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A Place for the Liu Xiaobo Bust

Yaxue Cao, April 16, 2019

In front of the Liu Xiaobo bust unveiled at DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague on April 15. Left to right: Xu Youyu, Bill Shipsey, and Zhou Fengsuo.

In August 1988, two months after receiving his PhD in literature from the Beijing Normal University, Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) left the Chinese capital for a series of academic visits across Europe and the United States. The first place he went to was University of Oslo in Norway. A few months later, he visited University of Hawaii, where he completed the book “China’s Contemporary Politics and Chinese Intellectuals” (《中国当代政治与知识分子》) at its Center for Chinese Studies. It seems that the purpose of his visits was to construct a framework for exploring ways to change China, and it was for this reason that he felt an urgent need to see the West up close.

In March 1989, Liu Xiaobo arrived in New York as a visiting scholar at Columbia University. According to his friends at the time, he went to art exhibitions and Broadway, and bought a leather jacket. Though the Chinese of the 1980s were still donning Mao suits, the sense was that China was on the doorsteps of a new era and a transition. All kinds of new popular vocabulary, ideas, and new “reform” trends were in the air, sparking both expectancy and uneasiness. The title of Liu Xiaobo’s dissertation, “Aesthetics and Freedom” (《审美与自由》), sounds like the name of a rhapsody.

Walking the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art triggered an epiphany in Liu. He suddenly felt the ridiculousness of the discussions that were taking place in China about “novel” concepts that were just everyday life common sense in the free world.

When a group of people who knew Liu Xiaobo in New York got together a few years ago for a meeting to recall their time with him (Liu had been imprisoned for six years by this point), one of his friends, a poet, said that Liu’s “enthusiasm for politics at the time greatly belied other interests of his, such as literature.”

Liu had built friendships with the small number of Chinese democracy activists in exile, and took on editorial work for their publication, “Beijing Spring” (《中国之春》).

April 15, 1989 saw the death of Hu Yaobang (胡耀邦), the Chinese Communist Party general secretary who had been ousted for his reformist stance. Hu’s death sparked memorial events in college campuses across the country. In the days that followed, throngs of students left their campuses for Tiananmen Square to pay their respects to the deceased leader. Few guessed that condolences for one man would lead to millions of people taking to the streets and voicing their political demands. Around the world in New York, the tiny group of Chinese democracy activists watched with bated breath. It’s said that at the time, at least five of them decided to return to China, and that “when it came time to depart, other four found various reasons not to leave, and only Xiaobo returned” to China.

I can almost see Liu Xiaobo’s silhouette as he gathers his luggage and hurries to the airport. Perhaps it was the call of fate. Thirty years have gone by. In hindsight, the Chinese democracy circle in Flushing was indeed too small a pond for him.

Liu arrived in Beijing on April 27, 1989 and went to Tiananmen. In the morning of June 4, he was one of the last to leave the square. From June Fourth to Charter 08 and winning the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, and then to his death in prison two years ago, nearly half of this period of his life he spent incarcerated and forgotten, as time marched by outside the prison walls. 

Liu Xiaobo at Tiananmen Square, 1989. Photo: HRIC

Even though the world had pretty much ignored him, for the Communist Party in China, it was imperative that he be completely wiped out. Death was not enough; his ashes must be thrown into the sea so as to leave nowhere for people to memorialize him.

2019 is the 30th anniversary of the June Fourth Massacre. One of the many activities being planned in anticipation is the placement of a bust for Liu Xiaobo, as he was very much a man of the June Fourth activist generation, and his aspirations belong to 1989, the year that changed the world. 

In the summer of 2018, Columbia University unveiled a bust of late Czech dissident and president Václav Havel. This provided inspiration for Zhou Fengsuo (周锋锁), who chairs the non-profit organization Humanitarian China: a bust of Liu Xiaobo could also be made and erected on the Columbia campus. In 2006, Havel accepted an invitation to be a guest lecturer at Columbia and spent seven weeks there. Likewise, Liu spent several weeks here as a visiting scholar before his stay was cut short by the democracy protests in Beijing.

Liu’s widow Liu Xia (刘霞) agreed with the idea, though she expressed doubt about whether or not anything would actually come of it. The many years of her husband’s imprisonment, the monthly train trips to and from the prison in Jinzhou, Liaoning Province, her own eight years of house arrest and the abyss of depression it engendered — all this left her with a deeply jaded view of the world that lingered even after her emigration to Germany made possible by protest by the international community.

C. V. Starr East Asian Library: ‘We Must Decline the Proposal’

Last December, on Liu Xia and Zhou Fengsuo’s behalf, renowned Sinologist and Columbia political science professor Andrew Nathan (黎安友) put forth the suggestion to the Columbia president that Liu Xiaobo’s bust be donated to the university. (The following correspondences were turned over to me by Zhou Fengsuo, and Prof. Nathan has authorized the publication of their content).

The suggestion was transferred to Curator of Art Properties Roberto Ferrari, who gave Nathan a prompt reply. He explained that all artistic contributions required approval by the Committee of Art Properties, and that whether or not approval could be granted depended on there being an academic department in favor of displaying and maintaining the artwork. Ferrari noted that the Committee had recently approved the busts of Vaclav Havel and Eleanor Roosevelt, and that he was happy to work with the donor to bring this proposal to the Committee. He also said that he would make an inquiry with Jim Cheng, head of the C. V. Starr East Asian Library, as to whether they would be interested in displaying the bust.

In the following weeks, Zhou Fengsuo tried multiple ways of contacting Jim Cheng, from calls to text to email. He got no response.

On February 8, Nathan got an email from Christopher Cronin, the Associate University Librarian for Collections overseeing both Starr Library and Avery Library. He said he had discussed the matter of the Liu Xiaobo bust with Jim Cheng and Roberto Ferrari, the Art Properties curator. According to Cronin, the Starr Library would take two policies into account in deciding whether to accept a bust: first, if the person depicted had been a distinguished alumnus at Columbia; and second, if the donor was prepared to provide an endowment for the maintenance and care of the artwork.

“However,” Cronin continued, “Starr does not accept busts or statues that represent religious or political figures. As the Liu Xiaobo statue does not fit these criteria, we must decline the proposal for Starr.”

According to Cronin, the original proposal would nevertheless be submitted to the Committee of Art Properties for discussion at its next meeting, to be held in late April or early May, even though the Starr Library could not accept the bust and nor has another location on campus has been identified. He hinted that the outcome of such a submission was clear, and that “Roberto will be in touch shortly thereafter to communicate the decision of the Committee.” 

I thought about Liu Xiaobo in relation to the three “criteria” Cronin mentioned. Firstly, though Liu was a Nobel Prize laureate and notable for that reason alone, he was only at Columbia for a few weeks, is he or is he not an alumnus? But if Václav Havel could be approved, why not Liu Xiaobo? Secondly, if a monetary donation was required for the acquisition, perhaps we could organize a crowdfunding event in light of the fact that Humanitarian China would not be able to foot the costs alone.

The third criterion set by the Starr East Asian Library is baffling. Excluding Liu for this reason implies that he is a political figure (that he is not a religious figure is self-evident), and that, by extension, erecting his bust would favor one political perspective over another. Now, between which political sides does the Starr East Asian Library wish to maintain its neutrality and independence?

A bust of Tao Xingzhi was erected at the Starr Library. Photo: People’s Daily.

The last time Starr Library accepted a China-related piece of art was in January 2016. A New York-based non-profit organization, the Dragon Summit Foundation (美国龙峰文化基金会), and an organization named China-America Friendship Association (CAFA, 美国中美友好协会), which is registered in New York as well, had donated a bronze bust of Tao Xingzhi (陶行知). Tao Xingzhi was a left-leaning education reformer during the Chinese republican era (1912 – 1949). From 1915 to 1917, Tao had studied education at Columbia. In addition, the Dragon Summit Foundation donated $100,000 to establish a “Columbia University Dragon Summit Fund.” The New York Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China took part in the ceremony, and the event was reported on by People’s Daily. Another article, by China Daily, is no longer available on their website.

That August, these two organizations partnered with the Columbia University Teachers College, changing the Center on Chinese Education to the Tao Xingzhi Center for Chinese Education.

According to the CAFA website (original preserved here), in 2015, it raised $600,000 for the C.V. Starr East Asian Library of Columbia University: $500,000 for the Xu and Song Education and Culture Endowment Fund, which will “support collection, development, administration, public programming, and research at the Starr Library,” and $100,000 for a Dragon Summit Endowment Fund, which is probably the “Dragon Summit Cultural Fund” for the same library.

Of the many titles held by CAFA executive chairman Xiao Yunfei (肖云飞), one is General Consultant of the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Yale (ACSSY); he is also an “expert of human nature.” Photo: CAFA website.

CAFA is the organizer of many large-scale activities, including U.S.-based training programs for Chinese Communist Party cadres, performances at Lincoln Center that brought performers from China, and parade and flash mobs near the White House during the 2016 Labor Day weekend that were held in celebration of the “China-U.S. Tourism Year.” According to CAFA’s website, these activities are typically held under guidance from the Chinese embassy and consulate, and in cooperation with Chinese businesses such as state-owned banks and corporations.

It appears that no updates have been made to the websites of these two organizations since around the end of 2017, leaving it unclear if they have ceased operations, or if they have simply stopped providing information about their activities online.

The Making of the Liu Xiaobo Bust

Meanwhile, the creation of the Liu Xiaobo bust started. At the end of last year, a friend of Zhou Fengsuo from the Václav Havel Library Foundation in New York put him in contact with Bill Shipsey, the founder of Art for Amnesty, Amnesty International’s global artist engagement program. In January, via Shipsey, Humanitarian China commissioned Czech sculptor Marie Šeborová to make Liu Xiaobo’s bust. The bust of Havel previously erected at Columbia University is her work.

On April 15, the Liu Xiaobo bust was unveiled at the DOX Centre of Contemporary Art in Prague. Liu Xiaobo’s friends Professor Xu Youyu (徐友渔) and Zhou Fengsuo pulled the veil. Liu Xia had planned to attend but in the end didn’t make it for “personal reasons.” For the time being, the bust will be displayed at DOX.

For those looking to donate the Liu Xiaobo bust, the goal was to have it placed on the Columbia campus; the idea of it being displayed at the Starr East Asian Library was only a suggestion made by the Curator of Art Properties. The donors hope that there are other departments at Columbia University that would be willing to accept the offer, and that the Committee of Art Properties gives the matter serious consideration at its upcoming meeting.

Yaxue Cao edits this website. Follow her on Twitter @YaxueCao

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Ten Years of Humanitarian China Supporting Political Prisoners and Families

Yaxue Cao, December 13, 2017



Humanitarian China celebrated its 10th anniversary in Los Angeles last Sunday, December 10, on International Human Rights Day. I was there with more than 200 others, one of the largest recent gatherings of overseas Chinese who support democracy and human rights in China. Gone is the time when, in the wake of the Tiananmen Massacre, several thousand Chinese students and visiting scholars gathered in Chicago in 1989 to form the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars and give their support in words and actions to the cause of democracy in China.

“Where are all the Chinese?” Someone asked me once, referring to the puniness of a June 4th Massacre commemoration one year. I asked back: “Where are all the political leaders of the Western democracies?”

I digress.

In 2017, it’s not a popular thing to be a Chinese democracy activist. So I was mightily heartened by the 200 plus human beings, and the din that filled the evening, in a Chinese restaurant in downtown LA.

I’m deeply proud of Humanitarian China. It’s just a bunch of regular guys living in California. They all have jobs to go to and families to raise. They hustle every day on the 12-lane freeways in the Bay Area. For 10 years, they have worked on providing humanitarian assistance to political prisoners and their families in their greatest hours of need.

In the first few years, the founders and the board of directors were the main donors. Only over the last few years have more contributions come from other sources.

Humanitarian China is not the only organization that provides such assistance to political prisoners. In fact it’s small by any standard.

But it’s unique like no other. It’s self-motivated, self-organized, and it’s grassroots. In other words, it’s not institutionalized human rights work. This 19-minute film tells Humanitarian China’s humble beginning and inspiring story.

There is a sad irony about this that shouldn’t be lost, as a friend of mine plainly pointed out to me. “It’s amazing that, given the scale of China and its role in the world, and the number of overseas Chinese people, and the amount of capital being moved outside of China, that this is the most established program of its kind. It speaks to the incredible ‘success’ of the CCP’s repression from another perspective.”

Clarity about conflicts of interest is one of the two most cherished principles of Humanitarian China (the other being volunteerism). To honor it, I hereby disclaim: I’ve been one of the eight directors of Humanitarian China since 2014 , and I produced the film I’m asking you to watch.

In this holiday season, I also ask you to consider making a charitable contribution to Humanitarian China.

Among other methods of donating, you can also use AmazonSmile to support us.





The Morning of June 4th and Its Long and Insidious Shadow (2)

By Fang Zheng, published: June 4, 2014


A Disabled Athlete to Represent China, or Maybe Not

With the help of Wu Bei (吴蓓), a teacher at Beijing Steel and Iron College who also witnessed the Liubukou massacre, I settled in Hainan and worked for the real estate company run by Ms. Wu’s husband. After a while, I opened a small convenience shop on the premises of the residential development where I lived.

In Hainan, I continued to train myself. In 1993, Hainan’s Disabled Persons’ Federation took me to two national tryout competitions that selected athletes to attend the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled in September, 1994, in Beijing. I was chosen. In May 1994, the China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF) organized training in Beijing for all the athletes who would be representing China, and it so happened that trainings for his events were held at my alma mater. Needless to say, I was excited about the opportunity to win for China and for myself. I trained very hard.

The staffers and the coaches knew how I lost my legs, and they mentioned that the CDPF was discussing whether to allow me to attend the games, but all in all, everything else went normally. One day toward the end of May, Jia Yong (贾勇), a CDPF official who oversaw the training camp and who is currently the executive deputy chairman of China’s Paralympic Committee and deputy chairman of the Asian Paralympic Committee, and a coach came to look for me.

“Fang Zheng,” he said. “Come with me, our CDPF leader has to talk to you.”

They took me into the hall on the first floor of the college’s administration building, a place I was very familiar with during my student years. Lots of people were standing around, and I saw a few people lifting and moving the Chairman of the CDPF into the hall. He was Deng Pufang (邓朴方), Deng Xiaoping’s wheelchair-bound son who was paralyzed when he had jumped out of a window in Peking University during the Cultural Revolution to escape “rebels” pursuing him for being the son of one of the biggest capitalist roaders.

Xiao Xiaocheng (刘小成), the chairman of the CDPF and a few other officials came over to me. “I talk to you today on behalf of the CDPF,” Mr Liu began. “We know how you became disabled and we discussed whether we should let you participate. Despite differences among ourselves, the CDPF still hopes to keep you if you can make three promises. If you do, you can continue to train and attend the games.”

1)      Do not talk about June 4th and your injury with other athletes at the training camp;

2)     Do not contact anyone connected to June 4th during the training or the games;

3)     If you win medals you will be requested for interview by the media. We hope you avoid media; if it really cannot be avoided, do not talk about the circumstances in which you were injured. Make up something else, like a car accident. Anything.

“If you can promise these three things,” Liu Xiaocheng concluded, “we will let you compete.”

These demands didn’t sit well with me, but I promised nonetheless. I said, “right now, I only see myself as a disabled person and an athlete, and I only wanted to compete and I don’t mean to politicize it at all.”

“That’s great,” they chorused. Deng Pufang was on the scene, but no, he didn’t talk to me.

After the conversation, they even took me with them to watch a show in the auditorium by some singers and other entertainment celebrities. I was relieved, because now that things were laid bare, I could focus on training and not worry about it anymore.

Fang Zheng in college.

Fang Zheng in college. Click to enlarge.

Two months passed, one early morning at the end of July, two CDPF staffers came running. “Fang Zheng, hurry up to gather your belongings and go with us.” In a matter of minutes, one pushed the wheelchair and the other carried my bag, and I was taken into a van outside the dorm. The van drove to the Second Guest House of the State Council in Xizhimen (西直门). There they told me, “On behalf of the CDPF, we are letting you know that you are going back to Hainan today with the chairman of the CDPF Hainan chapter, and you cannot participate in the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled.”

“Why?” I was dumbfounded.

“You have been disqualified.”

“Haven’t we had an agreement? Is there something else?”

“We cannot tell you anything.”

It was around 10 o’clock in the morning, and they told me that they had bought plane tickets for me and the Hainan chairman and we were to leave right then for the airport to catch the flight around noon.

I refused. “There is nothing I can do if you decide to take me out of the competitions,” I said to them. “But as an individual, I am free. I will not be leaving Beijing today. My family has come to be with me, my friends all know I am training in Beijing, and I can’t leave without saying goodbye to them. I will not be leaving today, unless you put me on the plane by force.”

They backed down but they didn’t allow me to go back to the training camp again.

That evening I went to meet teacher Ding Zilin (丁子霖), the founder of “Tian’anmen Mothers.” We had been in contact since 1992 but I had never met her. I thought if I didn’t take that opportunity, I didn’t know when I would have a chance to meet her. When I arrived at teacher Ding’s home at Renmin University of China (中国人民大学), a great number of plainclothes cops were loitering outside her apartment building. I had dinner with her, and left around nine o’clock. She walked me across the campus to see me off. All around us, plainclothes cops followed and watched us. It was at once infuriating and ridiculous. At one point, teacher Ding confronted them, asking why the government was so uneasy about an old lady and a man without legs.

The next day, two staffers of CDPF accompanied me back to Hainan, ending my athletic aspirations. In China, sports – like so many other things – is built into the party-state system. To compete in provincial games, you have to be selected by the city you live in; to compete in the national games, you have to be selected by the province you are in;

Fang Zheng and Zhang Qianjin in front of his shop.

Fang Zheng and Zhang Qianjin in front of his shop.

and to compete in the international games, you have to be selected by the state. Outside the system, you cannot take part in sports competitions as an individual.

In Hainan, I had been living with my girlfriend. I met her during the Chinese New Year holidays in 1989 in my hometown Hefei. She came to the hospital to be with me two days after I was hurt. Starting in 1993, Hainan’s real estate bubble burst, she was thinking about going abroad, so she went back to Hefei to obtain a passport. But the local public security told her that she would not be given a passport because of her relationship with me. This was something neither she nor I had expected. She became desperate about the future. In early 1995, she left me.

For all those years, for all the hardship she had to endure and the sacrifices she had to make, she didn’t leave me. But in the end, she had to give up because the state power did not like it.

The Sixth Anniversary of Tian’anmen

After the 1989 movement, many students went to jail, more were booted out of the system without a job or unable to maintain one because of lasting and systematic interference from the government. In the 1990s, Hainan had become a destination for many 1989ers, including Zhang Qianjin (张前进), Wang Dan (王丹), Kong Xianfeng (孔显峰), Lu Jiangtai (吕江台), Zheng Xuguang (郑旭光),Zhou Fengsuo (周锋锁), where, far away from Beijing, they tried to find luck and make a living, or even make money, in the new economic zone.

My place became a hub for many of these friends. In May 1995, also the international tolerance year, we worked on a signature campaign calling for the release of political prisoners and to redress the Tiananmen movement as its 6th anniversary approached.

Another thing we were working on was a report about the custody and repatriation policies in Hainan arising from a young adolescent I had helped.

One day a boy walked down the street towards my store.  Thin as a skeleton and pale, he was about to collapse at any time. He begged for food at the store; I gave him food and kept him. He was seventeen years old and had come to Hainan to look for his older sister from Zhejiang. Being a minor, he didn’t have an ID and was picked up by the custody and repatriation enforcement. In Hainan, you had to have an ID card (身份证), a temporary residential permit (暂住证) issued by the Hainan authorities, a migrant worker permit (外出打工证)  issued by your home town authorities, a Border Permit (边防证) and, if you were a woman, a marriage and reproduction certificate (婚育证) to be legally staying in Hainan. Police frequently conducted raids and pulled people off the street and put them into iron-barred trucks. If you paid money, they would let you go, or they would send you to work on road or other kinds of construction sites in Guangdong or Hainan.

The young man was kept in the custody center for a month or so and was let go probably because he had become so weak that he might die there. My friends and I were enraged, Lu Jiangtai in particular who was a college student during 1989 in Hunan. Lu went to the authorities to complain, collected information, and wrote a report to be distributed to human rights groups overseas and to be filed at a court.

Fang Zheng in front of his apartment in Hainan in 1994.

Fang Zheng in front of his apartment in Hainan in 1994.

In late May, perhaps in the evening of May 26th, we got both the appeal letter and the report typed and printed, ready to be sent the next day. We chatted and stayed up late. In the early morning, still asleep, a swarm of policemen and armed police raided us. The other half of our group, staying with another friend, was also raided at the same time. The police confiscated all of our materials and took all of us, including my younger sister, to the detention center. My sister and I were released after one day; Zheng Xuguang and his wife were detained for a month before being sent back to their home province, Shaanxi. Lu Jiangtai was indicted and sentenced to five years in prison for authoring the report about custody and repatriation policies that weren’t abolished by the State Council until 2003.

It was my first encounter with the police in Hainan. They had probably been watching me all along for all those years, but I just didn’t know.

I went to visit Lu Jiangtai once in the detention center. Then they barred me from visiting him again. After he was sentenced, they sent him away to I don’t know where. I have never heard from him again, nor do I know his whereabouts now.

As Hainan slumped into a depression, people who had come to look for jobs, opportunities and fortune took leave. My store had fewer and fewer customers, the road construction around it made it worse, so I finally closed it down. After that I partnered with friends and had a small tourism business that sustained us just barely.

After the 1995 raid, surveillance and harassment became constant. Telephone lines at home would be cut off during the so-called sensitive days. The police required me to report my whereabouts, should I travel, and my guests and visitors, except that I didn’t oblige. Why should I tell them? Sometimes things were just ludicrous. In March, 1997, a police officer came to “have a chat” with me early one morning. I asked him what it was all about, he said, “Don’t you know? Deng Xiaoping died.” “What does that have to do with me?”

By 1997 and 1998, most of my friends in Hainan had left. I felt lonely and life became harder. Friends in Beijing urged me to go back as well where, they said, economic development  was taking steam and it would easier for them to lend me a hand.

On the evening of March 7, 1999, without much planning and without telling anyone, I got into a taxi and went to Xiuying Pier in Haikou (海口秀英码头). Quietly I boarded a cross-channel ferry and arrived in Zhanjiang (湛江), Guangdong, the next morning.


To be continued:  Fang Zheng meeting his future wife, his unexpected brush with the 2008 Olympics, and leaving China.


The Morning of June 4th and Its Long and Insidious Shadow (1), by Fang Zheng

The Morning of June 4th and Its Long and Insidious Shadow (3), by Fang Zheng


(Based on Yaxue Cao’s interview with Fang Zheng in the summer of 2012. Translated by Y.C.) 

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.