The Path to Democratization Begins by Informing the People
An Interview with Wei Jingsheng

Photo caption: Wei Jingsheng spoke at a Humanitarian China gathering in Los Angeles on Human Rights Day in December 2017.

Wei Jingsheng / Leader of Democracy Wall in China in 1978


Wei Jingsheng was born in Beijing in 1950. He was the leading figure of the Democracy Wall Movement in 1978. He has been imprisoned twice, spending a total of 18 years in prison. Jingsheng was still in prison at the time of his Sakharov Prize award. He is known as a democratic fighter along with Wang Dan and others, as they have become symbols of China’s pro-democracy movement. After being exiled to the U.S., he has continued to engage in China’s democracy movement at home and abroad.


(Interviewer: Wang Wei Chih)

Will China democratize? If so, what paths could lead to China’s democratization? We spoke with the leader of China’s pro-democracy movement.


–You were the leader of the Beijing Spring, which could also be said as the revolution of wall papers. Please tell us about that time.

Jingsheng: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was using violent means to rule its people. From late 1978 to early 1979, there were indications that the CCP wanted to change from within, and I thought that this opportunity shall not be missed.

Amid the Democracy Wall Movement in which democratic wall posters were put up in Beijing, I criticized the CCP’s 30-year dictatorship and put up a wall poster titled ‘The Fifth Modernization –Democracy.’


–As a result, you were imprisoned for a total of 18 years for engaging in counterrevolutionary activities. During those periods in prison, why did you not lose your will to fight?

Jingsheng: The CCP’s methods are despicable, and they have caused psychological damage to my family and relatives through violence. There is a saying in China, however: ‘Broad and selfless heart, broad heaven (If one is selfless in their heart, the world is wide).’ When I looked back at myself, I could confirm that I didn’t have any selfishness, so my unshakeable mind kept me from ever giving in to external pressure.


The Communist Party Regime Conceals All Kinds of Truths


–What is necessary for democratization?

Jingsheng: A prerequisite is for people to know the truth. When you are in contact with the truth, you can make right decisions.

I believe the international community should pay more attention to the issue of free speech in China. If people are instigated by incorrect information that incites nationalism, the government will be able to carry out wolf warrior diplomacy. This is dangerous.

The current state of free speech in China couldn’t be any more miserable. As a recent example, a female citizen journalist and former lawyer, Zhang Zhan, shot some videos about the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan and posted them online. She was sentenced to four years in prison for disrupting public order. This is clearly a crackdown on freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

Discontent is emerging not only from the cultural and scientific circles but also from within the CCP. When their discontent reaches a certain threshold, it can explode like a pressure cooker.


–Regarding COVID-19, China insists that the virus originated naturally, and this theory is being spread around the world

Jingsheng: The vast majority of Chinese people know the ins and outs of the CCP, so we believe that the coronavirus was secretly developed as a biological weapon by the CCP and leaked in some way.

Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) argued that she ‘examined every corner of the lab and didn’t find that the virus was leaked from here’ which conversely proved that the virus was related to the WIV.

The CCP will use any means to attain its goals, no matter how immoral the means may be. You could say that the essence of the CCP was revealed through this COVID-19 pandemic.


The People and the Army Will Rise With Economic Collapse


–What kind of paths could lead to the CCP’s collapse?

Jingsheng: There are two possibilities. One is the emergence of rebels from within the CCP. The other is a national rebellion. The main trigger of the latter will be the collapse of the [Chinese] economy. China’s economy has developed due to the West’s investment policy with China, but once the growth stops, the people will rise because they cannot withstand the ‘Vampire Economy.’ At the same time, the military will point its weapons toward the CCP. This will lead to the collapse of the Communist regime.


–Please share your expectations for Japan.

Jingsheng: You cannot co-exist and co-prosper with the Communist regime. It is obvious that the CCP will pose a global threat if they become stronger. While anti-China sentiment is increasing in Japan, political and business spheres are flattering China.

But the U.S. and the international society became anti-Communist China. If Japan doesn’t keep pace with them, China may invade neighboring countries. We believe that helping the Chinese people to democratize will also benefit Japan. Even if there are large political parties in Japan, small political parties will not be crushed. In that sense, Japan is a model for party politics.

The Communist Party has crushed many small parties since the 1950s. As it exists today, the CCP is an eternal ruling party.

It has unfortunately become a one-party dictatorship from the latter half of the 1950s.

A true election should guarantee freedom of speech and basic human rights. This is how true elections are supposed to run, but with the elections in China, the only elector is the CCP. It has no meaning.


–What kind of changes will the U.S. governmental policies face under the Biden administration?

Jingsheng: I doubt the fundamental policies related to China will change. The U.S. is a democratic society, so the opinions of voters must be reflected. Regarding China-related policies, there is a lot of agreement between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Even if Mr. Biden tries to take the pro-China route, I don’t think the effort of the last four years can be easily reversed. Talking to American congressmen, I feel that the anti-Communist China stance is pervasive among members of Congress. The White House only enforces legislative policies.


–Taiwan is an important ally for Japan. Please share your message for Taiwan.

Jingsheng: Firstly, the Taiwanese government must denounce the CCP as an enemy and unite all of its people to face China. As small of a country as Israel is united. This is the first requirement.

Next is to create alliances.

Neither the Kuomintang nor the Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan should adopt pro-Communist China policies. The CCP is its enemy, so it is important to unite domestically.

Taiwan must also take interest in the Uighurs, Inner Mongolia and Tibet because the same policies that were implemented with the Uighurs and Tibet will take place in Taiwan. These issues are not just someone else’s problem.

There are also anti-American lawmakers in Taiwan, so in the U.S., some Congress members question whether Taiwanese lawmakers have political wisdom. Taiwan must have a mind of its own rather than walk on eggshells around the CCP.

The Path to Democratization Begins by Informing the People
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