Xu Zhiyong, the well-known Chinese civil rights lawyer who was sentenced to 14 years in prison by the Chinese government on April 10, 2023, dictated a declaration that his supporters released before his sentencing. The full statement is available on China Change website. Here are some excerpts:
I have a dream, a dream of a China that is beautiful, free, fair, and happy. It is a democratic China that belongs to everyone on this land, not to any one ethnicity or political party. It is truly a country of the people, its government chosen by ballots, not violence.
A democratic China must be realized in our time, we cannot saddle the next generation with this duty.
It will be a China with the rule of law. We shall have legislative democracy: people elect their representatives to make laws through democratic procedure that represent the interest of the majority. No rulers can impose malignant laws on the people, nor will there be extralegal laws in the name of discipline and order. We shall have strict and impartial law enforcement: the laws shall be enforced by an elected government, and no individual or organization shall be above the law, nor shall the disadvantaged be excluded from the protection of the law. We shall have a fair and just judiciary: judges shall be independent, serving the law and not any other interests, delivering judgment according to the dictates of law and conscience.
Law will no longer be a tool of class dictatorship, but the standard for fairness and justice. Judges are no longer the “knife handle” with which the privileged to concentrate power, but the guardian of justice. In a China with the rule of law, all powers move in its order, people believe in and trust it, and justice flows downward, like an ever-flowing river. That’s a free China.
I yearn for a free China where power can not run amok, where our freedom to believe in a religion or an -ism is a personal choice and cannot be interfered with by those in power, and where we have the freedom of speech without large-scale censorship and political restriction, and no one is imprisoned for expressing their political beliefs. In a free China, we have the freedom to participate in public affairs without fake and manipulated elections, without such a thing as “wanton talk” [about the communist leaders]; everyone has the freedom to form a political party or association. In a free China, we are free to live our lives without Big Brother watching over everything we do, and privacy and dignity are not to be trampled by those in power. In a free China, people thrive to bring the rebirth of our ancient civilization in which we live in truth and become the best of ourselves without being bent out of shape by power.