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  • Morning Bell: A Force for Liberty from China to Cuba

    On Saturday night, blind Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng arrived in Newark, N.J., after escaping seven years of persecution in China. With the sweet land of liberty under his feet, Chen breathed the free air and remarked, “We should link our arms to continue in the fight for the goodness in the world and to fight against injustice.” Chen’s newfound freedom is a cause for celebration, but it is also a reminder that America must continue to be a force for liberty in the world, whether on the other side of the world or 90 miles off the shores of Florida.

    A 40-year-old self-taught lawyer, Chen was imprisoned for four years, placed under house arrest and suffered beatings after voicing opposition to communist China’s one-child policy, which brings with it government-forced abortions, coerced sterilizations, and fines or physical abuse for neighbors and family members of women with unauthorized pregnancies. Last month, he escaped the grip of Chinese authorities and found refuge in the U.S. Embassy. After a series of negotiations, Chen and his immediate family won their freedom — he is now a legal fellow at New York University Law School.

    Chen’s case brings to light the reality of modern-day China — a country that has been radically transformed over the last 30 years thanks to economic development. But as much as the country has changed, much remains the same. Heritage’s Walter Lohman explains:

    China is a place that has not changed since the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989 when it comes to respect for the fundamental rights of its people. This is sometimes hard for the diplomats, scholars, businessmen, and tourists who spend time there to believe. Likewise, there are many privileged, worldly Chinese who fail to see it.

    The People’s Republic of China is an authoritarian, yes, ‘communist’ nation. This China is Chen’s day-to-day reality. And it is a brutal reality for many hundreds of millions more. U.S.-China relations will never be normal as long as the Chinese regime is what it is.

    Chen sees the Chinese government for the authoritarian beast that it is, and he has won international acclaim for his activism. “I am not a hero,” he said. “I’m just doing what my conscience asks me to do. I cannot be silent when facing these evils against women and children.” The United States should not be silent, either.

    China, though, is not the only communist government standing in the way of freedom. Just off the Florida Keys, the Castro regime continues to hold an iron grip on the Cuban people. Yesterday marked the 110th year of Cuba’s independence, but sadly 53 of those years have been spent under the Castros’ dictatorship. Political opposition is not tolerated, those who stand against the regime are harassed and persecuted, all forms of media and communications are under government control, and freedoms of speech and association are suppressed.

    There is hope for Cuba. In a new paper, Heritage’s Ray Walser writes that the Castro regime is on the verge of extinction but is working to ensure the country’s communist system continues. He advises that the United States should stand for freedom and press for genuine democracy in Cuba. That means not appeasing the dictatorial regime, backing genuine economic transformation, challenging Cuba’s information blockade, and establishing clear yardsticks for democratic change, including independent political parties, free and fair elections, freedom of information, expression, and association, and respect for human rights.

    “Failure to stand with the advocates of genuine economic and political change in Cuba and to press for a policy of true transition and genuine democracy could condemn yet another generation of Cubans to lives without freedom, opportunity, or hope,” Walser writes. Indeed, the United States can be a powerful force for freedom — whether it’s for one Chinese activist standing up in a country of one billion, or if it’s for one tiny island surrounded by a vast ocean. But America must choose to stand up for the light of liberty, not turn away from the darkness.

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    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    20 Responses to Morning Bell: A Force for Liberty from China to Cuba

    1. sue says:

      What bravery, and I hope that his story is told correctly in this country. I have been to Beijing, and sensed a fear in the people to be open. We saw miles of long shacks that people live in- not good enough for a dog.
      Unfortunately he has come to a land that is losing its freedom's too quickly. There are many unsung heros in these countries and throughout history.

    2. Discouraged Senior says:

      "America must choose to stand up for the light of liberty, not turn away from the darkness." Well stated, but somehow it misses the obvious. If we continue to vote away our freedom, together with the destruction of the Constitution that guarantees and protects it, how can we be the light for others? The "darkness" is rapidly increasing within and will soon overwhelm the light. When we, the citizens, continue to permit Federal administrations to walk outside the parameters of Constitutional governing and protections without protest, penalty or sanction then we are contributing to the dousing of what may be the last the flame of freedom. Those who now govern have become too strong in implementing "laws" and edicts far outside the boundaries of the Constitution. Unless we are willing to stand and fight for Constitutional law, as intended by the Founders, our light will soon be extinguished – unable to shine within our once great land, certainly unable to light the pathways of others who need our help!

    3. mbrosch says:

      in 2003, while sitting in the Peace Hotel in Shanghi and watching CNNI, it occurred to me that the Chinese are on a dead run toward building a modern and competitive country.
      We should not stop to ask if they can compete in an open world economy, we should ask if we can. The Chinese are not sitting around doing environmental impact studies and organizing support groups for the people displaced by the Three Gorges Dam project, nor are they concerned with international opinion. They are laying the foundations for an economy that will be the engine that runs the Pacific Rim and perhaps the world.
      America can be in or out, depending on what we do today. In light of the fact that the Clinton administrations actions did nothing to impact the Three Gorges Project should be a sentinel event in our use of monetary policy and its ability to impact international environmental policy. Pondering the rightness of Chinas entrance into the WTO is a waste of time. Most Favored Nation status is the minimum we should grant, but we need to have a presence in China and we need it soon. Before they discover they can do without us.
      When we think of the Chinese people we immediately think of their Communist form of government, although the population of China is as far removed from the dogma of the party line as Americans are from our government. It simply doesn’t matter to the Chinese man on the street what the government calls it’s self. I hate to be the one to break it to the world, but the Peoples Republic of Santa Monica is more communist than the Peoples Republic of China.
      Words like inscrutable and enigmatic are overworked clichés to avoid describing a people who are both those things and much more. I am constantly surprised at just how much like us they are, but always conscious too of the vast differences. The feeling I had of being an outsider in a single vast tribe was real. Our challenge in this century will be to learn to live with the Chinese with sensitivity and empathy and to show them how to avoid some mistakes we have made along the way. There are simply too many Chinese in the world to do anything else.

    4. Bill B. says:

      Sounds like some of the things that are in store for us if we continue the existing leadership.

    5. Vadim Kersha says:

      I agree with everything you comment on. I would like to say that with China having a population of 1 1/2 billion, I think their policy of 1 child per family is reasonable for a country that has less livable area than USA.
      Can you Imagine that population here in United States, and the lack of job opportunity that would present and the poverty that would cause?

      • sue says:

        No population can exist with that many births. We are seeing that in other countries. Statistics indicate you have to have 2 1/2 children to exist as a nation and when you get past that you cannot reestablish the country. And since they mostly get rid of famale babies, they are going to self destruct.

      • Richie I says:

        hmmmmmm…. promotion of infantacide…. not American… are u?!?!?

    6. ThomNJ says:

      "…press for a policy of …genuine democracy…" – frankly, I am appalled that so many "educated" people keep calling for democracy everywhere and keep on labeling our form of government a democracy, and now Heritage also falls right into that trap. (see rest of comment below)

    7. ThomNJ says:

      Democracy devolves into mob rule pretty darn easily, which is also just what the Democrats would like for the USA in their incessant drive to segregate America into special interest groups. The Founding Fathers abhorred democracy and recognized its genuine threat to the individual, and that is why they opted for a representative Republic. So many people nowadays cannot tell the difference, and it has become easier to muddy the roles the various arms of our government are supposed to play. Congressmen get involved in all kinds of activities where they don't belong; as do judges. The president writes "laws" using agencies like the EPA, and Congress looks the other way. Laws are applied more often wholly unequally or flat-out ignored. Those same groups love to call us a nation of laws – well, if we plan on staying that way, we had better start applying them and go back to our Constitutional principles recognizing that there are those trying to transform our Republic into mob-rule.

    8. Carolyn Brown says:

      As long as there is an Obama regime, don't count on the USA to be a voice for freedom of any kind. We first must deal with our own oppressive government…..

    9. As Dennis Prager says, "America, Still the Greatest Hope."
      From around the world, "They're Coming to America," just as my grandparents did from eastern Europe, just as my mother did from Cuba. We MUST continue to be "The City on the Hill."
      My ear liberal friends simply do not understand that they are sinking the ship of State into a watery grave.
      DO NOT ALLOW IT. STAND UP, SPEAK UP, MAKE YOUR VOICE AND VOTE BE HEARD RINGING ACROSS THE LAND!

      • Leith N Wood says:

        Thank you for a fine post. Many people do not want to understand, because then they might have to learn what is really going on and do something about it. When they turn a deaf ear to the truth, we suggest they move to Cuba or Russia and see how they fare there. Every day we speak out, tell the truth and work to save our country. God bless you.

    10. Rick says:

      Our country was not founded as a democracy, but as a Republic, read your U.S. constitution if you have doubts, we have no business in trying to force or replace any country's right to found their form of Government into compliance with the "ideals" of a democracy. If our "democracy" fails to meet our needs, and it is, then why all the crowing about that which we couldn't even make work for our selves? Given a choice, I'll go with the founding fathers ideal's first. A Republic based on Democratic principles will work better then just a democracy ever could. A Democracy sounds good, but it is anything but close to being balanced for the People. "Asking questions is good, not getting answers is bad news, so far it's the bad news". My own quote.

      • Hi Rick, I think you are splitting hairs. Most people understand that our country is a representative democracy. When someone hears the word "democracy," that person thinks of justice, self-determination, order and freedom. All the best to you!

        • Roger S. says:

          WRONG!
          The typically current product of our dumbed-down educational system does NOT understand the difference. And many of the rest of us take it for granted. Therefore, this difference, which is far more than a trivial semantic inaccuracy — which on the contrary defines a profoundly moral mandate to our people and their elected governments — needs to be expressly identified and reiterated at every turn of discussion. How do you expect people to "get it" if you do not even state your moral premise? How should people discover and identify the profound difference between "free elections" in, say Egypt, and what these were and hopefully will someday be again, in the USA? Mere "Democracy" vs. a Republic of limited government powers over individuals which not even a majority vote may transgress !!!!

    11. Jeanne Stotler says:

      Pledge of Allegiance, "And to the REPUBLIC for which it stands< ONe nation, indivisabe,with LIBERTY and JUSTICE FOR ALL. This administration is taking away the last two, one by one, makingus more of a MArist state each time. Let's return to the ideal's our ancestors inspired to and foughtand died for.

    12. Casey Carlton says:

      There will be no help for China or Cuba, or, for that matter, any other people as long as we lack moral leadership in America. We must rid ourselves of the scheming politicians in Washington and replace them with statesmen.

      A measure of courage in our leaders would be highly desirable.

    13. Ron W. Smith says:

      Being a voice for freedom is easy. It's the sound we make. It's the example we give. When we push for regime change elsewhere or when we insist on the principles that guide us as the only principles acceptable anywhere, we go too far. We invite opposition of the sort that terrorism was designed to provide–silent, invisible, determined, and, for us, remarkably costly to our own liberties and treasury.
      Rallying the world to back us in the noble cause of democracy and human rights is one thing, being the world's policeman and insisting that others behave as we wish them to quite another. Our national debt, now approaching $16,000,000,000,000, has been built on that foolish insistence. Standing up for liberty and not turning away from darkness should be cheaper, less bloody, more effective than that.

    14. Claude Cornell says:

      It is always good to see someone escape tyranny and experience freedom.
      But since I do not trust our Secretary of State, I wonder what the U.S. gave up in
      exchange for his freedom. China does not really have any compassion or sense
      ofdoing the right thing for the right reason.

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