Opening Remarks Speech at the Ninth InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference

Posted on Apr 23, 2014

Opening Remarks Speech at the Ninth InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference
– Yang Jianli

Our distinguished guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen, Good morning.

First I would like to thank everybody for coming to the Ninth InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference.  Particularly, I would like to thank those who have come a long way from across the world — from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, India, Japan, Mongolia, the Americas, Europe and Australia.

In fact, all of us here, including participants from Taiwan, are trekkers on a long and arduous journey. We represent groups of different regions and ethnicities with different histories, cultures, religions and languages.  But for a common goal, we are gathering here today, with our sincerity, wisdom, determination and hope.  We are just like little sparks lighting and paving the way to equality, freedom and democracy.  For this common goal, all our groups have been working long and hard.  Those from the People’s Republic of China are fighting hard for their basic human rights; our Tibetan, Uygur and Mongolian brothers and sisters are fighting an even harder battle for ethnic equality and liberation, on top of fighting for their basic human rights; the citizens of Hong Kong and Macao are resisting the reality that their freedoms are being eroded, while at the same time struggling to advance the process of democratization; people from Taiwan are doing all they can to defend the freedoms and democracy they have obtained, and to save Taiwan from the fate of a frog slowly being boiled alive.  So, all of us are comrades on this long and arduous journey in pursuit of democracy, freedom and equality, and our common enemy is the dictatorial regime of the Chinese Communist Party, which has become the biggest diehard standing in our way.
And how to get rid of it? This is a question we all have to answer, and this is exactly why we are here again.

After the Tiananmen massacre, the Chinese communist regime gradually adopted a defensive position in terms of its political ideology, and in China the concepts of freedom and democracy have increasingly prevailed in the ideological battlefield and in public discourse.  The CCP’s so-called “Three confidences” were proposed just out of their lack of confidence.  However, the CCP’s political tactics have become more and more active, flexible, practical and aggressive, due to the urgency of the political survival of the regime.    In contrast, when we look back at our democratic forces, we find ourselves emphasizing political ideology too much, and not focusing enough on political tactics.  In China now, publicly talking about abstract concepts of democracy and freedom is no longer a taboo.  Having an edge in political concepts but without seriously and systematicly countering the CCP’s political tactics, we tend to lack strength in our fight. Meanwhile, this regime is implementing its practical political tactics using the enormous resources it seized.  Therefore, for all the groups represented here, the first and foremost task is to counter CCP’s tactics of division and disintegration.

This kind of division is both vertical and horizontal.  It comes in various forms: division between those in pursuit of political ideas and those of specific interests; regional division between mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and macro-overseas regions; division between local areas within the Chinese mainland; ethnic division between Han, Tibetan, Mongolian, Uygur, especially between Han and ethnic minorities; religious division between Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and Falun Gong practitioners; also division between different groups fighting for their rights on a wide range of issues, for example, land seizure, environmental pollution and the one child policy.  All of these have contributed to an extremely complicated situation, which we must begin to take seriously. We must clearly understand these complex relationships in order to come up with a strategy to counter  tactics of division and disintegration.

We of course do not deny that there is considerable suspicion, distrust, hostility and even resentment between some communities, particularly between communities of different ethnicities, religions and macro-regions, even between those who are fighting for freedom and human rights.  We must constantly remind ourselves not to trip on these obstacles.
From a macro point of view, there exist five factors that determine China’s future political direction.

First is the development of democratic forces. Second, the dynamics of the power structuring within the Chinese Communist Party, mainly the publicized struggle among the power-oriented factions or among the idea-oriented factions. Third, the uprising of Tibetan, Uygur, and Mongolian ethnic minorities, as well as the development of their relationship with the Han people. Fourth, the development of mainland China’s comprehensive interactions with Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. Fifth, the dynamics of China’s relations with the international community.

All five factors are intertwined, with one influencing another.  At least four out of the five are directly related to the communities we represent and the work we do.  This is to say, what we are doing today and how we are doing it will affect China’s political future, and therefore the very future of our communities is at stake.  Among these five factors, the most fundamental one is the development of democratic forces, which includes forces within each community and collaboration and union with other communities.  Democratic forces that are divided are not sustainable, and thus will not lead to democratization.  Therefore, how to unite to build viable democratic forces is at the top of our agenda.  This is exactly the theme of the Ninth InterEthnc/InterFaith Leadership Conference.

I hope this conference will mark a new start point toward a higher aim.