News and Notes

Issue Date April 2003
Volume 14
Issue 2
Page Numbers 188-90
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Chinese Dissident Exiled

Fang Jue, a well-known Chinese democracy activist, has been expelled from China. Missing since November 4, when it is believed he was detained as part of a crackdown on dissidents prior to the Sixteenth Chinese Communist Party Congress, Fang was on January 24 taken to the Beijing airport and escorted on board a flight to the United States. He was not allowed to see any friends or relatives before departing for life in exile, and no formal charges had been brought against him.

After being sent to work in the fields of Shaanxi for four years during the Cultural Revolution, Fang graduated from Beijing University in 1982 with a degree in economics. He worked for the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and at the Research Institute of Political Science before becoming the vice director of the Fuzhou Planning Commission. In 1995, he left government work to set up a trading company, believing that a move into the private sector would give him greater latitude to express his views and stimulate discussion among liberal thinkers within the Party.

In November 1997, Fang drafted a document entitled, “China Needs a New Transformation: Program Proposals of the Democratic Faction,” which called for direct elections at all levels of government, freedom of the press, a multiparty system, and independent labor unions. The statement was widely circulated in the United States, France, Taiwan, and elsewhere, and was also distributed to members of the Central Committee. An article based on this document appeared in the October 1998 issue of the Journal of Democracy.

In July 1998, after issuing another statement entitled, “Broadening China’s Political Power Base,” Fang was arrested; a year later, he was convicted of fraud and sentenced to four years in prison. Police claimed Fang had illegally sold oil import quotas and pocketed 145,000 yuan while serving on the Fuzhou Planning [End Page 188] Commission, but it is believed that the real reason for Fang’s conviction was his open expression of his political views in foreign media. Fang was released from prison in July 2002, but remained under close surveillance, leading to his November 4 arrest and subsequent expulsion from China.

Somali Human Rights Defenders Issue Declaration

On February 10-18, Somali human rights defenders from 23 organizations met at a workshop in Hargeysa, Somalia. In the presence of the UN Independent Expert for Somalia, they adopted a declaration stating that they will “increase the struggle against human rights abuses, such as arbitrary killings, torture, arbitrary detention and kidnapping, and work for the equal rights of all, with full protection for vulnerable groups such as women and minorities.” The declaration also affirmed support for women’s full political participation in building democratic governance. The text of the declaration can be found at

Cuban Dissident Receives EU Award

Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá Sardi~nas of the Varela Project—a petition to amend the Cuban constitution by collecting in excess of 10,000 signatures—was awarded the European Union’s 2002 Sakharov Award in December. Honoring his human rights activism, which dates back to the 1960s when he was condemned to forced labor by the regime of President Fidel Castro, the prize recognized Payá’s attempts to obtain free elections in Cuba. Only after an appeal to Castro by European Parliament president Pat Cox and Spanish prime minister José María Aznar was Payá for the first time allowed to travel outside of Cuba in order to accept the award in Strasbourg. Named after the late Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, the prize is awarded annually to people who defend human rights and democracy, even at risk to their personal safety. For more information on the Varela Project, see “Documents on Democracy” in the Journal‘s July 2002 issue.

Report on NED’s International Forum

In conjunction with the cluster of articles on the prospects for democracy in China that appeared in the January 2003 issue of the Journal of Democracy, a panel discussion on “China’s Political Future” was held on January 17. The symposium was cosponsored by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies at The George Washington University (GWU), and chaired by Larry Diamond, coeditor of the Journal and codirector of the Forum. Speakers included Bruce Dickson, associate professor of political science and international affairs at GWU; Bruce Gilley, doctoral candidate in politics at Princeton University; Andrew Nathan, professor of political science at Columbia University; Minxin Pei, senior associate [End Page 189] and co-director of the China Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Dali Yang, associate professor of political science and director of the Committee on International Relations at the University of Chicago; and Harry Harding, dean of GWU’s Elliott School of International Affairs. The panelists analyzed China’s recent leadership transition and discussed its implications for political and economic reform.

On February 4, the International Forum and the Center for International Private Enterprise cosponsored a discussion on “A New Vision for Democracy in China,” featuring a presentation by Cao Siyuan. A former member of China’s State Council, Cao led the team that drafted China’s bankruptcy law and is the founder of the Beijing Siyuan Merger and Bankruptcy Consultancy.

On February 12, Larry Goodson, director and associate professor of Middle East studies at the U.S. Army War College, spoke at an event entitled “From Kabul to Baghdad: Peacekeeping and Democracy Building in Afghanistan and Beyond.” Drawing on his article in the January 2003 issue of the Journal, Goodson pondered the role of the international community in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and discussed to what extent the lessons learned could be applied to a postconflict Iraq.

The Forum hosted a number of luncheon seminars by Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows in recent months: On January 30, Arkady Cherepansky gave a presentation on “The Return to a Democratic Path in Belarus: How the United States Can Help.” A former research associate at the Jamestown Foundation and a consultant to the International League for Human Rights, Mr. Cherepansky devoted his time at the Forum to preparing a policy memorandum on strategies for promoting democracy in Belarus. On February 11, Clayton Lillienfeldt spoke on “Bridging Conflict Management and Democracy in Africa.” A senior trainer at Mediation Transformation Practice, a Cape Town-based NGO focusing on post-conflict reconstruction, HIV/AIDS, and nation building, Mr. Lillienfeldt prepared a training manual for democracy activists and conflict mediators while in residence at the Forum.

A luncheon event on February 26 featured a presentation by Nyamosor Tuya, entitled “Democracy in Mongolia: Accomplishments and Challenges,” followed by comments by Magvan Bold, former vice-president of the Bank of Mongolia, and Oidov Enhtuya, a former member of the Mongolian parliament. Ms. Tuya is a prominent activist in the Mongolian democracy movement, who served as her country’s first female foreign minister in 1998-2000. During her fellowship, Ms. Tuya prepared a reader of essential writings on democracy, to be translated into Mongolian. Marek Kwiek and Richard Joseph were scheduled to speak on March 18 and April 1, respectively.

The Forum welcomed five new Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows, all of whom arrived in March: Herbert Boh (Cameroon), Ceslav Ciobanu (Moldova), Mustafa Erdoğan (Turkey), Olga Gyárfášová (Slovakia), and Luz María Helguero (Peru).


Copyright © 2003 National Endowment for Democracy and Johns Hopkins University Press