Blind Legal Activist Chen Guangcheng Speaks at Oxford University

Sunday, May 26, 2013

China Aid Association
clip_image002[7](Oxford–May 26, 2013) Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng spoke of the triumph of good over evil to an audience of more than 200 at Oxford University during a four-day visit to Britain with a ChinaAid delegation where he was also honored with a human rights award.

(Chen Guancheng and Bob Fu speaking at Oxford University)

In his public appearance on the afternoon of May 21 at the well-known "Oxford Union" student organization, Chen also spoke of the inevitability of change in China, saying "there is nothing to fear from an authoritarian regime that has already lost legitimacy, morals and legality—they have already become unsustainable." But Chen added that the speed with which change comes to China is dependent on the efforts of all.

In this regard, he noted that in the past 10 to 20 years, democratic countries have been passive in their dealings with authoritarian regimes, which have used the economy as a way to hold democracy hostage and to force democratic nations to compromise. Politicians in democratic countries do not stand up for the values on the issue of human rights and put too much emphasis on trade, shortsightedly looking ahead only four or eight years.

Chen's formal remarks to the more than 200 academics and students, many of whom were Chinese, were brief, and he spent most of the time in Q & A.

(The audience at Oxford University)     (Applause for Chen Guangcheng)

In response to a question, Chen said, "In recent years, civic awareness among Chinese citizens is growing and becoming more and more powerful, and it's making the Chinese Communists feel like they are sitting on a bed of thorns. The rest of the world, however, is not fully aware of this: the cost of maintaining stability has already exceeded 700 billion yuan, which is even more than the military budget. This shows that they are very, very afraid."

Chen added that the new Chinese leadership brings little new hope as it is simply a continuation of the old system: the labor camps have not been abolished and the even more heinous Article 73 of the Criminal Procedural Law has been promulgated, allowing the Chinese Communist regime to arbitrarily detain and arrest democracy activists for up to six months without need to notify lawyers or family members.  Not only that, but the "7 Forbidden Topics" and "Document No. 9" that recently came to light show that the Chinese Communists have no intention whatsoever to change.

"Should we continue to put any hope in them," Chen asked rhetorically.  He added, "When the Chinese people tear down the Berlin Wall of China's Internet, China's dawn will not be far off. I believe that if we all work together, this Berlin Wall will come down."

On the subject of the weak response of democratic countries on human rights, audience members asked about the risk of losing trade opportunities if Western nations put human rights issues at the top of their agendas.  Chen said, "Upholding civil rights is to be accountable to one's own country and is what the people of every democratic nation desires.  This is a universal value.  Nations such as Germany and Holland have long upheld human rights principles, and their economies are strong. And their trade, if you take a close look, how much has it been affected?  In fact, it's very good. But if you fall down and ask for mercy as soon as they [the Chinese Communists] start waving their big stick, that big stick is going to become a better and better weapon and they are going to keep using it."

Asked how people in Hong Kong can help advance democracy in China, Chen said that Hong Kong's independent media has paid to mainland affairs has already played an important supervisory role, adding, "I hope that Hong Kong students and citizens will pay close attention to the civil affairs in China."

A Western woman observed that disabled people in China often have difficulty making a living and asked Chen where he gets his strength. Chen replied, "I believe in the goodness of humankind and I also believe that there is a moral principle in this world, and that is that evil will never triumph over good.  This is true.  Every year, the Chinese Communists spent more than 10 million yuan persecuting my family, but today I am standing here talking to all of you.  Isn't that the best proof?  Thank you to everyone for their efforts. This is the result of everyone's efforts."

Chen ended his remarks by quoting Mencius, who said that man's greatest wisdom is simply "desire to do what's good for all, rid the world of all harm."

Before his Oxford appearance, Chen and ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu had meetings on Tuesday morning with MP Madeliene Moon, a member of the All Party Group on China, and the blind MP David Blunkett, who served as home secretary for eight years in former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s cabinet.

The night before, at the at a ceremony at the Houses of Parliament, MP Chris Whitehouse and Lord David Alton ebulliently introduced Chen, who was awarded the inaugural “Westminster Award for Human Life, Human Rights and Human Dignity."

(Chen Guangcheng and Bob Fu with former Home Secretary David Blunkett)
(The award ceremony in the Houses of Parliament)

In his acceptance speech, Chen talked about the evil results of the Chinese government's bloody forcibly enforced one-child family planning policy, which over the past 30 years has led to the total destruction of the Chinese cultural concept of the sanctity of life.  When he talked about the death of three-year-old Li Siyi in Sichuan province, who was found starved to death after being left at home alone with no one to take care of her when her mother was ruthlessly imprisoned by law enforcement officers, Chen became choked up several times and could not continue speaking.  Fu, who was interpreting for him, also had a hard time controlling his feelings. Some in the audience were moved to tears.

On May 23, the delegation's last day in Britain, Chen was invited to speak at a news conference for the release of Amnesty International's annual human rights report.  After the afternoon event, Chen also gave individual interviews to many media outlets.

(photo left: Bob Fu with the London director of Amnesty International; photo right: Bob Fu and Chen Guangcheng meet with the founder of the Jubilee Campaign, Jon Snow)

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