July 24, 2008
Teng Biao in the Financial Times
Here's a mini-profile of Teng Biao (腾彪) in the July 23rd issue of the Financial Times. Check out in particular the embedded video in which Teng talks about his work. I have met Teng on several occasions; this soft-spoken man is truly admirable. I would be proud to have half his courage.
When people like Teng stick their necks out, what values are they sticking them out for? This, I guess, is my disagreement with those who insist that it's Eurocentric or narrow-minded or whatever to support the standard menu of human rights in China, and that "the Chinese" must find their own way, perhaps on some kind of Confucian foundation. When you get right down to it, the proponents of various schemes of managed democracy, popular consultation, corporatist assemblies, etc. do not risk their livelihoods and their personal safety to promote their views in China; people like Teng Biao do. He is as Chinese as all the others, and what he does is a legitimate part of China finding its own way. If he is willing to take these risks to support the standard menu of human rights, should the rest of us be too paralyzed by the fear of being accused of unthinkingly subscribing to the assumptions of some hegemonic ideology to support him? (Rhetorical question!)
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I admire Teng Biao's courage as well, but am not sure whether that leads to your conclusion. This is not in any way to diminish the courage or importance of those like Teng Biao, but just to facilitate some discussions on the important debates you have mentioned in your post. People might counter your insight by pointing to the Iraqi situation. The thousands of American soldiers who have died, even more "bravely" according to the official reports, in the battlefield of Iraq after the American invasion should equally encourage us to ignore all the ideological packagings or political agendas of the Bush regime. We can and should pay tribute to those who unselfishly fought for or died for improvement of others' rights or interests, but does that mean we, as scholars, should not discuss or study the possible power politics behind all the "rights" talk no matter who are doing the talking? What if the Chinese Government start to invoke the same rhetoric?
Posted by: lc | Oct 18, 2008 6:42:14 AM