The Fight for Democracy in China Lives on:
An Interview With SHENG Xue

SHENG Xue, the subject of The Liberty’s evocative interview, grew up in Beijing but moved to Canada after the protest of Tiananmen Democratic movement and the June 4th Massacre in 1989. An activist and Vice President of the Federation for a Democratic China and member of PEN Canada, she is also a member of the Writers in Exile Committee. At great risk to herself and her family, and exiled from her homeland, SHENG Xue fights the unrelenting struggle for the end of CCP rule and the suffering of the Chinese people. In the face of daily threats to her life and safety, she continues her quest for the democratization of China. Her awards are numerous; she is a published author, poet, actress and investigative journalist, but most importantly a key leader in the fight for human rights and critic of Chinese abuse. We are honored to share her thoughts with our Liberty readers.


SHENG Xue / SHENG Xue, a poet, writer, journalist, magazine columnist, a political commentator on radio and television, and an advocate for democracy and human rights in China. She was the President (from 2012 to 2017) of the Federation for a Democratic China, an international organization for the promotion of democracy in China, Chairperson of June 4th Massacre Investigation and Member of the Head Committee of Forum for Democratization of China and Asia (FDCA). SHENG Xue is the vice-president of Writers for Peace Committee of PEN International. SHENG Xue was chosen as one of Canada’s Stories for the 150’s birthday of Canada by MACLEAN’S:

SHENG Xue is also the Co-Founder for China Rights Network, a coalition that unites communities that have suffered under China’s rule. She is a long-term supporter for the cause of human rights and freedom for Tibetan, Uyghur, Mongolian and other ethnic groups.

In 2000, SHENG Xue won The Canadian Association for Journalists Award for Investigative Journalism, and the National Magazine Award – the first Chinese Canadian so honored. In 2005, she won The National Ethnic Press and Media Council Award for Journalism. In 2012, she received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

In recent years SHENG Xue was a Writer-in-Residence at Carlton and McMaster universities, and the Writer in Exile of the city of Edmonton and University of Alberta.SHENG Xue grew up in Beijing and moved to Canada soon after the Tiananmen Square (June 4th) Massacre in Beijing in 1989. She has been banned from visiting her home country ever since because of her writing, public speaking, and human rights and political activities.

Interviewer: Hanako Cho



Interviewer: You have been President of the Federation for a Democratic China. Can you tell us about that and how it began?

Sheng: The Federation for a Democratic China was established right after the Tiananmen Square massacre in September of 1989. It is almost the largest opposing organization against the Chinese communists worldwide. And it has many branches in the most important countries, including Japan and Canada, USA, France, Australia, UK, Germany, Taiwan and Hong Kong. I was elected as the President of the Federation for a Democratic China in October 2012 In Budapest.

I had stepped down this March when we had our 13th Congress in USA. Mr. Chin Jin of Australia was elected as the new President of FDC.



For how many members do we have? The things have changed a lot after the early 90’s. For example, Federation for a Democratic China (FDC) had started its membership in Australia in 1989. It had thousands of people. but after some years when people there had already received their citizenship from Australia, they also received a lot of pressure from the Chinese government, many of them became inactive. For example, people wanted to go back to China to visit their parents and to visit their family members, and when their parents were sick or passing away they needed to go back to say their last goodbyes, or if they need to do some kind of business or if they want their children to visit their home country etc. So many people have left. This is the very critical situation for our organization.



Interviewer: So how do you try to maintain the organization?

Sheng: Luckily, Of course there will be some members who are dedicated and stay strong to keep the organization active, we do have our annual conference, seminars and we have a lot of demonstrations in the street and we have our website, and we do have a lot of lobbies to our government. Like in Canada, I do a lot of lobbying to my government. Also we focus closely on Chinese society and study the issues and discuss our efforts. We have humanitarian help and support to political prisoners and victim’s families.



Interviewer: That would require a great deal of activity. After the Tiananmen Square Massacre, you have been committed to this organization and movement since then. For you, what was the meaning of Tiananmen Square Massacre?

Sheng: I came to Canada on August 20th of 1989, two months after the massacre took place. And I participated in a demonstration in front of the Chinese Consulate in Toronto 20 days after I arrived in Toronto. I should say I have been very active since then until today. It’s been 28 years. the Chinese government denied my entry to go back to my hometown for 28 years. When I went back to China for the Moon ‘a Festival of 1996, I was arrested at the airport. they questioned me and threatened me, but I was very calm. I said to them, “I know what I have been doing. I’m taking full responsibility and don’t hurt my family”. However, after 24 hours’ interrogation on the following day, they deported me back to Canada. When they read the statement saying that I was an unwelcome foreigner, I was in tears. I thought if I were bone and grew up in a foreign country, why should I care about all of this? after that, there was no chance to return to China until today.

Interviewer: So, you haven’t seen your family since then?

Sheng: Yeah. My father passed away in Beijing 1992. My grandparents and my two uncles from my mother side passed away during this period. And then my mother joined me in Canada in 1997. My mother passed away here in Canada three years ago in 2014. Of course I haven’t had the chance to see my other relatives and my colleagues, my classmates, my friends, for 28 years.

Interviewer: That’s really tragic. What is the meaning of the Tiananmen Square massacre for you?

Sheng: The massacre made me sure about my life, and I involved in the overseas democracy movement right after I got here. I wish I could join in the action to overthrow the CCP regime. I have been asked so many times as a female – as I came to Canada to study, because I gave up all my lifestyle – I gave up my study; I gave up the chance to do business, to make money. I have been asked so many times, “Why did you leave your own life behind and use all your time, energy to fight for freedom and democracy for China?” The answer is very simple. The massacre was not the only reason for me to become involved in the democratic movement, but it strengthened my faith. And if I had not witnessed and been involved in the movement in China in 1989, I do 100% believe that I would still have the same life. When I have been asked, “Why”, the very simple answer is that I cannot just watch the Chinese people suffer so much and do nothing. And the ongoing tyranny is challenging my conscience and my aesthetics at every moment.



Interviewer: You mean that China believes in materialism, right?

Sheng: Yes, so much, crazily. And people are superstitious with political power and violence.

Interviewer: Xi Jinping is becoming like a king of China.

Sheng: Very evoking.



Interviewer: So, I heard that you had unimaginable attacks against you after you left for Canada. How can that be? Could you please share with us how you could overcome these serious difficulties? And what is the source of the passion that makes you keep going?

Sheng: Actually, these kinds of attacks began shortly after I was becoming active with the overseas democracy movement. And it wasn’t very strong. But it never stops. But until about 10 years ago, there’s someone — I do think that the Chinese regime has a project on me – because some people, they are continually writing articles and sending out these kind of attack articles to emails, to Facebook, to Twitter and anywhere that they can. And since I was elected as President of FDC, the attacks were so crazy. There are about 700 attack articles on me now online.

Interviewer: Wow. 700?

Sheng: 700 and three books. And I don’t know how many kind of — those kinds of graphic photos. And very damaging, and include the attacking of my family members–

Interviewer: I see.

Sheng: –to my parents. Even after my parents have passed away, they made up ugly stories about my parents. And, also, they found email address of my brother, sister and my uncle. They put their email address in to the email groups. My uncle is 86 years old, and they send these ugly stories to them every day.



Interviewer: How?

Sheng: I should say that the CCP attacks on me almost exhausted all means.

Interviewer: So, do you know who they are? Do you know who are attacking you?

Sheng: Yes, I do know some of them.



The very hurting thing is that the CCP bought and conned my friends to betray me. And, also, they are making so many rumors and lies. And, also, they are using someone to sue me and making a claim for C$10 million.

Interviewer: Claiming for $10 million? That’s ridiculous.

Sheng: The Chinese Government is using someone in Canada and sued me claiming C$10 million.



Interviewer: Why is it you’re being haunted by them?

Sheng: The CCP says that I am its hostile. I am a poet and writer, I have a lot of readers. I write and read to exposing the darkness of the regime. I analysis and write about the nature of the CCP is state terrorism.

I was participated the pro-democracy movement and witnessed the massacre in 1989. I used all chances to tell the truth. I am an award winning journalists. I do investigative journalism and focus on freedom and human rights issues in china. My books have been strictly banned in China. I am a current commentator for TV, radio and papers in Chinese. I talk about social issues and spread the universal concept. I expose the CCP’s economic growth lies. I boycott the Beijing Olympic Games.

And I have been doing humanity help since the early of 1990. I tried my best to help political prisoners and their families. And to help their kids to Canada and relief their worries.

I believe that all people should unite together to fight for their rights so I tried to establish anti-communist alliance and to be a bridge between different ethnic groups. I have a good relationship with Tibetans, Uighurs, Mongolian and Taiwanese communities and their leaders.
I organized over hundred events of demonstrations, seminars, conferences and etc.

I become an oversea Chinses democratic movement leader and social celebrity. And I do a lot of lobbying to Canadian politicians. Let the Canadian political figures recognize the brutality of the CCP and the infiltration and injury to Canada.



Interviewer: How did you survive this very difficult situation?

Sheng: I just cannot ignore the tragedy, the suffering of the Chinese people in China. Because I’m reading Chinese every day when I log onto a website, when I am reading the newspaper, when I read magazines, I could see that the tragedy, the disaster is there every day, every day. And it’s more and more. So, I cannot give myself a reason not to fight against the evil government. So, I said, “Okay. When the attacks are getting more and more, I told myself, “Okay. If I am not going to fall; they cannot make me then.” And, also, I’m very lucky because I have been living in Canada for so many years and my family support me without condition and I have a lot of friends and community to stay beside me.

I receive so much help, so much support, even from the Canadian government. When the Globe and Mail interviewed me about my situation and the reporter interviewed Jason Kenney– Jason Kenney is a Cabinet Minister and he was very, very supportive, he said that, “It is hugely important to have courageous and independent voices like Xue’s in the Chinese-Canadian community talking about human rights in China.”

I’m lucky because when I think about the people in China, when they try to fight the CCP they may been thrown to jail and their families are in a very, very unbelievably bad situation, so I’m lucky, right? So, I’m not living in China, so I don’t have this kind of direct danger for my life. And, also, I have my family, they are standing behind me. They support me so much. So, I’m okay [laughter].



Interviewer: Do you feel safe now?

Sheng: Yes. As much as I can be. Actually no one is safe in China and they could reach out to me no matter where I am.

Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah. One of the purposes of this interview is to commemorate Liu Xiaobo. I heard that you knew him very well. Could you please share with us his memory?

Sheng: Because I and Liu Xiaobo were in the same PEN Center, the Independent Chinese PEN Center, so we talked via phone. And we never met in person. Yeah, we were talking via phone. And I feel that Liu Xiaobo is a very easygoing friend. And he has deep thoughts.

A BORN LEADER(sorry I changed my words about this. A very good friend strongly disagree with this. )

Interviewer: Deep thoughts?

Sheng: He was a very ideal person. He had much thinking on many things. He was a person who had a sense of humor. And yes, he was very fearless. He was not afraid of other people talking about him [laughter]. Yeah. And yes, and, also, he had passions, and he liked to help friends. People liked to be friends with him, and wanted to be around him, and wanted to listen to him, Wanted to talk to him.



Interviewer: So right now, almost all the citizen, Chinese citizen, don’t even know the fact the Liu Xiaobo has passed away, because of the internet restriction. How do you see this situation?

Sheng: The situation is very, very sad. And you must know that after his death, that his body was burned right after and his ashes thrown into sea. And his wife is still disappeared, and nobody knows where she is. And also, people who commemorate him have been arrested in China. And, also a poet whose name is Lang Zi has been arrested. Yes, and because of the poet was editing Liu Xiaobo’s poetry book. So, the situation is very, very, very bad. But on the other side, what I see is that Liu Xiaobo gave his life for a new hope to China, and because of his death so many people awakened from their dream. XAnd especially, Liu Xiaobo was a very moderate person. He was very kind and very soft, and he said that, “I have no enemy”, right? But the Chinese government treated him as the biggest enemy to the regime. So, Liu Xiaobo’s death awakened so many people, so many Chinese people, and they won’t have any fantasy of the Chinese regime. So, this is what Liu Xiaobo gave his life for.



Interviewer: Is that a speech message of Liu Xiaobo?

Sheng: Yes. Thank you.

Interviewer: In the spiritual message, the spirit of Liu Xiaobo said that he didn’t intend to become a revolutionary leader. But he wanted to be a supporter of the weak. “By abandoning my life, and falling to the ground, there will be a new sprout,” he said. How do you feel his spirit of the revolution?

Sheng: I fully agree with these ideas of Liu Xiaobo. And my sorrows are the same.



Sheng: China needs many revolutions because China is almost completely corrupted by the CCP. China needs revolution in many areas.

Interviewer: In many areas such as?

Sheng: For example, including the common-sense revolution. I always say that China needed to have a revolution of common sense because most of Chinese people don’t have common sense.

Interviewer: And what do you mean by common sense?

Sheng: Common sense of life. Common sense of happiness. Common sense of love and hatred. Common sense of social beliefs. Everything. And, also, China needs to have a religious revolution. Their religion has been damaged so much by the Chinese government. And, also, China needs to have a moral revolution. Most Chinese people don’t know what morality means. Because of the communist, people has been brainwashed.



Sheng: Also, I think that China need to have a revolution of universal values, because the Chinese people don’t have a chance to know what are universal values are. Of course, all the purpose of revolution is to end the CCP’s tyranny, so that Chinese people could return to a normal human life.



Interviewer: So, can I ask you more about the role of a religion in China?

Sheng: Sure.

Interviewer: Because the Chinese government seems to be strict. Eliminating religion in every aspect of Chinese citizens’ life, but people who are blaming Christianity are also adopting it, as the number itself is increasing. It’s appears almost 100 million people believe in Christianity. What do you think of this situation?

Sheng: The number of people who believe in Christianity are increasing, but simultaneously the CCP is oppressing these people. But in order to democratize China, I think that religion is the key to revert this condition. The number is increasing very, very fast. I know that because many of my friends are Christian, but not myself. And I have a very good friend who is a pastor and talks to churches around the world and he told me about this. And on the other hand, the Chinese government cracked down on Christians so harshly, and yeah, you probably know that they crack down on churches to arrest the people who are attending the underground churches. So, more and more people don’t believe in the communism. More and more people they are awakened after believing in the communists for so many years, and so people they need to have a new belief and of course, Christian or Buddhism are the major beliefs in China, and the Chinese government, they influence the Buddhism so deeply so much. And they have their party members be leaders in most of the temples and they want to do the same to churches. Of course, it’s very hard. When people do have real beliefs, it’s pretty hard to listen to the communist party anymore. So that’s why we see the crucial separation of the Christian’s, and this will be lasting because of the fighting between the communists and the people. So, I think it will be changed when the communists go down, like other power and other sources are rising up to collaborate with each other and are fighting back against the Chinese communist regime.



Interviewer: The spirit of Liu Xiaobo also said that what the Chinese government is most afraid of is that the occurrences of feedback from the people saying that they mustn’t let Liu Xiaobo’s death go to waste. In order to encourage this movement to happen, what can we do?

Sheng: More and more people recognize the CCP for what it is, and no longer have the fantasy of the CCP. And China’s change must have help from the outside world. Because what information Chinese people have access to is very limited in China. You must know that China used huge, huge resources to establish the firewall. And so, Chinese people, they don’t have a source to learn the truth. And they don’t know what to do. And their lives have been controlled very tightly. And when you go into a store, a shop, to buy a knife, you need to give your real name. And that you need to give your personal ID. So, this kind of a lifestyle makes people very afraid and very — their actions have been limited. So, the help from the outside world is a so, so very important.

Interviewer: Because There are so many cameras and videos inside China?



Interviewer: Yes, people’s lives are monitored every day and without submitting ID they can’t even get a knife at a store?

Sheng: Right.

Interviewer: Wow. Okay.

Sheng: Yeah. You’d need to give your ID in case to buy a knife.



Interviewer: The spirit of Liu Xiaobo also said that we stand at the crossroad and that the next ten years will define the future. What kind of activities are you planning to initiate in the next 10 years?

Sheng: We need to use every means to let the Chinese people know the truth: letting them know the truth of their own survival; letting them know the truth of the lives of people of other countries of the world. When they are in Japan — you know that the Chinese people are so excited when they’re in Japan, right [laughter]?

Interviewer: Right. They’re buying so many things at the store.

Sheng: Yeah. Even though they are demonstrating against Japan in China, but when they are in Japan I think that most of them are very shocked and very impressed by the lifestyle of the Japanese. The happiness of the Japanese? The human rights that the Japanese can enjoy, and the dignity that the Japanese have that the Chinese people don’t. So, and again, the Chinese people know that the survival of mankind is for happiness, for peace, and for love, and to help each other. Not for suffering. Not being bullied and insulted by the power. And to make people free to face a normal civil political system which is, of course, is the democratic system.

And the population is huge in China. CCP are using people as their goods in warehouses. People have no human rights, no safety, no protection, no cost for the owner . And the more people realize this than to fight back, the more people will join the movement to overthrow the Chinese government in large, large number.



Interviewer: The Chinese tourists only seem to be learning about how to buy a good thing, not learning values, such as free speech or freedom of faith or..

Sheng: I know, yes. This is very sad. This is very sad. Yeah. Not only in Japan, in most countries. In Canada, in the United States, in European countries, they only are shoppers.

Interviewer: Yeah. Shoppers .

Sheng: Yeah. Why is that? Because they know how dangerous if they brought back ideas and books and the newspapers or the magazines that they will be punished, right? So, what we see is that, they only buy goods. And especially buy luxurious goods from outside in order to feel that they have this kind of dignity. Of course, these cannot make them have dignity by buying goods. But take these times when the people are going out to experience the lifestyle of a democratic country. People enjoy human rights, happiness, and dignity, and they’re respected by the power of the government. And I think more and more people realize this, especially the younger generation. They are sensitive. They are learning. And especially, a lot of people are going to democratic countries to study there.



Interviewer: Recently the U.S. State Department increased its pressure on China regarding human trafficking and nominated China as the worst of its kind. Maybe this is in response to the second sanction for North Korea, but what do you think of the State Department’s stance on China? There seems to be increasing pressure on China?

Sheng: Yes. The United States and Japan have been being too soft.



Sheng: They have been being too soft on the Chinese regime. The U.S. government and Japan have responsibility for the, I should say, the strengthening of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to today. So, of course, I think that the United States and Japan should be more powerful and more tough on the CCP. Because the United States and Japan are the most influential democratic countries in the world and have the responsibility to do so. Also, the United States and Japan should have a responsibility to let their own people realize that a strong CCP will bring human disaster. Actually it already is.



Interviewer: Yes, I do agree, and it is shameful that our government is not strong enough to pressure China. I feel very sorry about that.

Sheng: I know the problem is because of the Chinese market. It was an empty market and it was a huge empty market. So, of course, a lot of countries, a lot of businesses, want to make money there. But they ignore the human abuse. They think that it was only abuse to Chinese citizens. But it’s not, because the Chinese government, what I call it, it is a state terrorist. I think you agree with me too.



Interviewer: State terrorist?

Sheng: I call the Chinese government the Chinese terrorism state, state terrorism.

Interviewer: State terrorism. I know, state terrorism. Because of state terrorism, you mean the CCP is creating the empty market?

Sheng: the state terrorism is the power system of China. and it exports the violence, the terrorism to international communities. Also, this is not the first time. If we look back to the ’50s, to the ’60s, they exported terrorism to many countries, right? And then the terrorism of communism once again threatens the world and Japan and Taiwan are the most endangered countries.

Interviewer: Yes, I think the CCP is planning to annex Taiwan by 2020. And you also proposed that we, the Japanese people, should establish a Taiwan Relations Act when you give a speech in July in Japan. Could you elaborate more on this?

Sheng: Oh, yes. Japan is a great country and a mature democratic country in Asia and has many obstacles. The biggest obstacle and threat to Japan’s development is the CCP. Japan needs an alliance with Taiwan. Taiwan needs support. So, Taiwan is Japan’s best ally in Asia. And Japan and Taiwan have the responsibility to foster democracy in Asia. So, if Japan tries to pass the law of the Taiwan Relations Act, this would be very beneficial to both Japan and Taiwan because it can hurt the CCP deeply and createtense relations with Taiwan.

Interviewer: Right. Maybe we need to take this Taiwan Relations Act seriously.

Sheng: Yes.



Interviewer: In what way do you succeed Liu Xiaobo’s will ?

Sheng: As I mentioned that Xiaobo died, but Xiaobo is alive. Xiaobo makes people realize the meaning of being alive so Xiaobo is living in people’s heart forever, even though the Chinese government burnt him and threw out his ashes. It’s very interesting. When we were in Japan, we had a conference at a city by the sea so we had commemoration of Xiaobo at the shore of the sea so I realized that when the Chinese government was doing this, it was so, so, stupid because everywhere, when people are by the sea, they will think about him and they will have their own way to commemorate him, right? So, Xiaobo is alive. He’s alive in people’s heart. He’s alive with people’s spirit and he’s alive with people’s hope.

The Fight for Democracy in China Lives on:
Copyright © IRH Press Co.Ltd. All Right Reserved.