Xu Wenli

Brown University

Xu Wenli is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. One of China’s most recognized pro-democracy advocates, Mr. Xu spent 16 years in prison for his activities as a dissident. He was a leader in the Democracy Wall movement from 1979 to 1981, edited the samizdat-style journal April Fifth Forum, and played a major role in establishing the Beijing-Tianjin branch of the China Democracy Party. Mr. Xu’s health suffered while in prison. In reaction to his declining condition, international human rights groups, the US ambassador to China, and Western officials called for his release. The Chinese government finally relented and released him on medical grounds in December 2002. He and his wife left China immediately for the United States to be reunited with their daughter, Xu Jin, who lives in Rhode Island. Mr. Xu has published a number of books, including most recently A Theoretical Inquiry into the Rational Structure of Human Society (Hong Kong: Greenfield Book Store, December 2008, available in Chinese and English), which recounts his experiences in jail and his thoughts on democracy.

What are other ways the Chinese government controls the flow of information?
Why do you think democracy and human rights are so important?
In 1998, you helped form the China Democracy Party (CDP). What does the CDP hope to achieve?
Did you fear being sent back to prison?
You were imprisoned two times by the Chinese government. What were you accused of doing?
Why were you exiled from China?
When did you decide that China’s society needed to be transformed?
Who are you what do you do?
How does the Golden Shield Project censor internet activity?
How does the Chinese government manage civil unrest?
How would a free press affect China?
What caused the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and government crackdown?
Why is it important for high school students to understand what is happening in China?
Should the international community pressure China’s government to improve its human rights practices?
Why are people protesting in Tibet?
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