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© 1997 by University ofHawai'i Press Reviews 153 inquiry, with a care taken in understanding the interpretative limits ofdocuments that should be a model for those who work with complex sources ofany kind. Robert André LaFleur Colby College RobertLaFleur is an assistantprofessor ofhistory specializing in Chinese cultural history and historiography. mm Tom Hart and Torbjörn Lodén, editors. Wei Jingsheng and the Prospects for Democracy in China. Stockholm, Sweden: The Center for Pacific Asia Studies, Stockholm University, 1995. i, 58 pp. Paperback, isbn 91-6303962 -1. The meaning ofdemocracy in China from the days ofthe 1978-1979 Democracy Wall movement to the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989 has been a complex and sometimes contradictory problem for anyone concerned about China and its future —and expecially for its dissident intellectuals. There are questions that need to be answered by dissidents inside and outside China. How committed are they to democracy? How have they defined democracy in a Chinese context, and how divergent are their views? What ideas can exiled dissidents offer for the possible liberalization and democratization of China? The direct popular election of the president ofTaiwan raises the question: do dissidents in exile support the thesis that economic reform will in time lead to political reform or democracy in China, as it has in Taiwan? Despite its limitations, which this reviewer will discuss shortly, this slim volume ofessays selected from the writings ofthree dissidents in exile is a welcome addition to the growing literature on democracy in China, its meaning, and its prospects. This book was published in Sweden in honor ofWei Jingsheng, who was first arrested in 1979 for his participation in activities connected with the Democracy Wall. It will be recalled that Wei was then fhe editor ofthe underground journal Tansuo (Exploration), in which he not only advocated freedom of speech, democracy , and human rights, but also "slandered" Marxism, Leninism, and Mao's Thought. Moreover, Wei even advocated the abandonment of socialism. He was arrested in March 1979 along with thirty other dissidents. In a special one-day trial he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison on the dubious charges that he had supplied military intelligence to Western reporters on China's military action 154 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. ?, Spring 1997 against Vietnam, and that he had encouraged the overthrow of the socialist system . Wei subsequendy appealed to the Beijing municipal court, but his plea was rejected. Wei was released in September 1993 after spending just under fifteen years in prison—on the eve ofthe International Olympics Committee's vote on Beijing's bid for the Olympic games in the year 2000, a bid that subsequendy went to Sydney, Australia. His release was viewed as a gesture on the part of Chinese authorities to placate Western criticism ofChina's human rights violations. In December 1995, Wei was again arrested, tried, and sentenced to fourteen more years for "sedition" and for writing provocative articles that were critical of the government, for newspapers abroad. Wei is known, particularly in the West, for his most famous essay, "The Fifth Modernization," which advocates that China must have democracy first and then modernization. In 1994, Wei was awarded the OlofPalme Prize, given in memory ofthe late prime minister of Sweden. Since it was not possible for Wei to go to Sweden to accept the prize, the Olof Palme Memorial Fund, in cooperation with the Center for Pacific Asia Studies, the Institute of Oriental Languages at Stockholm University , and the Sweden branch ofAmnesty International, organized a one-day conference in March 1995 at Stockholm University on "Political Activism and the Prospects for Democracy in China." Three Chinese dissidents in exile were invited to present papers at the conference. These papers, plus a paper given by a Swedish China scholar, were published in book form. This collection ofessays in a slim, fifty-eight-page volume includes Wei Jingsheng's 1978 dazibao "The Fifth Modernization" and his trial defense as appendixes . Wei's famous essay discusses why democracy is better than autocracy. There are three themes: (1) why democracy? (2) what kind ofdemocracy? and (3) democracy should come first, before implementing the modernizations of agriculture , education, science, technology, industry, and defense. To Wei...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 153-158
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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