September 23, 2017
For Immediate Release
The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org) has recognized its Advisory Board member Ms. Jing Zhang, a Laogai survivor, for her work as co-founder and President of Women’s Rights in China (WRC) which is celebrating this year the 10th anniversary of its founding. Jing Zhang is a journalist and human rights activist. She founded Women’s Rights in China in 2007 to popularize the concept of women’s rights and advocate for the weak and underprivileged in China. Jing understands the trials Chinese women have to endure under one-party rule in a persistent patriarchal society. Ms. Zhang suffered five years in prison for her belief in freedom and democracy. After leaving China, she built a career for twenty years as a newspaper editor in Hong Kong and the United States.
CUSIB Executive Director Ann Noonan, who presented Jing Zhang with the CUSIB Award, on September 23, 2017 at the Taiwan Center in Flushing, New York, noted that when Jing Zhang joined the Committee for US International Broadcasting’s Advisory Board in 2011, “she and Women’s Rights in China have been active supporters of Voice of America (VOA) radio broadcasts to China as an important uncensored news source for women and their families, and for human rights activists.”
SEE: 中國婦權慶祝十週年 再推計生實錄新書
Committee for US International Broadcasting
Thank you for inviting me today to participate in this celebration of Women’s Rights in China’s 10th Anniversary. Thank you to the Taiwan Center for hosting this special event!
I’d like to speak a little bit about how I started in this work and became friends with Jing Zhang, the co-founder and President of Women’s Rights in China.
I first met Jing Zhang, who is a Laogai survivor, outside China’s Embassy here in New York at a 2009 rally to protest the imprisonment of the late Nobel Peace Prize Honoree Liu Xiaobo. Through the years, as our friendship grew, I learned more and more about Women’s Rights in China and their incredible work.
Years before I met Jing, I made a personal commitment to many of the issues her organization addresses. You see, when I attended the 4th World Conference on Women, back in 1995 as a representative of an international Catholic NGO, I was blessed, while in China, to meet with a small group of underground Roman Catholics.
I can still see the face of the Catholic nun who was there at that meeting. Her eyes were puffy from crying. She spoke about the babies she and her fellow nuns would find on the side of the road who were discarded by their mothers. Mothers who were not permitted to give birth to their babies because of China’s one-child policy.
That Roman Catholic nun put her life at great risk to pick up those abandoned baby girls, and find secret homes for them, even though fines would be imposed by the government, and the familes would be punished for taking care of these helpless babies. That Roman Catholic nun put her life at even greater risk to meet with me and tell her story to me, an American woman.
There is no way I could ever turn my back on her request for help.
Upon returning to the United States, my life was blessed once more when I had the opportunity to meet one of the greatest Champions for Human Rights, the late Harry Wu.
To back up a bit, in the months that preceded the 1995 Beijing Women’s Conference, we all knew who Harry Wu was. Our newspapers told how about how Harry Wu came to the United States and became a citizen, and after returning to China in 1995 to document China’s brutal Laogai system, he was arrested. We read about Congressional resolutions declaring that Mrs. Clinton would not be able to attend the Beijing Women’s Conference unless China released Harry Wu. We watched the nightly news celebrating his release.
After numerous discussions in 1996 with Harry Wu, I saw how dedicated he was to helping those who suffer and who have no voice, especially women in China who were victimized by the brutal one-child policy. When Harry Wu asked me to serve as the New York Coordinator for the Laogai Research Foundation, I was honored to accept.
A great focus of Harry Wu’s work was about the injustice of China’s one-child policy, and the pain and suffering of every family member in China who was its victim. He was heartbroken that traditional families in China with brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins could no longer exist.
He worked hard for women who sought political asylum here in the United States because of China’s one-child policy. Harry Wu testified in Congress and traveled throughout the United States and the world, raising his voice on behalf of the victims of the violence and coercion that countless women and families experience under the one-child policy. He publicly opposed UNFPA because of its role funding the forcible abortion and sterilization of women in China who were pregnant illegally.
He documented how women in China were forced, in their workplace, to be checked to be sure they were not pregnant, and had their IUD’s in place. For me, as an American woman,
I could never imagine having this to be part of my work experience.
For two decades, Harry Wu carefully documented the top-down method used to implement and institutionalize China’s one-child policy, detailing how the PRC imposed birth quotas systemically within local jurisdictions in China.
He told how children in China born without a permit are illegal. Those who violated the law would be punished. He told how female infanticide is the common practice in China because parents prefer to have a son if they could only have one child.
While China’s government recently caved in to international pressure and claim they have a 2-child policy, the disregard for the integrity of the human person still exist. Women are still not allowed to give birth to their children unless they meet certain conditions.
None of these topics are easy to comprehend. They are too painful, and while people can choose to ignore them, when they learn more, they want become involved.
Jing and her volunteers at Women’s Rights in China take these matters very personally, and their dedication is total and limitless.
For the past 10 years, Women’s Rights in China has led the way to quietly and effectively help countless women and families inside China.
Women’s Rights in China has been a champion in the war against China’s baby girls. They are a strong voice against human trafficking, child brides, and a voice to Free Liu Xia.
In 2011, Jing Zhang joined the Committee for US International Broadcasting’s Advisory Board. She and Women’s Rights in China have been active supporters of Voice of America radio broadcasts to China as an important uncensored news source for women and their families, and for human rights activists.
As an American woman, I am constantly amazed by the intense work Women’s Rights in China has done to help women in China who are pregnant with out permission, children who are born illegally, and reuniting families in China with their missing children.
I wish more women here in the United States knew about this incredible work, and believe that when they do, they will want to get involved.
My call to action today is a little sensitive, but still important. It comes from advice I heard Harry Wu speak about frequently.
To make a political difference in the United States, it’s very important to be able to share your message in English. This does not mean you need to speak perfect English, but that you are willing to speak with the media and testify in Congress in English.
We have all seen how individuals and organizations can exploit groups like Women’s Rights in China for their own political purposes, and to enhance their own self-importance, in some part, due to their fluency in English and ability to work with the English speaking media.
While I believe that God sees everything, and that our work in prayer needs to be done humbly, I also believe that the greatest impact you can have at Women’s Rights in China is to share your work firsthand and directly in English here in the United States.
I believe that real grassroots work that is done by Women’s Rights in China can only be done by people who speak fluent Chinese and who work with people inside China. While the stories Women’s Rights in China wants to document can always be shared by secondhand sources, your voices need to be heard first. And the greatest difference you will make is if you personally share those stories in English, and having a strong Chinese accent while telling those stories is not a bad thing.
This means English in interviews, articles, and testimony. It’s okay if your English is not perfect, because if you rely upon a translator, a lot of the initial impact gets lost.
Jing, you and your volunteers at Women’s Rights in China have done tremendous work during these past 10 years, and I hope and pray that the next 10 years will be even more fruitful.
On behalf of the Committee for US International Broadcasting, I am honored to present this award to you.
The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org) is an independent, nongovernmental organization which supports free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries without free media.
For further information, please contact:
Ann Noonan, co-founder and Executive Director
Ted Lipien, co-founder