kuomintang has done. Because of their effort, it has cushioned the Taiwan people from a much bigger effort and higher price.

However, the Chinese Communist Party is different. It maintains a sole aim of one-party authoritarian rule. It was what the Communist Party believed before. Now the current Communist Party does not even believe in Communism. It only believes that the privileged stratum has to hold the power tightly. If any one dares to do anything to hurt this privileged class, he will get punished. -- It is the Communist Party's principle.

Today's so called "Neo-communist" dictatorship is more dangerous than Mao's dictatorship. Of course Mao's dictatorship always repeated the heresies and sophistries. But you still had some room to argue with those. The current Communist Party clearly knows the value of democracy since they have sent their wives and children along with their wallets to the Western countries. Do not they know the advantages of the democratic countries? Of course they know. But they would not let China become a democratic country, because they do not want to lose their prestige status as the rich and powerful.

Therefore, with this kind of dictatorship the common people have lost their patience. More and more Chinese people realize that it is impossible to build a democratic system in China without overthrowing this Communist Party's one party dictatorship. It is the first lesson we learned from 1989's suppression by tanks and machine guns.

"We must pay our price to get freedom and democracy".

The second lesson is, as a common people in pursuit of freedom and democracy, do we have to pay our price? Of course we have to. Chinese people paid a huge price in 1989. Many young people lost their lives and many people got injured and were handicapped. We paid such a high price yet we did not get the results we wanted. Besides our own experiences, we see that each nation has to pay painstaking effort to build a good democratic system. We are not the only one to pay the price so the past is not unjust to us. If the Communist Party were not so evil and brutal, we would not need to overthrow it. If we want to overthrow this brutal government, we have to pay the price. No matter what kind of price we have to pay, it is the thing we ought to do.

"Do not place hopes on the reformists inside the Communist Party"

We cannot place our hopes on the so-called "reform forces" inside the Chinese Communist Party. It is true that inside the Party there are people longing for democracy. In 1989, many people questioned if the reform force could take some action, Deng Xiaoping might not be able to use the military force to kill the people. Many people now still think about it and discuss it. In my opinion, we must rely on the strength and ability of the common people and we must rely on the democratic forces and influence. We should unite with the democratic forces and the relatively open-minded groups inside the Communist Party, but we should not place our hopes totally on those kinds of forces and groups. Please recall what happened in 1989. Young people simply sat in Tiananmen Square, doing nothing, waiting for the reform forces inside the Party to solve the issue. However, those reform forces within the Communist Party were weak due to their dual nature. They had their own concerns. They would not go all-out to support a people's democracy movement.

Another lesson is about international support. The international support is very important to the democracy movement and the changes in each country. Sometimes this support is very critical. Let's look at the Taiwan democracy. Even though the Kuomintang lead by Chiang Ching-kuo had a goal of democracy, it had built its own vested interest group that did not want to give up the one-party system. On the one hand, their belief forced them to turn to democracy; on the other hand, there was a great pressure from the common people. The second part is more important. Of course the international pressure was an important push for the Kuomintang to go to the democracy. Needless to say, to a certain degree Taiwan's peaceful evolution was relying on the international support and whole world's attention.

"It is unrealistic to rely on the foreign forces for our democracy"

China's democracy is not an exception and we do need international support. However, we must know that it is unrealistic to put too much hope on the foreign countries. Many friends always seek help from foreign countries whenever encountering difficulties and they hope to get more support and more international attention in order to make a better progress in the democracy movement. It is unrealistic. Both in 1989 and the present time, the support we got from the Western countries is mostly from the public opinion of the Western people. After the 1989 massacre, the whole world was standing for the Chinese people, and strongly supported their pursuit. The world condemned what the Chinese Communist Party had done. However, during the 1989 movement, the foreign countries did not give much help and support. Some Western politicians even wanted to have negotiations and compromises with Deng Xiaoping. They gave up the support to the Chinese people, and even lessened the pressure on Deng Xiaoping. It was one of the main factors lead to the result that Deng Xiaoping made up his mind to kill Chinese people, and it is really the key factor for Deng's decision of carrying out the brutal massacre.

When I talked to high ranking officials of the Republican Party in the U.S., we discussed what former US President George H. W. Bush did to China in 1989. The GOP officials admitted that Bush's behavior, in diplomatic words, "lacked careful consideration", and in fact "we need to re-examine the role he played". We all know that then President George H. W. Bush's soft attitude towards Deng Xiaoping made him dare to announce the martial law and to kill people in Tiananmen Square. Therefore, we do need the international support and we must try our best to get as much support we can. But we should never rely on it totally. We must rely on our own strength and forces. We must prepare to sacrifice ourselves first in order to get the best interests for Chinese people.

The Q&A session: It Is Not Worth it Indeed If a Nation Does Not Want to Pay Its Price for Democracy

After Wei Jingsheng's speech, there was a session of questions and answers. Mr. Zhang took the first turn to speak: "We should appreciate three people for the success of the concert. First is Dr. Yang Fengshi. As we saw that without her great efforts, it is impossible to have this concert. She carries a big pressure and sorrow. Her beloved mother just passed away. She cannot get a visa and lost the chance to see her mother for the last time in the funeral. It is such an inconsolable and grievous situation. The second one is Mr. Lu Decheng. He had stayed in prison for ten years, for all of us, for all Chinese people and for fighting for the freedom (applause).

But I want to say, they are both still fortunate in a certain way since they all have a home. Ms. Yang Fengshi has a husband and Mr. Lu has a wife. Our third special guest here, Wei Jingsheng, born in 1950, was sentenced by the Communist Party for 29 years and stayed in prison for 18 years. Do you know how many teeth each person has? 28. But Wei Jingsheng lost 24 of them! (Ms. Liu in the audience added that "He lost his 24 teeth when he was 30 years old!"). The fact is: he stayed 18 years in prison, lost 24 teeth, and has no home now.... He has been toiling day and night, even now, for our Chinese people's happiness. He owes nothing to the Chinese people, he owes nothing to China; it is us, we owe him! " (loud applauses).

Then a audience member from Taiwan asked: "You three (meaning Dr. Yang Fengshi , Mr. Lu Decheng and Mr. Wei Jingsheng) have paid huge prices for Chinese people's happiness. My question is, do you think it is worth to do so? "

Wei Jingsheng answered: "There is not such a question of being worth it to pay the price. If a nation does not even want to pay the price for freedom and democracy, it would be worthless indeed. Then you would not have changes and never get any improvement. Therefore, when one decides to pay a price for freedom and democracy, one should not consider if it is worth it or not." (His words touched the audience and won long time applauses).

Wei Jingsheng continued his answer: "Secondly, Taiwan's improvement in democracy makes our Mainland Chinese very happy. It verified a truth that we Asians could have a democratic system. The Chinese Communist Party always deceives Chinese people by saying that Chinese people do not have a good quality or culture, and your genes are not as good as those of the White people. They call it "Asia Special Value" and thus Asian people do not deserve democracy. Taiwan's success in the democratic process shows that our Chinese people can build a democratic system using our own hands! (loud applause). Our Chinese culture has enough wisdom to build our own democratic system. So Taiwan's experience is very important to us."

"Of course the path of Taiwan's democracy was not smooth from the beginning. It has been bumpy and rough, it still contains dangers, and it even is possible to go backwards. There was a retrogression after the Germans built their democratic system. The Nazi Party emerged. Taiwan could have other issues in the future too. But it does not matter. I hope Taiwan's experiences would wake up more people and I hope all people pay attention to their country's political system. Only if all people pay great attention to it, will the politicians behave better. If you do not care, then even the American long-term democratic system would not guarantee anything. Thank you for your listening." (applauses).

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