Legal basis needed for dissenting voices

Source:Global Times Published: 2013-8-18 23:53:01

A human rights advocate from Guangzhou, Yang Maodong, better known by his pen name, Guo Feixiong, was detained recently. Xu Zhiyong, an activist and legal scholar based in Beijing, was also detained recently. Overseas voices have connected the two incidents and believed the Chinese mainland is conducting a "decapitation" campaign against the human rights movement. Meanwhile, they glorify what Guo and Xu did by calling them "pro-democracy activists."

Guo was detained on the charge of disrupting public order. He has been put into jail and been detained several times. He has extreme political views and has participated in many advocacy groups. Xu has been guaranteed a trial and his experiences are also complex.

The influence of activists like Guo and Xu is not as great as those verified names on Weibo, but they are famous among rights activists. Confronting the authorities has become their way of life and they are unlikely to compromise.

It has become the reality of China that a group of dissidents who are prone to confrontation exist in society. They pose challenge to social governance. They do things based on their own judgment rather than considering whether they are legitimate or not or whether they benefit social governance or not. They take confronting the authorities as a noble deed.

Obviously, China has not found a mature way to deal with these confrontational individuals. On the one hand, they play a new role in society and what they do is not all negative.

But on the other hand, they pose a danger to the current social governance system and long-term social stability.

The public also has mixed attitudes toward them. They may easily win sympathy from the public for their unfortunate experiences, while those who know them well believe they somehow go to extremes. But practically, their assertions have little to do with ordinary people's lives.

It is almost impossible that they could change their political stance. In a diverse society, there are bound to be roles like theirs. What's important is that society needs to define their space of activity and the legal boundaries of their activities.

Now dissidents always claim what they do is legitimate and when punished by law, they are thought to be persecuted. Only when supported by the whole society, can the law play a stronger deterrent role.

This is China's long-term task. There have been waves after waves of confrontational individuals, many of whom went abroad. Their influence has been diluted by opposition voices on the Internet, to whom society has become adapted. Initiating confrontation is still unfamiliar to Chinese society. It remains one of the toughest task of China's reforms to digest this trend.

Authorities should be clear that detaining any dissident may become an event entangled with public opinion. Therefore, the legal basis and judicial process must be impeccable. Irrational sentiments exist in public opinion, which adds pressure on the authorities.

Dissidents should also acknowledge that China is in a special stage of transformation and progress. Too fierce confrontations go contrary to society's fundamental interests.

Posted in: Editorial

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