Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, February 02, 2009

Grassroots politics in China

Could this turn into something like the movement begun by Andrei Sakharov in the USSR? Is there another Fang Lizhi in China? Xu Liangying won the 2008 Sakharov Prize, but he's nearly 90 years old. (What is it with physicists and politics?)

In China, a Grass-Roots Rebellion -- Rights Manifesto Slowly Gains Ground Despite Government Efforts to Quash It

"When the [Charter 08] document first appeared online in mid-December, its impact was limited. Many of the original signers were lawyers, writers and other intellectuals who had long been known for their pro-democracy stance. The Chinese government moved quickly to censor the charter -- putting those suspected of having written it under surveillance, interrogating those who had signed, and deleting any mention of it from the Internet behind its great firewall.

"Then something unusual happened. Ordinary people... with no history of challenging the government began to circulate the document and declare themselves supporters. The list now includes scholars, journalists, computer technicians, businessmen, teachers and students whose names had not been associated with such movements before, as well as some on the lower rungs of China's social hierarchy -- factory and construction workers and farmers.

"'This is the first time that anyone other than the Communist Party has put in written form in a public document a political vision for China,' said Xiao Qiang, an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of California at Berkeley...

"Charter 08 lays out a comprehensive overhaul of the current political system by ending one-party rule and introducing freedom of speech, an independent court system and direct elections. It is modeled after Charter 77, which was put together by scholars and demanded rights for Czechoslovakia in 1977, preceding the collapse of communism by 12 years..."

See also:

Search for "China Charter 08" for more online references.

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At 8:02 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

Blanca Facundo, who teaches in San Juan, PR, offered her students this critique of the Charter 08 in China.

It's such a clear alternative to the Washington Post interpretation, I can't think of a better opportunity to teach critical thinking.

The truth behind China's Charter 08 manifesto

"U.S. imperialism has begun another effort to overthrow the government of the People’s Republic of China. As it did during the decades-long struggle to overthrow the governments of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the main instruments in the imperialist media apparatus are seeking to discredit or delegitimize the government of China while elevating minuscule counterrevolutionary groups assembled under the banner of 'human rights' and 'democracy.'..

"The Washington Post’s prominent coverage of China’s Charter 08 is a case in point. A mortal enemy of socialism, this group received a few thousand signatures on its Internet petition calling for a return to full capitalism and the removal of the Chinese Communist Party.

"In spite of their negligible support inside of China, the Washington Post’s lead editorial of January 30 was entitled 'Virtual Groundswell: Why China’s leadership should talk to the Charter 08 movement.'...

"The history of the Chinese revolution is lengthy and complex. But the charter presents the entire revolutionary period of China’s history as the darkest of nights. Its authors willingly reject the most basic and well-known gains of the Chinese revolution. Their attitude toward the advances made by the Chinese peasantry and working class speaks volumes about their real aims and motivations..."


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