Wei Jingsheng

Wei Jingsheng

Wei Jingsheng (Chinese: 魏京生; Pinyin:Wèi Jīngshēng; born May 20, 1950) is an activist in the Chinese democracy movement, most prominent for authoring the document "Fifth Modernization" on the "Democracy Wall" in Beijing in 1978.


He had joined the Red Guards as a sixteen-year-old student during the Cultural Revolution. When Deng Xiaoping came to power and repudiated the Cultural Revolution, Wei Jingsheng, then a twenty-eight-year-old electrician in Beijing's Zoo, attacked the dictatorship of the Communist Party of China, becoming one of the first few daring to denounce Deng and his will to maintain a dictatorship in China. Wei's and others' public dissent worried Deng who was anxious to consolidate his power. Apart from the "Fifth Modernization" ("第五个现代化") authorship, Wei Jingsheng is known for his editorial work in a short-lived magazine "Exploration" (《探索》) in 1979.

Wei Jingsheng was arrested March 29, 1979 for "Passing military secrets", and was condemned to 15 years of prison. [ [http://www.radicalparty.org/china/an_f.htm DEMOCRATIE POUR LA CHINE, LE NOBEL POUR WEI JINGSHENG] ] He had also published a letter under his name in March 1979 denouncing the inhuman conditions of the Chinese Qincheng Prison, where the 10th Panchen Lama was imprisoned. [ [http://www.weijingsheng.org/doc/en/Excerpts%20from%20Qincheng.htm Excerpts from Qincheng: A Twentieth Century Bastille, published in Exploration, March 1979] ] However, a major part of Wei's essay came from other anonymous authors with personal experiences involving Qincheng. Those parts were published by Wei without their consent. Mary Holzman declared that Wei completed his research and wrote his essay of investigative journalism within a week, [ [http://www.echonyc.com/~wei/Voice.html DARING TO VOICE THE UNSPOKEN] ] which makes it highly doubtful that Wei wrote the essay himself, as he simply did not have the factual knowledge present in the text.

Although they could not bring any formal charges against him for his attacks on the Communist system, the government exaggerated Wei's correspondence with foreigners about the Chinese-Vietnamese War and charged him with treason. He stayed in prison until 14 September 1993, when he was released because the PRC wanted to show their new openness before the International Olympic Committee [see Discussion section for an alternative reason proposed from Wei Jingsheng himself] . The Olympics were a huge event for Chinese nationalism and when they lost their bid to Sydney, Australia, the country was deflated. Wei, once again looked at as a scapegoat, was thrown in jail once more after China lost the Olympic bid. Charged with plotting against the state he was to remain in jail until November 16, 1997, when he was released for "medical reasons" and promptly deported to the United States. He was sent to the United States due to international pressure, especially the request by then US President Bill Clinton.

Dissidents who are widely known in the West, such as Wei Jingsheng, Fang Lizhi, and Wang Dan are typically deported when the Chinese government is really under pressure. Although Chinese criminal law does not contain any provisions for exiling citizens, it is carried out informally by giving these well known dissidents a severe jail sentence and subsequently granting medical parole before sending them out in exile.

In 1996, Wei Jingsheng was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. He is a winner of numerous other human rights and democracy awards, including the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 1996, the National Endowment for Democracy Award in 1997, the Olof Palme Memorial Prize in 1994, and the International Activist Award by the [http://www.gleitsman.org/ Gleitsman] Foundation, etc. In 2008, he was chosen as one of the 15 Champions of World Democracy by the Europe-based magazine "A Different View". ["A Different View", Issue 19, January 2008.] He has been praised in numerous places with titles such as "Father of Chinese Democracy" and "Nelson Mandela of China". Thousands of entries about him can be found on the Internet in various languages.

Besides the well publicized essay he wrote in 1978, "the Fifth Modernization", he is the author of "Courage to Stand Alone -- letters from Prison and Other Writings", which compiles his articles written initially on toilet paper in jail. He has weekly commentary on Radio Free Asia, and many other news media.

From his prison, Wei Jingsheng wrote to Deng Xiaoping many letters that were smuggled out secretly and published. [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9801E5DC1339F93BA25751C0A960958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all WORD FOR WORD/Wei Jingsheng;Letters to Deng, From the Pit of Repression] ] Hence, in 1992, he wrote a long letter about Tibet, which questioned the suzerainty of the Qing Dynasty over Tibet. [ [http://www.tibet.com/China/wei.html Wei Jingsheng's letter to Deng Xiaoping in 1992] ]


ee also

*List of Chinese dissidents

External links

* [http://www.weijingsheng.org Wei Jingsheng Foundation] (魏京生基金会网页)
* [http://www.youtube.com/userWJFoundation youtube.com/userWJFoundation]

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