Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue: A575-W343



Release Date: October 10, 2010



Topic: We Must Have Political Reform in China - Wei Jingsheng's Discussion and Answers to Many TV/Radio/Internet Users in China on Voice of America's "Issues and Opinions" Call-in Program

标题:必须在中国进行政治改革 -- 魏京生参加美国之音“时事大家谈”叩应节目,与众多中国和台湾的观众、听众及因特网用户们一起讨论政改与人权


Original Language Version: Chinese (English at beginning, Chinese version at the end)



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We Must Have Political Reform in China - Wei Jingsheng's Discussion and Answers to Many TV/Radio/Internet Users in China on Voice of America's "Issues and Opinions" Call-in Program



On October 4, 2010, Wei Jingsheng was invited to appear on Voice of America's "Issues and Opinions" TV/Radio/Internet Program hosted by Zhi Yuan regarding "the Political and Human Rights Issues in China during the More than the 3 Decades of 'Economic Reform'".  During the one-hour call-in program, Wei Jingsheng urged the need for political reform in China and was greeted by enthusiastic viewers/listerners/Internet users inside China with very positive responses.


The one-hour long video of this program can be viewed at VOA's website:


or by visiting:

http://www.weijingsheng.org/interviews/interviews2010/VOAinterviewWeiJS101004politicalreform1.mp4 and



The following is the transcript of Wei Jingsheng's discussion with Host Zhi Yuan, and Wei Jingsheng's answers to many viewers inside of China.


Host Zhi Yuan:  In the 30 years of economic reform and opening up, China's economy has taken off with grown wealth.  What has changed with people's rights to survive and develop?  Most recently, Premier Wen Jiabao talked about political reform again, which is his sixth time this year.  The background and intention of the political reform Wen talked about has aroused wide attention.  This time, we invited Wei Jingsheng, the chairman of the Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition and the head of the Wei Jingsheng Foundation to discuss the issue.  Wei Jingsheng was among the first to demand political reforms, right after the Cultural Revolution.  He also was a main person who participated in the 1978-1980 Xidan Democracy Wall.  He posted a "Fifth Modernization" poster, and said, "There is no modernization without democracy."  He also served as the chief editor for the "Exploration" magazine.


China's political reform has been delayed and sluggish for a long time.  Thirty years of economic reform has resulted in great improvement of China's economic status and growth of wealth,  but of course also some problems.  Some people got rich first, accompanied by an increasing gap between rich and poor.  Now we mainly talk about the status of political reform.  Can Mr. Wei review the history back then, after the end of the Cultural Revolution and the fall of the "Gang of Four", why there was an air for democracy?


Wei Jingsheng:  In fact, during the Cultural Revolution, we all felt that this country was not well, because it was undemocratic -- no one listened to the views of ordinary people, and the leadership abused their power leading the whole country to extreme poverty.  At that time, the main feeling was that we were poor, life was not good, the gap between us and the international community, especially Western countries, was growing.  Thus, people were very dissatisfied.  This dissatisfaction was mainly reflected in economic terms, but of course also led to political aspects.  Because China was undemocratic, a lot of people were persecuted.  So, we had democratic demands.  From 1976 to 1978, these thoughts rose higher and higher until the Democracy Wall Movement appeared in 1978.


Zhi Yuan:  At that time, you put forward the "Fifth Modernization", and said, "there is no modernization without democracy."  Later, Deng Xiaoping also said that "there is no socialism without democracy."  What is the difference?


Wei Jingsheng:  I wrote in my article that there is no socialism without democracy.  That was according to Karl Marx: socialism itself should be a democracy.  But what about the Socialism of the Communist Party?  It claims to be socialist, yet in fact there is no democracy but one-party dictatorship.  My this question kicked the ball back to the Communist Party: You said it yourself, why don't you cash it?


Zhi Yuan:  In 1980's, the ideological trend was still relatively active, but then there was an anti-liberalization campaign that followed until the 1989 democracy movement.  Do you think the delay in the implementation of political reform in China is because people started with anti-profiteering and anti-corruption, and later on were against one-party dictatorship, thus causing the government not to be willing to have political reform?


Wei Jingsheng:  The fall of the "Gang of Four" was a demarcation point in Chinese history.  After they fell, we all wanted to have a new politics.  Regarding this new politics, people thought differently.  Ordinary people like us hoped for a democracy, so people's rights would be protected.  But the Communist Party leaders thought about how to sustain their regime.  Their principle was that it was necessary to maintain the one-party system but to make some changes, thus creating reform and opening up in the 1980's: that was the reform of the economy, but not reform of politics.  In response to the demand of political reform in society, Deng Xiaoping launched several political movements, such as "Eliminating Spiritual Pollution", in an effort to strike against the democratic demands of the people.  That purpose was to maintain one-party dictatorship, while still maintaining a relatively good economic development.


Zhi Yuan:  So you think that from their point of departure, China engaged in a "State Capitalism" (or State-Controlled Market Economy)?  In comparison to a democratic market economy, the China mode was stronger and developed faster?


Wei Jingsheng:  When we asked for political reform, it included the need to achieve a democratic market economy, learning from the good economic system of the West.  The economic system must be guaranteed by a democratic political system.  If there was no such guarantee, then it would be just like Hu Yaobang said: "Anything changes its tone when it is in China."  Indeed, many systems changed when they came to China.  This re-interpretation is really due to the political structure.  I think the economy is not an isolated thing.  It is closely related to the political system.  You see all the economic development in China these years and may say it was very quick indeed.  Yet, it was not really fast when compared with the early stages of capitalism in the United States and United Kingdom.  At that time, they search their own ways to move forward.  China readily uses the experience of others.  Because the experience was readily available, progress should have been even faster.   Why wasn't it faster?  Why did it encounter so many setbacks, including the more and more problems arising nowadays?  The answer has a lot to do with the political system of one-party dictatorship.


Zhi Yuan:  After 1989, the Chinese government has emphasized maintaining stability.  Nowadays, the government is spending so much money to maintain stability, almost as much as its military spending.  Do you think the Chinese government really cares to have "stability overrides everything", or worries that political reform will lead to chaos?


Wei Jingsheng:  Many things in China should not be taken literally, but look at the background.  Every society likes stability.  When it is unstable, economic development is not good, people do not have a comfortable living.  However, the stability of China is not that case.  Now there are thieves everywhere; even the luxury areas are attacked.  This kind of life of course is unstable.  There is a premise to the stability of the Chinese Communist regime, that is to guarantee the stability of the one-party authoritarian regime.


But the authoritarian system is really one of the most unstable systems.  In Western society, people have a good life.  Only a small number of people are not satisfied, so naturally the society is relatively stable.  But in China, most people live in poverty with discontent.  Do not always say that people should be happy when they are fed.  People may not be satisfied with enough to eat.  When the poor only have a few hundred Yuan a month, and they see others with tens of thousands Yuan a month, can you tell what it feels like in their heart?  With widespread dissatisfaction in this society, this society cannot be stable.


Zhi Yuan:  Premier Wen Jiabao recently proposed to steadily promote China's political reform, what is your opinion on this?


Wei Jingsheng:  It was said last year that some folks, namely China's billionaires and some top influential people with power, engaging in forming a political party in (semi-open) private.  They talked about pursuing democracy.  These people realize that if people are not given a certain degree of freedom and human rights, this society cannot be stable.  It will become increasingly unstable.  In fact, the situation in China is indeed so, more and more unstable.  To wait until the outbreak of the people overthrowing the regime is not as desirable as a peaceful evolution on their own initiative.  So they strongly put forward the demand for a peaceful evolution.  I think that Wen's speech may be associated with this group of rich and rulers inside the Communist Party.  But I have noticed that these people are yet to be mainstream.


Zhi Yuan:  Recently, Wen Jiabao talked about not only promoting economic reform, but also promoting political reform while inspecting ShenZhen during the 30th anniversary of Economic Reform.  He said: "Without the guarantee of political reform, the achievements of economic reform could be lost even after we achieved them; thus targets of modernization could not be achieved."  During the reception before October 1, he said again that we must actively and steadily push forward the political system.


Wei Jingsheng:  What Wen Jiabao said is the lesson we all know in the process of 40 years of reform.  The people in that party which for political reform think: "Our reform is to maintain national stability."  "To have reform, to have democracy, is to ensure our interests are not harmed. "  This is the prerequisite of their willingness to make political reform.


Zhi Yuan:  Do you think there is a set of specific strategies, guidelines, and procedures for the political reform he proposed?


Wei Jingsheng:  It has been 40 years.  Yet I think they are just repeating the goal I was talking about back then.  Goals only.  At that time, we had some specific contents, such as freedom of speech, in fact the most important, and personal legal protection, also very important.  But Wei Jiabao, etc. did not mention freedoms and legal protection.  Many friends ask me: "Is there now any hope?"  I think now indeed there is the desire in a lot of people within the party.  So there is hope, but not too much, because the main stream officials who are holding the power rarely have this idea.

  __  __  __


After the interview, many viewers, listeners, and Internet users called to ask questions.  Wei Jingsheng answered each of them.


Mr. Xu of Zhejiang:  I am very supportive of Mr. Wei.  Your pro-democracy movement in 1978 is helpful to overthrow the rule of Chinese Communist Party.  All these years of crimes in China proved that the Chinese Communist government is not a legitimate government of the country.


Mr. Zhang of Hunan:  I think the fundamental problem of democracy in China is not the Communist Party.  Of course, the ruling Communist China is a problem, but the main reason is that the quality of people is relatively low.  From the 1989 democracy movement, we could tell that there are few people demanding an end to one-party dictatorship.  People hold portraits of Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, and Hua Guofeng, against Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms.  Now from where I am, many people wish to return to the Mao Zedong era, because they think it was more fair.  The so-called "no problem of scarcity but an uneven distribution."


Wei Jingsheng:  What Mr. Zhang of Hunan said is very representative: the issue of low quality of Chinese people.  But we have to look at this low quality issue from two aspects.  Under the authoritarian rule, sources of information are not enough, people do not know a lot of things.  This is quite normal and is not the fault of the ordinary people.  I think the Chinese people have been very good.  Look at the mass movements other countries engaged in.   You do not see them as polite, as civilized, with the same objectives as the Chinese people have.  In addition, that the ordinary people are mainly for the economic demands is normal.  For ordinary people, only when they are having a poor life, will they not be satisfied.


Politics is a very specialized field.  Maybe the Chinese people do not understand politics.  In fact the Chinese have been more interested in politics than Westerners, because the political situation in China is not good, yet is related to the direct personal interests.   In reality, the Western people do not know politics either.   Like any country, everyone has one's own specialty, not everyone is a political expert.   The goal of democracy is not to make everyone into a political expert.  The power of democratic politics is to give the power to the people so that they choose representatives they trust to engage in politics.  Such people understand politics.


But how to limit their behavior?  This requires a multi-party system.  As someone said, the Communist Party is not good.  But if you let any one party rule, the result would be similar.  We must divide politicians into different parties, so that they monitor each other to make sure the others behave.  The ordinary people are outsiders.  It would be difficult for outsiders to monitor these experts.  So it is correct to let the experts supervise each other.

  __ __


Mr. Chen of Taipei:  First, I want to express my highest respect to Mr. Wei.  Needless to say, the Mao Zedong era was lawlessness and non-human.  But there was no improvement since Deng Xiaoping.  The issue of human rights is just a tool for them to use.  Your own is an example.  You were released, because of international pressure, reasons such as China's bid for the Olympic Games.  Later as well, for other interests to make concessions on human rights issues.  I think that since the United States and China established diplomatic relations, the basic human rights issue has been in a passive position without a very stable demand. 


Wei Jingsheng:  What Mr. Chen said is all true.  Communist China has been saying all these years it has a goal for political reform, but has never done so.  A very important sign is that there is not much change in human rights.  There are changes, but only facial without essence; such as the "counter-revolutionary crimes" being replaced by "subversion", continues to punish political prisoners.  Why is there no fundamental change?  Some people think the Chinese people are not good.  I do not think so.  I think there are two reasons.  One reason is that while more and more people wake up, with clearer and clearer demand for human rights, the government cannot accept the demand of the people to allow freedom of speech, out of the need to maintain one-party dictatorship.   Another reason is external: the international community has seen a lot of changes.  In the past, many countries changed due to strong international pressure, little by little opening up.  Finally unable hold on to dictatorship, those countries moved towards democracy and equality.  But China had a bad luck.  Currently, because of China's economic development, international society is hot on China's economy growth, and therefore grants political concessions to the Chinese authorities.  Human rights gradually evolved into a political deal.  Nowadays, both the West and China are even too lazy to do a deal.  Little has improved of human rights in China, with more and more international concessions.  Human rights are put aside.  Even the newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State equivocated with "human rights are not our main topic" during her visit to China.  Reduced pressure from the international community has made it more difficult for the Chinese people to realize their hope for democracy.

__ __


Mr. Wang of Shaanxi:  Salute to Mr. Wei!  I am so happy to see you.  You suffered so many years.  To establish opposition parties in China is almost impossible.  Currently the largest opposition party is Kuomintang, but it has forgotten its roots, and betrayed Sun Yat-sen.  Why doesn't the Kuomintang Nationalist Party develop its members in the joint ventures?


Internet user Mr. Luo of Fujian:  I have two questions: Can the Hu-Wen regime be counted as a government?  Will a Chiang Ching-kuo style character appear in the Princelings of the Communist Party for free press?


Wei Jingsheng:  The answer for your first question: they are indeed a government.  This is the reality.  In answer to the second question about Princelings: certainly they have differences and conflicts within themselves.  There is conflict between these who made enough money and those who are making a lot of money.  The reality in China is that if the government does not consider most of the poor, the political system is about to be overturned.  We all see this.  Powerful people think they have the army and armed police, thus they can suppress.  But others see more clearly: read history, you will know that repression by the military and armed police will not work, people have to live with some degree of satisfaction.  The fighting in between these two factions has been more intense, but the outcome is unpredictable.

      __  __


Mr. Wang of Hunan: I am very proud to hear Mr. Wei's voice.  I once wrote to friends and my teachers in Taiwan, hoping the United States to rescue Mr. Wei.  To rescue Mr. Wei is to rescue the Chinese people.  You are the great leader of the Chinese people.  (Wei: Thank you, that's too much.)  We were deeply touched when Mr. Wei proposed the Fifth Modernization.  If the Chinese Communists does not initiate democracy, does not pursue the rule of law, dose not engage in multi-party system, it will threaten the entire world, such as the recent events with Japan.


Another Mr. Wang of Hunan: China has come to a very important juncture, that is to achieve political reform.  Hu Jintao has been in power eight years, with his predecessor ruling for 13 years.  For total of 21 years, China has no political reform.  I think that Hu Jintao may be conservative, he can not reach people's expectation.  He always stresses stability.  Communist Party should consider the issue of political reform.


Wei Jingsheng: The above two raised a very important question: If China's do not make political reforms but only keep economic development, then not only the Chinese people do not get real interest, but also it will form a threat to the world.  The same is true of Hitler with political dictatorship and economic development, in fact he composed a threat to world peace, and finally launched the World War II.  Although China has not launch a big war yet, this trend is not good, its economic development has been aggressive against the other countries.  Recently the United States have a relatively strong reaction against China, because China has already posed a threat to the United States.  China is an unfair country, so how can it make fair trade with the United States?  Thus it caused bilateral conflicts, such as with Japan.  So I think that if China does not carry out political reform, it will be hazard not only for the Chinese, but also will be hazard for neighboring countries and the world peace.

  __ __


Mr. Wang of Beijing: I have two questions.  First, I am pessimistic about the peaceful evolution, because the vested interests of political party hinder democracy.  Yet the United States, as you said, even made all the concessions to China.  I would like to know if democracy can only be achieved through violent revolution?  Second, if one day democracy is realized, which kind of the mode should we adapt?  The possibility of creating a democracy in China with its own characteristics? 


Mr. Shan of Jilin: My wife and I express our highest respect to Mr. Wei.  Thirty some years ago you proposed the Fifth Modernization, but how about today?  Corruption, pollution, even the media in China are afraid to discuss human rights.  How sad!


Mr. Yin of Shanghai: I think Premier Wen Jiabao is "a movie star".  He can really act.  He said, "Justice is brilliant than the sun".  But what they have done never carried the sense of equality.  Chinese farmers were born inferior.  After many years of working in the cities, migrant peasants workers return their homes as peasants.  After all the hard work, they have to pay the Communist Party to express their gratitude.  So I do not hold hope of his political reform.  It just his show but nothing more.   I hope Mr. Wei pushing the U.S. government to be concerned of human rights in China.


Wei Jingsheng: In the more than a decade I have been out, this is what I have been doing, to push the United States, and also the world, to put pressure on China.


About the peaceful evolution and violence issue of Mr. Wang, ancient and modern history has been the same: of course there will be more damages from the violence, so we do not want to choose that.   However, do we have the power of choice?  Authorities have the power of choice, but common people do not.  If we could have a peaceful evolution, who want a violent revolution?  But now the problem is that currently these in power with vested interests, those who want to continue making money, they do not want to give up their power, and they do not want peaceful evolution.  This is so convenient: with the power in their hands, they can make big money without big effort.  When this situation continues, it will be the equivalent to force people to rebel.  There are many things, such as the demolition of people's houses with violence, people simply want to safeguard their basic rights according to law, yet are not allowed.  Does not that mean forcing people to revolt?  People have to response with grudges, revenge in complain.  When the regime is forcing people to revolt, it is a big loss to the country, and will not be good to these who made a lot of money either.  Therefore, the peaceful evolution is the best model.


People hope that there could be a Chiang Ching-kuo, or the best a Boris Yeltsin in China, that would be the easiest, everything changed with the minimum shock.  But will it happen, no one can predict.  Some cases are accidental.


As for the model of China's political reform, it would be related to its process of change.  From the case of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, we could see the final model has a lot to do with the ways of reform.  Overall, I am sure that China will has its own model, with Chinese characteristics.  This is different from the Chinese characteristics labeled by the Chinese Communist Party.  We are talking about Chinese characteristics based on Chinese culture and the reality in China, gradually establishing an effective system.


In fact, every country has its own model.  People always say that the Western model, but the one in the United States is different than France; French model is different than German's.  Every democratic system has the characteristics of their own country, as well as the specific different forms, but the fundamental principle can not be changed.

  __ __


Mr. Zuo of Shanghai: I have different economic point of view than you.  You seems suggest the richer the more aggressive, but poor countries could also be aggressive.  So there is no relationship between aggressive and economy.  The other is the Chinese culture is obscurantism for a few thousand years and deep-rooted.  Nowadays even give our Chinese democracy, people do not know how to use it.  Like in South America, many people voted for a rhinoceros in the zoo.  That way may even set the economy backwards.  We do not want to lose the momentum of economic growth.


Mr. Zhao of Sichuan: I really like to listen to Mr. Wei's commentaries.  A lot of them are really brilliant, such as who is the enemy, who is a friend, very wonderful.


Mr. Xu of Zhejiang: In 1976, Deng Xiaoping started China's "reform and opening up".  It really is a bad policy to the Chinese people.  It is another Chinese characteristics thing.  People who followed are learning bad.


Mr. Li of Guangxi: Respected Mr. Wei, you are a veteran pro-democracy movement activist, and we hope for your more contributions.  Back then, you made a lot of sense to criticize Deng Xiaoping.  You looked far enough to see that corruption problem in China.  But China's future is bright, Chinese society will make progress.


Wei Jingsheng: Whatever view of these gentlemen, our desires are good, hope that China will progress, and hope that most of people will be well of, not just a few people.  You talked about moral hazard in China now, which is exactly because of inequality of the wealth and the result of social injustice.  Although China is getting wealthy, but in fact only small portion of people are rich.  This part of the population is large enough to be compared to the population of France, tens of millions of people.  But we must not forget that China has 1.4 billions of people, over two hundred million people still in absolute poverty.  If this situation does not improve, China has no future.  If it got improved and took the path of democracy, I think that with the intelligence of the Chinese people, the road will go very smoothly.

  __  __  __


Zhi Yuan: Hu Jintao recently stressed that: "we must do a solid job to handle conflicts within the people, to create a good environment for a good development of economic and social development."


Wei Jingsheng: It illustrated that the Chinese Communists lost its ways to deal with its problems.  Its persecution of the people is on its way.



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Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue: A575-W343



Release Date: October 10, 2010



Topic: We Must Have Political Reform in China - Wei Jingsheng's Discussion and Answers to Many TV/Radio/Internet Users in China on Voice of America's "Issues and Opinions" Call-in Program

标题:必须在中国进行政治改革 -- 魏京生参加美国之音“时事大家谈”叩应节目,与众多中国和台湾的观众、听众及因特网用户们一起讨论政改与人权


Original Language Version: Chinese (English at beginning, Chinese version at the end)









-- 魏京生参加美国之音“时事大家谈”叩应节目,与众多中国和台湾的观众、听众及因特网用户们一起讨论政改与人权






The one-hour long video of this program can be viewed at VOA's website:



http://www.weijingsheng.org/interviews/interviews2010/VOAinterviewWeiJS101004politicalreform1.mp4 和http://www.weijingsheng.org/interviews/interviews2010/VOAinterviewWeiJS101004politicalreform2.mp4







































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