My Op-Ed: The Legacy of Umbrella Man

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests have lasted for months with no solution in sight. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an opinion piece on Al Jazeera America, in which I argue that the best possible outcome could be that students negotiate a partial or symbolic victory.

Hong Kong could be a testing ground for Xi Jinping to pioneer the “one country, two systems” model of governance, a move toward a more open and democratic China — although it will not be in the form of Western style of democracy. If this happens, a symbolic victory for Hong Kong students could be a significant one for China in the long run, and Xi Jinping could be one of the greatest leaders in China’s recent history.

Whatever the end result of the protests, Hong Kong will no longer be the same. “Tank Man” has disappeared but is not forgotten. “Umbrella Man” may also disappear but will become an inspiration for future generations of brave young men and women who want to live in a better, more democratic world. Read full article on Al Jazeera.

Liu Xiaobo and Charter 08

Forbes: Helen H. Wang

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded for Nobel Peace Prize. Below is an excerpt from my forthcoming book The Chinese Dream that provides readers context for what Liu Xiaobo advocates and why he is imprisoned. I hope the Nobel Peace Prize will help Liu Xiaobo regain freedom soon.

On December 10, 2008, on the sixtieth anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 303 courageous Chinese citizens signed a petition known as “Charter 08,” a manifesto for democracy.

The charter members pointed out that “China has many laws but no rule of law; it has a constitution but no constitutional government.” They called for political reform and laid out nineteen recommendations that included overhauling the constitution so that “the constitution must be the highest law in the land, beyond violation by any individual, group, or political party”; separation of legislative, judicial, and executive powers; and systematically implementing general elections of public officials. Charter 08 essentially calls for ending one-party rule. Continue reading

21 years after Tiananmen Square, will the Chinese middle class push for democracy?

Twenty-one years ago, thousands of Chinese students gathered at Tiananmen Square demanding more democracy. The world still remembers the stunning image of a lone student standing in front of armed tanks in an attempt to block the tanks from entering into the Square.

At the time, I had just arrived in the United States as a student and watched the entire demonstration on TV. Like other Chinese students in the U. S., I protested with them on the streets and wept with them when the crackeddown came.

Twenty-one years later, China has changed to a very different country. Today’s new middle class Chinese have little in common with the idealistic students. They are the beneficiaries of China’s economic reform. Most of them approve what the government has done. They are all busy trying to keep up with the swirling changes. Continue reading