Tiananmen 25 Years Later: Leaders Who Were There

Testimony by Zhou Fengsuo in front of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Hearing on May 30, 2014

Published: June 4th, 2014


Dear Mr. Chairman and Members of the committee:

Thank you for inviting me to come to this special event, a time for remembrance and celebration.

I would want to thank this committee for being such a powerful voice for freedom in China, not only today but for many years. I particularly would like to thank Mr. Chris Smith for your leadership and persistence.

Top: The Tiananmen 21;  Bottom: On CCTV, Zhou Fengsuo captured.

Top: The Tiananmen 21;
Bottom: On CCTV, Zhou Fengsuo captured. Click to enlarge.

Twenty five years ago, I was deeply involved in organizing the demonstration in Tian’anman Square, and in the ensuing crackdown, I was No. 5 on the communist government’s wanted list known as the Tiananmen 21. It has been the greatest honor of my life.

I did not deserve that honor, for others worked harder and fought more bravely. But I will always be proud of my work in helping organizing the Tiananmen protests. I was responsible for setting up a student network that directed the protesters on Tiananmen Square, provided medical services to thousands of students on hunger strike as hundreds and thousandsmore poured in from all corners of Beijing to rally in support. Through this network, ambulances were able to pass every 5 minutes through the crowds. Through this network, many Chinese were able to express freely and publicly,for the first and only time in their life, their love for freedom and democracy and their hope for a better China. It was a festival of freedom and hope in China’s recent history.

That is why, every year, people all over the world commemorate the democratic movement of 1989. That is why, every year, Chinese risk their freedom and wellbeing to bring the Tiananmen memories to public arenas. This year alone, as many as 50 people were arrested in connection with June 4th commemoration. They are lawyers, professors,journalists, Christians, Buddhist monks, and people from other walks of life. They lost their freedom to keep alive the dream of Tiananmen protesters.

That is why, I ask myself everyday, as a survivor of Tiananmen Massacre,what more I can do  to help the freedom struggle in China, to speak for those who are muted by ruthless suppression.

I believe when the history books of the 21st century are written, their struggles will be seen as major stepstowards bringing freedom and democracy to China. I know they will come.

Mr. Chairman, I am confident you will help bring about that change to China, as you and President Ronald Reagan and others did to the Soviet Union.

This change will not only bring freedom to the people of China, including my own relatives, but perhaps more importantly, it will bring peace and freedom to the people of the world.

The greatest issue that will define the 21st Century will be whether democracy and freedom will come to China. If China is free, the 21st century is likely to be defined by competition on who builds better cars and computers and how nations cooperate to solve problems facing life on earth. But if China remains a dictatorship, the 21st century could very well be bloodier than the 20th had been.

So the fight we fight here today, Mr. Chairman, is not only a fight for the people of China. It is, perhaps more so, a fight for the freedom of our children and your children and our children’s children.

It is a fight to determine whether our children will live in a world of peace and freedom, or a world of enslavement, pollution, and censorship.

Mr. Chairman, this is the large question that the hearing must deal with too.

But we must deal with the large question by asking what we can do in America, and what you can do as members of Congress, to help move China to freedom and democracy.

1) Internet freedom. As Xi Jinping made it clear, and emphasized, in the notorious Document No.9, the survival of the communist regime depends on controlling the internet and blocking Chinese citizens’ access to information from the outside world.

The communist regime  today spends billions of dollar to build and maintain internet firewall. Even more so on its military and jails, the Great Fire Wall of China is the primary tool by which the regime isolates and controls the Chinese people.

I have met many Chinese students in the United Stateswhose first internet search, upon arriving in the US, was Tiananmen Massacre. And they have been changed by what they learned from the free internet. Among mainland Chinese Twitter users who have made the effort to scale the GFW, Tiananmen Massacre is one of the most enduring topics.

By allocating a portion ofBBG (Board of Broadcasting Governors) funding to developing technologies that circumvent the GFW, we will help more Chinese access to more life-changing information.

You have the power to insist and to put into the law that requires BBG to immediately begin a competition in which field-tested systems will gain support from BBG to bypass the Chinese government-sponsored firewalls, and the Congress has the power of making sure that BBG spends no less than 10% of its budget towards this objective.

The internet can be a great instrument of freedom, and it should be in the 21st century.

2) Reject entry visa to perpetrators of human rights violations. As we all know, Xi Jinping’s daughter studied, or may still be studying, in Harvard. The dream of the corrupted Chinese government officials is to have their family live in America.

With the help of the internet, we are able to gather information on those who actively and willingly participate in the persecution of dissidents, including those who killed protesters in 1989. If the U.S. rejects visa to these people, it will directly and effectively help the freedom fighters in China.

3) Reciprocity in journalist visa. Beijing is rejecting more and more journalist visas to foreign journalists whose coverage of China has displeased the Chinese regime. No doubt this creates fear and self-censorship among foreign journalists, who need to make a living too. Bloomberg has openly admitted that they will no longer report on anything like the family wealth of the communist ruling families.

At the same time, more and more Chinese state-owned media are setting up shops in the United States to broaden the propaganda reach of the totalitarian regime. This issue cannot be left to the media alone;the U.S. government should firmly raise the issue of reciprocity as an option.

By many accounts, China’s GDP is already the biggest in the world. The communist regime has kidnaped the Chinese people and hijacked global trade and investments. It empowers the Beijing regime to export its model of human rights abuses, censorship, imprisonment,pollution and brutality.  It is corrupting universal values and human dignity around the world.

But no matter how powerful it seems,I am proud to stand up to fight such a regime,  just like the people in Beijing who stood up against the tanks 25 years ago. Truth and freedom will prevail.


Zhou Fengsuo (周锋锁)

Zhou Fengsuo (周锋锁)

“A senior studying physics at Tsinghua University in 1989, Mr. Zhou was a leader of the Beijing Students Autonomous Federation. …He was imprisoned for a year, and left China in 1995 for the United States, where he earned a graduate degree in business at the University of Chicago. He became a Christian in 2003 and has worked in finance in recent years. He is a co-founder of Humanitarian China, a group that promotes the rule of law and civil society in China and raises money for Chinese political prisoners.” (From the New York Times Sinosphere blog)


Watch the hearing here.

4 responses to “Tiananmen 25 Years Later: Leaders Who Were There”

  1. MrBuzz says:

    Well written. It is a story that so many in China today do not really know about. The young people seem to not want to know anything that is negative. Even when it will effect their lives. They are too busy looking down on their smart phone to be bothered. This is the attitude that the current leadership in China wants to exist all across China so they and the Communist Party can do whatever they want, anytime they want.

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