Xu Wenli Biographical
Xu Wenli, a Senior Fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, the chairman of the Caring for China Center, and the chairman and co-founder of the China Democracy Party. Xu was also one of the founding members of the China Democracy Wall Movement in 1978. As a result of his activism, he was arrested twice by the Chinese government and sentenced to a total of 28 years in prison, of which he served 16 years. With the help and negotiation of the U.S. government and other international leaders, he was exiled to the United States on December 24, 2002. On May 26, 2003, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Brown University.
Pass on the Flame, Rebuild the Republic
Ladies and Gentlemen, Guests and Friends:
First of all, on behalf of the China Democracy Party United National Headquarters, please allow me, along with Mr. Ren Wanding, Tang Yuanjun, Liu Weimin, Ye Guozhong, Li Dongcheng, Jin Xiuhong and Guo Zhe, to thank all our friends and colleagues from the Federation for a Democratic China for your warm invitation.
Please allow me to make the following three points:
1. The Chinese society is undergoing a fundamental “structural shift”.
In the last thirty years, due to the complete disaster of the “Cultural Revolution” and a series of political and economic failures, such as the three-year-long Great Leap Forward that starved millions of people to death, the Chinese society was forced into a quasi-market-based economic reform. This reform fattened the pockets of the elites, who makes up only 0.7% of the Chinese population, and created extreme social injustices, deterioration of moral ethics, and destruction of the environment, causing the Chinese society to become increasingly “mafianized”. Since the Chinese government unveiled its “property rights laws”, objectively speaking, it has given up the concept of “communal ownership” that is so central to the communist worldview. Of course, by gradually legalizing private ownership, it has made the further usurpation of the wealth and properties of the country more convenient for the elites. This change represents a fundamental “structural shift” in the Chinese society—by establishing a system of private ownership, this shift has created the “condition of all conditions” that forms the foundation for China to transition towards a free and democratic society.
Paradoxically, today’s Chinese elites, who made their fortune from the economic boom, will not try to pull China back from the “shift” I spoke of because the majority of them are corrupt, short-sighted, greedy, and power-hungry vampires, who could not and would not care about the implications of this seismic change—they are essentially a group of modern-day “Louis XVs”. Therefore, in a way, the Chinese elites are not only the biggest exploiters of the country’s wealth, they are also the biggest catalyst for China’s “structural shift”.
As the wealth of a society becomes more private-owned, its government institutions may eventually become more “public-owned”, paving the way for a government that truly serves the people.
We can explore this idea further by comparing the difference in reactions and circumstances to the “1957 Anti-Rightist Movement” and Charter 08. We can explore this idea further by looking at the federalist, central-local relationships and power division in the democratic societies of the West and in Taiwan.
2. The Chinese society may not be able to avoid a “Colour Revolution”
Considering the increasing social tensions and conflicts within the Chinese society, the intense power struggle inside the Communist Party ahead of its 18th Party Congress, and the historical fact that no Communist authoritarian regime ever voluntarily gives up power, if the Chinese political system were to undertake a fundamental change, a “colour revolution” may be unavoidable.
3. “Pass on the flame, Rebuild the Republic” may be the best option
One hundred years ago, under the leadership of Sun Yat-sen, Huang Xing and other visionary leaders, China successfully ended its two-thousand-plus years of imperial dictatorship and established Asia’s first republic. Unfortunately, it was short-lived, disrupted by Yuan Shikai’s “imperial restoration”, wars among the Chinese warlords and other ill-fated events. Sixty years ago, after we won the war against the Japanese invasion in 1945, under the initiative of the Kuomintang, with the participation of all political organizations at the time, including the Chinese Communist Party, China successfully convened its own “constitutional convention” and drafted its own “Nanjing Constitution”—a process comparable in historical significance to the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. The “Nanjing Constitution” essentially established China’s second republic, but it again ended quickly after the Chinese Communist Party waged a violent civil war, fueled by support from the former Soviet Union. However, the republic system, despite many struggles and difficulties, survived in Taiwan and continues to function today. What the Chinese society needs is to establish is a “third republic”, which respects the traditions and values of the Chinese culture and integrates modern western concepts and universal values. Speaking today in Strasbourg, during France’s Fifth Republic, gives our hope for China’s “third republic” a special, symbolic meaning.
Early this year, the China Democracy Party United National Headquarters announced the mission to “Commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Revolution of 1911, Pass on the Flame, Rebuild the Republic”, in order to bring about this new era of China’s “third republic”. We launched our commemorative ceremony of the 21st anniversary of the June 4th Massacre in front of the Berlin Wall this year, in order to channel the strength of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement to one day bring down the decrepit wall of the Chinese Communist authoritarianism and establish a new China that is free, democratic, humane, and just. We hope to join hands with the Federation of a Democratic China and other like-minded organizations, and work towards a strong China, a prosperous China, a free China.
Thank you everyone.
President of Caring for China Center
China Democracy Party co-founder
Watson Institute for International Studies
111 Thayer ST
Providence, RI 02912-1970