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Commentary :: Human Rights
Quote of the week from CSN
06 Mar 2004
Quote of the week from CSN

A thought provoking quote from Gu Yuan

In a banner week for CSN, Gu Yuan wins "quote of the week"

By John Kusumi

The scene of the Chinese pro-democracy movement is a polity all of its own. The scene has its players, its organizations, and differing wings, or factions, of the movement. At any given time, a full range of issues and a full blast of news moves through this community; because, everywhere that freedom is at stake and Beijing is the villain, this cause has a role -- something to say or do.

It is therefore hard to prioritize, and to say what is the most important issue, statement, or event of the week. U.S. audiences never see political pundits or commentators wrestling to encompass the news of this movement, because U.S. pundits are focused on the polity and the players of Washington. In the old days, they might have had on to their shows Li Lu, or Wuer Kaixi. More recently, American TV anchors have been too busy saying that globalization is inevitable -- their headlong lunge into stateless economics has caused those for "freedom and democracy," with a taste for economic pressure (restrained or conditional trade) to no longer have standing.

People who love freedom, with this inclination, have been written off as know-nothing protectionist, isolationist nit wits. American TV anchors now have that to say, and nothing for the Chinese democracy movement.

Well, dear reader, never you mind the foregoing. While Americans suffer the odd effects of distorted news, someplace else "off camera," the Chinese democracy movement and the polity I described above continue to run, full blast. I can report that they are doing well, becoming ever more focused and on task.

The past week has been one with truly huge and impactful events that may surprise because, per the discussion above, the events are kept from view, out of the news by the "radical mainstream" that now distorts the American polity. I can already hear Bill O'Reilly objecting, "that's a loony conspiracy theory," but before one comes out with a conclusion like that, first see what you missed this week.

On Saturday in Taiwan (Feb. 28), over one million people came out for a special event that was to oppose China's stationing of missiles opposite Taiwan. (That may be another censored story. Did you know that China has stationed 500 missiles to threaten Taiwan?) The one million people came out and formed a 300-mile human chain, on Taiwan's west coast facing China. This was a massive demonstration of pro-Taiwan sentiment, also anti-China sentiment. A million man march went down, much like the massive 'Hands Across America' event of the 1980s. Yes, it happened, but again, it was invisible -- I'd wager -- on your American news shows.

Another event that was played down was a vote and victory in the U.S. House of Representatives, on a measure that is very important to the Chinese democracy movement. The bill on Wednesday passed by 402 - 2. The bill was an urging to censure China for its human rights abuses, at the upcoming session of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Switzerland. Human rights? Those are politically incorrect -- to network TV executives. So, even with 402 Congressmen agreeing with the Chinese democracy movement, this matter was played down on your news shows.

Thursday had the news of a leading Tiananmen Square dissident winning his freedom from China -- Wang Youcai has been in prison since the 1998 founding of the China Democracy Party, and he has now been released to join the other brave Tiananmen Square dissidents in exile. So, the Chinese democracy movement gained one more leader among those who are able to work in the United States.

This article began by stressing that it is hard to choose the quote of the week, with so much happening. I give runner-up status to a quote I considered from Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ). He explained why he is getting in China's face by saying -- "We trade, they torture. We trade, they abuse. We trade, they incarcerate, they arrest and they mistreat." It's an excellent quote from Congressman Smith, and we need more of that kind of explanation, among other explanation, of why the Chinese democracy movement differs with China trade.

But, through all of this crowded environment -- a week of strong rhetoric in support of Chinese democracy -- I have selected a quote from Gu Yuan to be the quote of the week. He said,

"Instead of the 'Three Represents' theory, the 'Three Most Unrepresented' should be improved in terms of human rights in China -- the most unrepresented of people's basic human rights, the most unrepresented of advanced culture, and the most unrepresented of advanced production forces. What is most widely represented in China is the government's ability to cover up and evade things. People are jailed for opposition to war, people must gain permission before having a child, the organs of executed prisoners are harvested and sold for profit, rural residents are confined to live in one area for their entire lives, houses disappear without a trace overnight, and people are sentenced without proper legal procedures."

It may be helpful to know that in Chinese politics, Jiang Zemin, China's resident dictator, has tried to write into the constitution his "three represents" theory, saying that the Communist Party now represents three more things than before. It is chiefly an assertion of self-flattery, and clearly, Gu Yuan is taking exception to the self-flattery of, by, and for Communists.

His second sentence rings familiar -- "What is most widely represented in China is the government's ability to cover up and evade things." Some wags would suggest, just substitute 'America' for 'China' in that line. Do America's politicians seem to be gifted at covering up and evading things? Or, in America, is it not the government per se, but rather the news media that has been hard about the task of covering up and evading things, perhaps with the Chinese democracy movement as a prime example?

I am given to thinking that the latter is true -- in America, our culprit is less the policymakers themselves, and more so the professional distorters. It is anchors, pundits, and commentators who dodge the largest questions, while taking smaller "canned" issues and making them the object of spin in a liberal-versus-conservative spectrum.

While such distorters may be offensive and objectionable, they are mostly harmless. At the end of day, they have evaded large questions, but so what? They are filler to distract us, and as harmless as commercials. They reflect sadly upon what passes for politics in America. But, Mr. Gu Yuan, in his quote of the week, reminds one that the pundits are ultimately harmless. Mr. Gu's quote suggests of jailers, aborters, executioners, organ sellers, cruel officials, bulldozer drivers who remove houses at the behest of the corrupt, and a deeply compromised judiciary that is the shame of China's system.

Properly appreciated, Mr. Gu's quote can bring one back down to earth, knowing that China's challenges are larger than America's. However bad they are, America's pundits are not driving bulldozers or forcing abortions. What's covered up in China is worse than what's covered up in America. And, for uncovering this information, I thank Gu Yuan for his gem of a quote, that seems to cast the Chinese democracy movement into perspective, against the backdrop of context as he has written for us.


Activate This!: the Kusumi book is now available: here. Learn stories of the former 18-year-old for U.S. President, including the 1989 launch of the China Support Network. Part autobiography, part activist manual, Activate This!, has clues to the future of CSN and the politics of Practical Idealism. "Can America have a better future? --Well, can America Activate This!?" muses Kusumi.


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