–Opening Remarks at the 13th InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference
By Dr. Yang Jianli

Distinguished Guests, Dear friends, Brothers and Sisters:

Seventy years ago today, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was born in the aftermath of World War II.  It embodies our most cherished principles and aspirations. It recognizes that “the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” and that everyone is entitled to these rights, “without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Today, along with people around the world, we reaffirm our respect for these principles, and also our determination to ensure that all people can enjoy human rights and political freedom.  

For the peoples represented at this conference, this is no joyous anniversary:  For 70 years, the full life of the Declaration, the Chinese state has egregiously abused its principles, as fully. One fourth of mankind have been condemned to live under the yoke of the Chinese communist regime.  

Over these seven decades, the loss and suffering at the hands of this regime has been unspeakable. But the people from all groups have never stopped struggling for the goals enshrined in the Declaration, and have taken important steps toward these goals in this generation.

Ten years ago, a milestone in the struggle emerged–brave Chinese citizens led by Liu Xiaobo, published Charter 08 which details 19 specific recommendations for peaceful constitutional reform. Charter 08 is not only an indigenous and unequivocal call for democratic reform, it is also a roadmap for achieving it. It is the basis for dialogue among all societal groups including the state.

This was a ray of light in a country shrouded in darkness.

But 10 years later, this ray of light is covered by even darker clouds. China under Xi Jinping is showing all aspects of a fascist state.  Xi Jinping fascism is a real, clear and present danger to free societies everywhere.  Seventy years ago, the crimes of Nazi Germany led the international community to embrace the principle of universal human rights, but today similar patterns have emerged in China.  A single, all-powerful party, one paramount leader, total control over all media, military aggression abroad, brutal suppression of dissent, creation of fictional external threats and enemies, and jingoism and strident nationalism masquerading as foreign policy.  After the Holocaust of the Jewish people under Hitler we vowed “never again.”  But among post-war atrocities that belie that pledge, we today must add the “reeducation” concentration camps where more than one million people, one tenth of the Uyghurs, are detained. This is a mature fascism combined with communism, crony-capitalism, corrupting and colonizing diplomacy, Orwellian 1984 digital totalitarianism and corruption-exporting internationalism (China virus).  I call it the Fascism with Chinese Characteristics.

How can this have happened?   There are, of course, many explanations.  Allow me to emphasize two.

First, we, the freedom forces of various ethnic, religious and regional groups are not sufficiently united.  As a result, we have not yet formed viable homegrown democratic movements, which has been a major goal of this InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference ever since it started 18 years ago. We must thus continue to build trust and solidarity through the joint efforts in our human rights and democracy work.

Second, too many world leaders, seeking security and economic benefits, have grown inured to the Chinese state’s abuse of our brothers and sisters. And yet, there are still many democratic leaders who understand the Fascism with Chinese Characteristics is the biggest threat to world peace, the international economic order and their own democratic way of life. So it is in the interest of both the people under the yoke of the CCP regime and the world’s democracies to push for a democratic transition in China.

But we must do more to energize this process. I hereby ask you to join me in calling on the United States to end the compartmentalization of human rights and begin to engage China with moral and strategic clarity.

In particular, I advocate that Congress pass a binding China Democracy Act flatly stating that enhancing human rights and democratic transition in China is decidedly in America’s national interest and directing the Federal government and all its agencies to make democracy and human rights advocacy the core of all engagement with China.

Such an Act will serve as America’s grand strategy toward China, setting a firm foundation that guides U.S. activities with China in all spheres. It will send an unequivocal message to the people there:  We want you to enjoy freedom; that is our goal.

Seventy years ago, political leaders and civil society rose to the challenge of their times and promulgated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Surely we, with their work as our foundation, with our united effort and with the support of the world’s democracies like the United States, can rise to the most daunting challenge of our own times—that is to defeat the Fascism with Chinese Characteristics and ensure freedom for us all.

Thank you.