Everyone’s favorite blind lawyer activist was interviewed recently by Global Viewpoint Network editor Nathan Gardels, carried by SCMP. Chen Guangcheng talks about freedom and says a lot of reasonable — if a bit idealistic — things:
The law is a tool, and people should be treated equally under the law. This of course necessitates a supervisory system, which should have the power to counterbalance the party mechanisms that control the judiciary, and should have the power to demand improvements. This is a requirement for a pluralistic, multiparty system. Otherwise, no matter how strong your laws, it won’t matter in practice.
But in addition to opining that soon-to-be Chinese president Xi Jinping won’t “change as a result of the Bo Xilai affair,” there’s this (Gardels’s longwinded question in bold):
The party now dictates who becomes the president and chief prosecutor of courts. To start down the path of an independent judiciary, Peking University legal scholar He Weifang recommends making this into a nomination process that requires approval of the National People’s Congress. What are your thoughts on this proposal?
Why would it be only the president and chief prosecutor? A democratic system depends on a lot more than a prosecutor. Direct elections should decide all level of administrative officials. And in any case I feel that this is what many people refer to as “reform”. This is useless. What China needs now is a transformation.
Pardon me for saying so, but in that last bit, one can almost hear Chen parroting the platitudes of China’s proselyte dissidents. Even as he stops just short of explicitly equating “transformation” with revolution, he’s headed toward that dead end where nothing short of a CCP implosion can be viewed with anything but cynicism and disgust. This is useless. Chen is too smart to let himself become a pawn in this game, and it’s sad to see him drift, with each interview, a bit further out of the China conversation.