Can the Four Modernizations be achieved in a society governed by overlords and worked by professional and amateur slaves? Impossible! The situation in our country presents a tragic reality: not long ago we were even forbidden to mention the Four Modernizations. The fact that we can talk about them now is put forward as a great dispensation, a favor granted us by those on high. Aren't you overwhelmed with gratitude?
WEI Jingsheng is the
best-known Chinese human rights and democracy fighter and is the leader for
the opposition against the Chinese Communist dictatorship. He was sentenced
to jail twice for a total of more than 18 years due to his democracy
activities, including a ground breaking and well publicized essay he wrote in
1978: "the Fifth Modernization". He is the author of "Courage to Stand Alone
-- letters from Prison and Other Writings", which compiles his articles
written initially on toilet papers in jail.
Wei Jingsheng is the best-known Chinese human rights and democracy fighter against the Chinese Communist dictatorship.
Wei Jingsheng was born in Beijing, China in 1950. His given name is very common and is an indication of the pride of his parents; a pride shared by many in the days immediately following the creation of the People's Republic - "Jing" means "capital" and "Sheng" means "birth." He is the eldest of four children. His parents were longtime Chinese Communist Party cadres. He was brought up in the prestigious Party schools, and was exposed to the internal dramas of the Beijing party elite.
At the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, the sixteen-year-old Wei left Beijing to explore the country for himself. He traveled throughout north and northwest China. Seeing firsthand the true affects that communism had on the Chinese people. It was during this time that he first began to formulate his opinions on the Chinese Communist Party and the future of the Chinese people. By the time the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976, Wei had been "sent down" to the countryside in his ancestral hometown in Anhui Province and also served in the People's Liberation Army. The ten formative years he spent gaining a better understanding of the Chinese people's situation left an indelible mark on his thinking.
After moving back to Beijing, Wei took a job as an electrician at the Beijing Zoo before he was arrest on 29 March 1979. In 1978, a series of workers, intellectuals, and artists posted their thoughts and statement on a piece of wall in Beijing. The place, and the period, became known as The Democracy Wall. At this time, Wei wrote an essay entitled "The Fifth Modernization" which stated that without democracy, China could not truly modernize.
His essay caused a sensation -- not only because it openly assaulted the
"people's democratic dictatorship" propaganda of the Communists, but also
because the author dared to sign the essay with both his real name and
address. Wei joined a few friends in publishing an underground magazine
called "Exploration". In its last edition, Wei wrote another article,
"Democracy or a New Dictatorship?" which identified Deng Xiaoping, then
Communist leader of China, as the new dictator. Three days later, Wei
Jingsheng was arrested.
In 1997, after a total of 18 years in prison, Wei was taken from his cell and
placed on a plane bound for the United States as a bargain result between
then U.S. President Clinton and the Chinese President Jiang ZeMin. Wei
maintains that he was not freed, but that his exile is further punishment.
he wrote in 1978: "the Fifth Modernization". He is the author of "Courage to Stand Alone -- letters from Prison and Other Writings", which compiles his articles written initially on toilet papers in jail.
Wei Jingsheng is a winner of numerous human rights awards, including the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Human Rights Award in 1996, the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the National Endowment for Democracy Award in 1997, and the Olof Palme Memorial Prize in 1994. Wei Jingsheng has been nominated seven times for Nobel Peace Prize since 1993.
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