Citizen Power Initiatives for China
December 14, 2021, Washington, DC
Contact: Dr. Lianchao Han
The 16th InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference was held online on December 14, 2021. With the theme “Tearing Down China’s Firewall to Strengthen the Free World Order,” the Conference was co-sponsored by Citizen Power Initiatives for China and the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice, with financial support from the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.
Opening remarks were presented by Dr. Yang Jianli, founder and president of Citizen Power Initiatives for China. Strategic keynote speeches were delivered by Lantos Foundation President Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett and Dr. Lianchao Han, Vice President of Citizen Power Initiatives for China.
This small-scale closed-door training camp invited 6 guest speakers lecturing on strategies, solutions, and new tools that will enable people to circumvent China’s Great Firewall. The lecturers include former senior official in charge of information strategy, experts from civil society to promote Internet freedom, and front-line high-tech experts dedicated to helping the people of China break through the firewall.
More than 40 human rights activists were invited to attend the seminar and participate in the discussion. They are from diverse ethnic, faith and regional groups including Han Chinese, Tibetans, Uyghurs, Mongolians, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, Muslims, Buddhists, People from Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference series. initiated in 2000 by Dr. Jianli Yang, then president of Foundation in the 21st Century, has sought to advance mutual understanding, respect, and cooperation among the diverse ethnic, religious, cultural, and regional groups of China or directly related to China. The Conferences also aim to explore universal values and find common ground to build a united front to advance democracy and human rights for all. Through a spirit of cooperation and teamwork, these gatherings have helped forge a strong coalition among these ethnic, religious and regional groups.
Let Us Unite to Combat China’s Digital Dictatorship
— Opening Remarks at the 16th InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference
December 14, 2021, Washington, DC
Our dear co-host Katrina, Dear Friends:
Welcome to the 16th InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference.
From its inception in 2000, the Conference Series has sought to advance mutual understanding, respect, and cooperation among the diverse ethnic, religious, cultural, and regional groups of China or directly related to China. The Conferences also aim to explore universal values and find common ground to build a united front to advance democracy and human rights for all. Through a spirit of cooperation and teamwork, these gatherings have enabled us to forge a strong coalition among these ethnic, religious and regional groups.
The theme of this year’s Conference is “Tearing Down China’s Great Firewall to Strengthen the Liberal World Order.”
Xi Jinping’s digital dictatorship has effectively silenced Chinese civil society and poses an existential threat to the free world at large. Democratic governments, public and private businesses, citizen-engaged communities, the IT community, and concerned citizens must take swift and effective action to address the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party. At today’s Conference, experts, activists and policymakers will explore strategies, solutions and new tools that will enable us to tear down China’s Great Firewall.
To be clear, China’s Great Firewall is the most sophisticated system ever built to control access to information, suppress the truth, and crack down on free speech. Also known as the GFW, the Great Firewall operates as a critical part of the CCP’s propaganda apparatus, separating the people of China from the rest of the world. The threat of China’s digital dictatorship is real, and it is not confined to its borders. Now that the CCP has achieved tyrannical control over every aspect of its citizens’ lives, China’s communist regime is now seeking to export its model of digital totalitarian governance to the rest of the world.
Now is the time to take meaningful action to help the people of China rebuild their space of civil society. We must begin by helping them gain free space on the internet. Equally important, we must work to prevent digital dictatorships from becoming the international norm. Other countries of concern include Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia, among others.
Many of the groups and communities represented at this Conference are desperate to have access to unfiltered information and the freedom to both hear and express a wide variety of viewpoints in the virtual public square. Let us unite to combat China’s digital dictatorship. Let us rise to tackle one of the paramount human rights issues of our day head-on, and lead the fight to tear down China’s Great Firewall!
Thank you all.