The ceremony we are participating in this morning is notable for several reasons.
It is notable because the National Endowment for Democracy's 1998 Democracy Award is a significant honor. When it was awarded to Wang Dan in February, he could not accept it because he was championing democratic freedoms from a prison cell in China.
It is notable because Members of Congress, at the U.S. Capitol, are officially recognizing Wang Dan as a legitimate heir of our country's founders. Wang Dan truly has embraced the legacy of democratic freedoms which has made our country great.
It is notable because it demonstrates that while out of prison, Wang Dan is not free to speak in China, but is in exile in the United States.
As we welcome Wang Dan to the Capitol, we must remember that his release from prison is not evidence of democratic reform in China. If the Chinese government was truly freeing its prisoners of conscience, Mr. Wang and other dissidents would be allowed to speak freely in China about political reform.
The truth is that the Chinese government is attempting to marginalize the voices of freedom by sending them into exile. The U.S. must not be a party to this marginalization. My thanks to NED and my distinguished colleagues for their leadership in highlighting Wang Dan's contributions today.
Let us hope that the Clinton Administration will join Congress in acknowledging Wang Dan's courage, dedication, and commitment to our democratic ideals. We must call upon the Clinton Administration to embrace China's brave champions of democracy just as we embraced the Havels, Walesas, Mandelas, Sakharovs, and others, and send a message about American values to their homelands.
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