Speech on the Commemoration of the 5th Anniversary of Liu Xiaobo’s Death
— Wei Jingsheng
July 13, 2022
Thank you to my friends at PEN International for daring to invite me to speak. Thank you.
Recently, the US government has tended to return to the policy of appeasement, and I have less opportunity to speak. So I would like to thank my friends at PEN International for giving me the opportunity to commemorate Mr. Liu Xiaobo.
Liu Xiaobo was my good friend, but we only met once. It was when I was released on parole in Beijing in 1993. At a gathering at a person’s home with dissident writers, photographer Bi Fujian invited me to a conversation about the situation at that time. The conversation quickly turned to the dissidents’ right to exist. Liu Xiaobo said, “I went to jail as soon as I spoke. How can I speak yet without going to jail?” I said, “That depends on the bottom line of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The bottom line of tolerance is the limit where you can speak without going to prison.”
Xiaobo asked again how to determine that bottom line? I said, “Two points of observation. One is whether the position of the highest authority of the CCP is stable. The stability will enhance their self-confidence, and their degree of tolerance will be higher, or they will pretend to be enlightened. Letting me out to get their rights to host the Olympics (2000) means that they now want to pretend to be enlightened, so now their degree of tolerance is higher.”
Xiaobo let out a sigh of relief. Then I talked about the second point that is more important: “When there is high pressure from the United States and the international community, especially the pressure on trade, the tolerance of the CCP will be higher. The recent discussion in the US Congress on the most-favored nation trade status and the CCP’s desire to apply for the rights to hold Olympic Games is relatively high, so you can speak boldly.” Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, and the topic turned to “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms” TV series that Mr. Bi Fujian was making.
The Biden administration has recently tended toward a policy of appeasement. It’s been a long time. This is one of the reasons why the Xi Jinping regime has drastically tightened its human rights policies, which is not only against dissidents and writers, but even extended to its “zero-Covid” policy for all Chinese, regardless criticism from domestic and international public opinion. I call on our friends who are writers, journalists and editors, to criticize and block the appeasement tendencies of the Biden administration, and to protect the rights and space for free speech of the Chinese people.
Thank you, my friends!
Wei Jingsheng, an honorary member of the PEN America
Washington, D.C., USA