Wei Jingsheng Interview: Conversations with History; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

The Political Education of a Chinese Dissident: Conversation with Wei Jingsheng, Human Rights Activist; 11/18/98 by Harry Kreisler
Photo by Jane Scherr

Page 5 of 5


This interview will be put on the Internet. What message would you like to give the Chinese people if they were to see or hear this interview, from China, on the Internet?

I would tell them, most importantly, that we should not always be afraid. If you don't decide to unite for our collective rights and interests, when we are all denied freedom, then you won't be free either. Because there are a lot of Chinese who have a kind of fatalistic reliance on luck. They think, "If you take a risk and succeed, I'll also benefit; but, if you don't, I won't lose out." But actually, that's not the case. Until all of us Chinese have freedom and rights, you won't be able to protect your own freedom and rights. This is very simple reasoning.

A theme that emerges in your writings Wei Jingsheng is that if the individual is concerned about his own interests he can reconcile that with the interests of the common good.

Yes, a person has to have a lot of self-confidence and really persist in the goals he wants to achieve. If you really believe in this goal, then you'll certainly succeed. If you give up halfway, that's a pity

What lessons should students draw from your life and your work and your struggle for human rights in China?

That depends on them. If they really want to do something for the future of the Chinese people and humanity, I think they can learn many things. I think the most important thing is one's character, and how one "conducts oneself." Don't rely on your own luck, and don't think that if you do something wrong, people won't respect you -- that does not matter. That's not right. You should train your determination to form a strong self-confidence. If we know something is good, no matter how great the sacrifice, we have to do it. If everyone in our society can do this, humanity will be all the better.

Wei Jingsheng, thank you very much for coming to Berkeley, answering all these questions, and being such a great model and example of humanity and for humanity.

Thank you. I thank everyone very much and especially you as well.

Thank you. And thank you very much for joining us for this Conversation with History.

Wei Jingsheng with translator Abbi Kaplan and Harry Kreisler

This interview was conducted in English and Mandarin, with translation by Abbi Kaplan.

© Copyright 1998, Regents of the University of California

To the Conversations page.