Chinese Dissident Teng Biao: Human Rights, the Communist Party & the Outlook for China
Wine Reception 6:00-7:00pm
In a few weeks with great pomp and pageantry, the Chinese Communist Party will convene its 20th Party Congress. The Congress is only held every five years, and it is a grand and public unveiling of the Party’s new leadership, policies and objectives for the nation. After already changing the Constitution in 2018, President Xi is expected to be anointed to an unprecedented third term – having extinguished any obvious opposition or rivals, he may serve for life.
For years, Chinese dissident and human rights attorney Teng Biao has felt the wrath of the Chinese Communist Party firsthand. From his days as a student, while advocating as a lawyer on behalf of the oppressed and continuing to this day, he has experienced the party’s surveillance, arbitrary arrests and violence. On multiple occasions, Teng has been kidnapped, tortured and detained for extended periods by China’s secret police.
Teng describes his early education as being ‘brainwashed’ by and believing in party propaganda, until as a young law student he met a few professors, who opened his mind to the realities of the Communist regime. With an indominable passion for justice and admirable courage, he rose to prominence as a human rights attorney. Teng took countless difficult cases of the repressed, from the cruel death of a young migrant while in police custody to the plight of ethnic Uighur and Tibetan minorities to the religiously persecuted followers of Falun Gong and Christianity.
After numerous arrests, disappearances and unending threats, Teng reluctantly fled into exile. But even while living now in the U.S., the shadow and force of the Chinese Communist Party remains. He regularly receives death threats, is surveilled and is even protested by an odd array of characters. These bizarre hecklers have the backing of a mysterious American based Chinese ‘billionaire’ who runs a ‘global campaign to eliminate traitors’ – and also has the unusual support of the notorious conspiracy theorist, quasi-nationalist and one-time Presidential advisor Steve Bannon.
Teng is fair and objective with his criticism, not just of China, but also the West and the U.S., where organizations, universities, corporations and our own government might publicly denounce and withdraw from Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. But out of fear of losing access and market share, very few will even whisper a critical word regarding the Chinese government and its ever-increasing authoritarian restrictions and tactics.
He will discuss the human rights realities and outlook facing ordinary Chinese citizens today. Teng will assess the vast and growing surveillance state constantly perfecting its ability to quash free speech, dissenting voices and any ideological challenges to a party that must continuously confirm its legitimacy and prevent any unapproved beliefs from taking root.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Teng Biao is a human rights lawyer and academic who specializes in the Chinese criminal justice and political system. Before moving to the US in 2014, he was detained and tortured by secret police in China when he took a vocal stance against human rights abuses by the Chinese Communist Party.
Teng is Hauser Human Rights Scholar at Hunter College, the City University of New York, and Pozen Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago. He had been a lecturer at the China University of Politics and Law (Beijing), a visiting scholar at Yale, Harvard, NYU and Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study. He co-founded two human rights NGOs while in Beijing: the Open Constitution Initiative and China Against the Death Penalty, in 2003 and 2010, respectively. He is one of the earliest promoters of the Rights Defense Movement in China and the manifesto Charter 08, for which Dr. Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Teng has received various international human rights awards including the Human Rights Prize of the French Republic (2007) and NED’s Democracy Award (2008). His work has been published in several magazines, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, and the Wall Street Journal. He is completing a book on the human rights movement and political transition in China.
In Partnership with: Asia Society Texas