We are pleased to see Wang Dan on the free soil of the United States where he can join the chorus of voices calling for freedom, democracy, and respect for human dignity within the People's Republic of China. We object, however, to the U.S. policy of striking a deal with Beijing to obtain the parole of famous dissidents, such as Mr. Wei and Mr. Wang, overlooking the thousands still in prisons and forced labor camps simply for taking similar actions as Wang Dan.
We have nominated Wang Dan and Wei Jingsheng for the Nobel Peace Prize for the last several years because of their courageous commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms. Together, these two men symbolize the defining core of China's contemporary pro-democracy movement.
Their release does not warrant praise of Beijing. Wang Dan was not freed, he was expelled from his country; and he has not been cleared of the charges against him, he is out of prison only for ‘medical reasons.'
Wang Dan's release over the weekend is the moral equivalent of someone robbing a bank and expecting praise for offering to return the stolen money in the form of a loan. Are we supposed to thank Beijing for expelling a man from his home after he was wrongfully imprisoned in the first place?
Mr. Wang's release represents Beijing's attempt, with some American complicity, to deflect human rights criticism as we approach President Clinton's planned trip to Beijing. We cannot let this hollow act succeed. Wang Dan is a great hero of freedom and democracy not only for the people of China, but for the world. As a strong advocate for his release, we are pleased to see him out of prison. We are certain congressional pressure on the administration had a great deal to do with his release. But we must remain vigilant in our opposition to the enemies of freedom in the world. Wang Dan symbolizes all who are oppressed in China, but his release does not mean that the political climate has changed.
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