作者：Carl Gershman，国家民主基金会主席 张岩译
Remembrance and Truth
Later this month, here on Capitol Hill, the NED will honor five brave Cuban activists, three of whom are in prison, by presenting them in absentia with a replica of the Goddess of Democracy, the statue that was dramatically unveiled in Tiananmen Square and stood for five days, before it was destroyed by a tank 20 years ago today. The statue embodied the democratic aspirations of the people who gathered in Tiananmen Square, many hundreds of whom were killed in the crackdown, and of countless other Chinese citizens who had risen in protest in over 370 cities across China, from Urumchi in the north-west to Canton in the deep-south. And it has since become a universal symbol of democracy, which is why we have given it as our Democracy Award since 1991 to brave people in all regions of the world who are fighting for democracy.
As you all know, there are some people today who think the United States and other countries shouldn't be pressing China on issues of democracy and human rights, either because they think there other more important things to talk about with China, or because the Chinese people in their view are somehow unfit for democracy and require a dictator. And so the Chinese government today is being coddled and appeased, as a result of which there are surely some Chinese democrats who feel forgotten and abandoned. But they should not be discouraged, any more than the others are right to think that democracy in China is not important or realistic; and for the same reason - for what is being over-looked by both disheartened democrats and so-called realists is the extreme vulnerability of the Chinese system of government.
Certainly the Chinese government feels vulnerable, if one is to judge by its behavior. Otherwise, why would it go to such lengths to erase all memory within China of the Tiananmen uprising and crackdown? Indeed, it has removed any mention of them in textbooks or the media. It has arrested journalists who intend to write about the events and anyone who even speaks to such journalists. It has blocked websites and jammed broadcasts. Just yesterday government censors blocked access to Twitter for the first time, after it had already blacked out BBC broadcasts, blocked all videos on YouTube, and detained more dissidents, all to shield the population from any hint of today's anniversary.
When Zhao Ziyang died four years ago, the regime took drastic precautions to prevent any rallying of dissidents and people with grievances, remembering how the death of Hu Yaobang in April 1989 had been the spark that ignited the Tiananmen uprising. It declared a period of "extreme sensitivity," put the armed police on special alert, and ordered the railways to screen all travelers going to Beijing. These are not actions of a regime that feels secure. On the contrary, they are the actions of a regime that thinks it's sitting on top of a volcano about to erupt or at the center of an earthquake hazard zone.
The reason for this insecurity was clearly spelled out last month in a lecture in Beijing by the well-known Chinese scholar and sociologist Yu Jianrong. The Chinese system, he explained with deep and obvious concern, is characterized by what he called "rigid stability" -- stability that is based on closed and coercive power, where there is no rule of law to protect people's legitimate interests or to prevent the rulers from abusing the people and lining their own pockets. The dominant feature of social governance in such a system, he said, is "dichotomized, black and white thinking" in which the "expression of people's legitimate interests" - land issues for peasant, wages for workers, homeowner rights for urban residents, minority rights for Tibetans or Uyghurs - becomes a threat to the social order.
A rigid system is by definition brittle. It lacks resilience. It can break under stress. And there are many sources of stress in China today. People have grievances because their rights are being denied and they have no recourse to the courts which are controlled or to the political authorities who are distant, unaccountable, arrogant and defensive. And they are angry about many things beyond their immediate economic interests, such as massive corruption and environmental degradation. Given the widespread use of the Internet and the fact that over half the population has mobile phones, citizens are also more aware of their rights, and more connected with each other, than ever before. On top of all this, as Yu Jianrong observed, the regime has lost its only source of legitimacy, which was the revolution. "Revolutionary discourse has distanced itself from us," he said, "revolution is long longer legitimate."
The only source of real legitimacy, of what Professor Yu calls "resilient stability," is in his view "democracy within the framework of the Constitution," a system where the government is in constant dialogue with society through elections and independent media, where its authority comes from the people and its governance is subject to popular review, where conflicts are resolved lawfully, and where people are treated fairly. Such a system will not break apart because it is able to bend. It is not threatened by sparks because it's made of the inflammable material law, democracy, and respect for rights. Such resilient stability, or democracy, is the only way Professor Yu feels that China can escape from what he calls "the tragic fate of two millennia of the cycle of alternating chaos and order."
He is not hopeful that the Chinese leadership, having violently rejected a dialogue with society in 1989, has the wisdom and the will to make the transition from rigid to resilient stability. And so he is gloomy about China's future.
But there is an alternative, and it has been offered by the Charter 08 Declaration that was issued last December 10 by more than 300 prominent Chinese citizens and has since been signed by many thousands of others. It affirms democracy as a system where "political power begins with the people and the legitimacy of a regime derives from the people," where political leaders are chosen "through periodic competitive elections," where the will of the majority is honored and the rights of minorities are protected - in short, "a modern means for achieving government that is truly "of the people, by the people, and for the people."
Last Tuesday, at a conference that the NED sponsored with the Laogai Research Foundation, the dissident Xu Wenli repeated these very words. He said that he had taken a walk to the Lincoln Memorial, at the other end of the Mall from where we are now, and read on the monument those famous words from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address - government "of the people, by the people, and for the people." He said that at that moment he had made a promise to President Lincoln that "China will be a free country."
I believe he's right. So let us remember those who died in Tiananmen Square as Lincoln remembered the heroes of Gettysburg, and let us "take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion" and "highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain," and that China, "under God, shall have a new birth of freedom."