The blanket media coverage of the Nobel Peace
Prize awarded to Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human
rights in China” has failed to showcase his ideas.
When he was tried last year for “inciting
subversion of state power”, the prosecution cited passages from six essays Liu had
published online between 2005 and 2007. Here, in the form of question and
answer, MercatorNet presents key ideas from these essays. As you read his
scathing and eloquent critique, it’s easy to understand why a sclerotic
authoritarian regime wants to keep him out of the public eye. He is an
impressive defender of human dignity.
These essays and Mr Liu’s trial documents
can be found on the website of Human
Rights in China, a New York-based lobby group.
What can one person do?
Regardless of how great the freedom-denying
power of a regime and its institutions is, every individual should still fight
to the best of his/her ability to live as a free person, that is, make every
effort to live an honest life with dignity. In any society ruled by
dictatorship, when those who pursue freedom publically disclose it and practice
what they preach, as long as they manage to be fearless in the small details of
everyday life, what they say and do in everyday life will become the
fundamental force that will topple the system of enslavement.
If you believe that you possess a basic
human conscience and if you heed its call, then display it and let it shine in
the sunlight of public opinion, let the people see it and, especially, let the
dictators see it. ~
Changing the Regime by Changing Society, 2006
Why do the Chinese people accept the leadership of the
I do not deny that within the CPC clique
currently in power, there could be high-ranking officials who treat the people
well and possess an awareness of modern politics, such as Hu Yaobang and Zhao
Ziyang. When they were in office, they did make quite a few good policy
decisions and took risks to advance political reform. But even when this was
the case, people had to wait for their rights and benefits as if they were
charities bestowed from above, not to mention that such good officials could
not survive for long under the CPC system.
Let’s take 10,000 steps back: if our
countrymen could come across an enlightened ruler often, or if the imperial
bestowing of favors was not incidental behavior but, rather, occurred every now
and then, then the national inertia of waiting for these favors, although an
insult to human dignity, could be excused because of the tangible benefits
received. Sadly however, our countrymen endured great suffering and endless
waiting only to encounter a wise sovereign by chance or an exceedingly miserly
show of mercy.
What they receive are always meager
compensation and pathetic consolation that arrive too late, so why is it that
they are still only capable of looking up to the crown? Moreover, throughout
China’s cyclical dynastic history, every act of the vast and mighty imperial
benevolence has occurred either at the beginning of a new dynasty, when
everything left undone by the previous regime is taken up, or during the
crisis-ridden final years of a reign, and never for the well-being of the
people but out of political necessity, to consolidate or maintain political
power or save the regime.
Our countrymen are still like infants who
depend entirely on adult care who know only to wait for a wise ruler to appear.
Can it be that Chinese people will never really grow up, that their character
is forever deformed and weak, and that they are only fit to, as if predestined
by the stars, pray for and accept imperial mercy on their knees? ~ Can It Be
that the Chinese People Deserve Only “Party-Led Democracy”? 2006
How would you characterise the moral environment of public
life in China today?
Although it still demands loyalty of its
subjects, this is far more low-key and pragmatic than during the era of Maoist
totalitarianism. The regime knows that since there is no way it can obtain
people’s sincere support and praise, it may as well lower the loyalty
standards—to a level below human conscience, and demand only cynicism from the
people, who express their support and praise against their convictions. This is
tantamount to encouraging and indulging the worst in human nature: lying
against one’s conscience.
Degenerate imperial autocratic tradition,
decadent moneyworship, and the moribund communist dictatorship have combined to
evolve into the worst sort of predatory capitalism….
The very use of such pragmatic, flexible
control methods, because of their thoroughly opportunistic nature, paints the
doomsday picture of dictatorial politics—countless flaws in the system itself,
questions of the regime’s legitimacy, and rapid erosion of its
effectiveness—where the ruler and the ruled engage in expedient cooperation
based on the principle of profit-before-everything.
The loyalty bought by the promise of a
comfortable life has a soul that is rotten to the core. Driven by profit-making
above all else, almost no officials are uncorrupted, not a single penny is clean,
not a single word is honest. Therefore, all these tricks used by the CPC are
stop-gap measures that dictators use to cling onto the last of their power, but
there is no way they can permanently prop up this dictatorial edifice that is
already showing countless cracks. ~
The Many Aspects of CPC Dictatorship, 2006
Why is its scorn for human dignity the weak point of the
Whether it’s the everlasting practice of
non-violent resistance, or the prediction that the liberal system will be the
End of History, [political theories] ultimately appeal to the spiritual aspect
of human nature. Humans exist not only physically, but also spiritually,
possessing a moral sense, the core of which is the dignity of being human. Our
high regard for dignity is the natural source of our sense of justice.
When a system or a country allows everyone
to live with dignity, it can gain spontaneous approval from the people, which
is how St Thomas Aquinas understood political virtue: virtuous good governance
lies not only in maintaining order, but [even] more in establishing human
dignity. [If it acts] otherwise, [a government] will provoke various forms of
resistance, with conscientious objection among the principal forms.
The reason why the liberal system can
gradually replace dictatorship, and the end of the Cold War can be seen as the
End of History, lies in the fact that the former [liberal system] acknowledges
and respects human dignity, while the latter [dictatorship] does not recognize
human dignity and discredits it by dragging it in the dust.
The greatness of non-violent resistance is
that even as man is faced with forceful tyranny and the resulting suffering,
the victim responds to hate with love, to prejudice with tolerance, to
arrogance with humility, to humiliation with dignity, and to violence with
reason. That is, the victim, with love that is humble and dignified, takes the
initiative to invite the victimizer to return to the rules of reason, peace,
and compassion, thereby transcending the vicious cycle of “replacing one
tyranny with another.” ~ Changing
the Regime by Changing Society, 2006
Won’t China disintegrate without the guiding hand of the
In China’s modern and contemporary history,
amid frequent internal power changes, only the “family-based regimes” or
“party-based regimes” withered away, but not the nation itself. When Dr Sun
Yat-sen and Yuan Shikai joined forces to topple the Qing Dynasty, what they in
the end achieved was to replace the traditional “family-based regime” with the
“party-based regime” of the Kuomintang (KMT). When Mao Zedong and his Communist
Party of China (CPC) defeated the KMT regime represented by Chiang Kai-shek,
they merely replaced the KMT party rule with the CPC party rule, which was just
a dynastic change within a country and did not at all involve the transfer of
In other words, the CPC has been in power
for only 50 years, but Chinese history has stretched unbroken for five thousand
years; what the CPC overthrew was merely the “KMT regime,” not China, the
“nation.” Therefore, when the CPC seized political power in 1949, it merely
established yet another “new regime,” which had nothing to do with
“establishing a nation”; Mao Zedong was merely the “father of a new regime,”
not the “father of new China.”
The current CPC may be the world’s largest
political party, but compared to the 1.3 billion people in China, its 60 some
million members are no more than a small minority, so how can it so shamelessly
boast that it “represents the people and the nation”? The reason the CPC
regards itself to be the natural representative of “the country, the nation,
and the people” is not at all because it truly has “the mandate of Heaven to
carry out justice,” but because it wants to maintain its dictatorial power and
protect its vested interests.
All dictatorships like to proclaim
patriotism but dictatorial patriotism is just an excuse to inflict disasters on
the nation and calamities on its people. The official patriotism advocated by
the CPC dictatorship is an institutionalized fallacy of “substituting the party
for the nation.” The essence of this patriotism is to demand that the people
love the dictatorial regime, the dictatorial party, and the dictators. It
usurps patriotism in order to inflict disasters on the nation and calamities on
the people. ~ The CPC’s Dictatorial Patriotism, 2005
Does your struggle for democracy in China have any
significance for the rest of the world?
To eliminate the negative effects of the
sudden rise of dictatorial communist China on world civilization, we must help
the world’s largest dictatorship transform into a free and democratic country
as soon as possible. In the great cause of global democratization, China is a
key link: if China is in the game, then the game is on for everyone.
Therefore, whether to let the CPC
dictatorship, which has taken more than one billion people hostage, continue to
degrade human civilization, or to rescue the worlds largest hostage population
from enslavement, is not only a matter of vital importance for the Chinese
people themselves, but also a matter of vital importance for all free nations.
Were China to become a free country, its
value to human civilization would be incalculable. It would inevitably follow
in the wake of the global collapse of the Soviet Eastern European totalitarian
empire to bring about another global avalanche among the remaining dictatorial
systems. It would be difficult for dictatorial regimes such as North Korea,
Myanmar, Cuba, and Vietnam to continue, and those Middle Eastern countries with
firmly entrenched dictatorial systems would also suffer a great blow. ~ The
Negative Effects of the Rise of Dictatorship on World Democratization, 2006