Wang Dan | China Change

This article was first published on November 4, 2019

In 1989, during the Chinese pro-democracy movement, 20-year-old Peking University student Wang Dan (王丹) became one of the most influential student leaders. Following the outbreak of the Tiananmen Massacre, he found himself at the top of the lists of 21 wanted criminals. He was arrested and sentenced to four years in prison on the charge of engaging in “counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement.” After he was released in 1993, he was again arrested in 1995 for continuing to engage in the underground resistance. This time, he was charged with “conspiracy to overthrow the state” and given a prison term of 11 years. In 1998, on the eve of U.S. President Clinton’s visit to China, Wang Dan became a geopolitical bargaining chip. He was released on medical parole and exiled to the United States, where he remains today. The following is a translation of a written speech by Chinese dissident and survivor of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, Wang Dan (王丹). The text of the speech was released in Chinese and German language for a November 4, 2019 event to commemorate 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. — The Editors

All of us are aware that the Berlin Wall was the embodiment of the Cold War and totalitarian communist rule. Thirty years ago, the Berlin Wall fell, heralding the failure of socialism in Eastern Europe. It was a significant event. Thirty years ago, the countries of Eastern Europe and China were essentially on the same starting line. It was the Tiananmen Massacre that shocked the people and ruling parties of Eastern Europe into political reform, while China continued to maintain totalitarian rule. 

30 years have passed and the Chinese Communist Party’s dictatorship has not fallen; neither has the implementation of economic reform led to political reform at the same time. Since Xi Jinping came to power, the CCP has only become more dictatorial and more brazen than before. It was in these 30 years that we witnessed a grand shift of unprecedented scale in human history: the rise of authoritarian China to become the most serious threat to universal values. I believe that the Cold War never truly came to an end. It merely went through a lull, and now, 30 years later, it has broken out again. This time, the main adversary of the civilized world is the Chinese Communist Party. 

The CCP has led China on an evil path, further and further from freedom and democracy. It is imperative that we see how the existence of this regime, which is rooted in the repudiation of reason and justice, is an affront to the human conscience. Today, we must see that 30 years after the Berlin Wall fell, a new political Iron Curtain is being erected. China, under the leadership of the CCP, has already taken the stance of an aggressor; this kind of imperial rise is a threat to peace and to the world. For this reason, we call upon the international community to guard against the CCP regime’s challenges against liberal democratic societies and make efforts to support China’s democratization. 

Today, as we commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall, we must also take care not to forget: there are few moments of true peace in the march of history, and there are still many challenges facing humanity in its quest for liberty. The greatest challenge facing us today is the CCP. In the past, Europe once gave humanity the gift of democratic enlightenment; today, the community of European nations still has the responsibility and duty to continue offering its strength in support of liberty and democracy. This is not for China alone, but also for the future of Europe. 

I must apologize that because of personal reasons, I am unable to attend this event. However, I am deeply honored to be given the opportunity to voice my perspectives in written form; for this, I offer my gratitude to the hosts. Thank you, everyone. 

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