Wei Jingsheng's cry for democracy in China echoes down 30 years





On a bitterly cold winter night 30 years ago, an electrician from Beijing Zoo took the step that would cost him decades of freedom and create China's most defiant prisoner of conscience.
Wei Jingsheng was 28, invigorated by the tide of optimism and unprecedented freedom of expression that followed the death of Chairman Mao in 1976, but angry at signals that Deng Xiaoping wanted public discussion to end. He made his way to the focus of the debate, a brick wall dubbed “Democracy Wall”, beside a bus station just west of Tiananmen Square on the Boulevard of Eternal Peace.

There he pasted up a paper demanding an addition to Deng's drive to bring Four Modernisations to China after the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. Mr Wei called for a “Fifth Modernisation”: democracy.

Three decades later, speaking from Prague, where is was attending a ceremony to honour his action, Mr Wei has no regrets. “My years in prison were tough, but I was happy. It was worth it, and I would do it again.”



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