Blind Chinese Lawyer Urges Western Leaders to Push Human Rights in China
IMAGE: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters


Chinese lawyer and activist Chen Guangcheng, whose pending departure from New York University has attracted recent media attention,  believes Western leaders can influence human rights in China  – without sacrificing their economic interests. In the Huffington Post op-ed he co-authored last Friday, Chen urged Western leaders to hold China accountable for human rights violations:


“Combining economic engagement with consistent political pressure over human rights is the best way to promote China's emergence as a peaceful global power and ensure that the Chinese people are given the government they deserve.”


Chen co-wrote the post, titled “China: The West Needs to Promote Both Trade and Human Rights,” with Edward McMillan Scott, British Member of the European Parliament. Together, Chen and Scott described how government and culture in both China and the West have complicated discussions of human rights. According to Chen and Scott, China “tends to stress its economic achievements in order to justify the continued oppression of its people.” China also portrays Western criticism of its actions as an attack on its economic development. This resistance to Western influence makes discussion of Chinese human rights difficult for leaders in Europe and the United States.


When Western leaders do speak out, they tend to use trade impositions and tariffs to express displeasure with China. But according to Chen and Scott, that behavior “risks fueling the [Chinese] perception that the voicing of human rights concerns is only used…to justify protectionist measures against China.” Trade limits do not pressure China to address human rights violations; they only encourage nationalist attitudes and strengthen resistance to Western influence.


To overcome these deeply rooted barriers to human rights discussions, Chen and Scott suggest several solutions:


  • Western powers should impose sanctions on specific Chinese individuals known for human rights abuses, not on the country as a whole, and staunchly support high-profile Chinese dissidents.
  • The United States and the European Union should uphold their recent transatlantic pact condemning China’s human rights violations.
  • Western powers should avoid hypocrisy by promptly addressing their own human rights abuses.


Chen and Scott’s suggestions will be important first steps toward justice and freedom in China. Western leaders must model justice themselves and find appropriate ways to express disagreement before they can expect to be taken seriously.  But at All Girls Allowed, we believe that the true foundation for a right relationship between China and America can only be found through God. 


On June 4, the 24th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, All Girls Allowed Founder Chai Ling delivered a message expressing that belief at a Congressional hearing on Capitol Hill. She presented the gospel of Jesus Christ as the ultimate solution to U.S.-China tensions over human rights. Chai said:


“The cornerstone of any godly partnership between China and America must be built on a foundation of faith in God, in the way of Jesus Christ. ‘What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ (Micah 6:8, NIV)…Jesus has given us a great future into eternity. Twenty-four years in the wilderness is much too long. It is time to enter the promised land of freedom!”


We at All Girls Allowed pray that God will change leaders’ hearts, both in the Western world and in China. Only He can give Western leaders the conviction, compassion and boldness to confront China’s leaders while addressing their own human rights abuses. We eagerly await His healing for all the nations!


by Sarah Elliott, All Girls Allowed

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